I love starting my weekend with a trip to the farmers market. I may start the day overwhelmed by my to-do list, but everything slows down as I start to walk past the tables of vibrant produce, local honey, and artisanal breads and cheeses. Connecting with your food and those who produce it makes you pause, breathe, and appreciate the great gift of real food. You know you’re doing something better for your body and planet by going fresh and local.
However, you can’t take for granted that everything at your local farmers market is good for you and the planet. Supporting your local farmers market can provide better quality produce and be beneficial to the environment and local economy. However, it is not a guaranty that the produce is free of pesticides, meets safety standards, or that the product is actually from a local source. If you’re not taking the opportunity to get to know your farmer you may not be getting what you bargained for. Here are some questions to ask at your next (or first) farmers market visit.
Farmers Markets in all 50 States Accept Food Stamps and EBT
DO YOU USE PESTICIDES?
Not every local farmer grows organically. Those who do so often proudly display their USDA organic label. If you don’t see the organic label, you need to ask how they spray and fertilize their crops. Some farmers use all organic methods but simply do not have the resources to obtain the organic certification. Others may use conventional methods of pest control and fertilization. If it is a fruit or vegetable on the Dirty Dozen list, make sure to choose organically grown produce.
WHAT DO YOU FEED YOUR LIVESTOCK?
Local and grass fed seem to go hand-in-hand but you can’t assume that is the case. Cows and chickens may still be eating grain due to cost and land availability (or even junk food!). They may also still be getting things you don’t want in your food, like antibiotics. Organic eggs may be the best protein choice at the farmers market. They can be used in a variety of ways and can be less expensive per serving than organic beef. (more…)
U-Relish Farm crock pot meals have become an integral part of my meal planning. Cara Dafforn, formerly the Director of Development for the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at IUPUI which has a department of Nutrition and Dietetics, created the company to provide nutrient dense, preservative free, delicious meals in minutes to assist busy families avoid fast food and convenience food options. The ingredients are all regionally sourced and much is grown on Cara’s own farm near Indianapolis. It is all prepared in a kitchen free of gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, and shellfish. My favorite story was the young boy that approached Cara to tell her that he loved one of her meals as much as he loves his Wii! Any time we can get children excited about healthy eating, especially if they have not been before, it is a success!
U-Relish Farm crock pot meals come in savory, spicy, or sweet. There is a pea product line, a bean product line, and a lentil product line. The Chipolte Corn Chili was really spicy in my opinion! Each eight ounce package is labeled with cooking instructions, serving notes, protein suggestions, and ingredients. The packages say that they serve three, but we easily got 4-6 servings from a package by adding protein and serving with rice. I also used the leftover (too spicy for me) Chipolte Corn Chili to top eggs and spice up breakfast.
Sometimes as bloggers, we write things that we want other people to read, and sometimes we write things that we need to remember ourselves. Sometimes when you are making a change, it helps to say it out loud to someone else to make it more real for yourself. Today, I need to say out loud that I am re-committing to eating local food (Everyone falls off the wagon at some point.) These are eight reasons why you might always want to eat local.
1. Allergies Eating locally made honey is supposed to be good for your allergies because the bees are using the local pollen, what is likely causing your allergic reactions. It is the same theory as a vaccine – if you are given a little, your body learns how to fight it, so you develop an immunity. Plus, you’re much more likely to get actual honey than at a store.
2. The real scoop Often when shopping at farmers markets, you get to talk to the actual farmers to get the real scoop on the types of chemicals were used, where animals reside, and what they are fed. Just because something is labeled organic does not mean that chemicals have not been used.
Even with road closures, more time spent in traffic, and parking rates unusual for the Circle City, it is hard to find anyone complaining in Indianapolis. We are all excited and proud to be a Super City. Despite the spike in business and catering orders that restaurant owners were already seeing the two weeks before the Super Bowl, I was able to interview a few local business owners to hear the truth about how they are or are not doing things differently for the Super Bowl.
One major rumor is that restaurants are jacking up prices to gouge out of towners this weekend, but Monon Food Company in Broad Ripple and Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company/Scotty’s Brewhouse assured me that they are not. The Scratch Truck food truck may have to cover additional expenses during the week leading up to the Super Bowl because they will be hiring additional staff and renting out extra space for all the food preparation that they need to do, which they anticipate being up to six times what they do during a normal week. While they may not be increasing prices, all the restaurants I spoke to assured me that they will be bringing in additional staff to ensure the best service possible.
Since Indianapolis is host to the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” – the Indianapolis 500 – every year, which sells three times the tickets that the Super Bowl will, as well as other major racing events that bring in fans from around the world, we are no stranger to crowd management. However, all of the restaurant representatives agreed that the Super Bowl is different. Tim of the Monon Food Company explained that the “press experience around [Super Bowl XLVI] far exceeds other events, so there is more excitement and more spectators who are coming to town just to party,” even if they are not going to the big game on Sunday. (more…)
October is National Farm to School Month, which was enacted by Congress last year. The concept centers around creating and promoting strong relationships between local farms and schools.
A national grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is meant to provide support for not just schools, but businesses and other institutions in promoting the use of locally-grown produce in their cafeterias. The latest school to take advantage of this healthy initiative is the University of Missouri. The state of Missouri has 78 school districts that use locally grown produce. (more…)
Yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill that will encourage city agencies to purchase more locally grown food, and another to reduce wasteful packaging. According to WNYC, the bill will includes foods that are grown, produced and processed in New York.
“These provisions will help the city and the public better track where agencies’ food comes from and where tax dollars are spent,” Bloomberg said. “It will also result in agencies buying much more food from farms and processing facilities in the Empire State.”
The law further requires that an annual report to be published on the food the city buys. Earlier this summer, City Council became the first city government to participate in a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. “It may cost a tiny bit more, but it saves money in the end because it can stay longer in the schools. It can stay longer in the person’s home, and it’s fresher,” Manhattan City Councilwoman Gale Brewer told NY1.
This winter, Wal-Mart announced their plans to bring more local produce to their stores across the United States. The announcement is perhaps one of the most visible indications that the local foods movement has hit the mainstream, as it gains followers for both economic and environmental reasons. Yet it is necessary to approach such an announcement with a dose of skepticism when it comes from a company that seems to be driven so heavily by the bottom line.
Some have criticized Wal-Mart’s new policy to promote local food as little more than a marketing ploy, and have accused the company of re-labeling products they already procure locally. However, in a recent Wall Street Journal article, Wal-Mart says that the consumer demand for local produce is aligned with cost-savings objectives. Wal-Mart, like many other national chains, says that they can save money on transportation by purchasing food near to its point of sale and also cut down on waste due to food spoilage. In a press release, the company announced that they hope to source up to nine percent of all produce locally.
Many grocery stores also spotlight their local produce, although the definition of “local” is depends on the store. Here is a look at how some of the major grocery chains defined local produce.
By Judi Gerber for Care2.com
Did you know that June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month? And, with summer finally here, there is an increasing number of fresh fruit and vegetables to choose from each week.
Here in California, we are already starting to see the first of the season’s stone fruit, mostly apricots and cherries, but some nectarines and peaches are already arriving at my local farmers’ market.
As I have written about several times, eating locally grown or homegrown produce is the best way to get the freshest fruit and veggies.
Just last month I wrote about how eating seasonally not only saves you money, but gives you more freshness, flavor and packs the biggest nutritional punch.
The easiest way to get more into your diet is to add fresh fruits and vegetables to the meals that you are already making. I have found that if I add fresh produce to the things I already eat, I don’t ever feel like I am giving anything up and actually feel like I am getting something instead because of the additional flavor they add to things. (more…)
My favorite part of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution this Father’s Day week was Jamie’s visit back to the Barrett family to see if they have stayed away from fast food since his last visit. As Jamie strode up the sidewalk, he noticed that they were growing herbs and vegetables. The father and the teenage son answered the door in aprons, in the midst of preparing dinner for themselves and Jamie. They had even filled the living room with all kinds of produce in jest of Jamie filling their home with fast food on his last visit. The father stated that he had lost 16 pounds already and, most importantly, feels good about himself as a father now that he cooks and has dinner at the family table with his sons.
The episode started with Jamie visiting a convention for school lunch cooks. He let us know that it is not just the LAUSD, but he has also been denied access to 75 other school districts. The comments by the cooks and administrators made it clear that people are afraid of bad press.
I find it sad when we try to pretend that we are perfect and/or do not open ourselves up to improvement through real awareness. I work with people frequently who confess less than functional habits. Just because Jillian Michaels already works out daily, does not mean she is better than the person asking for help to start exercising more often. In fact, I often find that the person trying to make a change has more courage and is working harder than the person who has already developed a healthier habit. My favorite part of the school lunch cook convention was Jamie commenting on the fact that during airing of the Food Revolution, commercials for fast food or convenience food are also being aired.
Each year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg sets himself a challenge. Last year, it was to learn Chinese. This year, Zuckerberg says he will only eat meat that comes from animals he’s personally killed, in an endeavor to understand the morality of eating meat.
“I’m eating a lot healthier foods. And I’ve learned a lot about sustainable farming and raising of animals,” he told Fortune in an email. “It’s easy to take the food we eat for granted when we can eat good things every day.” Reducing one’s meat consumption is also a way to reduce one’s impact on the environment, as is eating locally raised animals.
Zuckerberg made the announcement via his private Facebook page, saying he’d just killed a pig and a goat. He is getting help in his endeavor from Palo Alto restaurateur Jesse Cool, who has introduced Zuckerberg to farmers. After Zuckerberg kills each animal, it is then sent to a professional butcher, who cuts the animal apart. Zuckerberg and his girlfriend, who is also helping him with the project, are also making an effort to eat all of the animals’ parts, including the organs.
We love hearing about celebrities who eat sensible, healthy diets, and we love it even more when we find out that they prepare these meals for themselves. Not only did Jake Gyllenhaal recently discuss his love of cooking, he also revealed that he’s a patron of local foods.
“I’ve always loved cooking, probably because my father and mother always cooked,” he said. Gyllenhaal also collects old cookbooks, to inspire new dishes. “I have a massive section in my library at home of beautiful old cook books. I really have a strange obsession with them.”