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From Prime Produce to Cooking Tips to Social Ties, an Expert Shares the Benefits of Farmers Markets

Never been? No problem! See our top tips for navigating a farmers market as a newcomer

As summer heats up, so does our craving for fresh, vibrant foods. Instead of turning to expensive supplements or fad diets, consider a simpler, more enjoyable solution: your local farmers market. These lively community hubs offer a bounty of benefits, from peak-freshness produce to sustainable practices, making them the ultimate health hack for a thriving summer. We spoke to experts to learn more about the benefits of farmers markets and how shopping there can improve your health.

The benefits of farmers markets

Never visited your local farmers market? Here are just a few of the perks you can expect:

1. Nutrient-rich produce

Farmers markets are treasure troves of fresh fruits and vegetables, harvested at the peak of ripeness. Unlike supermarket produce, which often travels long distances, local offerings retain higher levels of nutrients. According to Mackenzie Sehlke, Executive Director at Boulder County Farmers Markets, “fruits and vegetables at farmers markets are typically harvested just hours before they are sold. This means you are getting produce that is not only packed with flavor, but also with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are essential for a healthy diet and immune system.”

Research published in Food Chemistry supports this, highlighting that antioxidant levels can significantly decline during transportation and storage. That means locally-grown produce, picked and sold shortly after harvest, provides a superior nutritional punch. Sehlke also points out that farmers markets offer unique regional delicacies and heirloom varieties rich in nutrients specific to local soils and climates.

Need another reason to shop your local farmers market? Studies show that eating more fruits and vegetables is linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

2. Social connections

One of the greatest benefits of shopping at farmers markets is the direct connection with the people who grow your food. “Farmers markets are some of the last, best ‘third spaces’ [social places other than your home or work]. I like to think about them like a shared kitchen table with plenty to eat and a seat for everyone,” says Sehlke. Engaging with farmers allows you to learn about their growing methods and make more informed choices about what ends up on your plate.

3. Community support

people shopping outside at local farmers markets to enjoy health and nutrition benefits
Courtesy of Boulder County Farmers Market

When you shop at your local farmers market, you’re not just boosting your health but also supporting your community. “By purchasing local, you are supporting farmers and small businesses, which helps to strengthen your local economy and community across the board,” explains Sehlke. This support helps keep local farmland thriving and ensures the continuous availability of fresh, high-quality produce in your area.

How to boost the benefits of shopping at farmers markets

For the best farmers market experience, plan your meals around what’s in season. Seasonal produce is at its peak ripeness, boasting the highest concentration of nutrients. And Sehlke encourages newcomers to take their time exploring the market, too.

“There is no wrong way to explore,” she notes. “Market vendors are typically very excited to talk to you about their unique products. Come with questions, a shopping list, a friend and enough time to enjoy.” (See more of our favorite farmers markets tips and tricks.)

Find something you’re interested in? Don’t hesitate to ask for tips on storing and preparing different varieties of produce. “Markets are a sensory experience — don’t be afraid to smell, touch and try a sample when offered,” Sehlke says. “Try something new! I’ve found some of my favorite foods, brands and small businesses by taking home something new to me, with a recipe or recommendation from a market vendor.”

More tips on how to boost your health through fresh foods:

Paleo vs. Mediterranean Diet: Colorful Foods with Varying Flexibilities

Experts Share the 8 Best Brain Foods to Boost Focus, Prevent Memory Loss and More

Hybrid Fruits Are the Trendy Treats Nutritionists Are Raving About — Here’s Why

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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