Fresh From the Garden
Now that spring is in full swing, perhaps you’ve already planted your own crop of fruits and vegetables and are looking forward to a plentiful and delicious home-grown summer harvest. Or perhaps you don’t have the space for a garden, the time to tend it, or simply lack a green thumb and can only dream of savoring a luscious sun-ripened tomato picked right off the vine. Thankfully, you’ll soon, if not already, be able to find an abundance of locally grown food by visiting farmers’ markets, U-pick operations, and farm stands for the ultimate in freshness.
Buying directly from farmers is beneficial for many reasons. Consumers have access to tasty, and often less expensive, fresh fruits and vegetables. Farmers’ markets (and related venues) also provide an opportunity to shop outdoors, experiment and try new foods, and learn more about how food is produced, which is indispensable for children. Moreover, farmers can interact directly with customers – getting to know those who live in their community and gathering their valuable feedback. And of course, buying locally boosts the local economy.
In terms of health, you already know that fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals the body needs to function at its optimal levels and to protect itself from disease. By choosing to eat locally grown produce that is in season, you’re getting foods from small farms that are not (or only minimally) sprayed with pesticides and chemicals, as foods grown on factory farms often tend to be. Produce purchased locally tends to be vine-ripened rather than picked prior to its peak. Also, locally grown fruits and vegetables are usually sold within 24 hours of being harvested, which means you’re enjoying the freshest foods possible.
This summer, be sure to take advantage of what’s available fresh from the garden – whether that is your own garden or one nearby. If you can’t make it to a farmers’ market or farm stand, look for a “locally grown” sign above the produce in your local supermarket. Also, check the Internet or phone book to see if your area has a local community supported agriculture (CSA) farm (one in which members agree to cover the anticipated costs of a farmer’s operation, and in return, receive shares in that farm’s bounty during the growing season, plus the satisfaction of reconnecting to the land and participating in food production). Finally, review the following resources for more information:
- Modern Menus
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