I’ve been hitting the farmer’s markets around the city as much as possible these days. The tomatoes! The corn! The basil! I want to savor it all. This weekend while I was working my way through a stack of Bon Appétit magazines, I came across a piece on Jo Robinson’s new book Eating on the Wild. Have you heard of it? In his book, Robinson explains how exactly we should be shopping the markets (and grocery stores), from methods of identifying the freshest items to specific varieties of fruits and vegetables that will make your nutrient intake even higher. I definitely learned a thing or two. Here are a few examples from the book….

  • Kale–  yes yes everyone already knows it’s sooo good for you, but you can do even better by selecting the red-leafed varieties (like Red Russian). And go raw! Raw kale has more vitamin C, antioxidants, and phytonutrients than cooked.
  • Cherries– Robinson says to go for the Bing cherries, one of the healthiest due to anthocyanins which fight inflammation. You’re also supposed to look for bright green flexible stems as they’re a sign of freshness. I never even thought to look at the stems…
  • Watermelon– you want vibrant red flesh, this is visual proof the melon is packed with lycopene. Robinson says it’s ok to buy them halved or quartered because they’re usually cut in the store, meaning minimal loss of freshness and processing, and that way you can spot the one’s with the brightest interior.
  • Peaches-this I found fascinating, as I always thought you’re supposed to choose the brightest, most colorful produce. Apparently that does not apply to peaches. White fleshed peaches can have as much as six times the antioxidants of yellow fleshed peaches.
  • Tomatoes-apparently the smaller and darker the tomato, the more cancer fighting lycopene it has. In short, load up on the cherry and grape varieties!
  • Lettuce– I knew before I read the article that the darker and more bitter varieties of lettuce pack the most nutrients (think arugula, spinach, etc), but I had no idea that a loose arrangement of leaves was so important. Why? Robinson writes “Direct sunlight prompts leaves to produce a botanical sunscreen, which in turn boosts their nutrient content.” So I suppose a loose arrangement means more sun exposure. Who knew??

I’m thinking Robinson’s book may have to be my next selection for our On Our Bookshelf series. Did you already know these tips? Any other great ideas for making the most of the summer markets? I’d love to hear!

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  1. Nice one! I did not know this about the tomatoes, the smaller ones do taste better so I usually buy those. And white flesh peaches are sweeter! But Kale – I really want to like it but it’s so hard!!

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