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local organic food

Is organic worth it?

EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / May 9,2018

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

IS ORGANIC WORTH IT?
And can you even trust organic labels?

When you've got nothing else to go on, that organic label seems like an easy solution. Organic foods have a reputation for being more nutritious and safer. Plus, organic can cost up to twice as much as conventional - must be better, right? The truth, it turns out, is complicated...

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

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local organic food

Is organic worth it?

And can you even trust those organic labels?

By the Veggie Fairy Team:

So you want to eat food that’s good for you. But it’s hard to tell what’s truly good just by looking — you can’t see pesticides or lost nutrients.

When you’ve got nothing else to go on, that organic label seems like an easy solution. Organic foods have a reputation for being more nutritious and safer than non-organic. Plus, organic costs more, sometimes twice as much as conventional. If it’s more expensive, it must be better, right?

The truth, it turns out, is complicated.

Organic toxins — yep, that’s a thing

Think that organic label means something hasn’t been sprayed? Think again. A Bloomberg News reporter wrote a good article that explains the history of how and why organic labeling got started. She also gets into the uncertain science on whether or not organic actually more nutritious.

Some of the uncertainty is based on who’s doing the farming. In the beginning, organic labeling was driven by family farmers who relied on old school, eco-friendly organic practices instead of spraying chemical fertilizers and pesticides. But because there were no rules on what was officially “organic”, lots of farmers who did spray were claiming to be organic when they really weren’t.

But as the labeling movement gained steam and the government began writing regulations about what could be called organic, big agriculture corporations saw an opportunity and got involved. Needless to say, many of the resulting regulations benefit Big Ag, not small, truly organic family farmers.

So today, you can grow, say, lettuce that’s USDA certified organic that nevertheless tests positive for toxic substances. USDA guidelines allow certified organic farms to spray their crops with certain chemicals under certain conditions. According to this NPR story about organic pesticides, some of them probably aren’t harmful to humans. But some probably are.

Fake organic labels — yep, that’s a thing, too

Labels are only as good as the USDA’s ability to oversee the production of organic food and enforce the rules. Turns out, the department’s ability to do that is limited. There just aren’t enough inspectors to keep tabs on all the farmers and corporations here in the U.S., much less overseas.

Last year, a Washington Post investigative series revealed just how much of a problem organic food fraud is — bad enough that now Congress is working on legislation to double USDA’s oversight.

Organic or not, freshness counts

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

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

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

Some of our local farmers are certified organic, and some use organic practices but just can’t make the financial investment that’s required to get certified. All of our local farmers are low- or no-spray. Many of them are multi-generational, so they care for their land, crops, and animals with the next generation in mind. The vast majority of our farmers don’t spray because that would jeopardize the integrity of their land. If they do spray, it’s minimal and only as required.

They also use sustainable practices like rotating their crops to avoid sucking all the nutrients out of the soil. That’s why we call sustainable farming “old school organic” — the way it was often done before the government got in the business of regulating it.

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

So how can you tell what’s good for you?!

Organic can be great! But only if you go beyond the regulations that were developed for Big Ag. There’s no official label that will tell you if something is only a couple days out of the field and truly fresh. There’s no label that will tell if it was grown by a farmer who’s sustainable or old school organic, using traditional methods with future generations in mind. The only way to know if something is really good for you is to know and trust 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 reading a label, but it’s a lot easier than trying to do the due diligence all by yourself!

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.

harmony hill farm local food

This one thing helps local families find local food

EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / May 2,2018

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

THIS ONE THINGS HELPS LOCAL FAMILIES FIND LOCAL FOOD
Plus helps working moms & dads serve up healthy eats, too

That “thing” is our veggie fairies! Seasonal Roots veggie fairies, a.k.a. neighborhood Market Managers, are the irreplaceable links that bring farmers and families together. If it weren’t for our veggie fairies there would be no Seasonal Roots. Not only do they deliver fresh local food to your doorstep, they also handle one-on-one customer care and spread the word about local food. They're committed to supporting farmers and families.

Seasonal Roots veggie fairies come...

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

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newsletter 2018-05-02 final pg2

local food harmony hill farm

This one thing helps local families find local food

Plus it helps working moms and dads serve up healthy eats

By Kristin H, Director of Veggie Communications, and Suzanne A, neighborhood Market Manager:

That “thing” is our veggie fairies! Seasonal Roots veggie fairies, a.k.a. neighborhood Market Managers, are the irreplaceable links that bring farmers and families together. If it weren’t for our veggie fairies there would be no Seasonal Roots. Not only do they deliver fresh local food to your doorstep, they also handle one-on-one customer care and spread the word about local food. They’re committed to supporting local farmers and local families.

Seasonal Roots veggie fairies come from all walks of life. Many are work-at-home parents. Others are like Suzanne in the Richmond area, whose kids are now adults.

Suzanne’s story

For Suzanne, supporting family farmers through Seasonal Roots is personal.

When Suzanne was a kid, her dad ran a farm with help from her and her brother and sister. He raised cattle, dairy cows, chickens, pigs, and hunting dogs. She can still remember the breeds: Black Angus cattle; Guernsey, Holstein, and Jersey cows; Rhode Island Red and Leghorn chickens; the dogs were Pointers. “The pigs, I’m not sure,” she says, “They had coarse white hair, pink skin showing through, and muddy most of the time! Also HUGE.”

(Sort of like the guy in the photo with this post. It was taken at Harmony Hill Farm in Scottsville, Va. That’s where the Ingersoll family raises crops and livestock using humane, sustainable methods that are good for us and the planet. And then they bring all that goodness to Seasonal Roots online farmers market.)

On the farm where Suzanne grew up, the fields were planted with corn for human and animal consumption, plus produce of all kinds. Out in the pastures, field grasses were harvested for hay. A farm like that is a fulltime job, yet Suzanne’s dad had to work another fulltime job at the same time to make ends meet.

Many small family farmers are forced to work exhausting double duty like that. It’s because our modern food system favors big agricultural corporations thanks to Big Ag’s money and influence. Yet local farmers are the ones who provide us with the freshest, healthiest food. When they succeed, it’s good for everybody who gets to eat what they produce. Seasonal Roots is all about helping local farmers succeed.

Suzanne can appreciate the good parts of farm life in hindsight. Looking back, she recalls, “I grew up on a farm and couldn’t wait to leave, honestly. You either have it in your blood or you don’t. It is hard work, and if your farm includes livestock, as ours did, you can’t go on vacation. As a youngster, I didn’t appreciate the clean air, the wide ranging area to run around, and the wonderful food. Like a lot of kids, I wanted burgers and fries.”

She wanted fast food. Sigh.

Local food + home delivery = help for working moms & dads

While Suzanne may have wished for fast food as a kid, she sees it differently as an adult. “I am grateful now that I was raised in a healthy way and that I am not a picky eater,” she says. “I love fresh fruits and veggies… and I love the convenience of home delivery!

“I so would’ve loved Seasonal Roots when I was working fulltime and my sons were younger. It would’ve saved me time and, therefore, money! Working fulltime and raising kids is exhausting. But I made sure my kids always tried a bite of whatever I was serving. And now, ages 21 and 27, they eat everything. So many of my former co-workers’ kids only wanted chicken nuggets and fries, so I’m glad my husband and I made the effort. I feel certain our sons will do the same when they are blessed with little ones!”

When it comes to fresh food versus fast food, having healthy eats on hand for kids to try is half the battle. When children are given a chance to try fresh fruits and vegetables, they often discover they like them. We hear that over and over from Seasonal Roots members.

But when you’re busy juggling lots of responsibilities, you don’t have time to chase around after the freshest, healthiest food — the kind that tastes the best and is the most likely to win kids over. In fact, the way our American food system is set up, the fastest, easiest, most convenient food is often the least fresh and the most unhealthy.

That’s when you need a fairy godmother (or a flock of veggie fairies) to do it for you — someone you trust who can track down local farmers using the best practices and then deliver it, freshly harvested, to your door. So if you’re a Seasonal Roots member, do your working-parent friends a favor and tell them about the veggie fairies!

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.

real fresh vs fake fresh

Real fresh vs fake fresh

3 things that make local food truly fresh + more nutritious, flavorful

By the Veggie Fairy Team:

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

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

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

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

So here’s what our local farmers do to provide you with truly fresh food:

1. Make flavor a priority

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

2. Pick at the peak of ripeness

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

3. No tricks or preservatives

IN SPRINGTIME, WHEN TEMPS CAN SUDDENLY SWING BETWEEN HOT AND COLD, GREENS MAY WILT WORE QUICKLY AFTER THEY’RE HARVESTED. But we don’t douse anything in preservatives or wax to make it look like something it’s not. We simply chill it and deliver it to you quickly, while it’s still really and truly fresh – which we can do because we’re local. If it wilts, you can easily and naturally perk it back up by putting it in water for 20-25 minutes to rehydrate it. The photo with this post comes from Seasonal Roots member Michelle M, who perked up her chives by popping them into a vase full of water, and then told us she noticed an added benefit: “They look beautiful waiting to be used!”

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

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

Here’s how:

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

    How do you keep fresh food fresh?

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

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, 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.

    industrial agriculture drought vs fresh local food

    Industrial agriculture vs fresh local food

    What happens when the water runs out?

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

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

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

    Industrial agriculture has its limits

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

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

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

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

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

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

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

    fresh local food - sustainable agriculture - lettuce

    This is why fresh local food is better for you

    The most delicious way to take your vitamins

    By the Veggie Fairy Team:

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

    Fresh local produce is whole food

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

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

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

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

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

    Local + fresh = more vitamins

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

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

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

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

    WHEN it’s picked makes a difference

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

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

    Fresh local food is Grandma’s healthy eating

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

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

    Sustainability gives you a vitamin boost, too!

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

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

    Bottom line: Healthy eating starts with fresh local food!

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

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

  • 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.

    ugly food fresh local sustainable

    We love ugly food!

    What does truly fresh produce look like?

    By the Veggie Fairy Team:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Here’s how:

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

    How do you keep fresh food fresh?

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

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

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