Now that summer has begun taking hold, nutrient-rich soils are transferring more and more of their life-sustaining power to the herbs, grains and vegetables that we then consume and absorb. Our farmer’s markets play a vital role in not only making these fresh, healthy, in-season, locally grown foods available for our choosing, but also offer an open air venue where we can safely and easily engage as social beings again.
As a senior who has been primarily cooped up for over a year in an attempt to keep my fellow citizens and myself out of harm’s way and is finally fully vaccinated, I’ve come to truly appreciate the importance of fellowship. Social isolation can become a routine way of life for many seniors, pandemic or no. Farmers markets bring together humans of all ages, which can be particularly helpful for seniors’ vitality. And, as John Lennon once said, “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is a reality.”
Social isolation has been shown to significantly increase your risk of dementia and premature death from all causes, maybe even more than smoking, obesity or physical activity. On top of that, according to the American Psychiatric Association, lonely seniors are more likely to smoke, drink in excess, and be less physically active.
Additionally, we seniors actually need fewer calories, but more nutrient-rich meals.
Plant foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and whole grains) tend to be nutrient dense and are also a great source of fiber, which can help prevent Type 2 diabetes, aid digestion, lower cholesterol, and help you maintain a healthy weight. Research supports filling at least half of your plate with vegetables and fruit at each meal.
To get the greatest nutritional value, as well as flavor, from your produce, you want it to have the shortest possible time between harvest and consumption, making your farmers market a winner again. Food imported from other states and countries is typically older, has been handled more (exposing it to more contamination risks), and sat in distribution centers before arriving at the store.
Another consideration that becomes clearer as I age is the importance of supporting local businesses. Our local economy can be hurt by having our produce transferred in from all over the world, and oftentimes even sold more cheaply. If we don’t support our local businesses with our purchases, and then wonder where all our local businesses went, whose responsibility is that?
Nationwide, growers selling locally create thirteen full time jobs per $1 million in revenue earned.
Those who do not sell locally create three. And dollars generated locally tend to circulate locally, bolstering the economic health of local businesses and families. Plus, if natural disasters continue to increase, affecting the growth and distribution of food from elsewhere, we’ll certainly become even more grateful to have locally-sourced options.
So with summer in full swing, I look forward to seeing my experienced neighbors and friends taking advantage of nature’s “farm-aceuticals” at our local farmer’s market, supporting our own health and that of our community.
While Kevin McGrath isn’t a farmer, he has the greatest respect and admiration for our local farming community and can be found visiting farmers markets wherever he may roam.
Research contributed by Roslyn McGrath, a fellow fan of food, farmers markets, useful info, helpful humans, and Mother Nature.
Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.