A healthy diet is very important for everyone, especially individuals with disabilities. Organic, fresh fruits and vegetables should be the cornerstone to any diet. Local farmers markets are an inexpensive source of organic, high quality produce. With this in mind, last Wednesday, I ventured downtown to check out the Wausau Farmers Market.
The Wausau Farmers Market is located on River Drive near downtown Wausau. The market season starts in May and runs through October every year. The farmers market opens at 7:00 am every Wednesday and Saturday and remains open until sell out. Farmers and vendors offer everything you could imagine: plants, vegetables, fruit, cheese, meat products, fresh farm eggs, flowers, and much more.
Surprisingly, I have never been to the Wausau Farmers Market before, despite living in Wausau the past 17 years! I guess this is a reflection of my bad eating habits. Or should I say former bad eating habits. To sum it up, I am a junk food junkie. I love chocolate, chips, fast food, and blended coffee drinks. Coupled with the fact that my mobility is very limited, changes needed to be made.
I removed gluten from my diet about 2 years ago. As a result, my health improved. However, my pudge would not budge! Over the past couple of months, I have tried to eat more alkaline foods over acidic foods. My heartburn issues reduced and my pudge started to melt away. Regardless of these changes, a recent doctor’s visit revealed my triglycerides and cholesterol have been on the rise. More tweaking to my diet needs to happen, so off to the Farmers Market I went.
My mom and I hopped on the Metro Ride bus with our canvas bags in tow. After getting off the bus, I had to cross a few busy streets and a set of railroad tracks to get to the farmers market. Fortunately, there were no crazy drivers and my wheels did not get stuck in the tracks. Surprisingly, the trip was accessible and uneventful.
As we approached the market, we were a bit disappointed to see only 7 booths. Unfortunately, only two had the produce I was looking for. The others booths had bedded plants, honey, clothing, and meat products. Comparatively to years past, Central Wisconsin had a very cold and rainy spring, so that may explain the lack of booths.
The Wausau Farmers Market accepts WIC and EBT cards. FoodShare cards can be swiped in exchange for $1 market tokens at the Nine Patch Farms booth. The Wausau Farmers Market received a generous donation from Ministry Health which matches every FoodShare dollar! Many individuals with disabilities are low income and find eating healthy difficult on their low food budgets. This program allows all visitors to benefit from the healthy products the farmers market provide.
Beautiful asparagus, ripe tomatoes and local maple syrup made it into my shopping bag. I really wanted to try the grass fed, organic meat from Nine Patches, but we were not going straight home. However, I will definitely check that off my “to buy” list next time.
Here are a few tips to make your farmers market experience a success:
- Research your seasons. Knowing what is in season in your area can help you plan ahead.
- Go early or go late. Going as the market opens can get you the best produce. Likewise, going as the market closes can get you the best deals.
- Bring your own bags. Canvas and nylon bags are recommended. Additionally, backpacks work well too!
- Bring change. If going to a smaller market, bring smaller change (dimes and nickels) However, if going to a larger market, bring larger change (quarters and dollars). This makes purchases more efficient.
- Prepare a meal plan ahead of time. Having a plan ahead of time allows you to make wiser selections.
- Bring extra money. You never know what you will find at the market. So allow yourself some extra cash for fun purchases.
- Buy in volume. If you plan on canning, freezing or drying, great deals can be found at the farmers market if you buy in volume.
- Talk with the farmers. You can get great recipe ideas from the farmers. Additionally, they can also educate you on the best times to buy produce in season.
- Invest in a cart on wheels. If you are planning on buying a larger amount of produce and goods, get a cart on wheels to save your back and shoulders! One of the benefits of having cerebral palsy, is I come equipped with my own wheels!
A few sites along the way to the Wausau Farmers Market
Visit your local farmers market in your community. The benefits are many. A farmers market is not only a resource for healthy eating, but also a wonderful place to socialize. Patronizing a farmers market supports the community and the small, local farmers. It is also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Additionally, most markets are very accessible for individuals with disabilities.
Until next time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’
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