MONTE VISTA— “The smaller, the better,” was just one tidbit offered during the Cooking Matters tour held last week at the Monte Vista Farmers Market. Zoila Gomez, program director was referring to the fact that often smaller vegetables grown in gardens have greater nutritional value.
The organization provided participants with an informative tour of the farmers market. Gomez led eager learners around to different booths to explain the importance of healthy eating. She gave those listening helpful tips, “The smaller, the better.” She explained how often smaller vegetables grown in gardens have greater nutritional value. They tend to have no pesticides; they have bigger flavor and are fresher. She also told the group that when you buy from local farms you are helping a farmer. When a farmer is a local and maybe a neighbor, you can trust them because you know them personally.
“The more colorful your food, the more energy you will have and the better you’ll feel,” was another tip Gomez had for the group when talking about eating fruits and vegetables.
As participants stopped at different vendors they found examples of all the major food groups. There were proteins for sale in the forms of beans and fresh eggs. There was a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, and they were even able to find dairy in the form of goat’s milk fudge! The MOKI food truck was there plating up healthy versions of favorite foods. Gomez told the group how the food truck offers healthy versions of tacos and pizza.
She also offered advice for good shopping habits. She told the group to check the stickers on the food they buy in the grocery store. Often the produce sold in the store is weeks old. Sometimes the food is coming all the way from Canada or California before hitting shelves in local grocery stores. Gomez said that it is important to buy local whenever you can. “Local means not only the Valley, but includes the entire state. The grocery store is a different story, and it can be hard to find local produce.” Look for tags that say “I’m local!” was Gomez’s tip for shopping at supermarkets. She also advised reading the labels and ingredients listed on the food.
The tour was a fun and educational experience for those who participated. For joining the tour participants received a free grocery bag and $10 in market bucks to be used at the farmers market. These tours are free to the public and Gomez said they hope to do a couple more at the market before the season ends.
Cooking Matters in the San Luis Valley is a non-profit organization. They provide fun and free education on food skills and work to teach people how to prepare healthy meals and save money. One of the ways they do this is by offering free hands-on cooking classes. The classes run for six weeks and meet for a couple of hours each week. Participants get to cook a meal, and eat it together. They are able to learn about different nutrition topics. They are taught how to make healthy food choices and how to save money grocery shopping. Those who take the classes also have the opportunity to earn a free chef knife and cutting board.
To find out more, check out their Facebook page at: “Cooking Matters in the San Luis Valley.”