'100-mile diet' doesn't require grocery stores

Friday, June 1, 2007
Kurt Sweitzer of Cobden, Ill., set out zucchini for sale Thursday while his son, Nathan, 12, counted change at the farmers market in Cape Girardeau at the Plaza Galleria parking lot. (Aaron Eisenhauer ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com)

Farmers markets offer everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to homemade breads, meats and honey, enough for people live virtually free of trips to the grocery store, some vendors say.

"There's a movement now toward the 100-mile diet, which is when you eat things within 100 miles of your home. It takes planning, but once you commit to it, you feel better for it," said Rachel Fasnacht of Family Friendly Farms in Cape Girardeau, who runs a booth offering chicken, beef, pork and eggs at the Cape Girardeau farmers market. The planning revolves around the seasons for various fruits and vegetables grown in the 100-mile radius.

"I think if everybody starts to raise a little bit of food on their own and supplement with farmers markets and whatever else you can't do, I think we would be healthier," she said.

Fasnacht isn't the only one getting most of her diet straight from the farm.

One of the busier merchants at the Plaza Galleria market, Kurt Sweitzer of Cobden, Ill., raises his two boys on farm-fresh food most of the year.

"We don't do it in the winter, only from May to November," Sweitzer said. "We buy milk and meat and things like that, but someone probably could do it all year if they could get things year-round."

But with the convenience of Wal-Mart and Schnucks, convincing people to wait until a Wednesday or Thursday to possibly pay more for fresh items could be a hard sell. Michael Gurnow of Cape Girardeau, however, said he will always find time to buy at the local farmers markets.

"The act of supporting local produce makes me feel better," Gurnow said. "About one-fourth of what I eat comes from the farmers market, and you could do more, especially on a vegan diet. The farmers here will bring items if you ask them and let them know you want them. If they do not have access to it, they will direct you to someone who does."

Bob LeGrand of Cape Gir?ardeau also purchases a good portion of his food at the markets.

"The items at the farmers markets taste totally different than something you're going to buy at the store," LeGrand said. "Over half of my food comes from the markets, and I can always tell they've just picked it or it's fresh. It's homegrown, it's local and it's as fresh as you can get it without all the chemicals."

The farmers market in the Plaza Galleria parking lot is open Thursdays at 2:30 p.m. The other farmers market in Cape Girardeau, the Cape Alternative Farmers Market, is open Wednesdays from 8 a.m.to noon in the parking lot north of the Red House Interpretive Center.

335-6611, extension 245

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