By Kelley Lassiter
Special to The Press
Nothing says Fourth of July like the smell of the grill firing up some food before all the firework festivities.
Although most folks think of hot dogs, hamburgers, and the like when it comes to your Independence Day fare, why not add a little local flavor from the farmer’s markets to your menu?
I found some of the following fresh options to add to your picnic planning during Saturday’s market in Martin, along with some ideas for how to fit them in your Fourth Fun (and beyond):
Tomatoes: a staple at most farmer’s markets, the tomato is packed with nutrients, including the antioxidant lycopene, which is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Tomatoes also provide vitamins C and K, potassium and folate. An easy way to add tomatoes to your plate would be slicing them up for your sandwiches and burgers.
Green bell peppers: full of flavor and boasting a nice crunch-factor, these cousins to the tomato are also rich in vitamin C and grill nicely kabob-style for a side dish or can be served fresh in a salad for the Fourth.
Zucchini: another summer favorite, zucchini contains more potassium than a banana and is full of B-complex vitamins, which help stabilize healthy blood sugar. Most of the nutrients, however, are found in the skin so slice them long-ways to grill or add with slices of tomatoes and squash, top with garlic and roast for a flavorful side dish.
Squash: squash is full of nutrients, including vitamin A, which helps support eye, skin and cell health. Squash also boasts anti-inflammatory properties and also helps stabilize healthy blood sugar levels, like its counterpart fruit, zucchini. Roast it alongside zucchini and tomatoes or add it to your kabob on the grill.
Potatoes: another potassium powerhouse, the potato is one of the most consumed crops in the word and the number one crop in our country, according to the USDA. Potatoes are a huge staple in our diets and that is actually a good thing – in addition to blood-pressure lowering potassium, these root veggies contain vitamins C and B6, as well as a good amount of fiber. However, most of the nutrients are found in the skin. One variety I discovered at the market was the Adirondack Blue potato, which contains more antioxidants than white. Pick up a combination of red, white, and blue potatoes for a colorful potato salad – just be sure to eat the skins!
Peaches – this sweet fruit is also an antioxidant source, containing vitamins C and A, along with the minerals potassium, fluoride and iron. Peaches are anti-inflammatory booster and contain lutein, which is great for eye health. Bonus: they can be dessert! Eat fresh, add them to a salad for a sweet kick, or chunk them up in some homemade ice cream.
Also found at the market included green beans, sugar snap peas, organic butter leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, kale and eggplant. However, the offerings at the markets vary upon availability and can change each session, which makes going more interesting – you might make some new discoveries at your visit.
We are fortunate to have two farmer’s markets in Weakley County – the Dresden Farmer’s Market as well as the Martin Area Farmer’s Market. You can visit the Dresden Market, located at 421 Linden St., and the Martin Market downtown between Lindell Street and the train tracks. Dresden’s market is open Thursdays from 2-6 p.m. and you can shop at the Martin market from 2-5 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. Both markets are open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.