HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF SUMMER’S FINAL FARMER'S MARKETS

If you're anything like us, you probably aren't quite ready to give up summer—the sunshine, the family vacations, the cold drinks on hot days, and the lazy afternoons. While autumn may seem to be creeping up on us with its back-to-school sales and cooler temperatures, we don’t have to trade in our favorite summer flavors for pumpkin spice just yet. After all, the real sign of summer is still open every week: your local farmer's market.

Shop local, think global

Fresh, natural produce and delicious, local specialties make every farmer's market unique. Here, you can meet the farmers who lovingly grow your food and add something fresh and unexpected to your usual at-home menu. Your local farmer's market provides a fun family outing as well as leafy greens for the perfect side salad and local berries for a sweet after-dinner pick-me-up. Also, when you support local farmers, you are supporting sustainable growing methods and local business!

Carrots and other vegetables

Veggie lovers, unite!

If you are vegetarian or vegan, or even a “flexitarian” who swaps out meat on occasion, a farmer's market can be a plant-based paradise. With no labels to read and authentic veggie goodness all around, you'll probably feel healthier just basking in that fresh garden glow. Stock up on your favorites and eat them now, or chop them up and freeze them for later. Once the colder weather sets in, you’ll be glad to have veggies on hand you can riff into simple weeknight meals with the help of Gardein meat substitutes and rice or pasta. Couscous with Italian saus'age and sautéed squash, anyone?

Smoothie Bowl

Get in touch with your area’s roots

Farmer's markets can also inspire you to switch up your routine. Is zucchini one of your region's specialty crops? Try making zucchini noodles (also known as zoodles), like those in this recipe for Zucchini Noodles with Mushroom Marinara. Are those baskets of berries looking particularly delicious this week? If you don't munch them all on the way home, try mixing it up with a Mixed Berry Smoothie Bowl. If you find yourself in Georgia surrounded by bushels of golden peaches, give this Grilled Peach and Blueberry Foil Packet a shot. Letting local crops influence your meals can give you an entirely new sense of appreciation for where you live.

Of course, we’ll eventually have to accept the end of summer and its fresh, local produce. Fortunately, the freezer section isn't just for ice cream and TV dinners anymore:! Brands like Healthy Choice®, Evol®, Gardein, and Birds Eye® have stepped up to provide plant-based, nutritious meals to enjoy year-round, from meatless entrées to regional cuisines to superfood bowls. So, although we'll be sad to see summer go, it doesn't have to mean the end to real, veggie-based meals. From the farmer's market to the freezer section, we've got you covered!

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