Swing Into Spring

Guest blog post by our Dietetic Intern, Katavia Sumpter.

Looking to eat more fruits and vegetables this season?

Fresh produce often has a bad reputation for being expensive; however, buying produce in season can be a great way to receive quality produce for less! The table below shows the fruits and vegetables available in South Carolina during March, April and May (source: agriculture.sc.gov):

Market monthly list

Farmer’s Markets

Visiting your local farmer’s market can be a great way to receive inexpensive, fresh produce. In addition to knowing your seasons, here are a few more tips for shopping at farmers markets (source: thespruceeats.com):
-Go early (or late)
Farmer’s markets are usually less crowded when they open or right before they close. Try going at different times to find out what works best for you. For quality, go early; for the best deals, go late. Farmers sometimes offer discounts on products instead of loading them back up on their trucks. Keep in mind that farmers grow this food for a living, so don’t expect or ask or big discounts.
-Bring Big Bags and Small Change
Though some vendors provide bags, they are usually thin. Bringing your own sturdy bags can ensure that everything you buy gets home without spilling on the ground or in your car. Vendors will make change, but having close to exact change will help make purchases go easier and faster.
-Plan Meals Ahead of Time
Now that you know what’s in season and likely to find at the farmer’s market, you can do some meal planning and shop based on your meal.
-Be Flexible
Planning for your farmer’s market trip can be good, but it’s important to also be flexible-you may be able to find a good deal!
-Work in Bulk
The best deals at the farmers market are usually made when you buy in bulk. How to use it all up? Refer to some of the recipes below! Also learning how to freeze, can, and dry fresh produce can be a great way to enjoy your favorites all year long!
-Think “Whole Foods”
Think of how food grows and comes to the farmer’s market unprocessed; this will help you learn how to handle fresh produce.
-Talk to the Farmers!
This will be helpful if you’re interested in trying a new fruit or vegetable. Asking the farmer how to prepare it will take out the guess work when trying to prepare it at home! They will also be a good source on how to handle fresh produce.
-Consider Buying a Wheeled Cart or Wagon
This will come in handy if you plan to buy in bulk!
-Keep it Simple
Let the natural flavor of the produce show when you prepare them. This will not only make cooking easier, but will also motivate you to try more local produce.

Interested in trying a new fruit or vegetable? Or are you looking or a new way to consume your favorite produce?

Here are some recipes to try:

grilled asparagus recipe
strawberry icecream recipe