Farmer's market fun

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Swing into summer by heading to your local farmerís market! The farmerís market is an excellent way to support local farmers, get nutritious and delicious seasonal foods, make cooking fun, and be a champion for sustainability and the farm to table movement. Knowing where your food actually comes from can be empowering in terms of your personal health and the environment in which we live. Chatting with the vendor where you buy your food can be an educational experience, and local farmers are often happy to share their farming techniques and practices used in crop and livestock production. Although healthy foods are often perceived as more expensive, the farmerís market often offers equal or lower prices than competing supermarkets. In addition, the Kootenai County Farmerís Market accepts food stamps dollars. Stock up on locally seasonal produce right now, such as leafy greens, asparagus, beets, carrots, fresh herbs, onions, radishes and rhubarb.

The farmerís market has an assortment of organic and conventional farming vendors. If youíre wondering whether to purchase conventional produce or opt for organic, then the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list can serve as a good guide. Each year the Environmental Working Group publishes a list of fruits and vegetables that are highest and lowest in pesticide residues, referred to as the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list. Foods on the Dirty Dozen list have substantial data through U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration testing to show that they contain more pesticides than other produce, so opting for organic with this list can help cut your consumption of harmful toxins. On this yearís list, the Environmental Working Group found that over 70 percent of the produce on the Dirty Dozen list contained pesticide residues, while more than 80 percent of the foods on the Clean Fifteen list had no detectable pesticides (see list below).

Dirty Dozen: Strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes.

Clean Fifteen: Sweet corn, avocados, pineapple, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangos, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.

The Kootenai County Farmerís Market operates on Wednesday evenings in downtown Coeur díAlene and Saturday mornings in Hayden from May through October. For more information and the events calendar, visit their website at: http://kootenaifarmersmarkets.org/

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Natalie Colla CDE, RDN, LDN, is a graduate of the University of Idaho Dietetics Program and a diabetes educator with Kootenai Clinic Diabetes and Endocrinology.

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