UA Farmers' Market Encourages Balanced Diet, Local Food
Have you ever cut out whole food groups or categories, like wheat and potatoes, in an attempt to lose weight, or do you find it difficult to resist the temptation of overindulging in sweet, succulent treats?
There is a better way.
To showcase the numerous health-related resources at the University of Arizona while connecting the campus community to local and regional vendors, a Farmers' Market is being held at the Arizona Health Sciences Center throughout the summer.
"We really want to promote healthy eating and make sure that people understand that a big part of medicine is preventative," said Dean Ciarniello, retail manager for UA Medical Center Dining Services.
The market, being held on the second and fourth Friday of the month, features vendors selling onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, jellies, jams, pickles, jalapeno dills and other food items. Vendors include Grammy's Garden, Richcrest Farms, Sleeping Frog Farms, the Markley Family Farm and Anna's Kitchen. In addition to fresh products, some vendors will have prepared foods on site, including baked empanadas, chicken potpies, vegetarian casseroles, local honey, artisan breads and vegan, gluten-free desserts.
"We find that a lot of people here are attending farmers' markets," Ciarniello said, adding that many of the vendors who will be present at the UA also participate in regional markets.
The remaining Farmers' Market days are June 14 and 28; July 12 and 26; and Aug. 9 and 23. Each event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the College of Medicine â€“ Tucson patio, 1501 N. Campbell Ave. On those days, between 15 and 30 vendors will be on site, as will an educational booth where visitors can speak with specialists about their specific dietary needs and about how to tailor their eating habits and lifestyles in ways that are beneficial and healthy.
"Relying on local food is important for lots of reasons. If done right, it can be cost effective while also supporting local farmers," said Ashley Munro, a registered dietitian with the UA Medical Center. "We want to support our economy here in Arizona. Thatâ€™s important for sustainability â€“ knowing where your food is from â€“ and is all-around healthy."
Munro, a trained chef, and Steve Martin, executive chef with UA Medical Center Dining Services, will be developing recipes market attendees can prepare with items available at the market.
Munro already has developed recipes for mint pesto and orzo pasta prepared with organic baby spinach. She said that while such recipes may seem inaccessible to some, they are quite reasonable in price.
"Some people donâ€™t know where to start when making changes. What I tell people who are having a hard time is to focus on small, attainable goals so changes are not too overwhelming," Munro said.
In her work with patients and clients, Munro encourages people not to fall for the allure of quick fixes and fads. No matter how attractive and foolproof they seem, they often are not sustainable.
"If people go all or nothing, itâ€™s hard to maintain. We want to promote healthy eating for a lifetime. And a balanced diet is best," Munro said, adding that numerous resources will be available at the market, and that they also exist elsewhere on campus.
For example, Campus Recreation offers classes and fitness programs such as individual and group weight loss consultation and, during the academic year, cooking classes that have healthy practices and sustainable eating in mind.
UA Life & Work Connections organizes and facilitates a broad range of offerings. In addition to Tai Chi classes and its Healthy Recipe of the Month, the division offers weight management coaching, fitness and nutrition counseling, health screenings and a host of other resources.
Programs facilitated by Arizona Cooperative Extension, the outreach arm of the UA's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, are available throughout the state, including those offered through the Arizona Nutrition Network and the Healthy Living Programs.
The dining services units at both the UA Medical Center and main campus each offer healthy options, including vegan, low-carb, vegetarian, low-fat and gluten-free options, as well as foods that are all natural and free of hormones and antibiotics.
And the UA's Community and School Garden Program teaches people on and off campus how to practically grow food and improve nutrition.
"There are so many great minds and resources," Munro said. "We have so much to give here at the UA."