The Farmers Market Diet

— Written By Kellyn Montgomery

The farmer’s markets throughout the county are in full swing now and June is the perfect month for catching a variety of fresh local produce. You can still get the last bits of the spring vegetables, like kale and carrots, but we are also starting to see tomatoes, peppers, squash, and all the other wonderful flavors of summer. The best part of this time of year is how easy it is to eat healthy and include more fruits and vegetables into meals every day. When I come home from the market each week with a bag full of fresh produce, suddenly I want to cook at home more and my meals are centered around those market goodies. This “farmer’s market” diet is full of fresh fruits and vegetables and makes eating healthy easy and delicious.

We need easy ways to eat healthy because popular diet information can be very confusing. Fleeting fad diets often make lofty promises and require strict changes. A research paper called “Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health?” was recently published in the Annual Review of Public Health to compare the major diets of today including, low carb, low fat, low glycemic, Mediterranean, mixed/balanced (DASH), Paleolithic, vegan, and elements of other diets. The conclusion was that no diet is clearly the best but there are basic elements across all of these diets that are beneficial to health. According to this research, “A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”

Amidst the confusion of weight loss plans and trendy superfoods, there are a few simple rules that can help maintain a healthy weight and prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Eat food directly from nature when possible, like fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins. Focus on real food and nutrients mostly take care of themselves. Whole, unmanufactured foods provide what we need naturally. And to quote Michael Pollan, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” This simplified approach to dieting can make a huge impact on managing weight and maintaining health.

So as you pick up produce or make a meal at home next time, think about the ways that you can incorporate more fresh, whole fruits and vegetables. For example, you can use vegetables to bulk up a pasta or casserole to add nutrition without adding additional calories. Maybe choose a naturally buttery Yukon Gold potato over a blander variety so you don’t feel like adding as much butter. Or use ripe fresh fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth instead of adding extra sugar.

The farmer’s market diet isn’t a fad or anything groundbreaking. It’s simply a diet that recognizes the value of real food. Real, whole foods always win over processed foods when it comes to nutrition and health. Embracing fresh foods through a CSA subscription or weekly visits to the farmer’s market is a great step towards building a healthy, balanced diet.