Dietitian to Discuss Benefits of Local Produce at Farmers Market

Stephanie Vella will teach market shoppers how fresh produce maximizes nutrition and saves money.

The is teaming up with Beaumont Health System’s Sola Life & Fitness to offer a seminar and demonstration to highlight the benefits of the market’s fresh and local produce on its opening day, July 29.

The event will be a new experience at the market and will be led by local food and nutrition expert Stephanie Vella, a registered dietitian who gives one-on-one nutritional counseling at the Rochester Hills-based Sola.

"Many people don’t realize where the food they choose to put in their mouth comes from has on their well-being and their community’s well-being," Vella said. "I’m an advocate of local, fresh food because it maximizes nutrition, benefits the local environment and is cost effective for us personally, and that’s what my talk will be about."

Vella said local food has a higher nutritional content than food that has been shipped from across the country because it retains its vitamins and minerals, and often lacks the preservatives and pesticides that must be used with food from greater distances away.

“When you transport food from across the country you have to add things to the food to make it lasts the journey,” she said. “That means they can have extra calories, fat and sodium that we don’t need in our bodies.” 

Vella said many consumers don't realize that by buying food from the Clawson Farmers Market, they are supporting the local community.

"I often start many of my consultations off with is the concept of where people’s food dollars are going," Vella said. "When you purchase items from a supermarket, most of your money is going to the store and the costs of transportation and packaging whereas the food you buy from farmers’ markets are going directly to the farmer and the local economy."

Vella also said farmers market produce is often cheaper than supermarket goods because there is no transportation, stocking or packaging fees.

“Local farmers tend to use better farming practices than farmers who use pesticides to ensure the quality of their produce after transportation, which is better for the environment because they’re not polluting the water supply with those chemicals,” she explained.

After her seminar on July 29, Vella will be answering related questions and other more general nutrition inquiries during a question and answer session.

“People can ask whatever questions they have about their diet,” she said. “Many people tend to ask about fad diets, however I never advise people to follow diets, but rather make healthier lifestyle changes like choosing to eat local food.”

Following the question and answer session Vella will demonstrate how farmers market patrons can use their fresh produce to create healthy and tasty meals by preparing a Michigan cherry chicken salad recipe. 

“I’m really passionate about using ingredients that are in season and cherries are in season right now in Michigan,” she said. Event attendees will be able to try samples of the salad and see for themselves that the fresh produce really does translate into a good meal.  

“A lot of people struggle at first in changing what they eat from packaged foods to fresh, whole foods, but once people embrace it they really benefit by developing a more positive relationship with food, appreciating what they are eating and enjoying what they eat,” Vella said.

The seminar begins at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday July 29 at the pavilion. The event is free and open to the public. 

Karla Z July 19, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Hi, Can you say that no pesticides or GMO seeds have been used? For that does matter big time. If used even with local produce, better to buy organic always. Farmers need to see the damage they are causing by using these to especially the immune depressed and children.
B July 19, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Great question, Karla! I've asked the Clawson community-garden director the same question regarding GMO seeds and received no response. Hopefully you can get one here.


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