May 26, 2018

By Layla, MISSION’s Health, Wellness and Nutrition Intern

With summer finally here, outdoor farmer’s markets are finally setting up shop. Going to your local farmer’s market is one of the easiest ways to support your community, while getting your own added health benefits. As summer progresses, crops change and new produce reaches its peak freshness, which means each week you will find new items to get your hands on. Building a relationship with your local farmers is a great way to learn about what produce is in season to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck.

Beyond supporting local farms, your community, and the environment in an interactive, personable way, the freshness of your produce will certainly taste better as well as maintain additional nutrition benefits. When certain foods are in harvest, this means they grow without the help of added chemicals and are not sitting around waiting to be distributed. Finding out what foods are at their peak is easy and all farmers at the market are very open to talk about what they have available currently, and what they project within the coming months.

The nutrient profile of your local produce is actually improved as well. Since this food is traveling shorter distances than your typical store-bought food and is transported personally, there is less need for preservatives and less time between being harvested and being sold. This shortened chain of distribution means less nutrient deterioration, a.k.a more vitamins and minerals for you!

When produce is harvested, it can often deplete nutrients from the soil when grown in surplus, such as the food packaged in the grocery store. Local farmers have better methods of replacing the soil’s nutrients since they grow on a smaller scale, thus more nutrient-absorption by the products your consuming. Plus the options at farmer’s market often will increase the variety of produce you are choosing such as typically opting for options like chard, micro-greens, or radishes, opposed to the generic iceberg lettuce or pre-packaged baby carrots.

Another way to get your nutrient-dense, local produce without the trip to the farmer’s market is through CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and allows you to essentially purchase a “share” in the farm of your choice, which means weekly you get a box of fresh produce. It is a great way to ensure you are getting your dose of local food while forming a relationship with a local farmer. Stop by Nourish for information about purchasing a CSA from Applecrest Farm Orchards, which is based out of Hampton Falls.

On my trip to the Exeter farmer’s market on Thursday, I learned a lot about what is currently in season and what will be in season come July. Greens are best right now before the weather gets too hot, so I grabbed some micro-greens, arugula, and kale, as well as my own basil plant, radishes, and some asparagus.

Two summer recipes I made with the goods I picked up included Farmer’s Veggie Red Lentil Pasta and a Micro-green Peach salad.

Farmer’s Vegetable Pasta

2 cups red lentil pasta (purchased at Trader Joe’s)

2 bell peppers

1 bunch of asparagus

1 tomato

Fresh basil

Olive oil

Minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package. Combine bell peppers, garlic, and olive oil in a skillet until fully cooked. Remove and replace with the tomatoes diced for 5 minutes. Add chopped basil to the tomatoes and let simmer, then remove and add to peppers and garlic. Finally, add asparagus to skillet until fully cooked. Combine all vegetables and pasta. Optional: Add your choice of cheese such as Parmesan, goat cheese, or mozzarella. 

Micro-greens Peach salad

4 cups of micro-greens

5 radishes

2 peaches

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons vinegar (your choice)

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

Combined micro-greens, sliced radishes, and sliced peaches. Sprinkle sunflower seeds. For the dressing, combine olive oil and your choice of vinegar (wine, balsamic, or cider) with cracked black pepper and sea salt. Optional: Addition of avocado slices!

Information on your local farmer’s markets in Dover, Durham, Exeter, and Portsmouth can be located at www.seacoastgrowers.org!

Content of the blog is opinion and not to be considered scientific fact. All readers should consult a medical professional for questions concerning individual medical and dietary needs.