You don’t need me to tell you to eat your veggies. But, seriously … eat your veggies.

Studies show that eating vegetables can help reduce blood cholesterol and lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, help you heal, and lower your risk of certain cancers. They also contribute to clear skin, healthy hair, and help maintain healthy digestion and a healthy weight.

Good news? They’re delicious.
Bad news? You aren’t eating enough of them.
The USDA’s MyPlate (formerly the Food Pyramid) recommends about three servings of vegetables, (one cup of most or two cups of salad greens) daily for an average adult. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says only 9% of us are pulling this off.
In addition, may nutritionists consider the USDA’s recommendations to be a little low. You also need to add two cups of fruit to meet the recommendations.

Here on the Central Coast, we’re lucky. We have access to local, easy to get fresh vegetables and fruit that are even easier to make into amazing meals.
Our local farmers markets run year-round and offer a stunning array of fresh, quality produce. Many of the farmers that supply the world-famous Santa Monica Farmers Market grow locally and sell at our markets (and at better prices). They’re amazing resources for super fresh, high-quality, healthy food.

Sure, some of the markets can be hard to get to for the 9-to-5 set, but most schedules should make it possible to hit at least one or two of the weekly events.

Another option is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box. As much as I love our local outdoor markets, this is my favorite resource for local produce. I’ve been getting the Talley Farms Fresh Harvest CSA box since they started around nine years ago.
Talley’s CSA box is kind of amazing. They grow a wide array of vegetables and fruits, but also work with other local farms to pack the box with a useful selection of produce, circumventing the usual problems with CSA boxes — a challenging surplus of whatever is in season which you inevitably don’t care for, don’t know how to cook or are already tired of. Plus, you can place delivery holds at your convenience, so you can get your box weekly, monthly or something in between.

Each box also comes with storage tips and recipes. Visit talleyfarmsfreshharvest.com/recipes-and-tips for a searchable recipe database for all your veggies, wherever you get them.

The real value though is in how long the produce stays fresh. Skipping the grocery store middleman (shipping to the store, storage, etc) you gain days to weeks of freshness in your produce. In our recent heat wave, I kept Fresh Harvest box strawberries in a produce saver storage container over five days. They usually start going south the day after I bring them home.

It’s easy to forget about, or take for granted, all the great produce we have nearby. So consider this your reminder to get out there and pick some up. Your health will thank you for it.

Local Farmers Markets
Baywood Park – Monday 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Morro Bay – Thursday 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and
Saturday 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Cayucos – Friday 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (summer only)
Cambria – Friday 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
San Luis Obispo Markets
Saturday – 8 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
Tuesday – 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Thursday – 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.