Nourishing healthy, radiant skin means filling your diet with optimal sources of skin nutrition. The summer months offer a perfect opportunity to switch up your regular grocery store routine and fill your reusable shopping bag with food that’s fresher and more nutrient dense than what you’d typically find on store shelves. We love farmer’s markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, and co-ops as sources of just-picked, nutrition-packed produce with major skin benefits.

What’s the difference between these three fresh food sources? Farmer’s markets are organized markets where local farmers assemble to sell a variety of produce. You’ll often find locally-produced items like meat, dairy, produce and baked goods here as well. A CSA is a membership program that allows you to subscribe to regularly scheduled shares of harvested produce from a local farm or farms. And a co-op is a member-run business organization that buys a large volume of goods in order to pass along savings to members who purchase those goods.

Skin Benefits

When you recognize that you’re part of a planetary eco-system, eating in season makes perfect sense. Taste, quality, and peak nutritional value are the most obvious reasons to buy in season, but supporting your local farmers also reduces your carbon footprint. Fresh produce contains nourishing micronutrients that feed your skin on a cellular level, so a daily green smoothie provides a burst of oxygen for your blood, making your skin glow. Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, watercress, arugula, and dandelion greens provide fiber, vitamin A, and calcium. Strawberries, cantaloupe, and apricots contain antioxidants and abundant amounts of vitamins C and E to feed the skin, minimize wrinkles and support even skin tone. To see what’s harvested seasonally in your area, go to www.localharvest.org, where you’ll also find farmers’ markets locations and seasonal produce guides.

farmers-market-berries
photo by Rhett Maxwell

Local Farmers

Whether you live in an urban, suburban, or rural area, it’s likely that there’s a farmer’s market, co-op, or CSA near you, possibly even organizations that deliver right to your home or office. If you’re new to eating locally and seasonally or aren’t sure what options you have in your area, check out the USDA’s new Local Food Directories resource to find a nearby farmer’s market or CSA. If you love the idea of a co-op and want to find one locally, search coopdirectory.org.

What about produce that’s not USDA certified organic? While buying food that’s local AND organic is ideal, it’s not always possible. If your farmer’s market or CSA doesn’t offer USDA certified organic produce, ask the grower what type of integrated pest management systems they use. Many traditional farming methods have made a big comeback and don’t include toxic chemical pesticides or GMOs. If you’re purchasing meat or dairy from a farm that’s not USDA certified organic, look for farms that pasture-raise their animals. The website www.eatwild.org is a great resource for local, traditional animal farms. Co-ops often carry foods from different local sources, some certified organic, some not. Ask a working cooperator for more information if you have questions about how the food was grown or raised. You’ll find that most cooperators and farmers are more than happy to get to know you and answer your questions!

Removing Roadblocks

What if you pledge to dive headlong into the green scene of seasonal shopping each summer, but find yourself barely dipping in your toe? Chances are you’re being held back by one of these three common blocks:

The block: You fear that a new shopping style will overwhelm you with options and push you outside your culinary comfort zone.

The solution: Start small and specific to avoid overwhelm. Commit to supplying just your family’s fruit each week from the farmer’s market on 5th Street. It won’t be long before you start adding veggies and other gems to your sack. When it comes to your culinary zone, expansion comes through experimentation. Split a CSA share with a friend and swap Pinterest recipes that use your goods. Start a weekly family competition for the most delicious green side dish. Play with your food!

The block: Since you barely have time to stop at the supermarket after work, getting to a farmer’s market is bound to be too time consuming.

The solution: Combine your desire for fresh food with another task on your to-do list. A two-for-one outing feels more efficient. Looking to spend more time with a loved one? Make a standing date at the co-op on Wednesdays. Dog needs more socialization and exercise?  Walk to the farmer’s market with Fido on Saturdays.

The block: You figure that it’s all too expensive, so why bother.

The solution: Have you thoroughly investigated your options?

‘Too expensive’ is a often a judgment call and a prioritization statement more than a statement of fact. We all have different budgets to balance, but we urge you to consider this: You and your skin are worth every delicious, nutrient-rich dime!