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Velonda Thompson, Ph.D.

Velonda Thompson, Ph.D.

Farmer-friendly fresh food and summer fun

By Velonda Thompson, Ph.D.
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Summer sizzles with farmer-friendly fresh food and fun. This is the time of year when people don’t think me crazy when I say, “eat like a rainbow.” You have heard it before: Fruits and vegetables are not only good for you, they are your ticket to a lifetime of disease-free health.

They are not just for preventing disease; they provide essential nutrients and minerals that research has shown will ease chronic health conditions. In addition to research showing individuals who adopt the Mediterranean diet (rich in fruit, veggies and fish) keep the doctor away, experts believe pigments in fruits and leafy vegetables provide high levels of antioxidants. Let your food be your medicine.

Although the wet spring delayed crop planting, we can still expect to see a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in farmers markets now. Local doctors, like Detroit Medical Center cardiologist Dr. Theodore Schreiber, lead the way in educating patients about the illness-preventing effect of fruits and vegetables. You won’t need a doctor to fill your farmers’ market prescription for health.

Top five buys you don’t want to leave the market without:

1. Spinach is loaded with iron, beta carotene, vitamin C and folate which supports healthy hair follicles and scalp oil circulation.

2. Kale contains more antioxidant than any other leafy green vegetable, which help ward off cardiovascular disease.

3. Blueberries are known to  help lower blood pressure with their high levels of antioxidants

4. Beets, packed with fiber magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C and folate are known for their cancer preventing properties. Beet also have anti-inflammatory properties.

5. Tomatoes provides our body with lycopene, which help protect your skin from sun damage.

Detroit’s Eastern Market has many links to farmer-friendly fresh food fun. There is the Tuesday, 3rd Thursday, Saturday and Sunday market days where shoppers will find a treasure trove of fruits and vegetables. Also, there are more than 60 local farmers market in and around Wayne and Oakland County.

The 17th Annual Urban Garden Tour is scheduled for Aug. 6. I do not know what is better, the melt-in-your mouth feast (post tour) or the flock of friendly people you meet on the tour bus. Attendees will have the opportunity to travel various routes by bus or bike to visit a sampling of Detroit’s urban gardens, farms and innovative agriculture businesses, followed by a reception that features locally grown food prepared by local chefs.

Tours will leave Eastern Market Shed 3 at 6 p.m. sharp. Early registration is strongly suggested by visiting  www.detroitagriculture.net or calling 313.757.2635. In addition to working with the Eastern Market, Keep Growing Detroit works in partnership with hundreds of community based organizations and residents to present this fabulous event annually. To learn more about urban gardening programs email keepgrowingdetroit@gmail.com

As manager of the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program in Detroit for the Institute for Population Health, I would be remiss not to mention, Project FRESH Tuesdays and  Saturdays at the Eastern Market. Project Fresh is an educational program for WIC participants. All Project FRESH participants get $20 in coupons to purchase locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables at participating farmer’s markets.

On Tuesdays (July 22, Aug. 12 and 19), the Project FRESH team can be found at Shed 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Saturdays (July 19, Aug. 2, 16 and 30), the Project FRESH team will be at various locations in the Eastern Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stop by the Welcome Center to find the exact location.

To make an appointment for a specific day, call the WIC call center at 313.309.9350. Vendors are approved throughout the season to accept Project FRESH benefits. Look for the “Project FRESH accepted here” signs.

Healthy living is only a stroll through your local farmers’ market. Fresh fruits and vegetables are just what the doctor ordered to get healthy and stay healthy.

Dr. Velonda Thompson is manager of the Women’s, Infant, and Children program and the Breastfeeding Coordinator at The Institute for Population Health. She is a member of the Detroit Food Policy Council, a nutritionist, professor and cookbook author (Beyond Candied Yams and Sweet Potato Pie) who appears regularly on the FOX2 Meatless Monday’s segment with Deanna Centafontti. She can be reached at drvelonda@gmail.com.

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