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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.

vegan home delivery

Seasonal Roots to the rescue!

EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / April 18,2018

Tips, hacks, recipes, stories, and the weekly special all help you eat better live better with fresh local food!

A NEW MEMBER TELLS HER STORY
By Faye D, Seasonal Roots member

On February 9, 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 wheel chair, 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.

The best thing ever was that just before the accident I had signed up for Seasonal Roots...

Read the rest of the newsletter below, or view this issue as a printable PDF with clickable links.

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free home delivery

Free home delivery of local food to the rescue!

A new member tells her story

– By Faye D, Seasonal Roots member

On February 9, 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 wheel chair, 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!

Then this week, Margo, one of Seasonal Roots’ market managers, even brought the box in for me and put it in the kitchen since I’m still using a cane. Thanks, Seasonal Roots…

VEGGIE FAIRY EDITOR’S NOTE:
Many thanks to Faye for sharing her story – we’re so glad our free home delivery was a help. And a big shout out to Tracy at Yummvees for her vegan-licious buns and other vegan treats and meals!

Also, like a lot of Seasonal Roots members, Faye’s first box of local food inspired her to snap a photo. We love it when members post their veggie pix on our Facebook page!

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.

Magnolia Farm mushroom health benefits

Secret mushroom health benefits

EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / April 11,2018

Tips, hacks, recipes, stories, and the weekly special all help you eat better live better with fresh local food!

PLUS SURPRISING NEW THINGS THEY'RE MAKING OUT OF MUSHROOMS

In American culture, there’s a stigma attached to mushrooms. They are, after all, a funny looking fungus. And when it comes to wild mushrooms, most parents tell their kids, “Don’t touch them, you’ll die!”

So it takes a certain sense of adventure to move beyond those white button mushrooms you find in every grocery store and try a mushroom that looks like, say, an oyster. Mike M’s oyster mushrooms come to us through Schuyler Greens, the company his brother...

The Veggie Fairy Blog has a Q&A with Mike about how he grows his oyster mushrooms (including a photo), links to scientific studies, and more cool ‘shroom inventions.

Read the rest of the newsletter below, or view this issue as a printable PDF with clickable links.

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Schuyler Greens mushroom health benefits

Secret mushroom health benefits

Plus surprising new things they’re making out of mushrooms!

– By the Veggie Fairy Team

In American culture, there’s a stigma attached to mushrooms. They are, after all, a fungus. They’re funny looking. They have a reputation for growing in manure, which isn’t exactly appetizing. And when it comes to wild mushrooms, most parents tell their kids, “Don’t touch them, you’ll die!”

That may be why, until relatively recently, most mainstream grocery stores just carried those bland, clean-looking white button mushrooms. There are so many mushroom varieties — portabello, shitake, enoki, morel, and on and on… but it takes a certain sense of adventure to move beyond those white buttons to a mushroom that looks like, say, an oyster.

It’s an adventure that rewards you with an amazing array of flavors, nutrients, and a surprisingly long list of health benefits. But wait! There’s more! Creative engineers are using mushrooms to make animal-free leather, and Ikea is starting to use mushroom-based biodegradable packaging for its furniture.

Turns out mushrooms are pretty magical, which is right up our fairy alley. So we turned to our Seasonal Roots mushroom farmer to find out more. Mike M’s oyster mushrooms come to us through Schuyler Greens, the company his brother founded for growing greens, herbs, microgreens, and specialty crops.

Mike definitely has a sense of adventure. He’s been foraging in the woods for years around his family farm, Magnolia Farm in Esmont, Va. To him, the woods are a world of wonder. Hunting for wild treats like pawpaws, a native fruit that shyly hides among the leaves, was like a treasure hunt.

One day he came across a cluster of wild oyster mushrooms on a dead tree, like the ones his daughters are holding in the photo.

Mike was fascinated, started reading about them, and discovered they have all kinds of health benefits. He told us that because of the mushroom stigma, scientists didn’t study them much until recently. Now we’re learning lots of new things about mushrooms. Modern-day scientists are rediscovering what the ancients knew from living close to nature. For example, there are elements in mushrooms that may help inhibit the growth of cancer cells. (Read the study here.)

Oyster mushrooms in particular are used in traditional medicine to treat infections, diabetes, cancer, and to lower cholesterol. They support the immune system. Laboratory experiments and studies done in mice have shown that oyster mushrooms do indeed have antitumor, antifungal, and cholesterol-lowering properties. A study of children with upper respiratory tract infections showed that oyster mushrooms have anti-allergic effects, too. They have even been shown to lower glucose levels and increase insulin levels in patients with type 2 diabetes, though more studies are needed to confirm that. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has details on oyster mushroom health benefits here.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Why are mushrooms so good for us?

MIKE:

Well, one reason is that they don’t have skin to protect them from bacteria. Their cell walls are their exterior, so they’re programmed to fight off bacteria. We get some of that anti-bacterial benefit when we eat them. Scientists and engineers are also using the mycelium — the vegetative tissue of mushrooms — as a filter in water treatment to make contaminated water drinkable. Mushrooms are so adaptable and they grow exponentially. Because of that you can train them to do things like break down diesel fuel and other petrochemicals to treat contaminated soils in a process called mycoremediation.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

The oyster mushrooms you sell for eating — do you gather them from the wild or do you grow them yourself?

MIKE:

We grow them. We started doing it for fun. We have cattle, sheep, and so on, but we’ve got two little daughters and growing mushrooms is something we can do as a family. It’s not dangerous like working with animals or equipment can be. And mushrooms are fascinating. I’ve got the kids doing all this really great science with mushrooms. We have petri dishes with all these different strains growing in our bedroom — my wife is very patient. Anyway, it’s turned into a family thing.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Okay, so be honest. Do they really grow in, um, manure?

MIKE:

Some do. But oyster mushrooms grow on cellulose, like wood or straw. That’s why out in the woods you find them on logs or dead trees. They help break down the wood as it decomposes. But we grow them indoors where we can control the elements. For example, a change in temperature will change the color a little. The cellulose in straw grows excellent mushrooms but straw has a lot of variability when you pack a big bag. It’s hard to be consistent and predict what you’re going to produce and that makes it hard to fill orders. So we’re trying sawdust now, which is more uniform. Everything’s an experiment. Each tweak you make changes the yields.

Schuyler Greens oyster mushrooms health benefits

VEGGIE FAIRY:

So what do you do — like, plant seeds in the straw?

MIKE:

Sort of. The mushroom equivalent of seeds is called “spawn.” You mix the spawn in with the sawdust and incubate it in the bag at a certain temperature. It takes a few weeks to colonize the substrate. Shitake mushrooms trigger with water. With oyster mushrooms, you cut a hole in the bag and the surge of oxygen tells the mycelium that it’s time to fruit. In the woods, the mycelium grows inside the log. When it reaches the outer edges it runs out of food and hits oxygen. Then when humidity and rain come that’s when the fruiting happens. That’s the magic of the woods. Every time it rains there’s something new and exciting to find.

*

So the next time you go for a walk in the woods, keep your eyes peeled — you’ll probably spot some fabulous fungi. But — at the risk of sounding like your mother — unless you are an experienced mycologist like Mike, do not eat any of the mushrooms you find growing wild! Many poisonous species look very similar to the edible ones. Best bet is to place an order for Mike’s magically delicious, nutritious, farm-grown beauties, then sit back and enjoy all those mushroom health benefits with yummy peace of mind.

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.

Mobjack Bay fair trade coffee

This is how Fair Trade coffee helps the Chesapeake Bay

Fair Trade coffee’s good for rainforests and people, too!

By the Veggie Fairy Team

Celeste was a professional ballet dancer. Jo was a corporate IT guy. But they had always dreamed of running their own business together. And they both loved the waters of the Chesapeake Bay near their home in Virginia. Back in 2007, they’d talk about it over coffee.

“Our morning ritual has always been having our first cup of coffee together,” Celeste says. “We wanted to wake up in the morning knowing that we were working to make a difference in the world.” They decided to launch Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters… and make it eco-friendly.

The business combines their love of coffee, family, and the water: The coffee beans are roasted right in the shop… Celeste’s father helps in the retail store while a close friend is the master roaster… and a portion of every coffee bag sold benefits the Chesapeake Bay. (Learn more about efforts to save the Bay and the challenges it faces.)

Their focus on doing good didn’t end there. As Celeste and Jo gained experience in the coffee industry, they learned coffee was the cornerstone of life for families and communities in many countries.

“We realize that it would be self-serving to only think of our front yard, the Bay, without considering our backyard, the source of our beans,” Celeste says. “So we have structured our business as a model that also supports our interests in environmental protection.”

Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters has chosen to focus on beans grown by socially responsible farmers who follow Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance guidelines. These are two very challenging certifications.

“At times, we must be understanding of the difficulty and length of time it takes to become certified,” Celeste explains. “In these cases, we learn about the plantations’ processes so we can make our own decisions regarding responsible purchasing. This assures us that we are thinking globally while acting locally.”

What does “Rainforest Alliance Certified” mean?

The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behavior.

In the 1970’s coffee farmers were introduced to modern farming techniques. Forests were cleared, agrochemicals were sprayed, and yields were increased. Simultaneously, the shaded canopies of traditional coffee farms vanished. Birds and all types of animals were displaced while rivers were choked with silt and pollutants. In 1993 the Rainforest Alliance partnered with Sustainable Agricultural Network to demonstrate that traditional, forested coffee farms were the only choice for sustainable farming in harmony with nature. The Alliance helps its farmers survive the erratic global market by improving farm management and accessing premium markets.

The Rainforest Alliance Certified seal is a guarantee that coffee is grown on farms where forests are protected, and rivers, soils and wildlife conserved. Workers are treated with respect, paid decent wages, properly equipped, and given access to education and medical care. Forested coffee farms are critically important to serve as migration stopovers for birds traveling from as far away as Canada and Alaska. In areas where deforestation is rampant, these coffee farms may be the only habitat available to provide shelter and food for weary birds.

Is Fair Trade certification different?

Fair Trade coffee is a different way of achieving the same goal. We Americans are the number one consumers of coffee in the world. In the race to offer competitive pricing, the losers in the economic equation are often the people who work the hardest — the farmers who grow and pick the coffee. This forces them into cycles of poverty and debt.

Fair Trade pays farmers a fair minimum price for their coffee. Importers that are certified Fair Trade have met stringent international criteria, pay a guaranteed minimum price per pound of coffee, and empower farmers to grow sustainably. Successful sustainable farms lead to stronger communities, better health care and education, and improved stewardship of the environment. Fair Trade plants seeds of hope.

So that’s why all the beans roasted at Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters are either source certified Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance.

Meanwhile, Celeste and Jo also continue to support grassroots efforts to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay. Along with their three children, they spend many days in the tributary waters that feed the Chesapeake Bay and out on the Bay itself — Jo especially, who is an avid sportsman and outdoor enthusiast.

Whole bean or ground?

In the Seasonal Roots online farmers market, Mobjack’s whole bean coffee is available in the Extras section. Plus, for the first time ever, members can swap up to two single-pot packets of ground coffee into their baskets! It’s so delicious (thanks to Mobjack’s all-American-made San Franciscan Roaster), and best of all, with every cup of joe you’re helping make the world a better place, right here at home… and far away, too.

If you’re in the area, stop by Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters at 7060-A Woodsville Rd. in Hayes, Va., and check out their tasting room! It’s open Fridays 10-5 and Saturdays 9-4.

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.

riley shaia spinach health benefits

Spinach is good for your brain, too …

EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / March 28,2018

Tips, hacks, recipes, stories, and the weekly special all help you eat better live better with fresh local food!

...AND OTHER COOL SPINACH FACTS

Vintage cartoon fans can probably quote Popeye the Sailor Man’s famous line from memory: “I’m good to the finn-ich cause I eat my spinach!” A whole generation of kids grew up thinking they would be stronger if they ate spinach.

Spinach offers amazing health benefits. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These good things are associated with boosting immunity, lowering blood pressure, fighting the causes of cancer, reducing inflammation, easing constipation and ulcers, and supporting good vision, healthier skin, and stronger bones. It may even ...

Find out more from Riley about spinach storage, history and benefit below, or view this issue as a printable PDF with clickable links.

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riley shaia spinach health benefits

Spinach is good for your brain, too…

…and other cool spinach facts

By Riley Shaia, certified holistic nutritionist, fitness instructor & Seasonal Roots member (Pictured: center, kneeling)

VEGGIE FAIRY NOTE: You can connect with Riley on Instagram and Facebook!

Vintage cartoon fans can probably quote Popeye the Sailor Man’s famous line from memory: “I’m good to the finn-ich cause I eat my spinach!” A whole generation of kids grew up thinking they would be stronger if they ate spinach.

While that’s still true, it turns out the genesis of that popular notion actually began by mistake. A scientist misreported the number of grams of iron in spinach. According to thekitchn.com, in “1870 a German chemist, Erich von Wolf, correctly ascertained the amount of iron in spinach, but while transcribing his notes, he accidentally misplaced a decimal point: Instead of recording that spinach had 3.5 milligrams of iron per 100-gram serving (as is the case), he wrote that it had 35 milligrams.” That is a lot of iron!

In response to this, the creators of Popeye decided that this would be his superfood. The rest is history. Despite the error, it helped spinach gain popularity with parents and children alike.

In my opinion spinach is extremely versatile and I use it almost every day. Spinach is a great way to get your servings of greens in your diet. It’s easy to throw into smoothies or soup and easy to finely chop and add to spaghetti sauce and other foods.

What is spinach?

Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse that is in the same family as beets, chard, and quinoa.

Spinach’s amazing health benefits!

Spinach is rich in vitamins A, C, and K; minerals such as magnesium and calcium in addition to iron (obviously!); and antioxidant flavonoids and carotenoids. These good things are associated with boosting immunity, lowering blood pressure, fighting the causes of cancer, reducing inflammation, easing constipation and ulcers, and supporting good vision, healthier skin, and stronger bones. It may even improve your memory and slow down the aging of your brain! Watch this quick CBS News report about a recent scientific study on spinach brain power.

How to store and wash spinach

  • Fresh spinach should be kept unwashed, wrapped in a paper towel, and placed in an airtight container in your fridge’s cool, dark crisper. If it’s local and freshly harvested, it can be stored this way in the refrigerator for up to a week. But the sooner you eat it, the more nutrients it will still have.
  • To be the most economical and still get the nutrients, you can buy it frozen. If you buy it fresh but can’t eat it right away, it’s easy to freeze yourself to preserve the nutrients. Here’s how.
  • DO always wash freshly harvested local spinach just before you use it! It’s grown in fine sandy soil, which gets splashed up on the leaves. Fill the sink or a large bowl with cold water and gently agitate the leaves with your hands so the grit sinks to the bottom. Lift out the greens and change the water as needed, repeating until the water remains clear.
  • Surprising fact: Cooked spinach is better for you — with one exception

    In most cases, cooking spinach actually increases its health benefits! (I’ll explain the exception in a moment.) Just half a cup of cooked spinach will give you three times as much nutrition as one cup of raw spinach. That’s because the body cannot completely break down the nutrients in raw spinach to make full use of all the goodness contained in the leaves.

    Here’s the reason why: There’s a compound in spinach called oxalic acid, which blocks the absorption of calcium and iron. The problem is solved when you cook the spinach — the heat reduces oxalic acid’s power. But cook spinach lightly to preserve the nutrients while reducing the acid.

    By the way, avoid cooking spinach in aluminum – some reports indicate it may ruin the spinach’s color and taste.

    The exception to the “cooked is better for you” rule is when you pair raw spinach with a food that’s high in vitamin C. Vitamin C counteracts oxalic acid, too. Mandarin oranges and cantaloupes will do the trick, and combining them with fresh spinach leaves makes for a delicious salad.

    There are so many ways to use spinach!

    Cooked or raw, you can add spinach to almost anything.

  • Throw it in soups or smoothies for a nutritional boost.
  • Saute it in extra virgin olive oil with garlic and/or onions.
  • Sneak it into sauces — chop it finely first.
  • Use it in salad alone or with other lettuces.
  • Add it to a stir fry.
  • Make it an appetizer! Check out the following recipe…
  • Dive into this highly addictive spinach appetizer

    DAIRY-FREE SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP

    Recipe from ForksOverKnives.com

    INGREDIENTS: (Shout-out to our local food providers in all-caps!)
    1¼ c unsweetened unflavored plant-based milk (such as soy), or grassfed TRICKLING SPRINGS CREAMERY milk
    3 T all-purpose or oat flour
    1 t onion powder
    1 t garlic powder
    1 T fresh lemon juice
    2 c COTTLE ORGANICS spinach (fresh, or frozen and thawed), finely chopped
    1 (14-oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped (about 1½ c)
    sea salt to taste
    black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Combine the milk, flour, onion powder, garlic powder, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens to a spreadable consistency. If using cow milk, use medium heat and watch closely to avoid burning the milk or boiling over.
    2. Add the spinach and artichoke hearts. Mix well, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2 minutes more, until the spinach has wilted. Add 1 to 2 T of water if the sauce gets too thick.
    3. Let the dip cool completely.
    4. Serve the dip warm or cold with the baguettes, tortilla chips, or pita chips.

    This recipe and lots more are on the Seasonal Roots Pinterest spinach board.

    No spinach? Try creasy greens!

    Creasies are native plants that are much hardier than spinach, while still rich in iron and calcium with lots of vitamin A and C. Cooking tames creasy greens’ peppery arugula flavor, turning it mild like spinach. You can substitute it for spinach in any of our recipes. If you’ve never tried this native treasure, enjoy the thrill of discovery — that’s what eating local and seasonal is all about! Click here for a farm wife’s tutorial on creasy greens.

    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.

    whole grains grat harvest bread co

    Does freshness matter in whole grains?

    EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / March 21,2018

    Tips, hacks, recipes, stories, and the weekly special all help you eat better live better with fresh local food!

    THIS LOCAL BAKER GRINDS WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR DAILY. IS IT WORTH THE TROUBLE?

    Two of our most popular breads are the honey whole wheat and the 9-grain from Great Harvest Bread Company in Mechanicsville, Va. We wanted to know: Does whole grain have to be fresh to be good, the way produce does? The minute veggies and fruits are harvested and exposed to air, light, and heat, they start losing their vitamins. Does the same thing apply to whole grains?

    In their unmilled seed form, grains are designed to last at least until next year’s planting. The thing is, once you grind those whole grains into flour...

    Find out more about grains and baking bread from June, owner and head baker at Great Harvest, below, or view this issue as a printable PDF with clickable links.

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