The Paleo Diet and summer are made for each other. Ripe vegetables line the stalls of farmers markets and co-ops alike. The pull to head out for a hike or swim is strong as the sun reaches high in the sky.
Farmers Markets and CSAs
Farmers markets spring to life in the summer months. Local, organic produce is generally more nutritious than food that has traveled hundreds of miles from mass-produced mono-cropped plots. Improved soil health and reduced travel time typically enhance the nutritional value of the fresh produce at farmers markets.
Local Harvest is a great starting point for finding farmers markets near you, as well as featured CSAs. CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a system that allows the consumer to subscribe to the harvest of a particular farm or group of farms. In exchange, you will receive a box of in-season produce and other farm goods. Some farms offer you the ability to work on the farm in place of a portion of the subscription fee. CSA subscriptions can last all year round, or just for the summer, spring, or fall months. Each CSA farm provides different options so you may need to shop around for one that suits your needs. Factors include the size of the order, if you want to select your produce yourself or let them pack it for you, where their pickup locations are, and in some cases if you’ll need to, or want to, invest your time.
What’s in Season?
The number one vegetable that brings people out to the farmers market in the summer is bright red tomatoes. Other fresh vegetables include bell peppers, beets, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, onions, and zucchini. While avocado is a fruit, it’s exceptionally paleo friendly thanks to the healthy fats and dense nutrients packed inside. Selecting the right avocados can be a challenge if you’re not sure what to look for. If you’re using the avocado right away choose one that has dark skin and is not too firm, but not too soft or mushy. If you don’t plan to use the avocado right away, a slightly greener, firmer one will ripen up over a few days. Bear in mind there are other varieties of avocados that stay green when ripe, don’t be afraid to ask the farmer for guidance.
Many leafy greens, like chard, collard greens, lettuce, spinach, etc. turn bitter in the hotter summer months in warm climates, however, in colder climates where summer is mild, it is the perfect time to get fresh leafy greens. In warmer climates, late summer and fall are the best time to get leafy greens.
Grass-fed meat and omega-3 enriched cage-free eggs are always in season at farmers markets. If you’re fortunate enough to live on the west coast, Wild Alaskan Salmon is in season from late spring through summer.
Summer fruits, in moderation, are a sweet treat on the paleo diet. Those coming into season during the summer months include apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, figs, grapes, and cantaloupes. Toward the end of summer into fall, apples of all varieties flood the market.
Now that you’ve packed your fridge full of summer produce, meats, eggs, and salmon, it’s time to enjoy the summer sun. Remember to take it easy in the heat of the day and drink a lot of water to stay hydrated, and use liberal amounts of sunscreen and bug spray before heading out. Some great summer activities include swimming or other water activities like paddle boating or kayaking. In the early or late hours when it’s not too hot, a walk at your nearest trail is great for some light cardio.