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Taste The Rainbow

Finding Greens in the Winter of Western Mass

Most people think a plant-based diet is strictly for those vegan and vegetarian types, but there is no debating the overwhelming evidence showing the benefits of improved health for those who make that diet choice. Plant based eating is more of a lifestyle than a diet. You are simply eating more foods that are closer to their harvested state with minimal processing. 

A plant-based diet still allows you to consume the carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals and vitamins that are necessary for good health, with the added benefits of being higher in fiber and phytonutrients. 

There is also another reason to add more fruits and vegetables to your daily food intake; It is better for the environment. The industries that produce our dairy and meats are said to account for a third of the world’s water usage in addition to producing greenhouse gas emissions. Eat your greens and help save the planet!

Tips to get started on your plant-based journey:

  1. Make small changes to test your comfort level when reducing meat intake. There is a risk of being overwhelmed if you suddenly stop eating meat altogether, and it will be harder to stick to your choice long term. Increase consumption of plant foods you already like.
  2. Plant based diet does not mean boring. You can create a variety of dishes including ethnic meals that are meat free and delicious. This is a great time to try new spices to add a punch to your vegetables and add green leafy vegetables to your smoothies.
  3. Use the whole plant because there are nutrients in every part of the plant including the stems, and leaves. Use the leaves from celery, radishes, beets and carrots, and use the stems from spinach. Don’t throw away vital nutrients like potassium, vitamin C and fiber. You are also reducing waste.
  4. Eat the rainbow! Choose different colored fruits and vegetables to get a variety of nutrients. The color of plant-based foods is often an indicator of the vitamins and minerals they contain. So, more colors mean more nutrients. Example: Orange foods contain beta carotene, the precursor for vitamin A.
  5. If you do not eat any animal products, you will need to take a B12 and possibly an iron supplement. Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin available only in animal products. Low b12 can cause anemia and damage to the nervous system. Some vegan foods are fortified with vitamin b12.
  6. A meat free diet does not automatically mean healthy if you replace the meat with highly processed junk food and meat substitutes. You need to eat good, fresh quality fruits, vegetables and grains to get the health benefits that can add years to your life.

Grow Food Northampton Winter Market
Visit the Grow Food Noho Winter Market on various dates through March 25 2023 to meet with local farmers who harvest healthy greens and vegetables throughout the year.
7 Conz St, Northampton

River Valley Co-Op (Northampton)
One of two locations, River Valley Co-Op offers an open, friendly, community market to shop for quality foods including vegetables and plant-based options. 
330 N King St, Northampton

River Valley Co-Op (Easthampton)
228 Northampton St, Easthampton

Atkins Farm Country Market
A favorite amongst locals, Atkins Farm Country Market offers a home-town feel when shopping for your food. Fresh, healthy, vibrant vegetables can be found here all winter.
1150 West St, Amherst

Winter Farmers Market at The Hampshire Mall
Looking for another farmer's market? The Hampshire Mall in Hadley will have one! Warm up this winter while you fill your cart with food that will keep you full and healthy.
367 Russell St, Hadley

PriceRite Marketplace
Crave a taste of the Caribbean? Stop here for your more exotic veggies like plantains, yuca, yautia, and malanga to make Latino & African dishes.
303 E Main St, Westfield

You do not have to give up meat entirely; there's labels to identify where you fall in your plant eating journey.