Inpatient Chemical Dependency Treatment Coming in June

National Nurses Week – May 6-12, 2018

Happy National Nurses Week to all our nurses who INSPIRE, INNOVATE AND INFLUENCE.  Thank you for everything you do for patients in our community.

Patient Access Week, April 1 – 7, 2018

Today more than ever, in the face of a quickly changing health care environment, providing an exceptional patient experience is now becoming the standard of care.

This week, Brooks-TLC Hospital System, Inc . recognizes patient access professionals for their contribution to the healthcare access continuum by celebrating Patient Access Week, April 1 – 7, 2018.

“The first interaction patients have with the hospital most often begins with the Patient Access department, says Brooks-TLC director of Patient Access, Rose Taddio. She adds, “First impressions can set the tone for an individual’s entire hospital experience.”

Brooks and TLC look for positive representatives with a friendly demeanor when hiring. “The access team has goals centered on courtesy, communication, and helpfulness,” Taddio noted. “When people aren’t feeling well we need to be fast, accurate and, friendly. Our job is to ease their concerns in a caring and efficient manner,” she adds.

In an average day, the Patient Access department handles a variety of requests from patients, visitors, physicians, nurses and other hospital staff. Access staff schedule and greet patients upon arrival and also help coordinate patient transfers. Access department staff must also be familiar with the procedures of various insurance companies. It’s a fast-paced job that requires a keen ability to multitask.

As we celebrate National Patient Access Week, we acknowledge our special goodwill ambassadors in the Access department for setting into motion the standard of care we aspire to achieve.

Brooks-TLC merger complete

Following the approval of by the New York State Department of Health through the Certificate of Need Process, and filings with the New York State Attorney General and the New York Secretary of State, the formal merger of Brooks Memorial Hospital, Dunkirk, NY, and TLC Health Network, Irving, NY, has been finalized.  The new merged organization will be known as Brooks-TLC Hospital System, Inc.

“We are pleased to report that the merger of Brooks Memorial Hospital and TLC Health Network is complete,” said Christopher Lanski, Board Chair of Brooks Memorial Hospital.  Lanski will serve as Board Chair of the new organization.  “The merger is another step in our transition to preserve and enhance access to quality healthcare service for Southern Erie and Chautauqua Counties,” he said.

James Wild, MD, Board Chair of TLC Health Network said “As volunteer board members, our primary obligation is to ensure that the community has access to health care services.  We have supported the merger and the creation of the Brooks-TLC Hospital System, Inc., in order to protect our mission of care to the region and the patients we have pledged to serve.”

Brooks Memorial Hospital and TLC Health Network have been operating under a management agreement with Kaleida Health, Buffalo, NY, to oversee operations under a unified single board of directors and a unified leadership and management team.

“The recent emergence of TLC from bankruptcy was a critical event in clearing the way for Brooks Memorial Hospital and TLC Health Network to take the next step – the merger of the two hospitals,” said Mary LaRowe, President and CEO of Brooks Memorial Hospital and TLC Health Network.

LaRowe will serve as President and CEO of the Brooks-TLC Hospital System.  She has been serving as president and CEO of Brooks Memorial and TLC Health Network under a management agreement between the hospitals and Kaleida Health.

The current management team at Brooks and TLC will join LaRowe in leading the new organization including: Jodi Witherell, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) and Vice President of Quality; Wendy L. Luce, Vice President of Behavioral Health and Chemical Dependency Services: and Jeff Morgan, Vice President of Finance.  The search for a new Vice President for Operations will soon be finalized.

“With the merger now complete, the Brooks-TLC Hospital System, Inc. will now move forward in the process of formally affiliating with Kaleida Health,” LaRowe said.

“These are extremely challenging times for rural hospitals,” LaRowe explained. “Sadly, across the nation we are seeing more and more rural hospitals close due to inability to cope with the impact of reduced reimbursement for services. This will not be the case for Southern Erie and Chautauqua Counties.  We are excited about the future of healthcare in our region,” LaRowe added.

She explained that both the merger of Brooks Memorial Hospital and TLC Health Network and the affiliation with Kaleida Health are a response to the rapidly changing healthcare environment.  “The merger will better position us for success in meeting the healthcare needs of our communities for years to come,” she said.

“It is incumbent on those entrusted with operating our hospitals that we do so smartly, utilizing resources wisely to deliver care.  We are fortunate to have the support of a wonderful staff and great physician partners in achieving success in meeting our mission of service,” LaRowe said.

“Within the context of the merger, the Kaleida Health affiliation,  a new hospital to replace Brooks Memorial Hospital and the future development of the TLC campus as a center of excellence for ambulatory services, we are extremely optimistic for the future of patient care in Southern Erie and Chautauqua Counties under the Brooks -TLC Hospital System.”

“As always, we thank the patients we serve and the community for their support of our efforts,” she said.

Fall into a good night’s sleep

Dare we say it? Fall is almost behind us (sigh) and winter is fast approaching. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. Before you know it, it’ll be dark when you get up in the morning and dark again before you sit down for dinner. Knowing what’s coming doesn’t make it easier to deal with, though — the seasonal change can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule.

Here, we’ll break it all down and offer some tips you can use to get a good night’s sleep.

How seasonal changes affect sleep

Research into exactly why or how weather and seasons affect rest is still in the early stages. But we do know that the human body is sensitive to changes in light, temperature, humidity, precipitation, and atmospheric pressure.

Take sunshine, for instance. It’s one of the more noticeable seasonal changes.

Shorter days mean less sunlight, right? Believe it or not, that lack of sunlight can translate to problems falling asleep. When you’re exposed to sunshine, your body creates Vitamin D, which does a lot of important things for your body.

As far as sleep is concerned, Vitamin D is involved in the production of serotonin, a chemical our bodies use to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Low levels of serotonin disrupt that cycle. And that throws off your body’s signal to generate melatonin, the chemical that puts you to sleep and makes you wake up.

10 tips for great sleep

There are several things you can do to outsmart the season and its impact on your body. Here are our top 10 tips to get a good night’s sleep:

  1. Stock up on sunshine. Make it a point to get some sunshine each day — even if it’s only working near a window for a little while.
  2. Cool it. Temperature plays an important role in the onset of your sleep cycle. To help these processes along, keep your bedroom between 60 and 70 degrees.
  3. Avoid napping. If you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short power naps will help.
  4. Go easy on the food. A heavy meal before bed will make it harder to fall asleep — and digestive issues like heartburn, indigestion, and nausea won’t help. If you feel that telltale rumble before bed, grab a small, sensible snack to tide you over until breakfast.
  5. Avoid caffeine. When late fall rolls around, few things are better than curling up with a nice, hot mug of tea. But be careful: black tea contains about half as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. Drink decaf or turn to herbal, white, or green teas so you won’t end up wired instead of tired.
  6. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is known to cause or worsen the symptoms of conditions like sleep apnea and snoring. It also disrupts your body’s production of melatonin.
  7. Stick to a schedule. It’s a safe bet that, during the week, you get up and go to sleep at roughly the same times every day. Sticking with that schedule — yes, even on the weekends, lazy bones — can make it easier for your body to trigger its sleep and wake cycles.
  8. Mellow your pre-sleep routine. A relaxing pre-sleep routine is a great way to prepare your body for an evening’s slumber. Whatever your routine, be sure to avoid stressful, stimulating activities.
  9. You knew this was coming, right? Stay active during the fall and winter with a vigorous exercise routine. It’ll help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
  10. Cut back on the screen time. Study after study suggests that electronic devices disrupt our sleep schedules. Ditch those devices — yes, even the e-ink readers that don’t emit blue light — at least an hour before bed.

Still learning about sleep

Research into exactly why or how weather and seasons affect rest is still in its early stages. But if you’ve tried everything on our list — or if you’re technically getting enough sleep but don’t wake up feeling rested — it might be that you’re suffering from some underlying condition that’s affecting your sleep. And that means it’s time to talk to your doctor.

Luckily, you and your doctor can choose from an array of organizations whose sole purpose is to help you get a good night’s sleep, including the Sleep Medicine Centers of Western New York, the Sleep Center at the DENT Neurologic Institute, and many others. With the right treatment plan in place, you’ll be counting sheep in no time.

Our Top 3 Fall Fitness Tips

Nobody likes getting out of a warm, snuggly bed in the morning — especially when it’s still dark outside and the morning air is cool. But studies show that the morning hours are the best time for a workout and the change in season could be just the thing you need to get fit. Let us help you fall into fitness with our top three tips.

It’s October, and that means it’s official: fall is here. The warmth and sunshine of the summer months has given way to crisp, cool weather. It’s the perfect time of year to hunker down under warm sweaters and soft blankets and hibernate, right?

Not so fast. The change in season could be just the thing you need to get started on a fall fitness plan. Build momentum now and it’ll carry you through the winter months. The results? A trim physique, strong muscles, and boundless energy — just in time for spring.

If that piques your interest, you’ll love our top three fitness tips designed to help you get up, get out, and get healthy this fall.

Tip #1: Take Advantage of the Great Outdoors

Western New York boasts some of the most amazing fall foliage in the country and October is a great time to take it all in. Let your fall fitness plan take you into the Great Outdoors!

October is a great time for a hike. Cool weather, crisp breezes, and no bugs. Looking for great places to hike? Hit the trails at Zoar Valley, Allegany State Park, Letchworth State Park, Devil’s Hole at the Niagara Gorge, Pfeiffer Nature Center, Rock City Park, and Chestnut Ridge Park — and that’s just for starters!

If hiking isn’t your cup of tea, you can enjoy a number of fitness benefits from walking. (In this post, we break them down for you and show you how to choose the right walking gear.) Get up a bit early and take a few laps around the block or enjoy an after-dinner walk. Better yet, plan some fall activities — like a trip to see the foliage or to pick apples — and incorporate walking into them.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention those pesky October Surprises — early-season snowstorms that creep up on Western New York and dump snow everywhere. But snowstorms don’t have to bring your fitness plan to a screeching halt. Shoveling is a great workout (we know, we know) and don’t forget about cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Even pulling the kids in a sled can be a great workout!

Tip #2: Layers aren’t just for blankets

If you think temperatures under 60° F qualify as “arctic,” you’re not alone. Even though it’s cool outside, remember that there’s a right way and a wrong way to layer for outdoor exercise. Your body will warm up quickly and it’s important that you avoid trapping moisture against your skin.

Stay toasty and dry with layers of moisture-wicking clothing and items that’ll block the wind, like lightweight windbreakers or track pants. Wear a zip-up or pull-over that you can easily remove. And if it’s really crisp outside, grab a hat before you head out.

Not sure how to wear the layers? Experts say that the layer of clothing closest to your skin should be a moisture-wicking fabric that keeps sweat away from your skin, preventing you from feeling chilled. The second layer should be a lightweight warmth layer, like a long-sleeve t-shirt. And the outer layer of clothing should be the protective layer. That’s where the windbreakers and rain jackets come in.

Tip #3: Plan ahead

“If you don’t like the weather in Western New York, just wait five minutes.” That’s especially true in the fall, when erratic weather can result in sunshine, clouds, wind, and rain — on the same day.

But instead of using the weather as an excuse to avoid a workout, plan ahead. Keep a close eye on the forecast and be sure you’ve got the right gear for the weather. After all, if you’re comfortable during your workout, you’re more likely to make it a habit. And for those times when the meteorologists are wrong (ahem), make sure you’ve got a home routine to fall back on.

Planning ahead can also mean removing barriers to your morning workout. For example, pack your gym bag or lay out your home workout clothes the night before. Get ingredients ready to go into the crock pot in the morning. You can even schedule a workout with a fitness buddy, creating an obligation for yourself that you’ll be loath to break.

Bonus Tip: Be an active watcher

We couldn’t resist including this bonus tip: be an active watcher. What does that mean? All your favorite television shows premier in the fall, right? But you can avoid letting the television turn you into a couch potato by being an active watcher.

How? Most hour-long shows include about 20 minutes’ worth of total commercial time. Spend the commercial breaks running in place; doing standing lunges, squats, and tricep dips; or even planking. Elevating your heart rate several times an hour — for even a short period of time — will do your body a world of good.

It’s true that fall is a great time to hibernate. But if you use the change in season to launch a new fitness strategy that’ll keep you healthy and fit well into the new year, your body will thank you. Don’t overwhelm yourself with goals of becoming a champion triathlete. Take each day as a new opportunity to get out, get fit, and enjoy Western New York’s fall beauty.

Fall into Healthy Eating

Don’t you just love New York in the fall? The hills are painted with the vibrant colors of changing leaves, the smell of campfire smoke brings a smile to your face, and the kids head back to school. Ahh.

But as wonderful as it is, September is the start of a difficult time of year for healthy eating. With so many holiday parties, celebrations, and family gatherings coming up, it’s easy to be a little lax in the nutrition department.

The result? The dreaded winter weight gain. It happens to all of us — but it doesn’t have to. Fall brings with it a new menu of seasonal foods to help keep your nutrition balanced and your body healthy. We’ll show you what to shop for and share a few tips that’ll help you fall into healthy eating as the holidays approach.

Don’t forget the farmers’ market
Farmers’ markets aren’t just for the summer months. The fall harvest is full of vegetables and roots that are chock full of the good stuff. Like what, you ask? Antioxidants that protect the body from damage; folate, which is key for cell growth and metabolism; and beta-carotene, which aids vision and bone growth. And that’s just for starters!

Find a farmers’ market in your area and stock up on fall fruits, root vegetables, and leafy greens. Fill your basket with goodies like apples, brussels sprouts, carrots, cranberries, parsnips, pomegranates, sweet potatoes, turnips, and winter squashes like acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash. Mmm!

Go whole or go home
The fall harvest also yields a long list of whole grains and foods that are technically seeds but are used as grains. These foods support good nutrition and health with high levels of B vitamins, which are well known for keeping the body running like a well-oiled machine. These essential vitamins help us convert food into fuel, allowing us to stay energized throughout the day — an important benefit as the days grow shorter!

Enjoy meals with barley, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa, and wild rice. If you’re confused about how to prepare them, don’t worry — they’re incredibly versatile in the kitchen. Use them in stuffing, muffins, breads, veggie burgers, soups and stews, side dishes, and more. If you’re an adult, three servings of whole grains every day will do your body a world of good.


Moderation is your friend
Fall brings with it a lot of tempting treats, not the least of which is pumpkin spice everything. But be careful! Those tasty treats are loaded with empty calories and sugar, which is emerging as the true culprit behind America’s obesity epidemic. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying fall treats — just take it easy and make sure they stay firmly in the “every now and then” category.

If you’re up for spending a bit of quality time with your blender, you can enjoy a healthier version of that tasty pumpkin spice latte. (Need a recipe? Right this way.)

Game plans aren’t just for Sunday football
If you know you’re going to head to a party or holiday dinner, make sure you’ve got a game plan in place. Avoid arriving when you’re super hungry, since it’ll make you more likely to overindulge.

Instead, eat a small, protein-packed snack before you go and be sure to drink plenty of water before dinner. Need some ideas? Grab a handful of almonds, some hummus and a few carrot sticks, or a bit of Greek yogurt. You’ll feel fuller, eat a moderate amount, and still get to enjoy a great dinner.

Stay active
It’s awfully hard to get out of a warm, snuggly bed in the morning — especially when it’s still dark outside and the air is crisp and cool. But the change in season can be just the thing you need to get going. Get started now and you’ll build up enough momentum to carry you through fall and beyond.

Whatever your routine, there are couple tips and tricks you can use to stay active and safe:
● Layer up! It might be cool outside, but your body will warm up quickly as you exercise. Stay toasty and dry with layers of moisture-wicking clothing. Wear a zip-up or pull-over that you can easily remove.
● Stay safe! Starting in the fall, it gets dark faster. When you’re out and about, wear reflective clothing. Use the flashlight on your smartphone if you need to. And if you’re a bicyclist, invest in some headlights and tail lights for extra visibility.

We’ll cover more fall workout tips in next month’s blog, so be sure to check back!

Lucky for us, living in Western New York makes it easy to fall into good health and nutrition. The agriculture sector is one of Western New York’s top employers. There are farmers’ markets in towns and cities throughout the eight-county region and farm stands line the roads in rural areas. Stop in and stock up! And as we’ve written before, Western New York offers ample opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.

New York in the fall is a wonderful place to be. Fall’s bounty makes it easy to stay healthy through the seasonal changes.

The Benefits of Walking & How to Get the Right Gear

We’ve all heard it before: staying active is one of the most important things we can do to stay healthy. For some, staying active means the kind of extreme exertion that comes with whitewater rafting or running the Boston Marathon.

For the rest of us, there’s walking.

That’s right, walking. Staying active doesn’t have to be complicated or involve lots of fancy gear. The right pair of shoes and half an hour can do your body a world of good. It’s the simplest fitness plan ever created.

The benefits of walking
When it comes to walking, most health providers recommend that you take a daily walk at a brisk pace, as if you were late for an appointment. But if speed isn’t your cup of tea, walking for distance can have equally good effects on your health.

Generally speaking, walking can help you stay at a healthy weight, strengthen your bones and muscles and improve your balance and coordination. Best of all, a regular walking habit can help prevent or manage conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes.

And that’s not all:

  • Keep things on an even keel. When you eat a big meal, it can wreak havoc on your body’s blood sugar levels and leave you feeling sluggish. The cure? You guessed it: a well-timed walk. Studies have found that taking a 15-minute walk after a meal is more effective at regulating blood sugar levels than a single 45-minute walk in the morning or in the afternoon.
  • Lift your spirits. A brisk, 10-minute walk can boost your mood for a full two hours. In a landmark study back in the 1980s, participants were asked to assess the severity of an ongoing personal problem, then take a 10-minute walk. After the walk, participants rated their predicaments as far less serious than they had before the walk.
  • Remember where you left the car keys. Walking can even improve your memory. A recent study showed that elderly people who walked for 40 minutes three times per week over the course of a year experienced an increase in the size of their hippocampus. (That’s the part of your brain that controls memory.) While the direct cause is still unclear, researchers suspect that increased blood flow may have had something to do with it.

How to choose the right gear
This all sounds great, right? Walking is an easy activity that we each know how to do. Time to hit the pavement and rack up the miles!

Well… not so fast. Walking is a simple activity, yes — but like all activities, performing it without the right gear can make you more prone to injury. Here’s how to choose the right gear.

  1. Wear & tear. Knowledge is half the battle, right? Before you toss those worn-out sneakers in the trash, flip them over and take a look at the treads. The wear and tear on them will tell you a lot about your gait — that is, how your body handles the mechanics of walking. You’ll be able to tell if your gait is neutral, with a lot of wear on the ball of the foot and a little bit on the heel; overpronated, with most of the wear on the inside edge of the shoe; or supinated, with most of the wear on the outside edge of the shoe. Knowing that will help you purchase a pair that gives your body the support it needs.
  2. The right shoe for the right job. Walking shoes come in several varieties that are specially designed for different types of walkers. If you’ve got weight concerns and walk with an overpronated or supinated gait, a stability shoe might be right for you. For people who don’t need motion control, consider a pair of lightweight performance trainers. And if you’re walking more than five miles at a time, look into cushioned shoes with some shock-absorbent padding.
  3. Avoid running shoes. Walkers have a different stride than runners and need different shoes. Walkers strike the ground with their heel and roll through the step to the ball of their foot, while runners may strike the ground with the ball of their foot or mid-sole. For this reason, running shoes tend to have built-up heels. But walking shoes shouldn’t have a high heel — instead, the heel should be no more than an inch higher than the sole under the ball of your foot. Also, walkers don’t need the flared soles that come with running shoes. Those are designed to provide runners with extra stability as they strike the ground.
  4. Fit is important. Your feet swell during the day. Keep that in mind when you head to the shoe store. Try to go shopping later in the day or in the early evening hours to be sure your shoes will fit properly.

The road to good health is just a step away. And luckily, there are several great walking options right here in Western New York.

In addition, most towns and cities have invested heavily in sidewalks and other pedestrian-friendly street improvements. Take advantage — and join the millions who are walking their way to good health.

Going Outside Can Make You Healthier

When you think about nature, you probably think about beautiful scenery. You know: crisp mountain streams, rolling hills covered with lush forests, and fields full of wildflowers. But nature is about a lot more than that — being outside can improve your mental and physical health in surprising ways. Turns out, your mother was right: fresh air really is good for you.

“Nature” doesn’t necessarily mean forests and mountain ranges, although it definitely includes those spaces. Any green space — whether it’s an urban park, a walking trail, or an open, grassy area — will do.

Here’s proof that being outside will make you healthier:

Exercising gets easier outside.

The mental health benefits of exercise are well documented. But did you know being outside can make exercising easier? Some studies have shown that the color green makes exercise feel as though it’s less strenuous, increasing the likelihood that you’ll want to do it more often. And other studies have indicated that people who exercise outdoors get more excited about future workouts than those who exercise indoors. What’s not to love?

You’ll ramp up your Vitamin D intake.

Remember how your mother always reminded you to take your vitamins? Vitamin D is one you won’t want to skimp on. It’s vital for the growth and development of bones and teeth and helps your immune system work. But Vitamin D is tough to get from foods because so few carry it naturally. How to stock up? Head outside! But because your skin can only soak up Vitamin D from unprotected exposure to the sun, you’ll have to be careful. Go outside without sunblock for 10 to 15 minutes, or about half the time it takes most people to experience sunburn. Then, once you’ve replenished your body’s Vitamin D stores, slather on the sunscreen.

You’ll shed stress and relax.

Several studies have shown that spending time in nature reduces stress levels. While the exact reason why remains unknown, it’s clear that people who spend time in natural settings have lower heart rates and lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, than those who don’t. And when you do go outside, be sure to stop and smell the roses — literally! Scents like lilac, rose, and fresh pine have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.

Your brain will have time to put its feet up.

Studies have shown that people who live in cities deal with something called “sensory overload,” which causes what doctors call “cognitive fatigue.” That’s a fancy way of saying that urban environments tend to overstimulate our brains. After all, there’s a lot to pay attention to in cities! Green space gives your brain a much-needed break from all the goings-on, allowing it time to process information and clear away the cobwebs.

You’ll stop forgetting your car keys (maybe).

Ever walk into a room and forget why you’re there? Yeah, it happens to everyone. Improve your memory by heading outside. Students in a recent University of Michigan study took memory tests and were then broken up into two groups. One group went to an arboretum and the other took a walk down a city street. When the students took another memory test, the students who had spent time amongst trees did nearly 20% better than those who took in the city sights.

You’ll find it easier to focus.

Many of us pride ourselves on our ability to multi-task. Lots of things happening at once means you’re getting more done, right? Nope. Studies have shown that multi-tasking… isn’t. Luckily, being outside — or even having a view of some green space outside your window — can restore your ability to concentrate. The effect is so strong that studies suggest it could help children with ADHD.

Lucky for us, Western New York offers ample opportunity to get outside and enjoy nature.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Ask around and you’ll be sure to find more options.

We saved the best part for last: getting your daily dose of nature doesn’t mean you’ve got to do anything extreme, like a 100-mile hike or whitewater rafting. Head to the nearest park and enjoy a walk, a bike ride, or some time on a bench enjoying the scenery. You can even get these benefits by sitting outside on your porch! (Just don’t forget the iced tea.)

Farmers Market Season: 10 Reasons To Shop

It’s summer, and in WNY that means it’s farmer’s market season! Farmer’s markets are a great way to stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and homemade goodies for the week. There are so many great reasons to take advantage of farmer’s market season. Here are some of our favorites.

1) Support your local farmers! They work really hard. It’s difficult for small farms to succeed in today’s global economy. There’s a pretty good chance some of the fruit in your kitchen right now spent time in China, unless you bought it directly from a local farmer. Keep your money and your produce local.

2) Unbeatable quality. Unless you grow it yourself, it won’t get fresher than this. You’ll be able to taste the difference. In some cases, you might learn for the first time what your favorite fruit is supposed to taste like!

3) Transparency. You may be surprised to learn that mass producers are required to disclose very few of the processes their produce undergoes. From artificial coloring to pesticide use to secret additives, you can be confident that when you buy from a farmer, there are no tricks. Just fresh, delicious food.

4) Buy from the experts. While the produce manager at your local grocery store may have a lot of knowledge on various fruits and vegetables, it won’t compare to the knowledge held by the people who grew it themselves. They can tell you which of their apples are best RIGHT NOW or will get you exactly the kind of pie you want. Not to mention advice on things like canning and storing. Not sure what kohlrabi is or how to eat it? Looking for a new way to prepare your favorite fruit? Go ahead and ask. People love discussing their passions.

5) Community! Whether your local farmer’s market is held in a parking lot or a grassy park, it’s a great way to spend some time enjoying the fresh air and seeing members of your community come together with a common interest in feeding their families fresh, healthy food. Some of them even let you bring your furry friends to partake in the fun! Weekly farmer’s markets are one of the last remaining true community hubs.

6) It’s so much more than fruits and vegetables. Local honey. Meats. Cheese and milk. Bread and pastries. Even wineries and breweries are getting in on the farmer’s market action. If it fits your budget, it’s possible to do all your shopping at a local farmer’s market – supporting local businesses and avoiding over-processed options.

7) They’re for everyone. Speaking of budgets, some local markets have found a way to accept SNAP benefits, meaning they’re working to close the gap between income and food choice. Elmwood-Bidwell is one local market that’s adopted this service. Because doesn’t everyone deserve access to fresh food?

8) Support sustainability and humane animal treatment. Unfortunately, the conventional food market in the U.S.A. is wrought with abuse of our planet and animal friends. By shopping at your farmer’s market, you’ll find meat and animal products that were produced humanely, and fruits and vegetables that are farmed with sustainability in mind.

9) Take care of yourself (and your family). We all understand the need for convenient options and budget constraints. But fresh fruits and vegetables and wholesome foods are essential to your health. Why not get the most delicious options (that also come with a surplus of other benefits)? Even if you just pick one or two fresh, seasonal items to swap out from your normal shopping list, you’re doing your body a favor.

10) Do it for the kids. Your children will benefit from knowing that food doesn’t come from “the store.” Let them pick out their own fruit, or a vegetable to try. Let them meet the farmers who are growing their food and ask questions. Not only will it get them outside, it might get them interested in a lifetime of healthy food choices.

There are so many reasons to add a local farmer’s market to your shopping rotation or weekly activities schedule. We’re passionate about healthy choices, and believe that farmer’s markets are a great way to introduce some healthy habits into your family’s lives. What are your favorite reasons to visit your local farmer’s market? Share them on our Facebook page.

For a list of local farmer’s markets, check out Step Out Buffalo.