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We’re all for supermarket produce — hey, the more fruits and veggies in your life, the better — but now’s the time to take advantage of the offerings at your local farmers’ market. Why? They a) taste infinitely better, and b) are actually healthier. “The nutritional value of fruits and veggies declines over time, so freshly picked produce is going to pack more nutrients than items that have been sitting in a warehouse for weeks,” says Sara Haas, RDN, a chef and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And, since farmers’ finds have been picked at their peak, they taste better than those that were artificially forced into ripeness.
Another boon to hitting the local farmstand is that you get to meet the people who actually grew your food. “Farmers are the most valuable thing at the market,” says Haas. “They can tell you exactly where a food came from and how to use it.” Not sure what to do with garlic scapes? Don’t be afraid be afraid to speak up; most farmers will happily share their secrets.
Right now, you’ll find row after row of colorful options, from fresh berries to basil. Indeed, with so many choices, navigating the market can be a little overwhelming. Haas’ advice? “Stick to items that are unique to this time of year,” she says. “For example, unless you live in California, you can’t always get fresh figs — so that’s something you’d want to buy now.” If you’re not sure which items to go for, don’t fret. We did the work for you and sussed out the season’s tastiest, healthiest picks. Consider this your guide to hacking the farmers’ market all summer long.