NIU students return to Aurora farmers market with easy, healthy recipes for fruits, vegetables

NIU graduate students Jessica Harris and Megan Laurent, who are studying nutrition and dietetics, make healthy summer treats last year for customers of a farmer’s market in Aurora.
NIU graduate students Jessica Harris and Megan Laurent, who are studying nutrition and dietetics, make healthy summer treats last year for customers of a farmer’s market in Aurora.

For a second summer, students from NIU’s School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences will be cooking at Aurora’s Farmers Market and showing customers the simplicity of eating healthy.

The students, enrolled in the College of Health and Human Sciences, will feature fruits and vegetables from produce being sold by the market vendors.

They then will prepare dishes to demonstrate that healthy recipes can be just as easy to prepare as being served from a drive-through window of a fast-food restaurant, said professor Beverly Henry, who teaches nutrition and dietetics.

And, Henry said, they taste better.

“When the students were at the market at the end of last season, they received such a great response,” Henry said. “This year, we’ll be there for the entire season on the second Saturday of every month.”

The NIU students will volunteer at the market June 9, July 14, Aug. 11, Sept. 8 and Oct. 13.

“The students realize that working at the market is a great opportunity to take what they learn in the classroom and bring it out into the community,” she said. “This season, we have 3 seniors volunteering their time to work on the project.”

Aurora’s Farmers Market logoWith the help of the six undergraduate and graduate students and a $5,000 grant from the Kane County FFK Funders’ Consortium, vegetables such as bok choy will be transformed from the unfamiliar to an attractive vegetable option, Henry said.

“For people who have never eaten bok choy, they wouldn’t think to buy it,” she said. “We’ll show them it’s painless to prepare and eat. We’ll show market customers how to get over their barriers and expand their diets.”

The money, which is part of the Kane County Fit for Kids 2020 Initiative, will be spent on equipment such as a three-compartment sink to meet food safety regulations that will be used at the market. Also, banners, posters and other supplies will be purchased.

This year, Aurora officials are celebrating the market’s 100th anniversary. Its popularity has been high for decades, and its centennial attraction promises to be even greater, Henry said.

“We want people to know that NIU is a part of it. We’re inviting current students, faculty and staff members to stop by our booth along with alumni who shop at the market.”

The market is open from 7:30 a.m. until noon every Saturday until Oct. 27. It is held at Wilder Promenade, 350 N. River St. in Aurora.

by Gerard Dziuba

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