Get Healthy Carson City: Farmers market strives to make healthy food available to all | NevadaAppeal.com

Get Healthy Carson City: Farmers market strives to make healthy food available to all

Cortney Bloomer
Carson City Health and Human Services

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

Summer brings with it a feast for the eyes as well as the palette in the form of fresh produce in every color of the rainbow. The colorful, seasonal produce available at the 3rd and Curry St. Farmers Market in Carson City is fresh, locally grown and delicious. Fresh berries, greens, summer vegetables and stone fruits are in abundance at the market right now, and as the summer turns to fall, other varieties, like squash, will become available.

Eating food that is in season is the best way to get the most flavor and the highest quality. However, there has long been a perception that healthful eating is not affordable to everyone. Linda Marrone, who manages the market downtown each Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., is aiming to change that. Through cooperation with Partnership Carson City, SNAP benefit recipients will be able to redeem their food dollars at the market for the first time beginning on Saturday. Not only that, generous contributions from donors in the community have made it possible to offer those using SNAP additional buying power by doubling the dollars.

“If you spend $5 of benefits, we’ll give you $5 more to spend at the market so you’ll have $10,” Marrone said.

Kathy Bartosz, director of Partnership Carson City, is excited about the new EBT machines the organization purchased to accept SNAP benefits.

“We know fresh produce can be expensive, but we want to do everything we can to make it affordable and available to everyone,” she said. She also explained the process for redeeming SNAP and getting the additional value-added money. “We’ll have a table set up at the market where people can check in when they get to the market. We’ll deduct their desired amount from the EBT card and give them the money to spend with the farmers.” Bartosz also promoted the community atmosphere at the market. “There’s music, activities for kids … it’s just a great place for families to go and shop and teach kids about how to shop for healthy foods.”

Part of learning to shop may be learning about the great nutrition available in fresh foods. The different colors of food can often be a signal for some of the beneficial nutrients that food contains. Many red, blue, and purple foods, such as blueberries, cherries, beets, and eggplant, contain a family of chemicals called anthocyanins. These compounds, which help to give the fruit its rich color, also help to protect cells from damage. Tomatoes and watermelon, both in season now, contain lycopene, which may be beneficial for reducing the risk of several types of cancer.

Orange and yellow foods pack a big nutritional punch with carotenoids, which are converted to vitamin A. Vitamin A is critical for improving eyesight, bolstering the immune system, and warding off heart disease. Some good yellow or orange sources of carotenoids are apricots, carrots, squash and cantaloupe — all available at the market.

Green foods contain a variety of beneficial nutrients that can help you stay healthy and strong. Some examples of nutrient-rich green foods you might find at the market on Saturday are kale, zucchini, spinach and broccoli.

For more information about the 3rd and Curry St. Farmers Market, visit http://www.carsonfarmersmarket.com. If you wish to contribute to the matching fund for SNAP dollars, please make checks payable to Partnership Carson City, or donate at the market on Saturdays throughout the summer. For more information about Health Department services, check out our website at http://www.gethealthycarsoncity.org, or “like” our Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/CCHHS.