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eat local deer run farm

Eat local and you’re eating the results of local weather

Hey, where did all the local green beans go?!

– By the Veggie Fairy Team

If you like green beans, yet have no green beans on your plate this Thanksgiving, that’s good news. It’s a sign that you’ve chosen to eat local food – the freshest, most nutritious and flavorful food you can get.

Right now there are no locally grown green beans to be had. Our Farmer Connector Sam searched all over Virginia. No luck. So there were no green beans for Thanksgiving in our home-delivered farmers market, as you may have noticed. You also may have noticed a lot of rain this year. Those two things are connected.

In parts of Virginia, 2018 has been the wettest year on record. Check out the photo at the top of this post. That was the scene at Deer Run Farm in Hanover, Va., after a heavy spring rain. Not much sun and too much mud!

Some plants love to hydrate. Others, like green beans, not so much. Bean plants prefer their soil evenly moist to max out their growth and bean production. Drying out stunts them. If it doesn’t rain enough to keep the soil moist, that’s easy to fix with a drip hose.

It’s much harder to do anything about too much rain. Excess water deforms plants or makes them prone to disease, covered in yucky fungal growth. And downpours can wash away soil nutrients before the roots have time to absorb them.

So when you sit down at your Thanksgiving table this week, give thanks for the beanless proof that you’re eating the healthiest food you can get… fresh, locally grown veggies.

And here’s hoping next year brings good green bean weather!

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.

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.

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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    great harvest bread co whole grains

    Does freshness matter in whole grains?

    This local baker grinds fresh whole wheat flour daily. Is it worth it?

    By the Veggie Fairy Team

    Two of our most popular breads are the honey whole wheat and the 9-grain from Great Harvest Bread Company in Mechanicsville, Va. They’re both really popular with Seasonal Roots members, partly because they’re full of whole wheat goodness, but also because they’re just delicious.

    Seasonal Roots is all about fresh local food, so we wanted to know if the freshness factor has anything to do with how good and tasty this bread is. Is just being fresh-baked enough? What about the flour — how fresh does that have to be? We talked with June, the bakery’s owner and head baker, but first the backstory.

    Does grain have to be fresh to be good?

    We all know that when it comes to produce, freshness counts — the minute veggies and fruits are harvested, they start losing their vitamins. The longer they’re exposed to air, light, and heat, the more vitamins they lose.

    Does the same thing apply to whole grains? After all, 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 for flour, the seed’s protective coating is crushed to pieces and some of the sensitive insides are exposed to air. Air is the enemy of vitamins B, A, and E, which are all found in whole grains.

    Now we do eat grains for more than just the vitamins. Grains are an excellent source of energy, fiber, and proteins, and we can only access those nutrients once the grain is ground into flour. The vitamins do help with the digestion of these important nutrients, but we also get those vitamins in the other things we eat. So even if the flour isn’t super fresh, it still has a lot to offer.

    But taste-testing bread connoisseurs will tell you that the freshness of the flour definitely affects the taste of the bread. Just like freshly harvested produce, freshly ground whole grains are more flavorful, plus they still have most of their original vitamins.

    So when you have the choice, bread that’s fresh-baked from freshly ground flour is always better, as we discovered in our conversation with June of Great Harvest Bread Co. in Mechanicsville.

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    So what part does freshness play at your bakery?

    JUNE:

    To make good quality bread, it really is a science and freshness is one of the most important factors. We get started at 4:00am every morning, fresh milling our 100% whole wheat flour daily right here in the bakery. We’ve got our own stone-grinding mill because the fresh milling is really the key. When you grind your wheat fresh it maintains the quality so you’ve got more nutrients, more proteins, and definitely more flavor!

    great harvest bread co june's whole grain bread

    June in her element!

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    What are some of the other factors that go into quality bread?

    JUNE:

    Definitely the ingredients. For the honey whole wheat bread, we use only five simple ingredients: fresh milled whole wheat flour, yeast, salt, honey, and water. No preservatives, the water’s filtered, and the wheat is non-GMO. The same ingredients go into the 9-grain, both red and white wheat, plus buckwheat, corn, rye, barley, flax, millet, and oats.

    great harvest bread co kneading whole grains

    Some of the kneading crew, working their magic.

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    Have you always been a baker?

    JUNE:

    When I was little I loved baking pies from scratch with my mother, but then I grew up and worked in the insurance industry. After 25 years of that, I was ready to give up the corporate world and that childhood experience was my inspiration. So I started my own Great Harvest franchise.

    great harvest bread co whole grain team

    The bakery staff are like family.

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    Why a franchise? Why not just open “June’s Bakery”?

    JUNE:

    The franchise really simplified the business side of it, and taught me the science side, too. So for five years now I’ve been able to focus on my favorite parts of what I do. I have a passion for the bread and I’m a people person. The staff here at the bakery are like family. There are eight of us, including two with autism, and everyone’s an important part of the team. And I love getting to know our customers, they’re like family, too. We love to share samples with everybody. We’re also big on bakery tours with Girl Scout troops and elementary schools.

    great harvest bread co future whole grain bakers

    June with the whole grain bakers of tomorrow!

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    Sounds like you’re really part of your community.

    JUNE:

    We are, this is where we live and work. We really try to live our mission: Be loose and have fun. Bake phenomenal bread. Run fast to serve others. And give generously. We donate bread to area church food pantries, to make sure it goes to local families in need. And we donate on several levels to local charities, like giving them gift certificates that they can use to get nutritious, flavorful bread for free. We really appreciate everyone who shops local and shops fresh, people like the members of Seasonal Roots.

    Want to drop in and meet June and her team at Great Harvest Bakery Company in Mechanicsville? Directions and more are right here.

    And here are some tips on whole grains from the USDA, including how to store whole grain bread.

    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.

    humane farming

    Humane farming is good for humans too. Here’s why.

    EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / March 14,2018

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

    LOTS OF PASTURE AND NO PESTICIDES, ANTIBIOTICS, HORMONES, OR GMO'S AT THIS LOCAL FARM

    Out of the six kids in the Avery’s Branch Farms family, Oliver is the one in charge of their pasture-raised chickens. The family also raises cows and pigs. With support from Seasonal Roots and other Virginia families and restaurants, their farm has really grown. Their chicken flock has grown from five hens and a rooster to 3,800 hens. The egg business is now big enough for 24-year-old Oliver to launch (cue the drumroll…) AUTHENTICITY FARMS!

    Even as the flock has grown, Oliver’s commitment to his family’s humane farming practices has remained the same...

    Learn the difference between cage-free, free-range, and pasture-raised below, or view this issue as a printable PDF with clickable links.

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    pasture-raised chickens authenticity farms

    Humane farming is good for humans too. Here’s why.

    Lots of pasture and NO pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, or GMOs at this local farm

    By the Veggie Fairy Team

    There’s no such thing as a chill chicken. Pigs may be laid back. But laying hens are in a constant state of panic, as if today could be their last. That’s what Oliver has observed since his parents started farming a dozen years ago when he was 12. Relying on humane farming practices, they raised cows, pigs, and chickens at Avery’s Branch Farms in Amelia, Va.

    “Now and then we have some hens that like to be petted, but that’s just a random individual,” Oliver says. “I’ve never heard of a super chill chicken.”

    So apparently, Chicken Little, who famously ran around crying, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” was a pretty typical chicken. But can you blame her? For a chicken, the world is full of imminent death and dismemberment by raccoons, possums, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, untrained dogs, and as if that weren’t enough, hawks from above. When you’re raising chickens, the temptation is to lock them away inside where it’s easier to raise them.

    Easier. But not healthier. And the resulting flavor’s nothing to write home about, either. Being stuck inside doesn’t even make the chickens any less frantic.

    The humane farming backstory

    Avery’s Branch Farms has been supplying Seasonal Roots and other Virginia families for a long time. We love how the hens have access to pasture year-round. Grass makes up 50% of their diet. The rest of what they eat includes insects, worms (chickens are not naturally vegetarian, which is why those “100% vegetarian feed” claims are not necessarily a good thing), plus local, non-GMO grain. During the winter when the grass isn’t growing, the grass portion of their diet is supplemented with alfalfa, a high quality hay.

    Even when it’s cold out the girls always have outdoor access. So they’re able to do all the natural things that make a chicken happy — grazing, pecking, scratching, and flying short distances out in the fresh air and sunshine. As a result, they naturally stay healthier.

    According to Oliver, “We never use pesticides, antibiotics, or hormones. Our animals are kept healthy by their exceptional diet and environment. In return they give us the healthiest, tastiest products.” And the chickens are kept safe from predators under the watchful eye of trained, hen-loving dogs. The chickens are as naturally frantic as ever, but they’re happy and safe and truly pasture-raised.

    That’s a much higher standard than “cage-free”, which means the birds are not confined in a tiny cage but are still kept indoors, roaming around inside long, low, crowded warehouses. Pasture-raised is better than “free-range” too, which usually just means the chickens have minimal access to an outside concrete pen while spending most of their lives stuck inside like the cage-free birds. For an excellent explanation of the difference between cage-free, free-range, and pasture-raised, read this.

    A local farm success story

    Out of the six kids in the Avery’s Branch family, Oliver is the one in charge of their pasture-raised chickens. He recalls, “I had always wanted to partner with restaurants to offer the same life-giving products to restaurant-goers we had always offered to our family customers. With the help of the nearby Amish community, we started delivering to restaurants and it was a big hit. Soon we had to increase our flocks to accommodate the demand.”

    Seasonal Roots helped Oliver introduce more Virginia families to the goodness of his family’s pasture-raised eggs. Just like Virginia’s high-end restaurant chefs, we could all see and taste the difference that a grassfed diet makes (more on that in a minute). But the restaurants needed a consistent supply to make pasture-raised eggs a regular part of their menus, and so did we. A bigger flock made the small family farm in Amelia a more dependable supplier to everyone.

    They started out with five hens and a rooster in 2005. Today their flock has grown to 3,800 and the egg business is big enough for Oliver, now 24, to make the flock his own and launch (cue the drumroll…) AUTHENTICITY FARMS!

    Even as the flock has grown, Oliver’s commitment to his family’s humane farming practices has remained the same. So one local sustainable, humane family farm is now two. Seasonal Roots members can pat themselves on the back for being part of making that possible.

    The health benefits of pasture-raised eggs

    Humane farming practices aren’t just good for the animals. They’re good for the humans, too. A pasture-raised egg looks different from an industrial farmed egg, even if it’s cage-free or free-range. A pasture-raised yolk is deep orange surrounded by a thick, milky white. The flavor is richer. And it offers higher amounts of vitamin A, D, E, K2, B-12, folate, riboflavin, zinc, calcium, beta carotene, choline, and tons of omega 3 fatty acids, including DHA, EPA, ALA, and AA.

    A pasture-raised egg offers the highest quality protein, second only to the lactalbumin protein in a human mother’s milk. It is a true superfood. A study found that compared to industrial farmed eggs, the benefits of pasture-raised include:

  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
  • 3-6 times more vitamin D (thanks to hanging out in all that sunshine!)
  • We’re proud to support the humane, healthful, life-giving work of the newest addition to our market, Authenticity Farms!

    Visit the Authenticity Farms website for more on Oliver’s goals and mission.
    Visit the Avery’s Branch Farms website to get to know the family and their principled approach to farming.

    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.