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Every spring and summer, farmers markets sprout up like flowers in our cities and towns. Going to the farmers market is more than just grocery shopping. It’s a visceral experience of color and aroma, from starbursts of orange, red and bright yellow peppers and crimson beets to the smells of freshly cut herbs, flowers, and farm fresh food.

Farmers markets are a healthy way to find seasonal produce packed with health benefits.

Farmers markets are a healthy way to find seasonal produce packed with health benefits. They also provide a way to deeply connect with the source of your food and to support your local community and economy. The combination of community and smells, like the succulent sweetness of freshly picked strawberry, the lusciousness of a sun-ripened heirloom tomato, or the crispness of a lemon cucumber, inspires us to eat healthier. Farmers markets are a great adventure for the whole family to sample new foods. The very act of experiencing this community with your family, and supporting your local economy, is also good for your health.

Even if you can’t always get to a market, the new demand for healthy, organic and local food has motivated large stores such as Walmart, Costco and Target to support local and regional farmers and stock their produce aisles with locally grown organic produce.

This site is a good place to discover what fruits and vegetables are in season at specific times.

Here are a few top picks for spring and summer with some delicious recipes to inspire you.


From the Brassica family of produce, it is one of the best known cruciferous vegetables. It’s rich in fiber, Vitamin C, folate, carotenoids, flavanoids, isothiocyanates, indoles, kaempferol, quercetin and anthocyanins and other protective antioxidants and phytochemicals that can decrease inflammation and lower risk for heart disease and cancer. Sulforaphane, one the powerful phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables, especially concentrated in broccoli, has been shown in studies to have specific anti-inflammatory effects, protecting arteries from damage and preventing atherosclerosis. This is particularly true in individuals with diabetes, according to a UK study published in the Journal of Diabetes.


Chard is a member of the Chenopod family and a farmer’s market spring star. It has many of the same phyto-nutrients as broccoli such as cancer and heart protective sulforaphane, flavonoids and indoles, Vitamin C, and other anti-oxidants such as lutein, carotenes, zea-xanthin, crypto-xanthin, rich in Vitamin B-complex and folate.


These little gems are are packed with health-promoting nutrients and protective phytochemicals such as phenolic compounds, sterols (such as ergosterol), chitosan, and triterpenes, providing a range of health benefits. Mushrooms are high in fiber and rich in beta-glucan. These properties have been shown to enhance the immune system along, improve cholesterol and blood sugar management. Research also shows that eating mushrooms can improve metabolic markers such as cholesterol, triglycerides, homocysteine, blood pressure and oxidative and inflammatory damage.  They also contain compounds with anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancing properties that can possibly hinder the development of some cancers.

This amazing rich and creamy, Mushroom Stroganoff (see Ornish Kitchen sample menu # 2 in the dinner section ) is packed with health-promoting mushrooms to create a velvety, savory and hearty sauce served over a bed of whole grain pasta. It’s the perfect comfort food for a rainy spring day or an active day spent in the sun. Any combination of mushrooms works well to provide the robust texture and rich flavor that you may expect in a stroganoff. They perfectly blend with the dry sherry and aminos to create a meaty-like sauce. Pick up some fresh thyme at the market to infuse a dry minty accent to this delicious dish.

Frittatas are also great way to toss in any of your favorite farmers’ or local market picks. Enjoy spring fresh mushrooms and asparagus in frittata. Trying adding mushrooms to this Egg White and Vegetable frittata in the Ornish Kitchen Sample Menu 1.

Here’s how to find farmers markets in your area.

What is your favorite spring produce or farmers market pick?


Contributed by

Carra Richling
Registered Dietitian

Eat well, be well!

Better Health Begins With You...

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