Shopping locally can be a great way to add healthful foods to your diet while conserving natural resources. March is National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is “Go further with food.” One way to celebrate is to shift your shopping habits to local farmers markets, when possible.
Food purchased at farmers markets often is more affordable and tastes better than at commercial grocery stores because it is locally grown and naturally ripened. Buying locally grown food also helps conserve natural resources and has a minimal effect on the environment.
“Supporting local farmers markets enables us to produce healthful food today and for generations to come,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Libby Mills of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Make the Most by Shopping Local
Plan ahead when you shop locally. Bring a shopping list and purchase foods you know how to prepare.
“Talk to your local farmers about less familiar fruits or vegetables,” Mills says. “They'll usually be able to share how it's grown, what it tastes like and several ways of preparing and serving the food.”
Be sure to purchase ingredients for salads and produce for side dishes that go well with fish, chicken or meat entrées. To prevent fruit from rotting in the fridge, estimate how many pieces you'll need for your lunches and snacks for the week.
“Sustainability is about making the best possible choices for your health, the health of the community, the environment and those producing your food,” Mills says. “Sustainable practices build strong communities, diverse ecosystems and healthy individuals.”
Start a National Nutrition Month plan now by using our low-cost menu planner and the N.H. Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food’s Winter Farmers Market Directory.