Phuong enjoys shopping at the farmers markets with her aunt, Lai. Phuong shops for her family of five, including her husband and three children, ages thirteen, eleven, and nine. She does most of the household cooking and is conscious of managing her family’s food budget. She notes the quality and price of local produce as an important reason why she shops at farmers markets, saying “The farmers market sells vegetables that are very fresh — you can keep them very long, unlike the vegetables at the store. If for the same amount of money, I go to a regular store, I buy less because the cost is higher and the product is not as good, not as fresh. So when I use HIP at the farmers markets, I can save some of my food stamps to buy more food for my children.”
She and her aunt both enjoy making salads with whatever produce is in season, dressing them with traditional dressings made with Vietnamese ingredients. Lai also makes smoothies and fresh juices with ingredients from the markets. Lai emphasizes the importance of eating plenty of vegetables in maintaining good health and notes that this is much easier to do with the extra support from the Healthy Incentives Program. Phuong and Lai appreciate being able to purchase crops grown by the Hmong farmer at the Worcester Beaver Brook farmers market, who grows a variety of Asian greens, scallions, and herbs. They visit the other farmers for staple crops, like carrots, which Lai frequently features in her homemade juices.
Phuong also brings her children to the farmers markets during the summer months, an activity the whole family enjoys. She says, “With the HIP program, I have the opportunity to bring my children to the market in the summer. It’s so good for them to get out and experience the market and for me to be able to have the money to buy things there with them.”