SOURCE: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health RENEW LA County Initiative

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health RENEW LA County Initiative

August 08, 2011 13:13 ET

Los Angeles Celebrates National Farmers Market Week

More Than 100 Farmers Markets Are Open for Business in LA County Year-Round

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - Aug 8, 2011) - Angelenos can enjoy local farmers markets year-round thanks to boundless sunshine and mild temperatures, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's RENEW LA County initiative encourages residents to take advantage of this easy access to fresh, healthy produce during the 12th annual National Farmers Market Week, August 7-13.

In LA County, there are more than 100 markets that offer a variety of fresh produce and other items from California farms. And innovative programs like the LA County Department of Public Health's Ask the Dietician booths at area farmers markets are helping LA County residents make the healthy choice an enticing choice by providing nutrition tips and recipes for mouthwatering dishes like citrus avocado salsa or Thai carrot salad with peanuts.

Ask the Dietitian, which runs from March to November of each year, gives the public an opportunity to pick up nutrition-related materials on subjects ranging from vegetarianism to cholesterol to sodium, as well as dozens of recipe cards for healthy salads and produce pointers. Dieticians discuss nutrition, reveal the fat and sugar content found in popular fast foods and answer nutrition-related questions.

"It's a win-win situation," says Ibtisam Sirhan, MPH, CHES, coordinator for the Ask the Dietitian program. "The nutrition program has the opportunity to educate the public about good nutrition and cooking with locally grown, fresh produce, and vendors may sell more fruits and vegetables because of our tasty samples and nutrition messaging."

Nationwide, the number of farmers markets has more than doubled in the past decade, from 2,863 markets in 2000 to 6,132 in 2010. These numbers have continued to rise in 2011 as farmers markets become fresh food mainstays for shoppers across all socioeconomic, political, and ethnic ranges. Farmers markets bolster local economies, improve community health, and bring diverse groups of people together through a shared social space.

Other opportunities for increased access to fresh and locally grown items include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and known in California as CalFresh. Farmers markets are able to accept CalFresh benefits when they are authorized by USDA and have the equipment to process transactions using EBT.

"Farmers markets grow healthy farms, healthy people, and healthy communities," said Stacy Miller, executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition. "During Farmers Market Week, we invite everyone to celebrate their local farmers markets and enjoy fresh local food from America's most innovative farmers."

For a listing of farmers markets in your neighborhood, go to http://apps.ams.usda.gov/FarmersMarkets/Default.aspx. For a list of more than 50 healthy recipes, go to www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/nut/atd/NutritionEducationMaterials/Recipes/Recipe-Index.htm.

For more information on healthy living in LA County, connect with Choose Health LA online, which represents all of the public health efforts of RENEW LA County. Visit Choose Health LA on Twitter @ChooseHealthLA, on Facebook and at ChooseHealthLA.com.

About RENEW LA County
The LA County Department of Public Health's RENEW (Renew Environments for Nutrition, Exercise and Wellness) initiative seeks to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and reduce obesity in LA County. RENEW LA County is made possible by a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative.

About LA County Department of Public Health
The LA County Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health, visit publichealth.lacounty.gov, visit the YouTube channel at youtube.com/lapublichealth, find us on Facebook at facebook.com/lapublichealth, or follow Public Health on Twitter: LAPublicHealth.