SNAP-ed Educator Marilyn Hofland said the best strawberry she's ever tasted was at the farmers market in Detroit Lakes.
"When you shop at the local farmers market, you're supporting our local economy," Hofland said. "The biggest, most beautiful strawberry you see in the store may not be the most flavorful."
Hofland led the Cooking Matters workshop in Peoples park on Tuesday, July 31, which serves SNAP beneficiaries and other community members, assisting them with nutritional and affordable grocery shopping as well as quick easy recipes.
In Minnesota, U of M extension has been offering Cooking Matters classes for several years.
Since the Lakes Area Farmers Market began accepting EBT/SNAP benefits again this season, families paying with their EBT card can buy twice as much fresh food by receiving matching Market Bucks from Hunger Solutions when they shop.
In addition, at Cooking Matters with Marilyn Hofland, attendees who registered in advance were given 10 bucks to spend on fresh produce at the market.
Hofland is planning for another workshop later on in the season when folks will get the same opportunity. She is planning for September.
The Lakes Area Farmers Market in Detroit Lakes is on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m in Peoples Park.
Lutheran Social Services social worker Ashlee Grussing attended the workshop with her dad so that she could encourage her clients to use their EBT cards at Minnesota farmers markets.
"It'll give them the opportunity to get healthier food to cook with and also get out in their community," Grussing said. "Also offer some respite so they can get out in the fresh air."
At the workshop, Hofland explained tips for fresh produce storage, preparation, cooking and freezing. She also talked about shopping and reading food labels to discern healthier options from not.
Among dozens of tips, she recommends varying vegetable colors to take in more nutrients and to buy during their ripe season.
For example, asparagus is past its ripe season, but tomatoes are just beginning to ripen.
After she gave handouts to participants and finished the discussion, she went around to the different market stalls and pointed out some good options.
The dozen or so participants were able to grab some fresh vegetables like beets or potatoes, and bring some healthy recipes home to try as well.