I love starting my weekend with a trip to the farmers market. I may start the day overwhelmed by my to-do list, but everything slows down as I start to walk past the tables of vibrant produce, local honey, and artisanal breads and cheeses. Connecting with your food and those who produce it makes you pause, breathe, and appreciate the great gift of real food. You know you’re doing something better for your body and planet by going fresh and local.
However, you can’t take for granted that everything at your local farmers market is good for you and the planet. Supporting your local farmers market can provide better quality produce and be beneficial to the environment and local economy. However, it is not a guaranty that the produce is free of pesticides, meets safety standards, or that the product is actually from a local source. If you’re not taking the opportunity to get to know your farmer you may not be getting what you bargained for. Here are some questions to ask at your next (or first) farmers market visit.
Farmers Markets in all 50 States Accept Food Stamps and EBT
DO YOU USE PESTICIDES?
Not every local farmer grows organically. Those who do so often proudly display their USDA organic label. If you don’t see the organic label, you need to ask how they spray and fertilize their crops. Some farmers use all organic methods but simply do not have the resources to obtain the organic certification. Others may use conventional methods of pest control and fertilization. If it is a fruit or vegetable on the Dirty Dozen list, make sure to choose organically grown produce.
WHAT DO YOU FEED YOUR LIVESTOCK?
Local and grass fed seem to go hand-in-hand but you can’t assume that is the case. Cows and chickens may still be eating grain due to cost and land availability (or even junk food!). They may also still be getting things you don’t want in your food, like antibiotics. Organic eggs may be the best protein choice at the farmers market. They can be used in a variety of ways and can be less expensive per serving than organic beef.
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I went to a killer wine, cheese, and seafood tasting event at my local Whole Foods Market yesterday. It’s not often you get access to an intimate Q&A session with their top specialty pros.
Surprisingly, I am new to the world of seafood as I was clinging to my childhood repulsion of fish for a few too many years. Thankfully though, I have learned better and am paving the road to changing my ways. As a newbie, I feel a bit intimidated approaching the fish counter at any grocery store, especially higher end ones. But the fishmonger at the tasting debunked all of my worries as he walked our group through the best questions to ask.
Now, you can help them help you! Here are the top three questions to ask at the fish counter this summer.
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Recently I was lucky enough to spend 10 days in Japan. It was cherry blossom season—and a trip that’s been on my bucket list for a while. I only learned two new Japanese words—”konichiwa” is “hello” and “arigato” is “thank you”—but I figured out at least a few explanations for why Japan continues to rate high in rankings of the world’s healthiest countries. Here are a few tricks that are helping our neighbors to the west—who boast the greatest proportion of citizens over 100—live long and healthy lives:
Fish comes first: Eaten raw, cooked, or somewhere in between, not a day went by that I didn’t have fish during my trip. All of this seafood was good for my body and brain: the blend of lean protein and healthy fats makes fish a staple in many diet and healthy eating programs. I’ve always liked sushi, but this visit gave me a new appreciation for sashimi—basically raw fish any rice: You get all of the benefits of the fish without the calories or sugar of the rice!
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By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Lead Nutritionist for TheBestLife.com
Nutritionists love seafood for good reason: Diets high in fish are linked to lower levels of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression. And for pregnant women, eating more fish can even make your baby more intelligent.
But what about mercury, a contaminant that can cause nerve damage and other problems? You’ll find the chemical in large fish like swordfish and tuna. These fish eat large quantities of small fish that are low in mercury, but over time, these small amounts concentrate in the big fish’s body.
Fortunately, there are plenty of low-mercury fish options at the seafood counter (see the list below).
* Note: Seafood with an asterisk (*) are rich in omega-3s, which help fight inflammation in the body and offer many health benefits, like a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.
The Purest Picks
• Arctic char*
• Catfish (U.S. farm-raised; avoid wild-caught, it may be high in contaminants)
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