Monday, June 1, 2009

The Season For Local Farmers Markets Is Here!

By Joshua Herr, L.Ac.

Asheville's area farmers' markets are in full swing. Now's the time to take advantage of them, and their increasingly abundant fresh produce. My favorite market to go to is on the UNCA campus. It is called the North Asheville Tail Gate Market.

Reading In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan illustrates to me the importance of the foods I choose to eat and where they come from. Michael Pollan suggests we should: “Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants” as the answer to the question of what we should eat in order to be maximally healthy.

In our modern time and culture, we have more food choices and diet recommendations then ever before. Many of our modern food choices are industrialized, processed foods with the latest nutritional trend plastered on the cover of the box to persuade us that their product would be the best choice for achieving maximal health.

For example, Kellogg’s Fruit Loops Smoothie boasts itself as a good source of calcium. However, this highly industrialized food contains so much processing, and the end product contains such highly refined grains, food coloring and preservatives, any nutrients that have been added during processing are outweighed by the ill effects of this processing. Can we really call this food or is this imitation food?

As a parent, I am distressed by how many processed food products target children and their parents for the fun and convenience of them.

Michael Pollan suggests these guidelines for defining a product as food versus imitation food:

1. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize.

2. Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d) high-fructose corn syrup.

3. Avoid food products that make health claims.

4. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle. (Produce, meat, fish and dairy line the walls of most grocery stores, while the more processed foods are found in the center.)

5. Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. (This is where the farmer’s market, gardening and wild-crafting come into play.)

This season visit your local farmers' markets weekly. You will be supporting your local economy and making the best food choice possible: real food.

Shopping at the farmers' market also provides us with a needed diversity of food in our diet. The foods that are available at the market will change with the seasons, and the abundance of products that are harvested by the farmer during the growing season typically makes the farmers' market prices cheaper than the supermarket.

Click here for a list farmer’s markets in our area.

I hope to see you there!