Savor the Season
By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations
Summer in Georgia is a bountiful time. Farmers parked on the side of the road peddle produce, and their presence can cause a traffic jam usually only seen on 285. In the summer, the cash crop Atlantans crave is a fresh peach. The thought of a ripe Georgia peach, juicy and warm from sitting in the sun, sets mouths to watering. While peaches may be the favored local fare, (this is the Peach State for a reason) there’s a world of diverse local produce waiting to grace your table this summer. The best place to get it? The farmers market.
Local, seasonal produce is delicious, and the produce available at a farmers market is fresh picked. Freshly picked, ripe fruits and vegetables are at their peak flavor and nutritional value, containing high amounts of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Antioxidants are substances that protect your cells from the effects of free radicals (the molecules produced when your body breaks down food, or created by environmental factors like smoking and radiation.) Free radicals can damage your cells, and may play a part in various diseases including cancer and heart disease. Phytonutrients are natural chemicals found in plants. They help to protect plants from threats like germs, fungi, and bugs. While not essential to sustaining human life like vitamins and minerals, they are beneficial to your health, and the more you can get, the better.
You’ll notice an significant difference in the taste between a tomato shipped from another country (and therefore picked while green and not yet ready to leave the vine) and a tomato grown an hour away, picked the day before or the morning of its trip to your shopping bag. If you’ve never eaten a Cherokee Purple tomato before, you’re missing out on a piece of heaven. Cherokee Purples are a heritage breed of tomato – you won’t find them in the grocery store. The variety of produce available at a farmers market is another reason to plan a shopping trip. Many breeds of fruits and vegetables just aren’t sold in the grocery store. At a farmers market, you’re able to try breeds and vegetables you’ve never heard of before. You won’t find kohlrabi at Publix, but once you try it sliced thin and barely salted, you’ll wish you could.
As Americans, we value the power of our vote, and voting with our dollars is a powerful tool. Choosing to shop at a farmers market, even for just enough produce to make a meal once a week, can have a big impact on your local economy. The money you pay a farmer at a local market stays close to your neighborhood. You’re helping a small business owner and entrepreneur succeed, stimulating your local economy. By helping them, you can also help save local farmland. Farming has been an American way of life, but we’ve been losing farmers in the last few decades. Vote with your dollars to help preserve a traditional, essential aspect of American culture and life.
Parents know that children often hate running errands (though maybe not as much as parents dislike taming bored children while also trying to finish errands.) A trip to the grocery store is necessary and mundane. A trip to the farmers market is another story. Farmers markets are usually family friendly. They’re often (if not always) lively and outdoors. An errand can become a Saturday morning excursion, an excuse to get away from ever-present screens to enjoy some fresh air and some quality family time.
Are you ready to hit the farmers market? (Or still drooling at the thought of a fresh peach?) Here’s a great resource to get you started, from Atlanta Magazine. I hope you’ll plan a trip this weekend. I guarantee you won’t regret it.