Do this to save fresh local produce for a year!

Third in a 3-part series on storing fresh local produce
– By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist:

(Part 1: You won’t believe how much nutritional value is lost)
(Part 2: 4 easy ways to max out your produce’s nutritional value)

In the last two posts, we got into some of the ways Seasonal Roots’ small family farmers are bucking the trends that are killing the nutritional value of modern-day produce… and four easy ways you can max out the nutritional value of the nutritious, delicious produce our local farmers grow. But what do you do if you find yourself with too much of it on hand?

To save fresh local produce from going to waste, freeze it. It will keep in the freezer for 8-12 months! Or can it. Where refrigeration just slows down that ticking clock of deterioration, freezing and canning both stop it cold. The remaining nutrients and flavor stay put until you’re good and ready to eat it.

Freezing requires no special gear, and it’s quick and easy. I’m all for quick and easy, so let’s focus on freezing.

1. To save fresh local produce, start with produce that’s as fresh as possible and in good condition.
2. Clean it thoroughly.
3. Boil water and either drop the produce directly into the water or steam it. Whether boiling or steaming, do this for 2-5 minutes until they’re just done.
4. From there, drop the produce into ice water. This process, called “blanching”, stops the enzyme activity that destroys nutrients and changes texture.
5. Let the produce cool, then put it into plastic freezer bags, squeezing out the air as you seal it up. Or, to keep all that produce from freezing into one big solid unwieldy block, pat it dry, spread it out in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and place the cookie sheet in the freezer. Once the individual pieces are frozen, pop them into bags. When you’re ready to use them, you can pull out a handful if that’s all you need.

Heat does cause nutrient loss, and both freezing and canning expose the produce to heat. But in most cases, you don’t lose any more than you would from cooking. And if you freeze it right away before those nutrients have a chance to slip away, you’ll generally lose less than you would if you let it sit in the fridge for a couple weeks, even if you ate it uncooked at that point.

So freezing makes it possible for you to enjoy delicious, nutritious meals made from fresh, local produce… in the off-season. Bonus!

For a deeper dive, here’s an article from the University of California at Davis, that compares how much nutritional value is lost during refrigerated storage and cooking versus freezing and canning.

Here’s a more detailed how-to on freezing from Mother Earth News.

And to REALLY get down in the weeds, the National Center for Home Food Preservation lets you look up how to freeze almost anything.

Photo from Dreamstime/Mother Earth News

4 easy ways to max out your produce’s nutritional value

Second in a 3-part series on storing fresh local produce
– By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist:

(Part 1: You won’t believe how much nutritional value is lost)
(Part 3: Do this to save fresh local produce for a year!)

In the last post, we got to know the three biggest enemies that are killing the nutritional value of modern-day produce. But Seasonal Roots’ fearless family farmers are fighting to grow more nutritional produce by working with nature to enrich the soil on their land. They’re also growing old-fashioned heirloom varieties that haven’t been bred for nothing but shelf life.

Plus, there are things YOU control that will boost your food’s nutritional value, too. Here are 4 easy ways to max out the nutrients in the produce you eat. Bonus: in most cases, you’ll be maxing the flavor, too.

1. BUY LOCAL. As soon as produce is picked, the clock starts ticking as the produce starts losing nutrients. The sooner you get your hands on it after harvest, the more nutritional value it still has. Most grocery store produce comes from all over the world and is at least a week old. By then, green beans have lost 77% of their vitamin C. Seasonal Roots local produce doesn’t have to travel far, so it arrives at your door within a couple days of leaving the field.

2. EMBRACE THE DIRT. You should definitely wash your produce to make sure it’s safe to eat. But wait to wash until right before you eat it or cook it. Until then, leave it in its original state and handle it as gently and as little as possible. Excess moisture, bruising, pre-chopping and peeling (we’re looking at you, ready-to-eat bag o’ salad) all accelerate decay and nutrient loss. In the case of pre-processed produce, the problem is that vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidants, so when produce gets cut or damaged, oxygen gets inside and the antioxidants are not happy to meet it. That’s another advantage of buying local — after the farmer harvests your produce, it gets handled once by Seasonal Roots veggie fairies, who gently handpack your order. Grocery store produce, well, it has to endure a lot of long, hard travel and repeated rough handling by lots of middlemen along the way.

3. REFRIGERATE RIGHT AWAY. For most fruits and veggies, a cold, dark place slows down the loss of nutrients, because it inhibits destructive enzymes and the loss of vitamin C. B vitamins are particularly sensitive to heat and light. There are exceptions — namely potatoes, onions, and tomatoes (this is why tomatoes lose their flavor in the fridge). Here’s a helpful infographic that shows each fruit and veggie’s happy place.

4. EAT FAST. The longer your produce sits in your fridge or pantry, the more nutrients slowly disappear. But what if you can’t eat it all right away? No worries. There’s still a way you can hang onto most of that nutritional value. In the next post, I’ll explain how.

You won’t believe how much nutritional value is lost

First in a 3-part series on storing fresh local produce
– By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist:

(Part 2: 4 easy ways to max out your produce’s nutritional value)
(Part 3: Do this to save fresh local produce for a year!)

The fruits and vegetables your grandmother grew up eating were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. 1950’s broccoli, for example, had 130 mg of calcium, but only 48 mg today, based on USDA data.

When it comes to the loss of so much nutritional value, soil depletion is Public Enemy #1, according to Scientific American. The modern corporate food industry uses highly intensive agricultural methods that strip nutrients from the soil, and they strip it over and over again: “Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.”

Public Enemy #2: Big Corporate Agriculture has been focused on developing produce that can travel from California or even New Zealand for days or weeks and still arrive at the supermarket looking good – as if shelf life and good looks are all that matter. In the process of selecting for looks and shelf life, Big Ag sacrificed yet more nutrients and flavor.

Public Enemy #3: The very act of transporting, packing, and storing produce over long distances for long periods of time makes the problem worse. Most of the produce in grocery stores is at least a week old. But just look at the graphic of what happens to the vitamin C in broccoli in that amount of time. Even when it’s refrigerated, after 3 days a steady drop in nutritional value begins — it’s even worse for tender produce like spinach and green beans. It drops even more when produce is handled roughly by machines, or when things like broccoli, carrots, and celery are pre-cut for those ready-to-eat salad bags.

Seasonal Roots is working to change all that by partnering with small local farmers who use sustainable farming practices to keep their soil nutrient-rich. Then, after they harvest the produce grown in that rich soil, it doesn’t have to travel far. So, working fast, our veggie fairies gently hand-pack your produce and deliver it to you within 48 hours. We know that as soon as it’s picked, the clock starts ticking.

Plus there are things YOU can do to make sure get you more nutritional bang for your produce buck. Next week we’ll lay out some of the ways you can stop the lost-nutrients clock… or at least slow it down!

Cooking with kids – PS


The wrap up of our 4-part series on cooking with kids
By Jamila T, chief area manager & veggie fairy godmother:

(TIP 1: Start with projects)
(TIP 2: Let them do hard things)
(TIP 3: Set kitchen ground rules)
(TIP 4: Use common sense)

Involve the kids in clean up and celebrate the accomplishment! Good kitchen habits extend beyond preparing food. When you’re cooking with kids, clean up is important too! Enlist your children’s help in washing pots and wiping counters. Quick clean-up will make you more inclined to do another kitchen project in the future.

Lastly… celebrate! You made it. Gobble up a muffin with a big glob of strawberry jam and pat your kid on the back. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back because you taught your child something today…. and you survived the lesson!

Encourage the kids to show off what they learned!



1 lb sausage or ham
6 slices of bread, cubed
2 c cheddar cheese, shredded
6 eggs
2 c milk
1 t salt
1 t ground dry mustard
optional: chopped broccoli or other veggies

Directions (Watch the video!):
1. Place sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain and set aside.
2. Lightly grease a 7×11-inch baking dish. In the dish, layer bread cubes, sausage, and cheddar cheese.
3. In a bowl, beat together eggs, milk, salt, and mustard. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cube mixture.
4. Cover the filled baking dish and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
5. Remove the dish from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking and uncover it. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
6. Bake 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
7. Optional: Top with mushrooms and onions — we’ve got a yummy how-to in this week’s newsletter!

Celebrate some more by posting a picture on our Facebook page!

Cooking with kids – Tip #4


Fourth in a 4-part series on cooking with kids
By Jamila T, chief area manager & veggie fairy godmother:

(TIP 1: Start with projects)
(TIP 2: Let them do hard things)
(TIP 3: Set kitchen ground rules)
(PS: Clean up & celebrate!)

Common sense is key when you’re cooking with kids. While it’s important to give children challenging, meaningful tasks, it’s equally important to make sure those tasks are appropriate for their ability. Appropriate tasks build confidence and character, and will ultimately be a rewarding experience for everyone. Not to mention, your little ones will actually help you… not just “help” you.

So… cooking with a three-year-old? Leave the chef knife in the butcher block and opt for one with a small blade. Better yet, select a recipe that calls for tearing rather than cutting!

Tearing and baking. If you have tiny helpers, let them try their hand at tearing kale leaves from the stems. Older kids? Put them on oven duty!



olive oil
optional seasonings: roasted sesame seeds, finely grated Parmesan, paprika, chili powder, flax seeds, nutritional yeast, brown sugar, taco seasoning, lemon or lime zest

Directions (watch the video!):
1. Tear kale from stems.
2. Wash and dry torn kale.
3. In a large bowl, toss kale with oil and salt.
4. Arrange in single layer on baking sheet and sprinkle on seasonings if desired.
5. Bake 20 minutes at 300 degrees F.

Celebrate by posting a picture on our Facebook page!

Want to try another recipe project? It’s in the PS post, and here’s what you’ll need:
Add sweet potatoes, Bella Vita sourdough bread, Trickling Springs Creamery whole milk, Saddle Ridge Farm eggs, and maple breakfast sausage to your basket when the Seasonal Roots online farmers market menu opens on Friday.

Cooking with kids – Tip #3


Third in a 4-part series on cooking with kids
By Jamila T, chief area manager & veggie fairy godmother:

(TIP 1: Start with projects)
(TIP 2: Let them do hard things)
(TIP 4: Use common sense)
(PS: Clean up & celebrate!)

Kids love to taste things and will often gobble ingredients without considering food safety. Before getting started on any cooking project when you’re cooking with kids, set some kitchen ground rules.

  • Discuss ways to keep themselves safe around hot elements and sharp tools.
  • Also request that they ask before tasting ingredients.
  • Designate a bowl that is specifically for samples and drop something in there from time to time. A “tasting bowl” gives kids an opportunity to explore without worry.
    Dicing! Watch this video and learn to dice like a pro!

    Use a variety of Seasonal Roots root veggies for a local, fresh, kid-pleasing dish!

    4-6 c root vegetables such as celery root, parsnips, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
    olive oil for drizzling
    salt and pepper to taste
    Tasty Tip: Not beet fans? Use golden beets which blend beautifully with carrots and sweet potatoes.

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Throw diced vegetables on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands, then arrange in a flat layer on the baking sheet.
    3. Roast 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are golden brown.
    4. Allow to cool to room temperature and eat as a snack, or serve them as a side dish with pork chops, roasted chicken, etc.

    Celebrate by posting a picture on our Facebook page!

    Cooking with kids – Tip #2


    Second in a 4-part series on cooking with kids
    By Jamila T, chief area manager & veggie fairy godmother:

    (TIP 1: Start with projects)
    (TIP 3: Set kitchen ground rules)
    (TIP 4: Use common sense)
    (PS: Clean up & celebrate!)

    Knives are important culinary tools, even when you’re cooking with kids. Instead of limiting your child’s involvement in the kitchen, teach them how to responsibly handle sharps and other tools. Expectations should be reasonable and based on age, but kids are capable of more than stirring bowls and pushing buttons.

    Let them cut vegetables, flip pancakes, and stir sauces. If they are strong and confident enough, let them add and remove things from the oven. Just use your best judgement based on your child’s maturity level and abilities. You know them best!

    This week’s challenge

    Chopping! Use a knife small enough for them to handle safely. Show them how to keep their fingertips out of the way.

    This week’s recipe


    1 qt LOCAL fruit (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, etc), chopped
    1 small SAUNDERS BROS apple, peeled, grated
    ½ c ALFREDO’S BEEHIVE honey
    ½ lemon/lime/orange, juiced

    1. Combine ingredients in 12-inch skillet. Cook on medium-high for about 8 minutes.
    2. Mash the fruit as it cooks, stirring frequently. Caution: Warm jam bubbles and pops!
    3. Once a spoon can be pulled through the pan without fruit immediately filling the empty space, the jam is finished.
    4. Pour into a glass container and cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Jam will firm as it cools.


    Celebrate by posting a picture on our Facebook page!

    Want to be ready for next week’s recipe?

    Add a variety of fresh, local root vegetables to your basket when the Seasonal Roots home-delivered farmers market menu opens on Friday.

    Cooking With Kids – Tip #1


    First in a 4-part series on cooking with kids
    By Jamila T, chief area manager & veggie fairy godmother:

    (TIP 2: Let them do hard things)
    (TIP 3: Set kitchen ground rules)
    (TIP 4: Use common sense)
    (PS: Clean up & celebrate!)

    Confession: I love to cook. I HATE cooking with my kids.

    I have four of them, and every adventure that begins in the kitchen ends in a mess. A big one. They eat half of what I am preparing and poke holes in the rest. Boredom is inevitable, which leads to wandering during tasks or frustration. It is borderline terrible, but in my eyes, it is terribly necessary.

    Learning to cook is an important life skill and will empower kids to make wise food choices. Time in the kitchen is also an opportunity to model practical applications of math, reading, and following instructions. It gives my girls time to hone fine motor skills, explore food science, and practice the art of patience. Cooking with kids is important, even if it drives me crazy.

    Does cooking with the kids in your life make your brain hurt? Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my favorite tips. Here’s the first one.

    1. Start with projects

    Family meals tend to be more time sensitive than cooking projects. Projects like zucchini muffins will allow your child to experiment with new skills, without ruining dinner. Once skills like grating, chopping, tearing greens, and peeling garlic (my personal favorite), have been mastered, they can graduate to meal prep. Trust me, your children will revel in simple tasks. Plus, it is very helpful to have little fingers peeling garlic cloves while you sauté chicken.

    Ready to dive in?

    Challenge the kids with grating zucchini and make these zucchini muffins. Instead of Greek yogurt, substitute Seasonal Roots’ Trickling Springs Creamery yogurt made from grass-fed milk for extra goodness. You can also use yellow summer squash instead of zucchini — pretty much the same taste and texture.

    Mission accomplished?

    Celebrate by posting a picture on our Facebook page!

    Want to be ready for next week’s recipe?

    Add honey and summer fruit like strawberries, blueberries, or peaches to your basket when the Seasonal Roots home-delivered farmers market menu opens on Friday.

    A Sustainable Valentine

    By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist

    At Seasonal Roots, we believe in that old saying, “You reap what you sow.” When you help local sustainable family farmers, you don’t just reap fresher, more delicious, nutritious food. You also reap a healthier environment.

    Here’s why. The Flores Farm on Virginia’s Northern Neck is typical of the differences between small family farms we partner with and big corporate agriculture.

    Gerardo Flores emigrated from Mexico more than 20 years ago. Now he and his son Omar farm 50 acres that are sustainably planted with an amazing variety of crops: herbs, greens, lettuces, root crops, and dozens of different peppers. That’s Gerardo pictured next to a row of his crops side-by-side with a field of wild flowers. Compare that to the factory farms of big corporate ag, which plant acres upon acres of land with the same thing. Out in California, those monocrop deserts stretch as far as the eye can see.

    Nature doesn’t work that way. Neither does a small family farm that uses sustainable practices. Gerardo and Omar’s diverse plantings create more natural ecosystems that are good for our soil, water, and air. Their rich patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, and ponds are the perfect habitat for native plants and wildlife. That’s much better for our environment than monocrops or yet another suburban development.

    In addition, grocery store produce typically travels 1,500 miles from where it’s grown to get to you. Gerardo and Omar’s locally grown harvest travels less than one-tenth that far. Shorter trips produce less pollution from transportation. And that’s good for the environment, too.

    By choosing to buy local food from sustainable farmers like the Floreses, you’re helping them, the environment, and yourself. That’s like giving the whole planet a valentine!


    By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist

    Our food system is broken, but word-of-mouth is changing it. People are telling each other about their personal experience with local food, one friend at a time.

    For Margo LaMarsh, it started at Bible study. That’s when a friend told her how Seasonal Roots was connecting local families with local farmers.

    “Eating better is all about cooking with fresh ingredients,” says Margo. “And there’s nothing fresher than local food.” So Margo joined her friend and became a member of Seasonal Roots.

    Because local food is fresh, it has more nutrients and tastes better, so those good nutrients are more likely to get eaten. That’s what Margo discovered when she served Seasonal Roots beets to her high school daughter.

    Her daughter was not a veggie eater. “I don’t like beets,” she said.

    “When did you ever have beets?” Margo asked – knowing full well that before then she’d only ever had pickled beets from a jar. “You have to take one bite.”

    When she finally took that bite, she exclaimed, “These are so good!”

    Margo hadn’t done anything special with them. She just wrapped them in foil, roasted them in the oven, and peeled them afterward when the peel practically falls off. “When it’s fresh, you don’t have to do much. They taste good all by themselves,” Margo says. “So I’m a firm believer that the only reason she liked them was because they were so fresh.”

    Now her daughter eats pretty much anything veggie. And Margo, who used to work for NASA before becoming a stay-at-home mom, now works for Seasonal Roots. She’s a neighborhood market manager, pictured here with Josh of Harvest Hill Farm on delivery day, making weekly deliveries to members in York County.

    Margo acknowledges that eating more fresh local food requires a little more planning than eating processed food out of a box. “But having it delivered saves you time,” she points out. And as her husband says, “We use that time to cook more, which is a lot more fun than going to the grocery store.”