Delight Your Picky Eater’s Senses

Farmers’ Markets Engage Picky Eaters 

katy.JPGFarmers’ markets are not only fun for the entire family, but they can be a wonderful source for multi-sensory learning. One of the most effective methods for developing healthy eating habits in your kids, especially picky eaters, is to involve them in the entire food process, beginning with your purchase of the week’s groceries.

Farmers’ markets are more intimate than a large chain grocers or big box store. These food producers are directly connected with families who consume their goods. They may bring locally grown, organic, fresh food products to families in a cost-effective, resource-efficient way. Most farmers’ markets start up in the spring and close down in the fall, although a few operate all year.

Organic-food sales currently account for about 2.5 percent of U.S. food purchases, while only .2 percent of U.S. farmland is certified organic. Sales of organic products have been increasing at annual rates of 16 to 20 percent!

While this is encouraging, the U.S. is behind the ball with organic farming. Italy, which is smaller than New Mexico, has more organically farmed acreage than the entire U.S.

Katy is proud of her farmer’s market find…a GI-NORMOUS artichoke!

I regularly shop at the farmers’ market a few miles from my home in Colorado. Fresh, organic locally-grown food is my goal. On Sundays, the Crossroads parking lot is a bustle of activity. The buzz of people make it a shopping experience. Wide-eyed children cling to their moms, hoping for a treat before they head home.

Because the event is held outdoors, many people bring their dogs. Vendors place bowls of water in front of their booths, to keep man’s best friend hydrated.

You can see moms and dads eagerly placing colorful produce into their reusable canvas bags. The produce is gorgeous and it’s tempting to purchase more than we can eat.

The tables, set in the middle of the parking lot, contain a variety of wares and homespun items. You can find locally grown honey, organic beef, and of course produce. There’s a vendor displaying locally made pasta. In the mix are hot dog stands, cotton candy, and donuts. So, just as in the grocery store, not everything found in a farmer’s market is nutritious.

Farmers’ markets, of course, usually don’t sell exclusively organic food; but the emphasis should be on local above all else. In most farmers’ markets, you can find produce grown only miles from your home, which will be the freshest and tastiest produce. Flavor is only one of the perks from locally grown produce. Fruits and vegetables contain their highest levels of nutrients, when harvested fully ripe and eaten soon afterwards.

Locally grown foods are often a better choice
Then again, it can be trucked from thousands of miles way. Be sure to ask the vendor where the food is grown. If it’s not grown in your state, move along to the next vendor.

The farmers’ market in Parker has several produce vendors, one trucks it’s produce in from California. Another is the Palizzi Farm from Brighton, Colorado. A new addition to the Parker market is Monroe Organic Farms from Kersey, Colorado. They’re the oldest organic farm in Colorado. The Monroe Organic Farms it’s still family owned and operated. You can contact Jacquie and Jerry Monroe from their website, Their table is a bit smaller, because they offer only locally grown organic produce. As summer veggies are harvested, they’ll have more to offer.

If I want to purchase produce shipped 1,000 miles, I’ll shop at a grocery chain or a big box store and it’ll be cheaper. A concern with produce is that much of it comes from Mexico, where regulations don’t always apply. When you purchase produce grown in the U.S., you know that it’s been properly inspected, as well as safe to eat.

I always make a beeline to the Monroe Organic Farm’s and the Palizzi Farm’s tables. Jose is in charge of the Palizzi Farm’s tables and he’s always cheerful. Although, this produce isn’t certified organic, it’s grown with minimal us of pesticides. It’s freshly picked and quickly transported to the farmers’ market.

The Palizzi Farm has been family-owned for four generations. I spoke with Debora Palizzi, who along with her mother Gloria, owns and operates their 145-acre farm today. She said the maximum time the produce is picked before it makes it way to a Colorado farmer’s market is 12 to 24 hours.

Other Costs for Food
Approximately 80 percent of every food dollar you spend pays for advertising, trucking, processing, packaging, and marketing. Purchasing locally grown food supports local farmers and keeps the revenue in your community. This eliminates several steps between the farm and your plate. As the price of gas continues it’s upward climb, local produce will become even a greater bargain.

Farming economists predict there will be less than 400 farmers within the next 20 to 30 years. These farmers will work on mega farms of 30,000 acres or more. Purchasing produce from local farmers, directly supports small farms and increases the likelihood they will survive.

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