Farmers market season is rapidly drawing to a close this year, but the end isn’t here yet. You still have time to get out there and bring home goods. While shopping and eating local foods is great for the community, that’s not the only benefit. Another huge benefit is the one to your body. Not only will you be taking in plant varieties that do well in the Llano Estacado region as it relates to water, chemicals, and pests; but you’ll also be taking in the highest quality nourishment our region affords.
Here’s a good list of the things you’re likely to find in our region with a brief explanation of its benefits:
Green beans are loaded with carotenoids. These pigments are responsible for decreasing the risk of cancers and eye diseases. Some common carotenoids are lutein, lycopene, and betacarotene. Betacarotene is often converted to vitamin A benefiting skin, bone, immuno, and vision functions.
Green peas are full of phytonutrients. These elements lower gastric cancers, and it doesn’t take many green peas to experience those benefits-as little as one cup! Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits are also included. Green peas also have a type 2 diabetes busting glycemic index (around 50).
Red Bell Pepper
Bell peppers also have a good amount of carotenoids, but also include plenty vitamin C and E. Interestingly enough, vitamin C levels increase as the bell pepper ripens. But beware: cooking these nutrient-dense veggies on high heat damages some of the good stuff. Bell peppers are rich in antioxidants, too.
Corn is a great source of manganese and antioxidant phytonutrients. Different varieties will have varying degrees of the 10 nutrients common to corn including lutein and beta-carotene. That makes corn a friend to your body’s mucus membranes and immune system.
Celery is great for your digestive tract. It’s pectin-based polysaccharides are just what the tummy needs. They’re non-starchy in the case of celery and they offer anti-inflammatory benefits. Anti-inflammation is a big help to the cardiovascular system, too considering many diseases like atherosclerosis are the result of inflammation.
Onions are rich in sulfur, which is responsible for insulin production, detoxification, and combating the hardening of arteries. Not only that, but onions contain disease fighting polyphenols. Onions also lower cholesterol and triglycerides. They can also aid an increase in bone density and connective tissue strength.
Summer squash have high amounts of antioxidants. They also include the carotenoids helpful in staving eye disorders such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Whatever you do, don’t eliminate the skin or the seeds if you want to capitilize on all the benefits summer squash offers.
This mild chile pepper isn’t going to burn you; it can actually help alleviate pain. It blocks a key brain pain transmitter, Substance P. These green peppers are also high in vitamin K, which is essential for healthy blood. We’ve talked a lot about carotenoids, and these are loaded with them as well.
One of the great things about farmers markets is getting the opportunity to eat locally when it comes to unexpected items like honey. While off-limits for babies, honey provides tons of antioxidants, wholesome sweetness, and a do-it-all home remedy substance. It alleviates everything from coughs, scalp dermatitis (diluted with warm water and applied), and local allergies when it’s locally produced.
When they’re not fries, chips, or loaded with fat and dairy products; potatoes are a great dietary staple. They’re rich in vitamins that lower blood-pressure, fortify cell walls, and enhance nervous system activity. Not only that, but their vitamin B6 also aids athletic performance and heart protection.
These are just a few of the great things worth buying at your local farmers market. While the store bought varieties of these vegetables will contain the same elements, there’s a good chance local produce will probably contain higher amounts. That’s because locally grown fruits and vegetables aren’t over-engineered for things like shelf-life, appearance, or the ability to travel well.
So get out there and pick some of this stuff up. We only have a few more weeks of farmers markets on the Llano Estacado. There’s still something in it for us though, especially if we’re looking to eat better and feel better.