DIETITIAN Kerri Gordon says proud producers can teach us to eat better.
The Ballarat Community Health expert encourages everyone to consider farmers’ markets as a key food source before turning to the supermarket.
Ms Gordon said producers could educate consumers on food preparation and how to enrich foods because they were so passionate about what they have grown or made.
While the booming popularity of reality television shows was inspiring people to cook their meals from scratch more, Ms Gordon said it was about choosing the right ingredients or finding the right in-season alternatives for recipes.
“People might go looking specifically for Swiss brown mushrooms when portobello mushrooms are in season,” Ms Gordon said.
“The benefit of having those farmers’ markets is seasonal produce, which offers a natural backdrop for eating and natural variety in eating...our ecological system has a way in varying our diet during the year.”
Ms Gordon said farmers’ markets were a good guide for avoiding imported foods and supporting great produce from your region.
Ballarat producers and market organisers are concerned this region is not embracing the farmers’ markets. Producers are prepared to travel for better sales.
While Ballarat markets get a good crowd, producers have told market operators, like Jiggety Jig’s Suzi Fitzpatrick, that not many are buying – people tend to visit Ballarat farmers’ markets for an outing just to look.
Cost and time were two elements about farmers’ markets that Ms Gordon said must be put in perspective.
Making the most of a farmers’ market required an element of thought and preparation, planning meals for the week ahead. Ms Gordon said farmers’ markets could be a source of inspiration and, with planning, could decrease the average food bill because fresh produce straight from the source would often last longer.
“The question of is healthy eating more expensive versus ready-made processed food is like the chicken versus the egg scenario,” Ms Gordon said. “Processed food is perhaps not always nutritional but, putting it in perspective, a complex and mixed diet is generally more fulfilling, so you tend to eat less.”
Ms Gordon said food should be enjoyed and savoured. Making time to visit the farmers’ market and considering meals to cook was part of the experience. It was about getting to know the local butcher or cheese maker or grower and their produce.
“What you’re doing in farmers’ markets is supporting a local model,” Ms Gordon said. “You’re buying what is available and sustainable and keeping money in the region.”
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