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organic vs sustainable humane

Which one is organic?

Here’s an easy way to find out if your food is good for you and the planet

By the Veggie Fairy Team:

Which image do you think shows an organic egg-producing farm approved by the USDA?

The top image is from a multi-generational family farmstead in the rolling hills outside Richmond, Va. Their hens spend their days in open pastures, foraging and engaging in natural behaviors like dust baths and flying short distances.

The bottom image is from a complex of 9 big barns crowded with 1.6 million hens up in Michigan. The closest those hens come to being outside is in a “porch” attached to their barn that’s screened on one side.

So which operation has been certified organic by the USDA? If you guessed the top one, you’d be wrong.

Most of us would assume that a label that says “organic” would be the easiest way to make sure you’re getting the best food for your money. Completely understandable! But that’s just not the case.

Herbruck Poultry Ranch in Saranac, Michigan, (the bottom image), is USDA organic and was featured recently in The Washington Post. The article explains how big, industrial farming operations like Herbruck are using the government’s official organic certification process to their advantage.

At Avery’s Branch Farms in the rolling hills of Amelia Court House, Va., (the top image), the Alexander family live and work there alongside their chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigs, and cows, using sustainable, pasture-based farming methods to produce nutritious, delicious food.

Pasture-based: The real gold standard

The Alexanders and their animals live close to the land. In the woodlands, the pigs root around for acorns and other piggy goodies the way they were meant to. Out in the pastures, the cows graze on a diverse mixture of grasses, their natural diet. During daylight hours, the flocks forage in the pastures, too, under the watchful eyes of the family’s Great Pyrenees guard dogs, who protect them from predators. At night, the birds nest safely inside their hen houses.

By the way, those hen houses are on wheels so they can be moved from pasture to pasture, following behind the cows. The hens’ low-stress, healthy, natural lifestyle is great for the girls… and their eggs, which are much more nutritious and flavorful than commercial factory-farmed eggs.

For example, their pastured eggs are up to twice as rich in vitamin E, and two to six times richer in beta-carotene! You can see it for yourself in the egg yolks. Crack an egg from a pasture-raised hen into a pan and then next to it crack an egg from any other kind of hen — conventional or so-called free-range or cage-free, organic or not. The pastured egg will be a deeper, brighter yellow. The others? Much paler.

(Discover the difference between pastured eggs vs cage-free, free-range and organic eggs — there’s no contest!!!)

The Alexanders’ animals are raised from start to finish on lush pasture. They’re fed no hormones, antibiotics, or synthetic chemicals. This is the old school definition of organic, before Big Industrial Agriculture got hold of it. Not only does the old-fashioned way produce more nutritious food, it’s also much more humane for the animals and better for the environment — the farmer is working with nature instead of against it.

“It’s our goal to provide the community with the most nourishing products possible, while also protecting the land,” the Alexanders explain. “We have never used any chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides on our farm.”

So how can you know if your food is genuinely good for you and the planet?

Okay, so the organic label is no guarantee. Cracking open eggs and comparing them is eye-opening, but you waste a lot of eggs that way.

The best way to find out if your food is any good is to get to know each farmer and food artisan who produces the things you eat. That sounds hard and time-consuming, and it is if you do it yourself. But it’s easy if you have someone you can trust to do it for you.

At Seasonal Roots, that someone is Sam, our Farmer Connector, backed up by Duane, our founder and Head Veggie Fairy. Sam researches and gets to know everyone who makes the food we home-deliver to our members, including the Alexanders. You can get to know them, too. Next to every item on our menu is a small image of the farmer or food artisan who provided it. Click on that image, and you can read their story and find out what you need to know.

Eating fresh local food from people you know and trust is the easiest way to live your values — whether that’s a healthy diet, a low carbon footprint, supporting local farmers and your local community, protecting the local environment… or all of the above. As a Seasonal Roots member, you’re supporting sustainable local agriculture and making a difference for yourself, our community, and 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, 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:

Of course good health and immunity has taken on a new meaning in 2020. We’re all thinking about the steps we can take to keep our immune systems strong.

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 market managers –  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.

Which basket size is right for you?

Everything you need to know to choose the perfect basket of local food

By the Veggie Fairy Team

How can you make sure you get the basket of local food that’s best for you each week? You’ve got three options — keep your default basket as is, customize your basket, or skip your order for the week. Whichever way you go, just make sure you do it by 11:59 pm Sunday night.

So here are your options:

1. Do nothing and keep your default basket

If you do not make any changes to customize your basket, then you will receive your default basket as is, filled with the yummy items listed in the email you receive every Friday.

2. Customize your basket

You can swap as many basket items as you’d like, most at no additional charge.

FYI, some basket items may only be available in certain basket sizes due to limited quantities. So feel free to check out the other sizes, see what’s on offer, and switch to a different size basket if you want.

In addition to swapping basket items and changing your basket size, you can also buy additional items from the ‘Extras’ section. Extras include meat, dairy, baked goods, condiments, and more.

By the way, if you want to change your default basket for good (or until you decide to change it again), click on the drop-down menu in your account and go to the Delivery Preferences section. You can do this any time. But to make sure the change is in the system before the market opens, do it well ahead of time.

3. Skip your order

You can also skip your order on any given week. When the market opens, just click on “Skip This Week,” and watch for a confirmation email that your order has been skipped. If you don’t get that email, log in again and make sure it really is set to skip.

If you know you’d like to skip farther ahead of time, sign in to your account and hover over the gear icon in the upper right corner. Click on “Delivery Preferences” and follow the instructions. Then be sure to click “Save” and watch for that confirmation email!

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.

fresh local food

QuickStart Guide to fresh local food

Welcome new members!

By the Veggie Fairy Team

Get a larger, easy-to-read, downloadable, printable version here, or click anywhere on the post below.

QuickStart Guide to 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, 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.

how update or skip deliveries

Deliveries! How to update, skip, or get a replacement!

From the “News You Can Use” Department

By the Veggie Fairy Team

Get a larger, easy-to-read, downloadable, printable version here, or click anywhere on the post below.

how to update or skip deliveries

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.

Meet your local farmers

Get to know some of the folks who feed you and your family

By the Veggie Fairy Team

Get a larger, easy-to-read, downloadable, printable version here, or click anywhere on the post below.

local food local farmers

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.

5 tips to keep fresh local produce FRESH

Keep all those great nutrients & flavor from slipping away

By the Veggie Fairy Team

Get a larger, easy-to-read, downloadable, printable version here, or click anywhere on the post below.

how to keep fresh local food fresh

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.

Share the love!

Help spread the word about fresh local food!

By the Veggie Fairy Team

Get a larger, easy-to-read, downloadable, printable version here, or click anywhere on the post below.

share the love of 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, 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.

empanadas easy meal how to

Easy meal: Greek salad & empanadas

Easy meals don’t have to be “fast food” — watch this video to see how good for you easy can be

By the Veggie Fairy Team

Easy meals… because, hey, who doesn’t love easy? Whether your days are spent working from home, essential working away from home, homeschooling, caring for a loved one, watching way too much daytime television, or all of the above (whew!) — an easy meal that’s also good for you is just what the doctor ordered.

EASY MEAL STEP 1

This easy meal starts with empanadas from My Empanada. Claudia and Juan make their empanadas with a variety of meat or vegetable fillings, so there’s something for everyone. You’ll find My Empanada under the Prepared Foods tab in the Seasonal Roots online farmers market most weekends.

(Read our profile of Claudia, Juan, and My Empanada.)

These fun, tasty, and good-for-you mainstays come frozen. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and take enough empanadas out of the freezer for everyone. Depending on the filling, light eaters will enjoy one or two and big eaters two or three, but certain teens in the middle of a growth spurt might eat at least half a dozen. Hey, we’ve seen it happen.

Brush each empanada with an egg wash. Then pop them in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they’re golden outside and piping hot inside.

EASY MEAL STEP 2

While they’re baking, throw together a Greek salad to go with. That’s easy, too.

Claudia shows you just how easy in this step-by-step how-to video:easy meal greek salad how to

Don’t have all the exact ingredients? No worries. Sheltering in place is all about shopping the pantry. Substitute whatever greens, tomatoes, olives, cheese, or nuts you do have. If you’re out of cucumber, you can even slice up zucchini in place of a cuke. We promise it’ll still be delicious.

When time’s up, you’ll pull those golden empanadas out of the oven, pass around the salad, and enjoy… without ever breaking a sweat!

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.

home delivery during coronavirus pandemic

Home delivery for healthcare heroes and you — this is why we do it

You tell us home delivery is making a difference. That’s all we Veggie Fairies need to know to keep going strong !

By the Veggie Fairy Team

Home delivery is really helpful even in the best of times. Right now, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, home delivery may literally be a lifesaver. For us Veggie Fairies, just knowing that is enough to make all our hard work worthwhile.

But as we make our rounds wearing our personal protective equipment and maintaining social distancing, you — our wonderful members old and new — have been going out of your way to cheer us on. You’ve been sending us emails, texts, social media shout outs, and even handwritten notes.

home delivery of fresh local food

Well, right back at’cha! We really appreciate you, too! For starters, you’ve donated thousands of dollars to help us deliver free fresh local food to our healthcare heroes.

Thank you for continuing to deliver during these trying times. Also TY for adding the give-back to healthcare professionals fund. I was so happy to be able to donate to that when I placed my order. ❤️
— Janelle

HOME DELIVERY HELPS HEALTHCARE HEROES

These are the healthcare professionals Seasonal Roots wonderful members have nominated for their selfless work. They’re on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronoavirus. At the end of a long shift, it can be hard for them to find the time and energy to get to a grocery store.

Those heroes are telling us things like this:

I really appreciate it. I’m currently taking care of covid19 patients and having food delivered really means the world to me. Takes off some stress, much needed.
— Katie

I got my first box through the healthcare program and I can’t say thank you enough!! These are some great looking veggies and they taste so good! I will definitely stick around and become a customer after my healthcare trial is done! Thank you!!!!!!!!
— Megan

home delivery during coronavirus pandemic

So to all of you who’ve donated and nominated — thank you for helping us do this good work!

HELPING VEGGIE FAIRIES?

Yep, our members have been helping US, too! Sometimes y’all just make us go, “Aaawww….”

home delivery during coronavirus pandemic

Hope you guys are all safe and healthy! Thanks for still providing your service to us!
— Paige

Thank you for still delivering! I just love ya’ll even more for doing that for the community. I hope that you stay healthy and safe!
-Jess

THANK YOU 🙏🏼 for today’s delivery!! This is such an amazing service — even more so now 😘
— Bev

Thank you for still keeping everything running. Very much appreciated.
— An Appreciative Member

I’m so proud of Seasonal Roots adapting to this unique environment. Great job to all of you!
— Debbie

HOME DELIVERY IS HELPING MORE LOCAL FAMILIES STAY HOME

We’ve also heard from new members of our local food community…

home delivery of fresh local food

We can’t wait for our first order this week!! Thank you for providing this amazing service!
— A New Member

Just signed up this week and referred a friend who also signed up! We are so excited to support local and get yummy food delivered Wednesday!
— Kar

Received our first delivery today. I am impressed and for someone trying to stay home, fresh veggies and fruits are wonderful. Thank you.”
— Teresa

We just joined last week. I just want to thank you so much for continuing to deliver the fresh food each week! We have always wanted to support this type of service, but it took this to make us take the jump. We couldn’t be happier. We love meal planning around the delivery and look forward to continuing for years to come. Thank you!
— Kimberly

And then there was this, from a military family going through a doubly tough time:

I can’t tell you how much we are enjoying our time as members of Seasonal Roots already, my children are enjoying their vegetables. YES I SAID ENJOYING… they are eating them and happy about it. The surprise and variety the boxes brought them was amazing and they dived into helping me prepare food this week and devoured their meals.
Thank you for not just keeping us fed during this trying time, but also bringing some joy and calm to my children and me. We were already not enjoying this year as it contains a very long deployment for my husband, and with everything on top of it, it’s just been a very heavy time.
I am so glad I just jumped at the chance to join Seasonal Roots when I had the chance. Thanks again.
— Mary

To Mary and everyone who has joined recently, we’re so glad we can help lighten the load!

HOME DELIVERY HELPS LOCAL FARMERS & FOOD ARTISANS, TOO

Home delivery of local food is a real win-win these days:

My neighbors and I are so appreciative of Seasonal Roots, especially during these times. Helps us stay home and rely on your service while supporting regional and local farmers!
— Jina

home delivery during coronavirus pandemic

Thanks ya’ll for sourcing from our network of remarkable producers – 100% pasture-raised outdoors on small family farms.
— Firsthand Foods

In addition to helping farmers and artisans get through this, their local food is helping families stay healthy… and even rediscovering the joys of fresh food!

The collards last week were the most beautiful and delicious I’ve ever had. We look forward to our box every week. Thank you!!! 💜
— Michelle

My @seasonal_roots box came with the largest carrots I’ve ever seen! I roasted some up with bell peppers and paired them with baked tofu for tonight’s dinner.
— A Big Carrot, Pepper & Tofu Fan

Thank you for the beautiful produce! Strawberries have already been devoured by everyone. 😊
— Evelyn

We appreciate you! Such a beautiful delivery this week!
— Pamela

If you need a little more joy in the kitchen, check out this joyful story from a Seasonal Roots member and small business owner.

home delivery during coronavirus pandemic

Thanks, everybody! We’ll get through this… TOGETHER!

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.