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good olive oil health benefits

The secret to really good olive oil

How to spot it, store it, and why it matters


By Margo L, neighborhood Market Manager

Using a really good olive oil matters because it’s as good for you as it is delicious. Good olive oil is the secret to the nutritious Mediterranean diet, which is associated with long life. The health benefits? Olive oil fights inflammation and osteoporosis, reduces the risk of cancer and diabetes, slows the aging of the heart, protects against depression… and the list goes on! (Read more about the health benefits here.)

Plus, a good olive oil can enhance flavors and make your fresh delicious local produce even more mouth-watering. But a bad olive oil can knock it down to “Meh” or even “Blech!” So here’s the secret to finding a good one and keeping it that way.

1. Go extra virgin


It’s the highest standard for olive oil, regulated by various organizations, including the International Olive Oil Council. To be considered “extra virgin olive oil”, the oil should have no defects and must be unrefined, meaning it has never been treated with chemicals or heat.

2. Start fresh

Look for the “bottled on” or “best before” date. Look closely at the label in the photo with this post: See where it says “BBD 11 2018”? That’s the Best Before Date, November 2018, and that means it was pressed recently — fresh, and good for you, too. If you can’t find a date, keep shopping. You want to be able to use it all within a year or less of pressing. If you just can’t get your hands on olive oil with a date, buy only as much as you can use within 2 months and use it with abandon!

3. Protect your EVOO from HALT

Translation: Store and use your extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) in a way that will protect it from heat, air, light, and time (HALT). This will preserve its healthful properties and keep it from becoming a health hazard full of free radicals. The fact is, oils are fragile. The four elements of HALT break it down and create free radicals, which eventually lead to excessive oxidation and rancidity. Rancid oil will leave a bad taste in your mouth… and worse: While it doesn’t pose a food-safety type of health risk, rancid oil harms cells, uses up precious antioxidants, and contributes to heart disease and cancer. The thing is, rancidity can set in long before you can taste it or smell it. So pay attention to those pressing and bottling dates!

4. Use the right storage container

The best storage containers are made of either tinted glass (to keep the light out) or a nonreactive metal, such as stainless steel. Avoid most plastic, too. Oil can absorb noxious substances such as polyvinyl chlorides (PVCs) out of the plastic. Containers also need a tight cap to keep out unwanted air. Experts recommend storing oil at 57 degrees, the temperature of a wine cellar. A room temperature of 70 degrees will be fine, though, as long as it’s away from heat sources like your oven or stovetop.

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, eggs, grass-fed 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.

New Years Resolution eat healthy

Try this easy New Years Resolution

Eat healthy in 2018!


By the Veggie Fairy Team

In this era of fast food, junk food, and crazy busy schedules, healthy eating can be hard. But local food makes it easy! So make “healthy eating” your #1 New Years Resolution, and Seasonal Roots will smooth the way for you. To start, here are 7 easy tips to help you keep your resolution.

1. Order weekly


If you haven’t already signed up for Seasonal Roots, do it now and order every week. Online ordering is quick and convenient, and delivery is free to your home or office, saving you time. By ordering every week, you’re getting local food that’s fresh from the fields, so it’s loaded with healthy nutrients (not to mention flavor!)

2. Avoid supermarket mindgames


Seasonal candy displays… scent machines to lure you to the bakery… “free” junk food samples… sugary cereals at kids-eye-level… oversized shopping carts… These are just some of the psychological marketing tricks that supermarkets use to fool you into filling your cart with unhealthy food! (Read this Washington Post article for the inside scoop.) By getting your fresh stuff delivered weekly, you won’t have to go to the supermarket as often. And before you go, be sure to eat first, take a list, and focus on stocking up on items you can store. That will make it easier to stay out of their devious clutches.

3. Eat it raw


The fact is, food that’s freshly picked or just-made simply tastes better. Time is the enemy, so if it’s fresh, it still has all its original flavor along with its nutrients. You don’t have to do anything fancy to it to make it taste delicious!

4. Roast it


If you don’t like it raw, you can still keep it simple. Set your oven at 400 degrees, chop and toss your veggies in olive oil, then spread them on a baking sheet. Roasting releases the natural sugars inside, making everything even more mouth-wateringly delicious. Depending on their size and density, your roasted veggies will be ready to eat within 20 minutes to an hour.

5. Steam it


Keep in mind that some nutrients are actually easier for your body to extract and process if the veggies are cooked. For example, spinach and other greens do you more good when you cook it first. Steaming is quick and easy. Then sprinkle with sunflower seeds and dried cranberries, a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and you’ve got instant delish.

6. Use a slow cooker


Too busy to cook? Just throw everything in a slow cooker, and voila, you’ve got an easy home-cooked meal and probably leftovers, too. Eating healthy local food made from scratch doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of time in the kitchen (unless you want it to!) Here are some tips on how to make a slow cooker work for you.

7. Don’t wait for spring


If you think there’s nothing local and healthy to eat in the winter, think again! There are plenty of superfoods among the produce we harvest in Virginia in the fall and winter, and some of them store well, too. Here’s a handy list of local superfoods that will boost your health starting right now!

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, eggs, grass-fed 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.

avocado regional food vs local food

Tropical fruit in Virginia?! Regional food vs local food

Regional food vs local food: What’s the difference?


By the Veggie Fairy Team

Sometimes it’s obvious: If an apple comes from New Zealand, it’s not local, at least not here in Virginia. If it’s an avocado like the one in the picture, that didn’t grow round these parts, either. But what if it comes from North Carolina, Pennsylvania, or even Florida?

What’s the difference between regional food vs local food?

There’s no official definition for ‘local food’ or ‘regional food’. Seasonal Roots considers food ‘local’ if it’s grown or made within about 150 miles of where we deliver. We call it ‘regional’ if it’s outside that range but can still get to us within a day or so of harvest without flying.

Any further than that and it isn’t fresh enough or nutritious or flavorful enough for us, and probably comes with a bigger carbon foot-print, too. Click here to read why local — and regional — produce is better for you.

So most of our online farmers market items are local, and in the winter we add regional items from Florida.

One thing you’ll never see in our market is anything from New Zealand, or even California. (And nothing grown by Big Industrial Agriculture, either. We partner with family farmers only.)

What if I want to eat local food only?

regional food vs local foodTake a good look at this picture. Can you tell the local food from the regional food in that basket-worth of items? When you’re shopping our online farmers market, you never have to guess because we always tell you where it was grown by which family farmer.

That’s important, because some of our members take satisfaction in eating only what nature can provide in season here in Virginia. They keep all their food dollars local and avoid things like tropical fruits that don’t grow this far north. After all, humans survive just fine on different diets the world over.

Other members enjoy the variety that regional options offer, especially in winter. When snow’s on the ground, they’re willing to go a little farther afield to enjoy produce like oranges and avocados grown by family farmers in Florida.

Seasonal Roots is here to support your choice, whether you choose to eat 100% local or occasionally go regional. We always make it clear where each item in our online farmers market is grown or made. That way you can choose the food that’s right for you, good for you, and still good for our planet, too!

For tropical fruit lovers: Meet V&B Farms

Tropical fruits are an important part of a healthy diet — as pirates and other seafarers discovered when they got scurvy! But citrus doesn’t grow in Virginia.

So as part of our commitment to eat food from the closest farms possible, during the winter months we partner with V&B Farms in Florida. These Sunshine State farmers can grow the citrus and other tropical and summery fruits like those avocados that we need for a healthy diet – but can’t grow up here in Virginia.

Coming from nearby Florida, V&B’s produce will travel far less than produce from California or Central and South America. That means it’s fresher, riper, tastier, and still packed with nutrients. And it’s better for the environment, since less travel equals less pollution.

v and b farms regional foodThe farmers behind V&B are Tommy Vick and Brandon Boyd, who have known each other since they were in diapers.

Tommy’s a fourth generation farmer who was driving the family’s tractors by the time he was seven. Now he volunteers his time at local schools to help promote the next generation of Florida growers.

Brandon’s a fifth generation horticulturist. With a degree in horticulture technology, he has worked on research to make aquaponics more sustainable.

We’re glad to support Tommy and Brandon as they focus on the future of local, sustainable farming right here in our region!

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, eggs, grass-fed 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.

love local leeks recipes & health benefits

How I learned to love leeks

Recipes & health benefits to help you love leeks at the farmers market!


By Duane, founder & Head Veggie Fairy

I love when the winter months come and we have fresh, local leeks in the kitchen. My first farm encounter with leeks was on a nice fall day. I was standing in a field out at Charlie Collins’ Victory Farms in Henrico. Charlie sold his produce at in-person farmers markets — by the way, many of those are closed this time of year, but he now sells through the Seasonal Roots online farmers market, too, which is open year-round.

Anyway, back before Victory Farms began selling through Seasonal Roots, I was out there in the field looking at a fifty-foot-long row of leeks. They were at the peak of ripeness and ready for harvest. But Charlie was about to till them all under. Why? He’d learned there was no point hauling them to market – no one wanted them. A tragedy!

Guess what, they’re good for you

They looked so beautiful and smelled so fresh out in the field that I was determined to learn about these gems. I soon discovered that they’re a close relative of the simple yellow onion – but better. A single leek (about a cup) contains just 54 calories. So it makes you feel full without fattening you up.

And leeks are loaded with vitamins! One whole leek gives you at least half the recommended daily dose of vitamins A and K, plus significant amounts of compounds that help protect your vision. Click here to get all the details on the health benefits.

Easy to cook, too

There are lots of ways to put leeks to work. The first recipe I remember making with leeks was a fish dish. I grilled flounder (any fresh fish will do) with a little salt, and caramelized freshly harvested leeks. That was all it took to make a meal that I will never forget – the taste was amazing! Now I use leeks in stews, soups, omelets, and more.

We’ve pulled together a variety of leek recipes right here on Pinterest to help you give them a try. There’s something for everyone, including two potato-and-leek soup options, with and without the cream. Enjoy!

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, eggs, grass-fed 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 hunger with local food

4 ways you can help fight hunger

Giving is always in season


By the Seasonal Roots Veggie Fairy Team

On delivery day last week, the day before Thanksgiving, one of our neighborhood Market Managers, Nickie, posted this on Facebook:
“I’m volunteering with the 25 Project to provide meals to roughly 500 homeless living in shelters and tent cities in DC and Northern Virginia tomorrow. I reached out to the good people at Seasonal Roots to see if they could send some surplus veggies my way, and boy did they deliver. Literally. All of this was waiting for me on the truck this morning. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to the farmers and founders who were able to provide all this nutritious produce to those in our area who so desperately need it. Stay tuned for updates on the mass cooking project going down in my house tonight as I prepare for tomorrow!”

Our Chief Happiness Officer, Lesley, shared NIckie’s Post on our Facebook page, adding:
“We get so excited when we’re given the chance to share the love of local, especially when it’s to those in need. We are incredibly thankful for sweet souls like Nickie who help spread that love.”

Later that day, Nickie posted an update:
“Thank you again! Meals were served to 525 people yesterday. We couldn’t have done it without your extreme generosity.”

4 ways to help

From our Hub in Richmond, Sam, our Farmer Connector, regularly donates any excess produce to FeedMore’s Central Virginia Food Bank. In this season of giving, if you’re feeling led to support an organization like that, here are four different ways you can do it:

1. Just by ordering your weekly basket from your online farmers market, you’re making it possible for Seasonal Roots to donate fresh local food on behalf of all of us.
2. You can also make your own food donations.
3. You can volunteer your time and talent.
4. And you can donate money — charities can always put cash to good use!

Looking for a local charity near you where you can help feed your neighbors? FeedMore helps the hungry throughout Central Virginia, from the North Carolina border up through Richmond to the Northern Neck. Check them out — they offer an amazing array of food-related services to families in need.

If you live closer to the coast in the Hampton Roads area, the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank offers an equally impressive array of services that deserve your support.

And in Northern Virginia, the Capital Area Food Bank could use your help fighting suburban hunger.

All three of these charities are top-rated by Charity Navigator. So you can trust they’ll be good stewards of your dollars, and offer meaningful opportunities for volunteering.

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, eggs, grass-fed 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.

eating local - hurricanes

Eating local means eating what nature provides

The Mystery of the Missing Green Beans


By the Seasonal Roots Veggie Fairy Team

Green beans are a tradition on many a Thanksgiving table. So Sam, our Farmer Connector, always stocks our online farmers market with them for the holiday. This year, he scoured the whole region, but there was nary a green bean to be found. It was a mystery, but there’s a clue in that photo montage: One of these things is not like the other.

Mystery solved

So: The culprit? The hurricanes! All that wind and rain took them out. Fortunately, our family farmers still have plenty of local, sustainably grown produce to make your favorite holiday sides: Yukon gold potatoes, carrots, beets, chestnuts, winter squashes, apples, mushrooms, spinach and more! Eating local is still delicious, even without the green beans.

Still want those green beans?

If you just gotta have ’em though, you can always get green beans at the supermarket. But do it knowing you’re really just getting a pretty prop. Any green beans on the shelves right now have traveled a long way – guaranteed. In the process, they’ve lost most of their nutrients and flavor, and burned a big carbon footprint.

Eating locally means eating what nature provides while enjoying fresh delicious flavor, great nutrition, and a cleaner environment. All good things to be thankful for. Happy Turkey Day, everybody!

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, eggs, grass-fed 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.

sustainable greenhouse online farmers market

Year-round online farmers market = year-round healthy eating

As temps drop, farmers keep farming


By the Seasonal Roots Veggie Fairy Team

Thanksgiving is coming, right about the time most traditional farmers markets are closing for the winter, or scaling back. But not your year-round online farmers market! We stay open all through the winter because a little dip in the temperature gauge can’t stop our local farmers from farming.

So what’s happening on the farm?

Family farmers are still out in their fields gleaning the last of the summer and fall crops like peppers and eggplant. They’re tending to cold weather crops like beets, carrots, parsnips, and greens.

They’re putting their greenhouses to work to grow more tender produce like tomatoes and basil. Check out that photo if you need proof of the power of a greenhouse — inside one of the greenhouses on Sion House Farm in eastern Virginia, the McKenney family extends the season growing crops like local tomatoes… and for wearing shorts!

Our farmers who raise animals are busy, too. Their cows are still producing milk and their chickens are still laying eggs.

What’s up with those lighter-colored egg yolks?

Lately you may have noticed that the yolks are little more light-colored than usual. Your eggs are still as fresh as ever, and the hens are still pasture-raised. So what’s going on?

The folks at Avery’s Branch Farms explain: “At this time of year the grass quantity starts to be depleted and we start feeding them alfalfa hay. It takes a couple weeks for them to get adjusted to the hay and that causes a few lighter weeks.”

So there’s still a lot going on out on the farms. And that’s why we stay open year-round – to support our local farm families and to help you keep eating fresh nutritious local food throughout the year.

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, eggs, grass-fed 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.

local produce tastes better

Why fresh local produce tastes so different

Case Study: Celery


By Kristin Henderson, Chief Veggie Communicator

It’s celery season out on the Flores family’s farm on Virginia’s Northern Neck. Gerardo and his son Omar are harvesting fresh, aromatic celery bunches from their fields. Then our veggie fairies deliver it straight to you within just a couple days.

If you ever needed proof that freshly harvested local produce tastes better than the stuff you get at the grocery story (which is at least a week old), do a celery taste test.

What is celery really supposed to taste like?

Until I discovered fresh local food, I thought celery was supposed to taste like grocery store celery – bitter or, at best, blah – useful as a crunchy delivery vehicle for peanut butter, various cheeses, or hummus, but otherwise best hidden in soups, stews, or salads.

Compared to that, the first time I bit into freshly harvested celery, the taste was a revelation. It was loaded with so much zingy flavor that I ate it all by itself as a snack. When I roasted it, that peppery flavor turned sweet. And when I made cream of celery soup with it, as much as I love any kind of grass-fed creaminess, I had to admit the celery was the star of the show.

Lots of flavor, lots of nutrients

If produce is full of flavor, that’s a good indicator that it’s full of nutrients as well. Flavor and nutrients go hand in hand – the longer produce sits around after it’s been harvested, the more they both fade away. Check out how much nutritional value is lost during the week (or more!) that it takes most produce to get from the farm to the grocery store.

So when produce is bursting with flavor, it’s usually bursting with nutrients, too. In the case of celery, that includes B vitamins, and vitamins A, C, and K, plus potassium, calcium, folate, and fiber.

Why does fresh local celery taste so different?

I’ve already mentioned one of the biggest reasons: the amount of time between when it’s picked and when you eat it. Grocery stores just can’t compete with local produce that’s home-delivered within a couple days of harvest, the way Seasonal Roots’ produce is. Even grocery stores that carry local food can’t offer it to you until after it makes its way through the delivery and warehousing system… which all takes time.

But there are other reasons why our local produce tastes better and is better for you. It starts with the dirt. Our local family farmers use sustainable practices to keep their soil nutrient-rich so the produce they grow in that soil can then absorb those nutrients.

Next, because our produce doesn’t have to sit in a warehouse, our farmers can pick it at the peak of ripeness, after it has soaked up all the flavor and nutrients that it can get from Mother Nature. Produce that’s picked early for a long trip may turn the right color along the way, but it doesn’t gain any nutrients or flavor in the process.

Also, during our more direct delivery process, our local produce gets handled less. So it’s less likely to get bruised, cut, or damaged. Damage speeds up the natural deterioration that makes flavor and nutrition go bye-bye.

Gerardo and Omar’s celery comes fresh from their fields with the flavor, nutrients, and roots still attached. Eat it raw or use it to cook up something amazing! We’ve got lots of healthy, tasty celery ideas on our Pinterest celery board.

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, eggs, grass-fed 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.

organic sustainable local food

ORGANIC vs SUSTAINABLE vs LOCAL

Which is best?!


By the Seasonal Roots Veggie Fairy Team

We get this question pretty often: “So are your farms Certified Organic?”

When people ask that, we totally get where they’re coming from. We all just want to eat nutritious, safe, non-toxic, eco-friendly food. But who has time to research every item we buy? So the government’s “Certified Organic” label seems like a convenient shortcut to eating healthy without harming the planet.

If only it were true.

Organic vs sustainable vs local… how do you decide which is best? Here at Seasonal Roots, we’re more concerned about sustainable and local than organic, so we don’t require our local farmers to be Certified Organic.

Here are 4 reasons why.

1. “Organic” doesn’t equal “locally grown”.


In fact, it may even be grown in a foreign country and shipped to the U.S. The result? A bigger carbon footprint. That’s not eco-friendly.

There’s actually no standard definition for “local”. Our standard is within about 150 miles of our delivery areas in Virginia. So most of our local partners are in Virginia. A few are in southern Pennsylvania or Maryland or eastern North Carolina.

To maintain a healthy variety of options during the winter, we partner with sustainable farmers in Florida. We call that produce “regional” because it can get to us within a day of harvest without resorting to flying. Members who prefer to eat only what’s in season locally can opt out of our winter-time regional offerings.

2. Organic doesn’t equal nutritious, either.


The sooner produce gets to you the better. Research shows that most nutrients begin to degrade from the moment produce is harvested. Spinach, for example, loses up to 60% of its nutrients in a week, the typical age of most grocery store produce. Our local produce gets to you within just a couple days of harvest.

Also, many studies have found that fruit that’s picked closer to the peak of ripeness (rather than being picked green and ripening on the shelf or by being gassed) contains more nutrients, more vitamins and minerals, than fruit that’s picked before or after peak, whether it’s organic or not.

This is why we hustle to get your produce to you as soon as possible after harvesting, and why being local helps — it doesn’t have to travel very far. Much of the food in grocery stores has traveled thousands of miles and many days to get there, losing nutrients every hour of the way.

3. Organic is no guarantee of food safety.


That organic label can’t tell you whether the food was produced under clean and healthy conditions. Plus, Certified Organic farmers can still use herbicides and pesticides – just certified organic ones. While this changes the mix of what’s sprayed, it doesn’t make it better, and they often spray frequently as a matter of course.

Our local farmers are low- or no-spray. Many of them are multi-generational, so they care for their land, crops, and animals with the next generation in mind. They use sustainable practices like rotating their crops to avoid sucking all the nutrients out of the soil. The vast majority of our farmers don’t spray because that would jeopardize the integrity of their land. If they do spray, it’s minimal and only as required. You could call sustainable farming “old school organic”, the way it was often done before the government got in the business of regulating it.

One of our sustainable farmers has a friend who runs a Certified Organic farm not far from him. One year, our sustainable farmer sprayed his yellow squash one time all season because it was necessary. His Certified Organic friend, on the other hand, sprayed his squash on a weekly schedule using a spray approved by the USDA. Our farmer isn’t considered Certified Organic, but his weekly spraying friend is allowed to use that title.

4. The best way to know if your food is nutritious, eco-friendly, and safe is to know your farmer.


That’s not possible for most of us as individuals. But when we come together as a group like Seasonal Roots, that’s exactly what we do. We know our farmers. We talk with them, visit their farms, and develop relationships with them. We share their stories with you so you can know them too, even if you don’t have time to go visit them yourself. It’s not quite as easy as the “Certified Organic” shortcut, but it’s a lot easier than trying to do it all by yourself.

We support our local farmers because we know and trust them and their practices. They produce safe food for their families, our families. and your families. So whether you just celebrated Halloween or simply enjoy the season’s produce, sustainably grown local food (like the pumpkins pictured here) is better for you and better for the planet!

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, eggs, grass-fed 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.

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