Farmers Markets: Bringing the Farm to Table

by Emilie Lindsay, MS RDN LD

Farmers Markets: Bringing the Farm to Table

Using all of the unique food finds after a trip to the local farmers market can be a challenge. With a little planning, your field trip to the farmers market can be a perfect way to introduce your family to new foods while learning where our food comes from — an experience all won't soon forget.

Here are the six most important things to remember for bringing a piece of the farm back to your table.

  1. Plan ahead. Bring a list of what foods you need. Scoping out the market's website or event guide gives an idea of what is offered. Get your child excited about what new foods will be there, and ask your child what new things they would like to try.
  2. Try something new. Challenge yourself and your child to try at least one new food item. The farmers market is the perfect setting for sampling unique foods. Many food stands will offer tasters to passersby interested in trying their foods.
  3. Talk to the farmers. Take this opportunity to meet your local farmers and producers in a relaxed setting. Use this time to have a conversation with the people responsible for growing or making your food. Farmers enjoy getting to know you and appreciate your interest in their crops.
  4. Ask questions. Not sure how to incorporate that purple potato into a dish your family would like? Ask the individuals selling the foods; they are a wealth of knowledge for various ideas of how to use their food as ingredients in your recipes. Some even have recipes available for you to take home.
  5. Follow the MyPlate method. Most farmers markets offer a wide variety of foods: most are delicious and nutritious, but some are high in calories. When choosing foods, remember the USDA's MyPlate method which emphasizes making half your plate fruits and vegetables, and the rest of your plate with whole grains and lean protein.
  6. Make a farm-to-table meal. Now, use a medley of what you gathered at the farmers market to prepare your meal. Involve your child in the kitchen, helping to prepare the various ingredients. Try this Heirloom Tomato-Basil Salad recipe after going to your next farmers market:

    5 heirloom tomatoes cut into wedges
    ¼ cup fresh chopped basil
    1 clove minced garlic
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


    Toss together and serve either alone or on top of a bed of fresh greens.
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About the author:

Emilie G.M. Lindsay MS RDN LD

Emilie Lindsay, MS RDN LD

is lead registered dietitian for the Rockford Health System in Rockford, Ill.




  • Cook healthy

    Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of all meals. Even a snack can be healthy.

  • Eat right

    Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful meal and the opportunity to share the day's experiences with one another.

  • Shop smart

    To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

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