local food benefits local community

Local food benefits local community

Restaurant fire leaves workers jobless, so Seasonal Roots steps up!

By Kristin Henderson, Chief Veggie Conversationalist

Early on a Saturday morning, a fire broke out in the kitchen area of a taco restaurant called Don’t Look Back, which is located in the Carytown section of Richmond.

Good news, bad news

The good news is, the restaurant owner is determined to reopen. The bad news – it’s going to take at least six months to make that happen.

That means six months of unemployment for Don’t Look Back’s crew of workers. But the restaurant owner told the local newspaper, “In a tremendous show of support, some local businesses have been reaching out offering employment opportunities for our crew.”

One of the businesses reaching out to help is us!

So the Seasonal Roots packing facility is in Richmond. We call our packing facility the Hub, because that’s where our local farmers and food artisans drop off their fresh, local food, our veggie fairies pack it up for our members, and then send it back out on its way to each of your doorsteps.

(By the way, see those hoodies in the picture of the packing line? The temps inside the Hub are on the chilly side to keep fresh fruits and vegetables happy… so the veggie fairies who do the packing bundle up!)

There’s lots of work that needs to get done at the Hub. According to your Farmer Connector, Sam, “We have now hired four of the restaurant’s staff at the Hub for packing, to help them get through this tough time. Two great local companies helping each other out!”

This is just another example of how local food benefits our local community!

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

Labor Day grill local food

Labor Day ideas: Grill local food!

How to throw just about all your local food on the barbie

By the Veggie Fairy Team

You can cook a whole Labor Day meal on the grill, even if the food you’re making varies in how it should be cooked.

The secret

The secret to doing it is to create two zones, one for direct heat and one for indirect heat. So in a gas grill with two burners, turn one to medium high, the other to medium low; in charcoal grills, heap the coals to one side. The hotter side is your direct heat zone – the rest of the grill is the indirect heat zone.

Direct heat

This is ideal for small, tender foods that cook quickly. Things like sliced vegetables and fruits, corn on the cob, burgers, steaks, chops, boneless chicken, fish fillets, and shellfish. Direct heat sears the surface – developing flavors, textures, and caramelization – while cooking through to the center.

Indirect heat

This is better for larger, tougher foods that require longer cooking times. Think whole potatoes wrapped in foil, other dense root vegetables like turnips, and whole chickens, roasts, and racks of ribs. It’s also the best way to finish whole potatoes cooked without foil and bone-in cuts that are seared first over direct heat. Or vice versa for bone-in, skin-on chicken legs where you want crispy skin: Roast them first over indirect heat, then crisp the skin over direct heat.

Resource guides

Here are a few resources for grilling veggies, fruit, and meat:
A guide to grilling vegetables
A guide to grilling fruit
A guide to grilling meat

Naked or dressed?

Some things, like peppers, are perfect when you grill them “naked”, with nothing but some olive oil and salt. Other things are great when marinated. Here are some suggestions for marinating and combining your fresh local food on the grill this Labor Day. The marinades work just as well on veggies as on meat; marinate veggies or meat for at least an hour and then fire it up! You can find more ideas on our Pinterest page. Speaking of which, look at the old pin we found on our peach board!

HERB-GRILLED ELEPHANT GARLIC
Ingredients:
1 head elephant garlic, separated into cloves, sliced to desired thickness
1½ T olive oil
2 t fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 t fresh sage, finely chopped
½ t sugar, plus salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
1. Toss garlic slices with oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, sugar.
2. Place on preheated grill for about 3 minutes each side.
3. Remove and cover with foil to continue cooking and keep warm.
4. Eat on freshly baked local bread, garnish grilled meat or veggies, or eat it straight up!

GRILLED GREENS & FRUIT with FETA
Ingredients:
1 bag Tuscan kale, washed, torn into bite-size pieces
4 peaches, halved
¼ c Greek feta cheese spread
¼ c olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder, to taste
1-2 T lemon juice
Optional: ¼ lb ground sage sausage
Directions:
1. Prepare ingredients while grill heats up.
2. Toss kale in a bowl with salt, pepper, garlic powder. Place it on foil and fold up to make an airtight pouch that’s still loose enough that kale can steam inside.
3. Toss peaches in bowl with oil.
4. Optional: form sausage into patties.
5. Place kale pouch, peaches, and optional sausage on heated grill. Peaches should be cut side down. Leave kale on grill for 10 – 12 minutes. Leave peaches until they’re thoroughly caramelized. If using sausage, cook it until it’s cooked through and through.
6. Make a bed of the kale. Top with peaches and crumbled sausage. Sprinkle with lemon juice and dot with feta.

MUSHROOM & SWISS BURGER
Also delish with pastured ground turkey or brats as a substitute for beef
TIP: If you go for handmade local brats, they’re delicate, so simmer them in beer in a saucepan on the stove until they’re cooked through, then finish them on the grill over direct heat.

Ingredients:
1¼ lbs grassfed ground beef
8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
¼ c onion chives, diced, or 1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 buns or 8 pieces of Bibb lettuce to wrap
2 T oil or butter
salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
1. Prep grill for medium heat. Divide ground beef into 4 patties. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
2. Heat oil or butter in a medium pan. If using onions, add to pan and saute for about 2-4 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until tender, about 4 additional minutes. If using chives, add once mushrooms are done.
3. Grill patties about 5 min per side, until cooked to desired doneness. Toward end, add buns, cut side down, to toast.
4. Remove buns. Divide mushroom mixture among burgers, top with cheese. Cover grill for about 1 min to melt cheese.
5. Top with lettuce, or if you’re not using buns, use the lettuce to wrap the burgers in place of buns.

CITRUS MARINADE
Works on fresh local veggies just as well as on local pasture-raised chicken
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 c lime juice
1/4 c olive oil
1 T orange zest
1 T fresh rosemary
1 T fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t salt

SWEET & SOUR MARINADE
1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c ALFREDO’S BEEHIVE honey
1/4 c vinegar
1 T cornstarch
1 T water
1-1/2 t fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 t black pepper

SAVORY GARLIC MARINADE
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c soy sauce
3 T minced garlic
2 T honey
2 T olive oil
2 t black pepper
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t onion powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t liquid smoke flavoring
pinch cayenne pepper

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

fight food waste eat raw food

Why you should eat raw food & keep it on hand…

…even if sometimes it goes bad before you can eat it!

By the Veggie Fairy Team

Your body needs the live enzymes found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Enzymes activate and carry out all your body’s biological processes, including digestion and nerve impulses – and it’s theorized that those enzymes need to be replenished regularly for you to stay healthy.

So what’s the #1 way to replenish enzymes?

Eat raw food.

Actually, for overall good health, you should eat a mix of raw and cooked food — cooking makes some nutrients more accessible to our bodies while killing other nutrients. Spinach is good example of the unexpected pros and cons. So a mix of raw and cooked covers all your bases.

Anyway, keeping fresh fruits and vegetables on hand is worth it for the live enzymes, not to mention antioxidants, vitamins, and other fragile things that are good for us… even if those fruits and veggies go bad occasionally before you can eat them all.

Still, why let any fresh produce go to waste?

To avoid wasting produce, prioritize it. Eat the stuff that goes bad the fastest first, like salad greens or green beans. Once they’re eaten, the more long-lived produce will be waiting for you, with most of the nutrients still intact. Asian pears, for example, store well: 2-3 weeks at room temp, several months in the fridge. That should give you plenty of time to:

  • Serve Asian pears on a cheese platter (skip the crackers).
  • Add thin slices to sandwiches.
  • Add chunks to salads.
  • Make Asian pear slaw. (Scroll down to the bottom of the link for the recipe.)
  • Fight food waste and save money… and the world!

    When you don’t waste food, you’re saving yourself some money. But you’re also helping change our world for the better — you’re blooming where you’re planted. Because the fact is, in America we throw away 40% of our food supply every year!

    We’ve talked about ugly food before, and why we love it (as long as it’s fresh and local!) — it just tastes better. For example, in the peak of the season, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has tomatoes of all shapes and sizes and colors because they’re grown for their nuanced flavors, not their looks. Grocery store tomatoes, on the other hand, are grown by Industrial Agriculture with a list of other characteristics in mind – good looking is one, tough enough to travel is another. (Flavor’s not on the list.) Tomatoes that aren’t pretty enough for the industrial system are thrown away.

    In a country where many go hungry, it’s unconscionable to discard nutritious food simply because it isn’t cute enough. It’s a crazy system that needs to change. As a Member of Seasonal Roots, you’re already helping to bring sanity to our nation’s food system.

    But even so, this time of year it’s easy to wind up with more fresh local tomatoes than you can eat raw all at once, even if they are loaded with live enzymes and other good things.

    More ways to fight food waste

    Here’s how you can get those fresh local tomatoes (and other veggies) eaten, with most of their nutritious benefits still intact:

  • Drizzle with olive oil, roast, and use them to top a salad, bruschetta, or pasta.
  • Simmer into sauce and can or freeze. (Check out our 3-part series on maxing nutritional value by freezing, along with other tricks.
  • Skin, seed, and simmer to a paste.
  • Bake into a tomato pie or tart.
  • Make tomato jam.
  • Add to fruit salad.
  • Bottom line: Eat fresh and local

    So… eat ugly food. Eat raw food. Eat cooked food. Just make sure it’s fresh local food! If it’s fresh and local, it’s so good for you that it’s worth it to always have plenty on hand… even if it goes bad now and then.

    But there’s no need to let that happen. If you can’t eat it all fast enough, just throw it in the freezer. When you defrost it later, if it’s not as appetizing to eat raw, it’ll still be great cooked… and just about as nutritious as it would have been if you’d cooked it instead of freezing it in the first place.

    Parts of this post were adapted from Sherri Brooks Vinton’s EcoCentric blog post “Taste it, don’t waste it: Tomatoes”.

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

    avoid junk food shop local food

    Use this simple trick to avoid junk food

    The solution is online

    By the Veggie Fairy Team

    That candy in the checkout line – is it calling to you? Do those processed foods in the supermarket aisles have the power to turn your good intentions to mush?

    Apparently, the best way to stay strong, reduce impulse purchases, and keep junk food out of your life is to shop online.

    Impulsive much?

    In a new study, 60 college students filled out questionnaires that assessed their levels of impulsiveness. The questionnaires also probed how they respond to the presence of food.

    Previous research had shown that people who are more impulsive may be less healthy than less impulsive people. In a grocery store, impulsiveness could lead to a shopping cart filled with junk food.

    So after filling out the questionnaires, the students were told they had $48.50 for grocery shopping, and were asked to fill an online shopping cart with nutritious, affordable, and tasty foods.

    When they were done, researchers calculated the nutritional value of all the food in each student’s online shopping cart. The result: There was no link between the foods a student chose and how impulsive the student was.

    But if they’d been shopping in a grocery store, the impulsive students probably would have gone home with more junk food than they’d planned on. Shopping online seemed to help them make better choices.

    The findings are preliminary, and more research is needed to confirm the results, but the study suggests that online grocery shopping can help you stick to a healthy diet.

    Not all online shopping is created equal

    Shopping at your online farmers market boosts the health benefit even more. That’s because local food is fresher than the produce you can typically get from supermarkets and grocery stores, whether you’re shopping those supermarkets in person or online.

    The grocery store system takes at least a week to deliver produce from the farm to the store. The Seasonal Roots system takes just a couple days from Dirt to Doorstep®. The fresher the food, the more nutrients (and flavor) it still has. When it comes to healthy eating, you just can’t beat it! Get more details here.

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

    National Farmers Market Week

    National Farmers Market Week: What’s in it for you?

    5 reasons why markets are worth celebrating every week!

    By the Veggie Fairy Team

    National Farmers Market Week is all about the markets that serve as a bridge between farmers and families. Whether they’re in-person farmers markets or online farmers markets like Seasonal Roots, local farmers markets…

    farmers markets increase access to nutritious food

    #1 Increase access to nutritious food

    Online markets use today’s technology to restore an old school connection to our food. 91% of market shoppers use mobile applications, the most convenient way to build bridges between families and farmers, and save time, too. Seasonal Roots home-delivers affordable local food within about 48 hours from Dirt to Doorstep(R), compared to a week or more at grocery stores. And the more fresh it is, the more nutritious it is!

    farmers markets support healthy communities

    #2 Support healthy communities

    Proximity to farmers markets is associated with lower body mass index. Shopping at a farmers market produces healthier eating habits. Shoppers know it from experience. Leslie M posted about it on Facebook, writing, “I absolutely love receiving my fresh, local produce deliveries each week from Seasonal Roots. The selection and options and the amount of produce you get is just fantastic. We eat so much healthier with these fruits, veggies, eggs, etc., arriving at our door each week.”

    farmers markets promote sustainability

    #3 Promote sustainability

    Locally or regionally sourced produce typically travels 27 times less far than grocery store produce. All Seasonal Roots farmers rely on sustainable farming practices like integrated pest management, low- or no-spray, cover crops, crop and livestock rotation, reduced tillage, on-site composting, and reduced water consumption. Nationally, 81% of farmers market vendors do the same.

    National Farmers Market Week

    #4 Stimulate local economies

    Growers selling locally create 13 full time jobs per $1 million in revenue earned. Those not selling locally create only 3. Locally owned retailers, such as farmers markets, return more than 3 times as much of their sales to the local economy compared to chain competitors. Seasonal Roots provides work for more than 100 people and supports dozens of local farmers and food artisans.

    farmers markets preserve farmland

    #5 Preserve farmland and rural livelihoods

    The US loses an acre of farmland to development every minute of the day. The market is the sole source of income for 25% of farmers market vendors. Farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for new farmers, allowing them to start small as they learn and test the market.

    View this post as an infographic.

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

    industrial agriculture drought vs fresh local food

    Industrial agriculture vs fresh local food

    What happens when the water runs out?

    By Duane Slyder, Head Veggie Fairy & founder of Seasonal Roots:

    A few years ago, I visited California’s Tulare County (pictured) with the Northern Neck Growers Association and 21 of Virginia’s finest farmers. We toured fields full of almond trees, sweet potatoes, lettuce, radicchio, and more.

    Tulare County is the top agricultural producing county in the U.S., even though its natural state is desert-like. Average rainfall is just 7 inches. When intensive farming started there 50 years ago, farmers relied on snowfall in the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains to provide water for their summer crops. But then came years of severe drought. There was little snow to be seen when I was there.

    Industrial agriculture has its limits

    So we were walking with one of Tanimura & Antle’s field managers, Rob, in a 1500-acre field of mixed lettuce. I suddenly realized that I had actually bought some of their heads at a Virginia Kroger during our winter holiday hiatus that year – small world! Rob said with the drought, he and other farmers had been denied access to the mountain water they’d always relied on. They were forced to get all their water from wells, which were drying up. With so little experience on the land, they don’t know what they’re going to do in the long term.

    California’s long drought was a warning: In the future, America may not be able to rely on far away places like Tulare County to provide so much of the nation’s produce. Experts say California will be short of water forever.

    Farmer Joe Step came with us on that trip. His family has been farming their 120 acres in Virginia – growing broccoli, barley, and cucumbers – for 130 years. He plans to keep on farming. His family knows how to survive droughts and grow produce sustainably with the future in mind. Because he’s local, we can then deliver his produce to you within a couple of days, Dirt to Doorstep(R), while it’s still full of nutrients and flavor.

    Support local farmers today… so they’ll be here when we need them tomorrow

    This is why we founded Seasonal Roots: To make sure farmers like Joe, who know how to feed us, can keep on farming… so you can keep on getting the freshest food possible. That’s only possible when it’s local. When it comes to maximizing nutrients and flavor, industrial agriculture just can’t deliver. Thank you for making this important local food mission part of your life!

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

    fresh local food - sustainable agriculture - lettuce

    This is why fresh local food is better for you

    The most delicious way to take your vitamins

    By the Veggie Fairy Team:

    What’s the most delicious way to take your vitamins? Eating fresh local food direct from local farmers! It’s not just more delicious — it’s also better for you than trying to get your vitamins from supplements or even grocery store produce. Here’s why.

    Fresh local produce is whole food

    According to the Mayo Clinic, whole foods like the farm-fresh produce you get from Seasonal Roots give you three things that dietary supplements can’t:

    1. More nutrition. Whole foods are complex. That means they have a variety of the micronutrients your body needs — not just one. Take leafy greens, for example, like the lettuce pictured here, grown by Gerardo Flores and his son Omar on Virginia’s Northern Neck. It’s got vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B-6, plus thiamine, riboflavins, beta carotene, folates, zeaxanthin, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Whew! Scientists think all these compounds probably work together to help your body process those nutrients and get the most out of them. A lot of the vitamin content in a pill is wasted without the supportive team of natural compounds your body needs to absorb it.

    2. Essential fiber. Whole foods, which include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, give you dietary fiber. Fiber does more than keep you regular. Most high-fiber foods are also packed with other essential nutrients. Studies show that when your healthy eating includes fiber, it helps prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

    3. Nature’s body armor. Fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring substances called phytochemicals. These little guys may help protect you against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Many of them also protect you with antioxidants, which slow down oxidation — a natural process that leads to cell and tissue damage. That kind of damage is associated with aging and cancer.

    But oxidation isn’t just your enemy. Vitamins have enemies, too. Which brings us to grocery stores.

    Local + fresh = more vitamins

    A fresh-picked peach is a sweet, delicious way to get 11% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamins C and A, and 5% of the RDA for vitamin E… that is, IF you eat it while it’s still fresh.

    Vitamins are more vulnerable to oxidation than almost any other nutrient. Air, light, and heat are part of the oxidation process. As soon as a fruit or vegetable is picked, those three things start doing their best to kill the vitamins in the produce. It’s a race against time.

    So the fresher your produce is, the more vitamins it still has. That’s why the produce you get direct from local farmers is better for you than produce from the grocery store. Store-bought produce travels at least a week to get there, on average… and often longer. By then those fragile vitamins are fading away, along with the flavor.

    The local produce at Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market comes to you straight from the fields of our family farmers. No middlemen, no storage, no long distance travel. So when you take your first bite, it’s still fresh and vitamin-rich – not to mention full of delicious flavor, too.

    WHEN it’s picked makes a difference

    Our farmers wait until their produce is fully ripe before they pick it. This allows the sun and rain to maximize the flavor and vitamins inside every fruit and vegetable.

    That stuff in the grocery store from California, Mexico, or beyond — conventional and organic alike — it was all picked early ahead of its long journey. By the time it gets to you, it may look ripe. But it’s an empty shell compared to the amount of flavor and vitamins in field-ripened produce.

    Fresh local food is Grandma’s healthy eating

    Modern varieties of produce have been developed to meet the storage and rough handling needs of industrial agriculture — at a price. Modern produce looks good but it’s short on nutrients.

    Since our farmers’ produce doesn’t have to endure long, rough trips, they can grow old-fashioned heirloom varieties that have still got all the flavor and nutrition of yesteryear. The old-school broccoli your grandmother ate was much better for her than the broccoli you’ll find in grocery stores today. With fresh local food, you can go back in time and eat that healthful broccoli too.

    Sustainability gives you a vitamin boost, too!

    All our local family farmers are committed to using sustainable farming practices. Not only does that lower our carbon footprint. It also adds to the benefits of healthy eating that you get from fresh local food. That’s because sustainability includes:

  • Low- or no-spray. Our farmers work with nature instead of against it to manage pests.
  • Healthy soil. Our farmers use crop rotation, cover crops, reduced tillage, careful water management, and more to enrich the soil naturally instead of relying on chemicals. You can see some of those methods demonstrated in Gerardo’s lettuce crop, pictured above.

    Bottom line: Healthy eating starts with fresh local food!

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

  • ugly food fresh local sustainable

    We love ugly food!

    What does truly fresh produce look like?

    By the Veggie Fairy Team:

    The external appearance of modern produce tells you very little about what’s inside.

    Big Corporate Agriculture grows its produce all over the world, usually wherever they can get the job done the cheapest. That means the produce has to be able to survive at least a week, and sometimes months, of travel and storage before it gets to a grocery store.

    So Big Ag has focused on developing varieties of produce that have a long shelf life and are tough enough to withstand the rough handling that’s part of industrial agriculture. Nutrition and flavor are not Big Ag’s priority, even when the label says organic.

    If there isn’t much in the way of nutrients and flavor on the inside, all you’ve got left is the outside. So fragile fruits like berries get sprayed with perservatives and veggies get waxed. Anything that looks less than perfect gets tossed. It’s all about appearances. Sure, that grocery store produce looks fresh. But it’s fake fresh.

    Our local farmers choose to grow produce varieties that are known for their flavor, not their shelf life. If it happens to look pretty too, that’s just icing on the cake. But since they don’t rely on pesticides, sometimes there are signs that a bug has sampled it first.

    Plus, our farmers let their produce grow until the day it reaches its ripe, nutritional peak. They don’t pick it early in preparation for a long trip (which cuts short its nutrients and flavor, even though it may have technically “ripened” by the time it reaches its destination.)

    After our farmers harvest it, we don’t douse it in preservatives or wax. We simply chill it and deliver it to you quickly, while it’s still really and truly fresh – which we can do because we’re local.

    So that’s why we love ugly food. If it’s ugly, nibbled, or oddly shaped, that’s just proof that it’s good for the planet and good for us!

    Fresh = perishable . . . and if it perishes, we want to know!

    The fact is, real fresh food is very perishable. That’s why we check and double check each item before it reaches you. If something falls through the cracks we want to know! Report it the next time you order.

    Here’s how:

  • After you make your choices and click “Save And Review My Order”, scroll to the bottom of the page. Click on “Report Issue With Last Order” then follow the directions. Be sure to click on the green “Submit Issue” button when you’re done!
  • Or sign in anytime and hover over the purple gear icon in the upper right corner. From the drop down menu, select “Report An Issue”, then follow those directions.
  • If the item came in your basket, we’ll replace it. If it was an Extra, we’ll issue a credit. We always stand behind the quality of our fresh, local food!

    How do you keep fresh food fresh?

    Pretty or ugly, the best way to get the full benefit of all the nutrients and flavor in fresh food is to eat it right away. Of course, that’s not always possible, so check out our series on how to make your fresh food last longer.

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

    Richmond farmers markets customer service

    Richmond farmers markets

    The truth about farmers markets customer service — plus recipes!

    Last in a 4-part series on Virginia farmers markets
    By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist:

    (Part 1: Virginia Beach farmers markets)
    (Part 2: Northern Virginia farmers markets)
    (Part 3: Fredericksburg farmers markets)

    As I was researching this series, I came across this from a shopper at a farmers market: “Enjoyed seeing the variety of pickles and beef truck. The soap vendor spent her time at the pickle vendor’s tent telling us what she thought we should purchase from him….not good. Would have enjoyed spending time ourselves talking with the pickle vendor.”

    Yikes. Because there are so many different vendors at a farmers market, the customer service naturally varies from vendor to vendor, and sometimes it’s real hit or miss — like the poor pickle vendor, caught in a pickle that wasn’t even of his own making. (Sorry, I couldn’t resisit.)

    How do you measure customer service at a farmers market? For me, it’s a combination of things: Friendliness, respect, knowledgeability, and responsiveness. I don’t want to be ignored, but I don’t want them to bug me, either. And what do you do if you get home and discover there’s a problem with something you bought? How do you get help after the sale?

    Richmond farmers markets

    The Richmond area is jam-packed with farmers markets. Here are some insights into the customer services on offer at a diverse selection from around the city, from big well-known markets to smaller neighborhood ones.

    One thing these markets have in common is they’re all friendly (what farmers market isn’t?!), most are dog-friendly, too, and they’re all open at least one day a week this time of year. A few are open year-round.

    South of the James Farmers Market is the big kahuna among Richmond farmers markets, with about 100 vendors in the summers. Folks who shop here say it’s exciting and entertaining. In between its Saturday market days you can reach the market managers by email and USPS snail mail.

    Farmers Market @ St Stephen’s is small and stress-free with easy parking. They’re open on Saturdays. In between market days they offer an email contact on their website.

    Birdhouse Farmers Market, formerly known as the Byrd House Market, is tucked away off the beaten path. It’s open on Tuesdays and considered a real find by loyal shoppers in its neighborhood. One unique customer service that they offer is a pop-up library. On their website they also offer a phone number! Another unique service. So you can reach the market managers by phone or email when the market’s not open.

    Carytown Farmers Market is also a little neighborhood market. Customers like that it’s open on Sundays and surrounded by fun Carytown shopping. To get in touch with the market reps when the market’s closed, there’s an email address, a mailing address, and a contact form on the website.

    Lakeside Farmers Market, open on Saturdays and Wednesdays, is praised for its wide food selection by the folks who shop there — which is at least partly a result of the market not requiring its vendors to stick to local food only. On its website, the market is open about the fact that they’re not producer-only, meaning that some of their vendors sell things they haven’t grown or made themselves, including foods grown way outside our region. Also of note: Of all the Richmond markets listed here, this one is the only one that prominently offers a one-week satisfaction guarantee — anything you’re not happy with you can return to the vendor who sold it to you the following week for a replacement, refund, or credit. There’s also an email address and online contact form to get in touch with the market managers between market days.

    West End Farmers Market is open Saturdays and its managers can be reached by email when it’s not open. Shoppers who live in the West End love that this market is so conveniently close to home.

    What happens to customer service when the market’s not open?

    Most markets are super helpful and friendly during the few hours they’re open for business. But what happens if you get home, unload your bags of booty, and discover there’s a problem? Who do you contact?

    That’s totally up to the market and the individual vendor. All the Richmond farmers markets listed here offer at least an email option for getting in touch with the managers. Many vendors make their contact info available, too, at their booths and online. But assuming they’re willing to give you a replacement or refund, you still have to go to considerable effort. To return anything, you have to return to the market along with the item you want to take back. If you don’t have the time or transportation to get back before their deadline, whatever that may be, you’re out of luck.

    This is where an online farmers market like Seasonal Roots has an advantage. While Seasonal Roots is modeled on the farmers markets we love, the lack of customer service between market days was one thing we decided not to copy.

    To start with, our farmers market online shopping is open all weekend, from 2:00 Friday afternoon till 11:59pm Sunday. So the available “open” hours when you can get your local food shopping fix are a lot more convenient.

    We also provide farmers market home delivery at no extra cost. So you don’t have to go anywhere and that saves you time. Plus everything we deliver is guaranteed. If there’s ever an issue with anything, we’ll give you a replacement or refund, no problem.

    To report an issue, we built in an easy way to do it on our website. (Near the end of this article is a description of how to report an issue.) It takes about a minute. After that, if a replacement’s in order, we’ll home deliver it to you along with your next order. If a credit is due, we’ll issue it pronto. Easy peasy. You never have to track down individual vendors or mess with trying to get in touch with market managers who often have other day jobs.

    For any other questions or concerns, you can contact our dedicated support team of veggie fairies by email or phone (757-351-4565).

    And one more thing… recipes!

    Of course, most of the stuff you bring home from a farmers market or receive at your doorstep from Seasonal Roots is totally fine and ready to eat — and the sooner you eat it, the better. Fresh local produce is loaded with more nutrients and flavor than grocery store produce because it’s just days from the field, whereas grocery store produce is at least a week old, often older. The longer it sits, the more nutrients and flavor it loses. So it’s best to get busy eating!

    To make it easy for you to do that, we include several recipes with every delivery and post them on Pinterest, too. We think that’s just good customer service. Check it out!

    In the end, any Virginia farmers market that features local food is good for local farmers and food artisans. That’s our bottom line goal here at Seasonal Roots. As long as family farmers can make a living, we’ll all continue to have access to delicious, nutritious local food that’s good for us and good for the planet. So when you have the time, go spend a few hours at your local farmers market. For your day-to-day local food needs, there’s Seasonal Roots.

    Either way, in-person or online, we’ll see you at the farmer’s market!

     

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

    Fredericksburg famers markets

    Fredericksburg farmers markets

    Farmers markets: A summer treat; winter, not so much

    Third in a 4-part series on Virginia farmers markets
    By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist:
    (Part 2: Northern Virginia farmers markets)
    (Part 4: Richmond farmers markets)

    On a sunny weekend, I love wandering past rows of beautiful fruits, veggies, and artisan fare at a farmers market, carried along by the energy of the crowd. At the one near my house, musicians are playing, artists are exhibiting, and there are lots of treats to sample. Most markets start up in the late spring as the first harvests get going. They boom in the summer and slow down again in the fall. Then over the winter, most disappear until the harvest seasons roll around again.

    Fredericksburg farmers markets

    The market scene in Fredericksburg gives you three farmers markets to choose from: Hurkamp Park Farmers Market, Mayfield Market, and Mary Washington Healthcare Market Express.

    They’re all open-air markets. The Hurkamp Park market is open Monday through Saturday, its busiest day, and includes produce and baked goods.

    The Mayfield Market is open Thursday afternoons. It specializes in flowers and plants in addition to produce.

    The Mary Washington Healthcare Market Express is also open Thursdays, from late morning into the afternoon. It’s located on the campus of Mary Washington Healthcare.

    Year-round availability?

    The thing about farmers markets is that you can’t depend on most of them to serve as your primary source of groceries year-round. In Fredericksburg, only the Hurkamp Market is open during the winter, and even there, most of the vendors bow out until spring returns. That’s true for all the Virginia regions we’re covering in this series — the majority of markets close down over the winter, and at the ones that stay open the pickings get slim.

    If you’re committed to eating local, that’s a bummer. After all, eating food that’s local, sustainable, and humane offers all kinds of benefits. It’s got more nutrients, more flavor, it’s better for the environment, and it boosts the local economy. That’s why a lot of people rely on online farmers markets like Seasonal Roots to meet their day-to-day food needs with home delivery year-round . They can hit the nearest farmers market when it’s open and they have the time, but they don’t have to depend on it.

    Virginia winters are cold enough that filling any market with a variety of fresh, local produce is a challenge, no doubt about it. We can all get our hands on plenty of winter squashes, greens, and root vegetables but most people want more variety than that.

    Some online farmers markets resort to offering produce that isn’t local or even regional or wasn’t grown sustainably, and they may not tell you where it’s from.

    Not Seasonal Roots. During the coldest couple months of the year, what we do is offer regional produce in addition to local produce, with the source and location clearly labeled. While there’s no official definition for ‘local food’ or ‘regional food’, we consider food local if it’s grown or made within about 150 miles of where our members live. We call it regional if its outside that range but can still get to us within a day or so of harvest without flying. The rest of the year we’re 100% local, and we’re always sustainable and always humane. We’ve got a whole article on local vs regional if you want to read more.

    A year-round farmers market like Seasonal Roots is more reliable for family grocery shopping, and for the farmer too. In addition to winter crops, our local farmers grow other kinds of produce sustainably in greenhouses. Their hens are still laying and their cows are still producing milk. With a little help from more southerly parts of our region, there’s always plenty of local food to get us through the winter.

    But during the warmer harvest seasons, nothing beats an in-person farmers market when it comes to music, entertainment, friendly crowds, and yummy samples. There should always be a place in our lives for both kinds of markets, in-person and online!

     

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.