Michigan produce reaches peak production in late summer
Have you been to your local farmers market recently?
As the summer has begun to wane, the farmers markets have been overflowing with a variety of produce in many colors. There’s nothing like the sweet taste of fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruits. The warmer temperatures of August and September have helped many items mature and ripen that were slow to produce earlier. You will likely even see some less common types such as garlic scape, lovage and white eggplant that are less frequent in our grocery stores. It’s fun to buy a little of these and experiment. If you’re not sure about trying them, the growers are happy to share ideas and recipes. Michigan State University Extension offices also have recipes for many items, and you can browse the internet for more ideas.
Farmers markets often have fruit and vegetables that may not be available at grocery stores such as garlic scapes, heirloom tomatoes, a variety of greens, fresh currants, gooseberries and fresh herbs. Another great bonus is that you know where the produce was grown, and you can ask the grower questions about the produce. As you visit the markets throughout the summer, you can see how the availability of local produce changes as the season progresses.
Many seniors and WIC families received Project Fresh or Senior Market Fresh coupons for the markets earlier this summer. If you received coupons and still have some left, be sure to get to the markets and spend them before the end of October. There should be a good variety of produce as long as the weather holds. Also, many are accepting Bridge cards or SNAP cards. Families who have a SNAP card can also participate in Double Up Food Bucks, which allows a family to double the amount of produce they get at a market for a certain amount from their card. Check at the markets near you to see what programs they offer to make produce affordable for some.
The late summer season may be the best time to visit farmers markets in Michigan because that time of the year is when many types of produce are ready for harvesting and eating. Michigan State University Extension’s MI Fresh site has a plethora of information about purchasing, canning and freezing produce, many recipes to try and a lot of other information. Get out and experience the fun at the many farmers’ markets in your area, and enjoy the flavor of fresh locally grown produce!
Visit MSU Extension to find more ideas and information about staying healthy, and learn about other educational programs in your area.