The Make-A-Difference Month Saturday Challenge is about making a difference with the way you shop. This Saturday we are talking about shopping locally and supporting your local farmers market. Beth, our Partnership Coordinator at Mobile Baykeeper, lives on the beautiful Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay, and shops for fresh produce at her farmer’s market every week. Below she shares the reasons that she buys local produce.
(1) Support your local farmers market. The farmers market is a perfect place to find a refreshing and nutritious summer treat. Depending on the season you can find fresh berries or melon. And who doesn’t agree that fresh green beans are better than frozen? We all know these things about local produce, but still buy produce from other states and even other countries! As a community we need to be buying these produce items from our local farmers as often as possible. Buying local is beneficial for both you and your community.
(2) Fresh, nutritious produce. Produce that is fresh and hasn’t been frozen just tastes better right? While I can’t say that it’s a fact, I know I prefer my veggies fresh. The process of freezing fresh fruit and vegetables decreases the amount of nutrients in the produce. And we want to get all the vitamins and minerals that we can from our produce. And when we buy produce that has been shipped across the country, or across several countries, we’re paying for transportation and shipping on items that could have been picked several days before.
(3) Our local farmers need us. Farming is a business that has been outsourced so much lately that local farmers are losing their grip in the business. When you buy locally, you cut out shipping and transportation costs and you help local farming families by keeping them in business. Your money will go directly to the farmer rather than spent on shipping.
For more information on local farmers markets, take a look at these websites:
- Visit, the State of Alabama’s Farmers Market Authority website for more information on why you should buy locally! http://www.fma.alabama.gov/BUY_FRESH.htm
- Also check out this great website to find local farmers markets near you. http://www.localharvest.org/. Just type in your zip code!
- And this website is great for finding what produce is in season now! http://www.sustainabletable.org/shop/seasonal/
After doing a quick search on Sustainable Table’s website, I discovered that strawberries and sweet potatoes are in season right now in Alabama. I’d like to share some fun recipes that I enjoy making with both of these items.
- For sweet potatoes, you can’t go wrong with simply baking them and eating them plain as a side dish to pretty much anything. But I recently discovered this fabulous recipe which features sweet potatoes as the main dish: Loaded Sweet Potatoes with Chili Beans. It’s very easy to make and the combination of the sweetness from the sweet potato topped with the spicy and smoky flavor of the chili beans compliment each other very well. This is an easy weeknight dinner idea and perfect to try right now while it’s time for sweet potatoes.
- To satisfy your sweet tooth after your loaded sweet potato, you have to try this recipe for 1-Minute Berry Ice Cream. Since strawberries are in season, substitute the blueberries for fresh strawberries. And don’t forget to add fresh mint; it really makes a difference!