WILL PINKSTON | The Sun
Crystal Troutt from Troutt Gardens in Massac County, Ill., stands behind her booth of homemade food stuffs, ingredients and home-grown heirloom vegetables Thursday in the cafeteria of Western Baptist Hospital. Local farmers market vendors set up shop in the cafeteria every other week to provide hospital staff healthy food options.
Fresh off the vine, from the hive or out of the oven: A local farmer’s market has taken its homemade goods from their traditional outdoor stands and into the hospital setting to provide nutritious, convenient dietary options.
Setting up their makeshift booths in the cafeteria of Western Baptist Hospital, several of Paducah’s Farmer’s Market vendors have peddled their homegrown wares for visitors, patients and employees over the lunch hour for the past four years.
In addition to the market’s weekend schedule, supplemental time spent in the hospital’s cafeteria every other Thursday over the summer is calculated to allow hospital staff the opportunity to peruse the market’s options in their workplace, as many tend to work when the market is generally in operation.
“It’s more convenient for the employees because you might not have the time to go to the grocery store so here you can pick up your fresh vegetables and fruits,” said Lorrie Terry, a dietitian at Western Baptist.
“They’re picked closer to the time that they’re ripe and it will taste better. And if it tastes better, people are therefore more likely to take it home and eat.”
Ranging in food stuffs from the common to the slightly curious — heirloom veggies, for instance — all retain that common distinctive thread of locally grown and additive-free.
“When you’re talking to the person that personally grew those vegetables — and if they’re truthful with you — they’ll let you know if they sprayed it with something, and with seeds as well, being heirloom, they’re not genetically altered,” said Crystal Troutt, a grower out of Massac County, Ill. “A lot of foods have additives to make them hold and last longer on the shelf, and they’re not as good for us.”
Fruits and vegetables tend to be rich in nutrients, vitamins and great sources of minerals like potassium, iron, magnesium and calcium, all helping to strengthen and boost bodily systems. But according to Terry, to receive the most of these benefits from produce, it’s best to pick these options as fresh as possible.
“Fresh is definitely better, it’s the best you can get,” she said. “It doesn’t have any salt, it’s going to have a higher nutrient content and higher in fiber, especially if you eat the peel from that fruit or vegetable.”
Not only does the market feature homegrown produce, but other items like homemade breads, soup mixes, and locally harvested honey and beeswax products. Annie Broyles has more than 100 hives in the Lone Oak area, bringing in her pure honey and other products, free from preservatives.
“Honey is a natural sweetener and it doesn’t spoil,” Broyles said, suggesting to add a teaspoon of the honey to warm tea or oatmeal to provide a sweeter taste.
Like anything, Terry advised everything in moderation and the benefits of such fresh, local options goes only as far as how those products are cooked or prepared.
“We just hope to get more people to eat their fresh fruits and vegetables,” she said.
Vendors usually are set up through the lunch hour of the cafeteria — though hours are subject to change — and should return to the hospital on Aug. 2.
Call Will Pinkston, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.