The Seasonal Shopper

— Written By Ashley McRae and last updated by
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There is nothing tastier than adding a fresh touch to your favorite meals! Including fresh fruits and vegetables in your recipes not only gives it a fresh touch, but also adds great nutritional benefits to any dish. Most times, the best way to ensure you are utilizing the freshest produce is to purchase those foods from your local farmers market where you have the ability to talk with local growers about their products or growing practices. The farmers market also provides you with produce that is in season, which means more options to purchase perfectly ripened food straight from the source. In the Adult Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) we call this shopping in season. What are seasonal foods? Seasonal foods, like the Seasonal Food Guide states, are defined as “any produce that is purchased and consumed around the time that it is harvested.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “very few Americans eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables every day, putting them at risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart diseases.” With this in mind, each of the EFNEP lessons shows participants new methods to help them incorporate a rich variety of fruits and vegetables into their diets. Oftentimes, people believe in order to adopt healthier eating habits you have to spend top dollar to achieve those health goals, which is not always the case. At our market here in Robeson County, many vendors now accept WIC benefits to purchase produce thanks to the Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers.

There are online resources (many of which are free) providing detailed information on locally grown produce and the peak time to purchase. Sources such as the Seasonal Food Guide, Farm Flavor, and the Visit NC Farms app are all helpful tools you can utilize to find out about what is being grown. In Adult EFNEP, we have an awesome, nutrient-dense recipe that encourages participants to shop in season for the freshest taste, and is a guaranteed family favorite.

EFNEP Super Stir-Fry

Makes 2 Servings

Serving Size: 1 cup grain and 1 ¼ cup vegetables


  • Choose 5 Vegetables (1/2 cup each), chopped
  • 2 cups  of whole-wheat spaghetti noodles (cooked according to package directions)
  • ¼ cup of low-sodium Stir-Fry Sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil


  1. Wash and chop selected vegetables into small, evenly-sized pieces. A variety of shapes will make the stir-fry more pleasing to the eye.
  2. Heat a small amount (1 tablespoon or less) of vegetable oil over high heat in 10-inch frying pan, electric skillet, or wok.
  3. Keeping the heat high, add vegetables to the pan in order of firmness – harder foods first and ending with the softest foods.
  4. Toss vegetables during cooking to keep them from sticking.
  5. Add Stir-Fry Sauce to taste (about ¼ cup). Stir-fry until all vegetables are thoroughly coated.
  6. Serve atop whole-wheat noodles.