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QUICK FIND AN ATM!! Cat at the Farmer’s Market…

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My husband will tell you, I can go a little overboard at a Farmer’s Market. A little? OK, A LOT sometimes. Some women have a shoe problem. Some women have a clothing problem. I have a vegetable problem. I walk into the Farmer’s Market, cloth bags in hand… I can see the first produce display… my heart rate increases, my pupils dilate. And then, it happens. My ADD kicks in BIG TIME. Where do I even BEGIN?! Everywhere I look there are tables overflowing with the freshest most delicious looking produce. The prices are low, the nutrient levels are through the roof, and it can all be mine! Then my internal conversation begins, “Wait, no, hold on Cat, I have $40 in cash just forty… prioritize Cat! What do you need this week? Who are you cooking for? How much time do you have? OH God… I see honey crisp apples!” I dart over to the apple vendor, immediately start scanning the giant crate full of gorgeous apples. They look so delicious and freshly picked. Quick, GRAB A BAGGIE! I rip off a baggie from the dispenser and start stuffing it with ripe apples. After I realize the baggie is not nearly big enough (ugh!) I just give up and walk up to the apple vendor.

“Hi can I get a 20 lb box? I mean… after all, apples keep pretty well you know?” “Sure!” he says, thrilled that I am an impulse produce shopper. That’ll be $40 dollars maam”. GULP. “Ummmm… OK, there you go thanks!”

I hand over the money and head for my car to drop off my 20 pounds of honey crisp apples. As I walk over, I start scanning the market for the nearest ATM. I need money FAST. There is sweet corn and mushrooms calling my name. Not to mention my usual staples, kale, onions, garlic, carrots and potatoes. Oh God wait… heirloom TOMATOES are in season too right now! Forget taking out like $20 more dollars, I need at least $40 more dollars. I hope to heck I don’t have an encounter with fresh figs today because if I do, all bets are off. Fresh figs are my biggest weakness.

Within 30 minutes I typically have so much produce stuffed into my cloth bags that my biceps are aching as I relentlessly keep doing laps around my rather large local Farmer’s Market. If you are wondering if who you are looking at is me, look for the short chick not so gracefully schlepping around three over stuffed canvas bags of produce. I just keep scanning until I am absolutely sure that I have not missed anything. Not like I can’t and won’t come back tomorrow when I feel the itch!

My vegetable problem is compounded by the fact that where I live, the Farmer’s Market goes on four days a week in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, and that it remains open on Saturdays October-December. Only three months a year is the market closed where I live. Three months, I reign it in. But now I am only three weeks away from it’s reopening! Another issue I face in the summer is that there is a berry farm literally a mile from my house. What’s a nutrition nerd to do?!?

As much as I like to poke fun at myself, and my failed attempts to stay within a produce budget, I will point out that I think dedicating a slightly larger percent of your income on fresh healthy produce is actually a good idea. Yes, this will absolutely depend on your financial situation. There are all sorts of statistics you can google about the US and how in past decades, Americans spent a larger percent of their income on food, and a smaller percent of their income on their health care, versus today… where we spend typically a smaller amount (comparatively) on our food, and a larger amount (comparatively) on our healthcare. This does not prove anything of course and yes, healthcare has changed. However, it is telling of how our health problems have trended upwards as our food costs have trended downwards.

As a nutrition professional, I have learned a lot about how the human body has an amazing ability to heal itself within certain limits. I have also learned over and over again, how plant foods provide us with phytonutrients, that have an amazing ability to provide more disease preventing actions and aide the body’s own natural healing processes. There are obviously no guarantees in life, and no guarantees with any certain eating style. However, in the nutrition research world we tend to ask the question… Given the present day research, what makes the most sense? Supplying your body with an abundance of fiber and antioxidant containing produce seems to make the most sense. This (along with exercise) most likely will put your body in the best possible position to prevent disease and health issues from occurring. So if you’re able, feel free to splurge in the produce aisle or Farmer’s Market on the occasion! I plan on starting to garden this summer. I think that could help me be less of an impulse produce shopper at the market.