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The REAL cost of food

Eating seasonally and locally helps reduce hidden costs now… and for future generations

What’s the real cost of food? Altogether, we Americans spend $1.1 trillion buying our food every year. But the real cost of food is even higher than that — three times higher!

That’s according to a report from the Rockefeller Foundation that was recently featured in The Washington Post.

So whether we know it or not, we’re not just paying for the food we buy. We’re also paying for hidden healthcare and environmental costs. Those costs are also being shouldered by businesses, food producers, and the government. Unfortunately, future generations will pay the price, too.

real cost of food for future generations

The bad news: “Our food system is broken.”

That’s what our Head Veggie Fairy Duane said way back in 2011 when he founded Seasonal Roots. That’s why he pioneered what was, back then, a new way of uniting Virginia communities with their local farmers — our home-delivered online farmers market.

duane - food system is broken

And the good news…?

So the good news is, each of us can make a difference by choosing to eat locally and seasonally! Here are the some of the findings in the Rockefeller Foundation study…

Rising healthcare costs

The Rockefeller researchers studied 14 aspects of food production in the United States. That gave them the data they needed to add up what our food is really costing us.

One of the biggest hidden costs of our current food system is healthcare.

Before the 1950s, hunger and vitamin deficiency were both big problems. So the goal was to develop a food system that could get lots of low-cost calories and vitamins into a booming population. They didn’t realize that such a system would eventually fuel a boom in other health problems.

Most people now get plenty of calories and enough vitamins to get by. But it’s estimated that every year health problems linked to our modern diet cost us more than $600 billion! Those health problems include diseases like hypertension, cancer, and diabetes.

We could cut those yearly health care costs (and the suffering that goes with it) by $250 billion … if we could just get our rate of diet-related diseases down to the rates you see in countries like Canada.

Two things could help get us there:

  1. The food industry could develop healthier foods and limit how they market unhealthy foods.
  2. Each of us can make healthier choices about what and how we eat.

As individuals, we don’t have much control over the first. But happily, we can control the second!

eating locally eating seasonally

Impact on the environment

Industrial-scale farming and ranching can place serious burdens on the environment. We’re talking about greenhouse gas emissions, water depletion, and soil erosion.

And when industrial farming cuts down forests and plows up grasslands, it also reduces biodiversity. These practices destroy habitats and force animals, birds, reptiles, and insects into ever-shrinking wild spaces. When ecosystems become overcrowded and unproductive, they become unhealthy. And the damage doesn’t just hurt the wildlife. Pests and disease can become a problem for us humans, too, affecting our food supplies.

Each year in America, all these environmental costs add up to almost $900 billion.

Right now, if a farmer wants to switch to using more sustainable methods that are less harmful to the environment, the system isn’t set up to help. Changing how you farm is hard and expensive. Improving that situation requires high level policy changes.

But in the meantime, each of us can make a difference by supporting farmers who are taking the initiative to become more sustainable on their own.

flores farm sustainable farming

Our sustainable farmers are reducing the real cost of food

At Seasonal Roots, we partner with local farmers like Gerardo Flores of G. Flores Produce (pictured above, left, with Sam, our farmer and artisan connector, on the right.) Our farming partners rely on sustainable, humane farming methods that are good for people, animals, and the environment.

To reduce the hidden (but real!) cost of food, our farmers are tilling as little as possible and using cover crops that help build healthy soil and prevent erosion. They’re practicing integrated pest management to reduce the need for pesticides. They’re rotating their livestock between pastures to allow the grass to recover naturally.

harmony hill farm sustainable farming

Some are turning to solar power for their electricity needs. They’re conserving water. Family farmers are often working land that has co-existed for generations with neighboring wild ecosystems.

And when nearby communities buy the food they grow and make, that food doesn’t have to travel far. That reduces its carbon footprint or “foodprint.”

eat locally eat seasonally to reduce the real cost of food

While eating farm fresh produce within days of harvest tastes great, it has a bigger impact. Simply by choosing to eat locally, season by season, you’re making the world a better place — now, and for future generations!

Want to learn more? Get more details from The Washington Post story.

Or take a deep dive into the Rockefeller Foundation’s full report.

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 and dads 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.

Grilling veggies: Who knew it could be an act of fatherly love?

Here’s to all the veggie grilling dads out there

Grilling veggies is not what most people think of when you bring up the subject of dads and grills. Yabba-dabba-doo-sized slabs of meat, maybe. Tomatoes and Brussels sprouts? Not so much.

Now, I’ll admit to enjoying a juicy grilled steak or lamb chop as much as the next guy. But what really floats my boat is grilling veggies. If they’re fresh and local, the symphony of flavors unleashed by grilling is mind expanding. Veggies take my grilling game to the next level.

For those of you who are new to grilling veggies, I’ve got some tips which I will share with you just as soon as I tell you this:

There’s another reason why I love grilled veggies. A reason that’s closer to my heart.

My kids love them.

When they were little, I loved seeing them reach for more grilled corn on the cob, or grilled broccoli, or grilled onions and mushrooms. Because I knew those fresh local veggies are full of stuff that’s good for them.

Back in the ’90s, I worked for a big corporation. When the first of my two kids was born, parental leave for fathers was a new thing. I wound up being the first new dad in the company to take advantage of it.

That time at home with my baby daughter taught me a lot. Since she had acid reflux, I learned how to snooze while reclining semi-upright so she could sleep on my chest. I learned the hard way to wear an apron while changing her diaper. (Don’t ask.)

But over the years, caring for both children alongside my wife, the most important lesson I learned was how much I loved them. It’s a bigger love than I ever imagined, bigger than I have words for. It also made me realize how much my own dad loves me.

And I love nurturing and protecting them all. I love making food for them that’s really good for them, food that tastes really good, too. Food that makes them smile while it protects them from the inside out with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Food and love. You need both to live.

Duane
Seasonal Roots Founder & Head Veggie Fairy

veggie grilling dad

That’s me with my brand new fancy-pants grill.

grilled veggie menu

Here’s my favorite grilled veggie menu: squash, corn on the cob, tomatoes, onions, and Brussels sprouts. It’s so easy to make a feast with these guys.

I start by putting the squash on foil, sprinkling with lemon zest, olive oil, and salt, then folding up the foil to seal it in. That way the squash will steam in its own liquid on the grill.

grilling brussels sprouts - skewer

I microwave the Brussels sprouts for three minutes to soften them up a little. Then I toss them in a sauce of olive oil, garlic, smoked paprika, and mustard powder — or use whatever your favorite sauce may be. Skewer them and they’re good to go.

dad grilling veggies

grilling corn - soak

For the corn on the cob, I peel back the husk without removing it, de-silk it, then soak it for 20 minutes. That will keep the husk from burning. Before it goes on the grill, I fold the husk back up around the cob and gently squeeze out any extra water.

grilling tomatoes onions - perforated griddle

All I do with tomatoes and onions is toss them in olive oil. Since the tomatoes fall apart and the onion slices fall through the grate, I grill them on a perforated griddle. Foil would do just as well.

turn for even grilled veggie browning

For a little protein on the side, I threw on some chicken brats because they’re as easy as the veggies. I grill everything for about 20 minutes, lifting the cover now and then to turn it all to make sure it browns evenly.

grilled veggies on the plate

And voila! At the end I sprinkle a little lemon juice on the squash and call ‘er done. It looks as good as it tastes and isn’t hard to make. The perfect meal.

Happy Father’s Day, everybody!

 

PS: There are more grilling tips from a past Father’s Day right here on the Veggie Fairy Blog, including how to use heating zones on your grill and how to grill the perfect locally raised grassfed steak.

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our neighborhood 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.

Meet the Dairy Cows of Richlands Creamery

Do you know where your milk comes from?

Meet local dairy cows up close and personal at

Richlands Dairy & Creamery’s

FAMILY FARM DAYS!
June 11-13 & June 18-20

Hours on 6/11 & 6/18 (Friday): 1-5pm
Hours on 6/13-14 & 6/19-20 (Sat & Sun): 10am-5pm with live music 1-4pm
116 Cox Rd, Blackstone VA

Info & Tickets

Tour the dairy, handmilk a cow, pet baby calves, climb aboard a hayride, browse the educational booths and craft vendors, and relax over lunch and farm-fresh ice cream! More details below…

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And starting this weekend, look for Richlands Dairy & Creamery’s local half-and-half and heavy cream in the dairy section of your Seasonal Roots online farmers market. Plus, the PB&J Bundle will feature their chocolate milk!

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Okay, so we all know milk comes from dairy cows, right? But when we’re chugging down a tall, sweet, creamy, ice cold glass of milk, how many of us actually know anything about the lives of the cows who made it for us?

If you bought that milk at a big grocery store, it’s nearly impossible to really know, even if there’s a nice story about a farmer on the carton. Today’s impersonal industrial food supply chains combine milk from many dairies and ship it long distances.

But at Seasonal Roots, our mission is to connect you with the local folks who provide the food you eat. Since June is National Dairy Month, it’s the perfect time to get to know the humans and dairy cows at Richlands Dairy & Creamery. They’re less than an hour southwest of Richmond and we’re super excited they’re joining our online farmers market — starting this weekend!

dairy cows in pasture

We talked with Coley Drinkwater, who runs the farm along with her father, her brother, TR Jones, and his wife, Brittany.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Seems like everybody’s jumping on the sustainability bandwagon these days because it’s so important for the future. Sometimes it’s just lipservice, though. Where does sustainability fit into your family’s approach to farming?

COLEY:

Our farm’s been in our family since colonial times. We wouldn’t still be here if we hadn’t been practicing sustainability all along. Our goal as farmers is to care for the land and the animals so it will be there for the next generation. Right now our farm is home to four generations: my 93-year-old grandmother, my parents, my brother TR and me, and our families.

dairy farm family

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Has it been a dairy farm all along?

COLEY:

Well, there were always a few cows to provide milk for the family. Tobacco was the cash crop. But in the 1950s, my grandfather already saw the writing on the wall and figured tobacco was on the way out. So he switched to dairy. After my dad graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in dairy science, he brought his education back to the farm and really built it up.

old-time dairy family

VEGGIE FAIRY:

From everything we hear about dairy farming, it’s not for wimps! The cows gotta be milked twice a day, every day, rain or shine, in blinding snow or blazing heat, right? And the market is very volatile.

COLEY:

It’s not for people who like to sleep in! Traditionally, most dairies sell to a milk co-op, including mid-size dairies like us. We’d produce the milk and the co-op would take care of picking it up, pastuerizing it, bottling it, plus marketing and distribution. It takes a lot off the farmer’s plate, but you’ve got no negotiating power. You can’t plan or budget, and it’s hard to afford to make upgrades to improve your practices because the price has nothing to do with what it actually costs to make the milk.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Didn’t milk price hit an all-time low back in 2016?

COLEY:

It did, and it stayed low for a while. Plus, when COVID hit, milk price dropped again. With prices lingering at those lows for such an extended period of time, it changed the milk industry. Some dairies went under and a lot of mid-size dairies sold out to the really big dairy operations. The historical dairy industry is pretty much gone now.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

If they’re disappearing, that explains why it’s so hard to include truly local dairies in farmers markets. How’d you get through it?

COLEY:

We cut everything we could cut without sacrificing our cows’ health. And we were still losing money every month. We didn’t want to be the generation that lost the farm so we knew we were going to have to do something different.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

What were your options?

COLEY:

We could sell, but then the whole family would’ve had to move. We could expand, because there are efficiences of scale that kick in when you have more than a thousand dairy cows. Or we could change our business model.

local dairy & creamery bottling line

I had been thinking for awhile, ever since the local food movement started taking off, that it would be cool to have our own creamery. That way we could pastuerize and bottle our own milk and then sell it direct to customers. We didn’t have enough land to get expand and get bigger, so we said, “Okay! Let’s build a creamery!”

local dairy tour

VEGGIE FAIRY:

And now you’re a destination! Not only do you have a storefront at the farm selling fresh milk and ice cream, you give tours so people can see exactly how the milk is made.

COLEY:

The tour takes about an hour but it’s more than that. We want our farm to be a place where families can come and create happy memories and feel good about where their milk and ice cream comes from. There’s no wifi, so people can put their phones down and relax and enjoy some ice cream. It’s really rewarding to see families visiting with each other and hear children laughing on our playground.

local dairy playground

VEGGIE FAIRY:

What are the tours like?

COLEY:

You see the whole process. One of the most common comments we hear after a tour is, “I had no idea the cows were so well taken care of!” One woman even told us that after seeing how well dairy cows are treated, she was switching from soy milk back to dairy milk! Our girls have an on-call, 24-hour vet and their own nutritionist to make sure they’re getting a balanced grass-based diet. They only work two hours a day while they’re being milked, and they get a two month vacation from milking every year.

dairy cow in barn

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Do the cows live out in the fields?

COLEY:

A dairy cow gets hot at around 75 degrees and doesn’t get cold until below freezing. So in the summer time here in the South, she wants to spend most of her time in the barn underneath the sprinklers and fans to keep cool. But in the winter time, a nice little nap outside in the sun when it’s 30 degrees is perfect.

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You can see it all for yourself! To learn more about tours, events, and how the dairy is run, visit https://www.richlandsdairyfarm.com

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our neighborhood 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.

tomatoes vs squirrels

Tomatoes vs Squirrels and Other Garden Foes

Spoiler Alert: The squirrels won

This is a story of tomatoes vs squirrels. It’s a sad story. But it has a suprise happy ending, so read on!

I grew up eating fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes. Biting into that sun-filled explosion of fully ripened flavor was one of the great joys of my childhood summers. So delicious!

But then I grew up and life got busy. I tried to keep a garden going but, you know — kids, work, traveling for work… I stopped gardening for a long time. At the grocery store, I’d always try to find the best tomatoes I could, but those homegrown, vine-ripened tomatoes of my youth had ruined me. Grocery store tomatoes looked beautiful but they just tasted like pale imitations of the real thing.

So I finally got back to gardening several years ago. I turned the soil, added compost, planted my seedlings, watered, and nutured. The tomato blossoms came, then the first hard green fruits that slowly grew bigger and began to turn a teasing shade of almost-red. I could practically taste them. Little did I know.

The squirrels were lying in wait.

Not just any squirrels. These were greedy squirrels. Ferocious squirrels. Greedy, ferocious, tomato-loving monster squirrels. And cruel! Sometimes they’d spot a tomato when it was about two seconds shy of being fully ripe and take a big bite out of it. But just one bite. Just enough to spoil it for anyone else. Other times they’d carry off their booty and leave a mangled, blood-red mess of a veggie massacre. They’d sit up in the trees and laugh.

I tried netting. More netting. Netting on top of netting. So much netting that I’d wind up tangled in it like a mummy. But not the squirrels. They came and went in that netted fortress like it had a revolving door.

I tried putting the fear of fake owls in them. They knew no fear. Even my three dogs got nothing for their squirrel-chasing efforts but a scolding from the fearless tomato bandits.

I should have put up a marquee over my garden and sold tickets: BIG FIGHT TONIGHT! TOMATOES VS SQUIRRELS! And don’t get me started on slugs, kale-devouring caterpillars, those worms that rot your squashes just before they’re ripe… my gardening Enemies List is long.

But now that I’m with Seasonal Roots, all my gardening woes are solved. When tomatoes are in season, whether they come from the field or the greenhouse, I get to enjoy that mouthwatering burst of vine-ripened tomato goodness with every order. Yum.

As for the squirrels, they’re now raiding the bird feeder. But that’s another story.

Leslie
Seasonal Roots Marketing Maven

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our neighborhood 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.

Summer Mocktails or Cocktails

Summer Mocktail or Cocktail Recipes!

It’s hard to beat a cold refreshing drink while enjoying the great outdoors this Memorial Day — or any day! Whether you’re at the beach soaking up some rays or just kicking back on the patio, you’ve got to try these yummy drink recipes. They’re fun, fresh, and actually pretty healthy, whether you serve them as mocktails or cocktails, because they start with super fresh local produce.

Strawberry Cooler Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups water
  • 5 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup ginger ale
  • crushed ice
  • additional strawberries, optional

Directions: 

  1. In a blender, process the water, sliced strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in batches until smooth.
  2. Strain the berry seeds if desired.
  3. Pour mixture into a pitcher; stir in the ginger ale.
  4. Serve in chilled glasses over ice. Garnish with strawberries and enjoy. Or add vodka for a refreshing cocktail.

 

The Green Giant: A Garden-Fresh Cocktail With Peas

Peas?! Yeah, seriously, you have to try this refreshing green cocktail. It’s perfect for spring!

Ingredients: 

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 4 sugar snap peas
  • 1 sprig tarragon
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  • 3/4 ounce honey

Directions:

  1. Muddle 4 sugar snap peas, 10 to 12 tarragon leaves, and honey in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and shake with ice.
  3. Strain into an old-fashioned glass over crushed ice.
  4. Garnish with two sugar snap peas.

 

Celery Cup No. 1

Ingredients: 

  • 2-inch piece celery stalk
  • 1-inch slice cucumber (fresh, English)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (fresh)
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce vodka
  • 1-1/2 ounces cucumber vodka
  • 3/4 ounce agave nectar

Directions: 

  1. In a mixing glass, muddle the cucumber, celery, cilantro, and lemon juice into a pulp.
  2. Add the vodka and agave nectar.
  3. Cover in ice and shake hard for 10 seconds.
  4. Strain into a tall glass over fresh ice and garnish with a piece of celery.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

 

Strawberry Mojito

This delicious and refreshing cocktail is perfect for a sunny day, or it can even cheer up a cloudy day.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lime
  • 5 strawberries
  • 1 sprig mint
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 2 to 3 ounces club soda
  • strawberry, garnish
  • sprig of mint, garnish
  • lime wedge, garnish

Directions:

  1. Cut the lime in half, then cut each half into three or four wedges. Remove the stems and slice the strawberries. Pull six to eight leaves from a sprig of mint, leaving the top intact for a garnish.
  2. In a tall glass, add 3 to 4 lime wedges, the sliced strawberries, and individual mint leaves. Top with the sugar.
  3. Muddle well to mash the fruit and dissolve the sugar.
  4. Fill the glass with crushed ice and add the rum.
  5. Stir well to integrate the fruit and mint into the ice. Top with soda.
  6. Garnish with a strawberry, lime wedge, and sprig of mint. Serve and enjoy!

Credit: thespruceeats.com & tasteofhome.com

Donation List from Teacher Appreciation Week

Donation Announcement and Other Shout Outs! 

This year, teachers have had to adapt to constant change. And now that teachers are in the final year-end sprint, we know they’re still doing it every day. We so love our teachers! So in early May, we organized a drawing for three lucky teachers to win a free membership to Seasonal Roots (usually $50) and a $100 credit toward fresh veggies, fruits, dairy, eggs, meat and more from Seasonal Roots.

Knowing how much teachers care about kids, we also asked them to nominate their favorite kid-related cause to receive a Seasonal Roots donation. After randomly selecting our three teacher winners, we randomly selected one of the teacher-approved organizations.

And the winner is:
REACH OUT & READ VIRGINIA!!!

We’re excited to donate and support their great work! Reach Out & Read Virginia believes all families should have the tools and information they need to make reading aloud a daily routine. They help integrate reading into pediatric practices, advise families about the importance of reading with their children, and share books that serve as a catalyst for healthy childhood development.

Check out all these worthy charities that were nominated by our local teachers!

Other causes that teachers care about:

  • Youth civic engagement
  • Child trafficking
  • Youth sports coaching
  • Ending childhood obesity

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.

Teacher Appreciation Week starts May 3rd!

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week!

Wow, do we need to send some extra love to our teachers this year! The Seasonal Roots community feels so connected with teachers. Among our team members and customers, many of us in the Seasonal Roots family are teachers. And many of us are parents with kids in the “classroom” — in all the forms that it took this year.

The past year has posed unending challenges for all of us – especially our teachers.

To respond to the shifting safety protocols, teachers had to…

  1. Change their curriculum weekly (if not daily… or hourly.)
  2. Teach and motivate students online and in the classroom (often at the same time.)
  3. Look out for, and advocate for, students facing extra family challenges because of the pandemic.
  4. Deal with the realities of periodic COVID cases or exposures involving themselves, loved ones, and extended school family.
  5. Technology challenges and hiccups every day!

What a year it has been. So during this Teacher Appreciation Week we want to send some extra recognition and thanks your way.

We’re giving away 3 local food prizes worth $150 each for 3 deserving winners, who will be selected in a random drawing on May 6. Winners will need to live in our delivery area. https://www.seasonalroots.com/delivery-areas

We’ll also be donating to a cause that helps children. Which cause? We’ll let you teachers guide us.

Any teacher is welcome to enter the drawing. When you enter, be sure to nominate your favorite kid-related cause to receive our donation. We’ll pick one and also highlight them all to raise awareness.

Be sure to enter before noon on May 6!

 

Click here to enter the drawing!

Many, many thanks for all you do!

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.

free home delivery

It’s national Tell-a-Story Day: “Local food to the rescue!”


Hey, gather ’round – today is national “Tell a Story” Day! Do you have a local food story? Like the first time your kids tasted truly fresh green beans? Or that hilariously ugly potato that was shockingly delish? Spin your yarn on our Facebook page, and feel free to illustrate with pix! To kick things off, Faye tells her story about the time she broke her leg… and yes, it actually does wind up being all about local food! 
– The Veggie Fairy Editor

Once upon a time: A member tells her story

– By Faye D, Seasonal Roots member

A few years ago, I broke my leg. For two weeks I couldn’t put any weight on it at all and for eight weeks I was dependent on a wheelchair, a walker, crutches, and finally a cane. Needless to say I couldn’t cook or buy groceries.

Although my husband is not comfortable in the kitchen and only a little more comfortable in a grocery store, he did pitch in to do his best at cooking and the shopping. Still, it was a very difficult time for us both.

Online ordering with free home delivery saves the day

The best thing ever was that just before the accident I had signed up for Seasonal Roots. (In fact, I took that photo of my first home-delivered box of local food.)

What a life-saver! It was easy for me to go online and order the vegetables we needed. They always arrived on time, fresh and plenty to last the entire week. That was something I could count on.

The icing on top: Vegan options

Because we both follow a vegan diet, vegetables are a central and necessary part of our diet, and because of Seasonal Roots having good fresh vegetables to eat, that was one thing I didn’t have to worry about. I loved that. My husband loved getting his favorite vegan cinnamon buns!

This all happened back in the before-covid time. So one of Seasonal Roots’ market managers, Margo, even brought the box in for me and put it in the kitchen since I was still using a cane at that point. Thanks, Seasonal Roots…

THE END (sort of)

Vegan options, free home delivery, and lots of TLC will never end!

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.

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.

organic vs sustainable vs local

Organic vs sustainable vs local — which is best?

Organic vs sustainable vs local — which is best?


By the Seasonal Roots Veggie Fairy Team:

We get this question pretty much daily: “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 it’s not like any of us have the time to research every item we buy. So the government’s “Certified Organic” label has become 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’s why:

1. We partner with local farmers.

Many of them are multi-generational. That means 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, either, because that would jeopardize the integrity of their land. If they do spray, it’s minimal and only as required. 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.

2. “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 also no guarantee that the food was produced under ideal conditions for farmers, laborers, or livestock, and an organic label has nothing to do with food safety.

3. The best way to know if your food is nutritional, 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.

4. Most nutrients begin to degrade from the moment produce is harvested.

The sooner it gets to you the better. Also, many studies have shown 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) is more nutritious 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.

5. There’s 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, and a few are in southern Pennsylvania 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.

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. Wherever you may be, we hope you’ll join us in supporting your local farmers, too!

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.