Together We Thrive: Choose Local Foods at Your Farmers Market!

This Together We Thrive article was authored by Bri King, Registered Dietitian with the Warren County Health District

What better way to get involved in your community than by selecting fresh foods from your local farmers market? Eating locally provides a variety of health benefits. These foods are picked at peak ripeness instead of being harvested early to be shipped and distributed to a local retail store. Usually, produce at local markets has been picked within 24 hours of purchasing, so the food is fresher and generally contains more nutrients because it has a shorter time between harvest and when you purchase the food (Klavinski, 2013). Buying locally also promotes the selection of seasonal foods.

Significant impacts on physical health can occur from buying locally. A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, and lower risk of eye and digestive problems. Eating non-starchy vegetables and fruits can potentially promote weight loss. These foods provide a variety of nutrients for a lower calorie count, and their low glycemic loads and high fiber content prevent blood sugar spikes that can increase hunger (Bertoia et al., 2015). 

You do not have to buy organic produce to be healthier. The American Institute of Cancer Research and World Cancer Research Fund have compiled expert reports looking at hundreds of studies. These have indicated a few differences in the vitamin content of organic products. While researchers found that organic produce had a 30 percent lower risk of pesticide contamination than conventional fruits and vegetables, the pesticide levels of all foods generally fell within the allowable safety limits (Brandt, 2012). These studies also suggested decreased cancer risk associated with increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, regardless of whether the produce was bought organic or conventional. Furthermore, low intake of fruits and vegetables were associated with increased risk of certain types of cancers (Bradbury et al., 2014). 

Organic products are not always healthy. There are many processed and packaged foods that have the ingredients grown organically; however, these foods contain significant amounts of fat, sugar and artificial ingredients that can be harmful to health and contribute to weight gain (DiSegna, n.d.). In conclusion, high intakes of a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables are suggested for decreasing overall cancer risk and improving general health.

Additionally, local foods promote a safer food supply. The more steps there are between you and your food’s source, the more chances there are for contamination because issues can occur at harvesting, washing, shipping and/or distribution (Klavinski, 2013). To ensure safety from contamination, all produce (organic or not) should be washed thoroughly before eating. Washing produce under running water with light hand scrubbing helps remove dirt, bacteria, chemicals and pesticide residues (DiSegna, n.d.). No soap is required and is not suggested because ingestion can be harmful.

If you are looking to save money, buy conventional and/or locally when you can. Often, local farmers are practicing organic farming methods but cannot afford the cost of becoming a certified organic farm. Since foods do not have to be grown and shipped from far away in the winter months, local food is generally less costly (DiSegna, n.d.).

Not only does buying locally make you physically healthy, it also supports the growth and viability of the local economy. The money that is spent with local farmers and growers all stays close to home and is reinvested with businesses and services in your community. Furthermore, purchasing locally-grown foods helps maintain farmland and green and/or open space in your community (Klavinski, 2013).

Buying locally can also be educational because it allows the consumer to be more informed about how the food was grown. It may allow consumers to try new foods. It is important to vary your intake of produce because no single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy (What Should You Eat: Fruits and Vegetables, n.d.). Local food selection is also a great opportunity to involve the family and teach youngsters about where food comes from and how it is grown.

The Lebanon Farmers Market opens soon! Be sure to check it out with family and friends, and to center your grocery shopping and meal planning around the great foods our community has to offer. The Lebanon Farmers Market is open 3 pm to 7 pm every Thursday mid-May through mid-October. The market is located in the City-owned parking lot at the corner of Main Street and Sycamore Street, one block west of the Golden Lamb. The market offers a variety of locally grown or produced vegetables, fruit, baked goods, jams, meat, eggs, body care, flowers, and other artisan items. For more information, click here.

Tips to eat more vegetables and fruits each day: (What Should You Eat: Fruits and Vegetables, n.d.)

  • Choose whole fruit instead of dessert, or add yogurt or cheese slices with your fruit to get more protein.
  • On most days, try to get at least one serving from each of the following categories: dark green leafy vegetables; yellow or orange fruits and vegetables; red fruits and vegetables; legumes (beans) and peas; and citrus fruits.
  • Add a side of baby carrots or sliced cucumbers/bell peppers to pack with your lunches. Add lettuce/spinach, tomatoes, or onions to sandwiches.
  • Try cooking new recipes that include more salads, soups and stir-fries are just a few ideas for increasing the number of tasty vegetables in your meals.

Works Cited
Bertoia ML, Mukamal KJ, Cahill LE, Hou T, Ludwig DS, Mozaffarian D, Willett WC,

Hu FB, Rimm EB. Changes in intake of fruits and vegetables and weight change in United States men and women followed for up to 24 years: analysis from three prospective cohort studies. PLoS medicine. 2015 Sep 22;12(9):e1001878.

Bradbury KE, Balkwill A, Spencer EA, Roddam AW, Reeves GK, Green J, Key TJ, Beral V, Pirie K and the Million Women Study Collaborators. Organic food consumption and the incidence of cancer in a large prospective study of women in the United Kingdom. BR J Cancer. 2014 Apr 29; 110(9): 2321-2326

Brandt, M. (2012, September 3). Little evidence of health benefits from organic foods, study finds. Stanford Medicine News Center. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from rganic-foods-study-finds.html

DiSegna, C. L. (n.d.). Organic foods are emerging as a potential strategy for decreasing cancer risk. But does the research support this trend? Cancer Nutrition Consortium. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from

Klavinski, R. (2013, April 13). 7 benefits of eating local foods. Michigan State University MSU Extension. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from

What should you eat: Vegetables and fruits. (n.d.). The Nutrition Source: Harvard Health T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from #:~:text=A%20not%20rich%20in%20 vegetables,help%20keep%20appetite%20in%20check