Many people like to shop at a farmers’ market. It is the energy of the market, the colorful array of food and it really does seem to encourage you to buy more fruits and vegetables. However, you also have to shop smart.
"You have to be careful because the farmers’ market has a tendency to have a health halo," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, Registered Dietician and Nutritionist and Nutrition Expert at Sonima.com.
And for good reason. Farmers’ markets are a good way to meet the people who actually grow your food, and really center on that farm-to-table concept. The food is often fresher and often just tastes better.
"Most of the food is usually local, not always, but it's usually local - meaning that it didn't have to travel as far to get to you,” Taub-Dix says. “So there is a chance that it will have more nutrients. It wasn't on a hot truck that went across the country or exposed to a lot of light."
But you can't just assume. If you want organic, find out from the farmers if their products are certified organic and look at the signs that are posted.
"Look for the words that say 'organic,' says Taub-Dix. “Be careful about the words that just say 'fresh' or 'local' because local doesn't mean organic. Local could be full of pesticides and organic could mean that it comes from across the country."
And while those baked goods look delicious, it's also where the health halo often doesn't glow as brightly.
"For example, banana bread or grandma's apple pie. Apple pie could be made with sugary apple filling and a white piecrust and loads of butter. That's not necessarily good for your insides even though it may make you feel cozy inside," Taub-Dix says.
She wrote the book "Read It Before You Eat It." She says that is especially true for people with allergies.
"If you have food allergies, you really may want to be careful about buying baked goods at a farmers’ market and instead buy it at a supermarket where the labels are very clear," Taub-Dix says.
Timing is very important when you are shopping at the farmers’ market.
"If you come early in the day you'll have greater variety and I think that you'll have more to shop for, but also if it's a hot summer day your food won't be sitting outside for so long. You can just take it home and refrigerate it," Taub-Dix says.
However, if you can't shop until late in the day, the good news is that's when you're more likely to get a good deal.