Are you taking advantage of seasonal summer produce? Seasonal eating simply means eating what is in season, right now. Eating seasonally can have health benefits, as it can add variety to your diet and introduce you to new fruits and vegetables. Fresh food choices taste and smell better and may help to get you out of the cooking rut that many of us fall into during the long winter months.

Trying visiting a farmers’ market. While large grocery stores have a wide variety of produce available year-round, finding a local farmer’s market has many advantages. Most produce at a Farmers’ Market is vine ripened and has just been picked!

What fresh produce you find depends on what’s in season. In Ohio, that varies by the month and even week, but in general look forward to enjoying peaches, watermelon, plums, berries, cherries, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, beets, bell peppers, corn, cucumbers, green beans and summer squash!

Go prepared! With so many choices to be made, it can be easy to purchase more fresh produce than you can eat before it spoils. If you are a meal planner, make a list of fresh produce you will need for your meals and take the list to the farmers market. Keep an eye out for anything that looks particularly good that may only be available for a short time such as blueberries, fresh corn and peaches. You might consider bringing a cooler to keep the heat sensitive veggies cool if you have other errands to run before heading home.

Talk to the farmers! Local farmers need to sell their product and are willing to answer your questions. Ask the farmer how they would prepare a certain vegetable or when a certain crop might be ready. Are you looking for organic produce? Make sure you ask! The product that you are buying represents many hours of labor for the farmer. Most of them are happy to share their stories with you.

The Perry County Health Department is working to keep you healthy where you live, work and play. For more information on our programs or to receive the COVID vaccine (walk-ins available), visit our webpage at www.perrycountyhealth.info, contact us at 740-342-5179, and like us on Facebook.

Deborah Raney is the director of health education at the Perry County Health Department and is a weekly contributor to the Perry County Tribune.

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