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Fort Wayne Offers Local Produce, Even In Winter

Public domain, Courtesy/Dana Payne

It’s the new year, and time for a fresh start. A common resolution for many is to lose weight and eat healthier.

Registered dietitian Courtney Rinehold says many of her new clients are people hoping to have a healthy new year.

“I’d say the biggest things are just teaching people to kind of get back to the basics as far as getting away from a lot of the processed, packaged, convenience food type things,” Rinehold said.

Rinehold says eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard. Meal planning can help make a person’s diet healthier. She also recommends cooking with more vegetables.

But it’s January, and fresh produce, especially local fruits and veggies, can be hard to find.

Rosemary Mausser is the merchandising manager at Three Rivers Food Co-op. That means she helps decide what to stock at the grocery store. She says all of their products are 100 percent organic.

Among its offerings, the co-op, which is owned by its customers, sells meat from grass-fed animals. Mausser says the fats from that meat are healthier because the animal is eating food it’s meant to eat.

“So your body is recognizing it as a different product that is more what your body has been looking for over the centuries and the millenia,” Mausser said. “Our bodies haven’t adapted well to all the changes in food in the last hundred or fifty years.”

But Rinehold stresses that certain diets work better or worse depending on the person, and she says it can be overwhelming for people trying to eat healthy because there is so much conflicting information online.

“You know, you might read on one site meat is good for you and on another site meat is bad for you, and you can kind of find that information related to any food,” Rinehold said. “So basically what I do is I try to find what’s going to work for that specific person.”

She says there are certain fad diets to stay away from.

“I guess it can help people jump-start weight loss, but still I mean almost everyone that I’ve known that has done that has just gained it back when they went back to their normal diet habits.”

But she says some diets that are trending right now, like eating gluten-free foods, are helpful for people who are sensitive to certain foods.

Mausser says the co-op offers gluten-free foods and many of the other diet options that are popular right now. And she definitely sees a wide variety of perspectives on what people characterize as healthy.

“You know, it’s defined in different ways,” Mausser said. “Sometimes it means, you know, I’m going to eat less, sometimes it means I’m going to eat more of something, like veggies, or less of something else.”

She says while many of the customers are looking for healthy foods year round, she definitely sees a spike in health-food buying after the holidays.

“Suddenly, on January 2, people don’t want to buy the treats anymore. They just say, ‘No, I’m gonna pass on that; I’m gonna get something different.’ It’s just an interesting phenomenon to watch,” Mausser said.

She says the co-op tries to stock local products, but in winter, it’s harder to find local produce. She says it does offer fresh lettuce from Fort Wayne’s aquaponics farm, which allows produce to be grown indoors without soil.

In recent years, indoor farmer’s markets have opened up around the area, like the Fort Wayne Farmer’s Market at Parkview Field and the YLNI Market at The Wunderkammer Company off of Fairfield. And while there might not be as much variety as what you would find in the summer, you can still get some fresh and local flavor, and get healthier, in the colder months.

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