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Eat in season with farmers' markets

Summer is here and local farmers' markets are starting to open. Shopping at farmers' markets gives you the opportunity to ask questions directly to the grower and many times you can find fun varieties that are hard to get elsewhere. You also can't beat the freshness. Often, the produce is picked that very same morning.

When shopping at farmers' markets:

-Take a quick look at all offerings before buying any items. This way, you can see what variety of produce is available from different vendors.

-Don't be shy! Ask the grower where the produce is from and when it was picked. Growers may even have recipes or serving suggestions for unusual vegetables.

-Not all farmers can afford the organic certification, so ask them about their farming practices for your own peace of mind.

-Go early to avoid buying produce that has been sitting in the sun all day.

-Look for fun "heirloom varieties," like lemon cucumbers and zebra tomatoes.

-Only purchase as much produce as you will consume within a week.

-Having cash in small bills will make transactions easy and you'll need a sturdy, reusable bag to carry your purchases home.

-If you're shopping on a budget, going at the end of the market day may offer some great deals and negotiable prices with the vendors.

-The produce may not look picture perfect, but it has been grown naturally and picked recently, which means it's packed with flavor and nutrients.

-To make purchase planning easier, check out the "What's in Season" chart from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture at

This information is brought to you by Julie Skow, RD LD and the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). SHIP strives to help Minnesotans lead longer, healthier lives by preventing the chronic disease risk factors of tobacco use and exposure, poor nutrition and physical inactivity. SHIP seeks to create sustainable, systemic changes in schools, worksites, communities and health care organizations that make it easier for Minnesotans to incorporate healthy behaviors into their daily lives.

More information on farmers' markets is available at or