Feeding Health: Fresh Food and Farmers Markets
On a recent sunny Saturday morning, Second Harvest’s Nutrition Services team was out at the new High Point Farmers Market with a small crowd gathered around their table.
“Would you like to give it a try?” asks Kina Charles as she sets out small cups of fruit salsa. A little boy cautiously takes the cup and dips a cinnamon chip into the fruit mixture.
His face lights up as he tastes the tangy, fresh mixture. Mouth still full, he grabs the recipe sheet and hands it to his mother. “Let’s make this at home!” he says.
This is exactly the response that Kina is looking for. She and her team seek out recipes that are healthy, low-cost and easy to make and share at Second Harvest food tastings such as this one. She packs up her flyers and portable stove top, red checked table cloth and all the ingredients she could possibly need and heads out to food pantries, community fairs, farmers markets and food distributions to spread her gospel of nutrition and food security.
The work of Kina and her team is making the connection between hunger and health which is the focus of the food bank’s work. At Second Harvest we know that that families and communities impacted by food insecurity are not only hungry, they are at a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes , obesity and other diet-related illnesses.
Food insecurity is not solely about a lack of food: it is also frequently about a lack of access to quality, wholesome and nutritious foods. As working families try to cover basic needs such as housing, utilities, transportation, and childcare, they increasingly find that less and less of their incomes are left over to purchase food. To provide enough meals, they are often left with no choice but to choose calories and quantity over quality, nutritious food.
That is one reason why Kina and her team head out nearly every day across the 18 counties that Second Harvest serves to teach healthy cooking classes, lead grocery store tours and present food tastings such as this one. As the families we encounter are balancing precarious budgets, we want them to be able to make the healthiest choices possible for what they feed their families.
The new High Point Farmers Market is a perfect location for this sort of work. Located in downtown High Point right on Main Street outside the public library, this market holds promise to attract people from all over the city.
Over 18% of people in Guilford County are food insecure; including 22% of children—and nearly 40% of the population is low-income. Farmers markets are one way to connect local residents with healthy local food, all while supporting local farmers and local businesses. What is more, this farmers market and a growing number of markets across the state accept EBT/SNAP benefits, helping food insecure families access fresh, healthy, local food and helping to bolster farmers’ sales at the same time.
For a full list of local farmers markets in your area that accept SNAP benefits, click here.
The little boy sees that the first ingredient for the fruit salsa Kina is serving is strawberries and he shows his mother. They make their way two tables down to a farmer who has trays of fresh strawberries for sale. “I picked this just last night,” the vendor says. “They are fresh and delicious.”
Here is the recipe for Tangy Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips.
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 flour tortillas
1 cup fresh strawberries
2 peaches, peeled and chopped
2 kiwifruit, peeled, sliced and quartered
1 teaspoon lime zest (optional)
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar (optional; if using canned peaches not necessary)
1. For cinnamon chips, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Lightly spray tortillas with canola oil and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Cut each tortilla into 8 wedges, place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Remove from oven and cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, for the salsa, place strawberries, peaches and kiwi in a bowl. Add lime juice and zest. Combine all salsa ingredients in a bowl and mix gently. Serve with cinnamon chips