10 Farmer’s Market Crops to Try

Dorian Martin | May 21, 2014

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In a New York Times column, award-winning chef Dan Barber of New York’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns encouraged consumers to add foods in their diets that are both nutritious and good for the environment. Eating these foods, said Barber, can bring a new meaning to farm-to-table eating and sustainability. Here are foods that help both you and the soil.

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Barley

Barley cleans the earth of pathogens and also maintains nitrogen in the soil. This grain is a good source of nutrients, including selenium, manganese, copper, vitamin B, phosphorus, magnesium and niacin. Barley encourages regular bowel movements, lowers cholesterol levels, helps prevent gallstones and has been found to provide cardiovascular benefits.

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Broccoli

This plant combats fungal disease in the soil. Broccoli offers numerous health benefits–it may reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes, prevent inflammation that can lead to osteoarthritis and promote heart health. Broccoli is great source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, vitamin K, B-complex vitamins, zinc and phosphorus.

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Buckwheat

This plant attracts beneficial insects, suppresses weeds and adds a plant-friendly form of phosphorus to the soil. Buckwheat groats are actually fruit seeds and can serve as a substitute for gluten. Buckwheat lowers high cholesterol and high blood pressure; it also helps control blood sugar levels, thus lowering the risk of diabetes. And this food also helps prevent gallstones.

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Cabbage

This plant helps keep soil fungal disease in check. And  it’s a great addition to your diet. Cabbage has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It also has glucosinolates that help protect against a number of types of cancer. Plus, this vegetable is good for the health of the digestive tract, supports cardiovascular health and lowers cholesterol.

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Kidney beans

Kidney beans fix nitrogen – an essential macronutrient necessary for plants to grow - into the soil. Kidney beans’ fiber helps lower cholesterol, maintains blood sugar levels and promotes heart health. Kidney beans also have iron (necessary for energy) and thiamin (necessary for brain health).

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Millet

This plant builds up the soil while also suppressing weeds. Millet is a good source of nutrients, such as copper, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium. It offers heart-protective properties, helps develop and repair body tissue and lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. Millet also has a lot of fiber that helps prevent gallstones and protects against breast cancer.

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Mustard

When plowed back into the soil, mustard fights pests and reduces disease that affect crops. The mustard we buy in the store is made from the plant’s seeds. But the leaves are edible and packaged as mustard greens. The leaves offer a health punch that helps lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation. This vegetable also has phytonutrients that may help prevent cancer.

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Oats

This plant builds up the soil while also suppressing weeds. This grain helps lower cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Consuming oats also may help prevent heart failure, enhances the immune system’s response to infection and stabilizes blood sugar. Eating oats regularly can help substantially lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and protects against breast cancer.

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Rye

Rye is an important part of a diet that can help promote weight loss and help prevent gallstones, due to the grain’s insoluble fiber. Rye is a good source of magnesium, which helps lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. This grain also promotes cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health and offers protection against cancer.

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Soybeans

These legumes are high in protein, have antioxidant properties and also can play a beneficial role in supporting cardiovascular health. While soybeans are common in countries such as Japan and China, some studies suggest that people in Western countries may not metabolize these legumes in the same way.