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celebrate local vegetables

Celebrate Vegetables

– By Duane, Head Veggie Fairy

I remember the first time I experienced Brussels sprouts in the field. I found myself in a fantasy world full of stalks that extended above my head, with beautiful leaves of purple and green. AND I was given a knife and allowed to harvest them myself! What more could a 10 year old boy want?! I ate heartily. Not only were they the fruits of my labor, but they tasted AMAZING and nothing like the frozen Brussels sprouts from the grocery store I was used to. It was veggie adventures like this that now have me celebrating local vegetables today.

May is full of all kinds of celebrations so we’re taking this week to celebrate the veggies themselves. Whether vegetables define your lifestyle or complement your meat, here are three reasons they’re worth celebrating.

Celebrate the Wholesome Goodness

It’s a fact that vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants are the highest in vegetables when they’re harvested at peak ripeness, when they’ve had all the time they need to fully soak in all the goodness sun and soil have to offer. The sooner you eat them after harvesting, the greater the nutritional impact. Their extra fresh flavor will also make you want to eat more! The most tender veggies, like spinach, lose about 60% of their nutritional value within a week of harvesting, so it’s important to cut down the time it takes to get from the farm to your table. If you’re going to eat vegetables, you should eat them as fresh and flavorful as you can get them and take advantage of all that wholesome goodness.

Celebrate the Diversity of Vegetables

Getting your vegetables direct from the farmer introduces you to new and different varieties you may not have access to otherwise. Seasonal Roots has three types of kale on the menu at this moment – Tuscan, red Russian, and curly. All have different flavors. Did you know Russian kale is sweeter tasting than curly kale? Have you tried fresh garlic from the field? Do you know what a garlic scape is and what to do with it? You’ll be inspired to try new things as the changing seasons bring fresh varieties to the market!

Not only will you be inspired to try new vegetables, but you’ll be inspired to prepare them in different ways by other veggie lovers in your local food community. Asparagus is awesome on the grill and you can eat the spears like fries. Brussels sprouts roast to perfection in the oven. Golden beets are milder than their red sisters and won’t trick you into thinking you have a kidney infection! If you massage your collard greens, they give back with a sweeter taste and texture in your salad. Vegetables offer endless diversity… you’ll want to be a part of celebrating and trying new varieties!

Celebrate Working Together as a Community

Have you talked to your local farmer recently? You would be amazed by the amount of passion they put into growing your food. Because they care, practices like what variety and origin of seed they plant, spray/no spray, rotating crops for best nutrients, and picking produce at peak ripeness, matter. They want the community of families they feed to have the best produce! Sometimes that means a bug or two because they didn’t spray, or waiting an extra week for strawberries so they reach their  peak flavor and nutrients before harvesting.

Getting away from mass produced food has become crucial to our health and the health of our world, yet we are still a busy society. We have limited time to spend in the kitchen. Many local food artisans rely on local farmers for their produce. When you can trust your community of local food artisans because they share the same philosophy, it’s easier to pick up some yummy prepared food, enjoy it for a meal, and be confident you are still benefiting from the best food.

By supporting local farmers, food artisans, and organizations like Seasonal Roots, you help create a strong food system in our own backyard. We’re all in this together and when we work together as a community, it’s certainly a reason to celebrate and eat more local veggies!

Try something new this week, whether it be getting to know your local farmer better, trying a new variety of vegetable, or ordering something prepared by a local food artisan that you haven’t tried before. Your taste buds will enjoy the celebration!

 

 

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, pasture-raised dairy, eggs, and meat, plus wholesome 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.

red cap patisserie chocolate

Local food takes the guilt out of guilty pleasures

Case Study: Red Cap Patisserie

– By the Veggie Fairy Team

When you buy local food, your money stays in your community instead of going to some faraway corporate headquarters. Buy local food and your dollars create jobs at local farms, food distribution systems like Seasonal Roots, and food artisans like Red Cap Patisserie, which employs eight talented people in Richmond, Virginia.

red cap patisserie local jobs

So you can indulge that craving for, say, handmade chocolate, guilt-free, with Red Cap’s Dark Chocolate Toasted Almond Sour Cherry Bark. Not only is it good for the community, it’s also better for you than mass-produced chocolate. It’s freshly made, with no preservatives or artificial flavors.

And you can feel virtuous about it, too — compared to the global industrial food complex, food from a local artisan like Red Cap Patisserie uses less fuel and produces less CO2. So local food belches fewer greenhouse gases and fights global warming. That’s cool.

(Read this full list of 10 ways local food helps you live better.)

For two decades, pastry chef Martine Wladar handcrafted delicious treats for cafés and restaurants in New York City and New Jersey. We talked with her husband and partner John about how they found their way to Richmond, Virginia, where they now work together on their unique take on traditional French- and European-inspired fare.

red cap patisserie martine & john

VEGGIE FAIRY:

You both grew up in New Jersey. How did you wind up in Richmond’s historic Fan district?

JOHN:

It was a corporate relocation on my part in 2013. Martine had been working in the food industry for years, so we created a kitchen in our home where she could bake more seriously than she could with a residential oven. We signed up for the Saint Stephen’s Farmers Market and did that regularly.

red cap patisserie farmers market

After a couple years, a space opened up in the Fan and we were fortunate enough to acquire it. That let us open the retail operation and expand the commercial operation. Meanwhile I left my corporate job and began working for Martine. I’ve only been fired a couple times and she always takes me back.

red cap patisserie ribbon cutting

VEGGIE FAIRY:

Ha! But… not all couples can actually work together without killing each other. What’s your secret?

JOHN:

It’s something we work very hard at. We’ve been married since 1988, but when we embarked on this it changed our dynamic in many ways. You learn to be patient and just be quiet and listen and really try to hear the other person, which is a good practice whether you work together or not!

red cap patisserie handmade caramel

VEGGIE FAIRY:

So in our market, to start with you’ll be offering Chocolate Chip Brownies, Salty Sweet Pecans, super adorable Marshmallow Chicks, Sea Salt Caramels, and lots of dark chocolate treats. In addition to that, in your shop you offer all kinds of freshly baked sweet and savory pastries. How do you decide what to offer?

JOHN:

What we offer is guided by Martine’s intuition and inspiration. She’s had a lifelong love for baking and cooking. She’s taken various courses at cooking schools and perfected her skills on the job, and opening the shop was a unique opportunity to pull her expertise together in both baking and cooking.

red cap patisserie martine

VEGGIE FAIRY:

How did Martine learn the chocolate side of the business?

JOHN:

She has worked with Jacques Torres, who is a famous French chocolate master. When we opened this place she said, “You know, eventually I really want to offer chocolate!” Within a year and a half we had built up enough in-house staff to break out and offer chocolate treats and caramel. She really loves caramel, so we do our own caramel in-house and blend our own chocolate in-house. We like a particular chocolate taste. Some chocolates are too bitter, some have too much “cherry” flavor, some are just too sweet. We blend it to hit that sweet spot in between.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

How do you choose your ingredients?

JOHN:

It’s about quality in terms of the craft of making an excellent product that you can feel good about eating. Whenever possible, we source our ingredients locally. We’ll barter at the farmers market for eggs. We’re using real ingredients — real cream, real butter, real flour. No ingredients you can’t recognize or pronounce. That makes for a delicious product and a healthier one, even when it’s a treat.

VEGGIE FAIRY:

What’s your carbon footprint like?

JOHN:

We’re local, so we’re close to our customers. We also aim for sustainability in packaging. We try not to use any styrofoam and reduce the amount of plastic packaging we use as well as the packaging our supplies come in. We recycle everything that leaves the kitchen — unlike larger establishments, where everything just goes in the dumpster.

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red cap patisserie martine pastry chef

Red Cap Patisserie shares Seasonal Roots’ mission to make the world a better place through local food! If you want to see the full range of Martine’s creations, check out the mouthwatering photo gallery on the Red Cap Patisserie Instagram page. If you’re inspired to stop by Martine and John’s shop the next time you’re in Richmond, you’ll find directions on their website.

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, pasture-raised dairy, eggs, and meat, plus wholesome 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.

GET $20/20 VISION

Get $20/20 VISION…

…and not just by eating carrots

EAT HEALTHIER AND SAVE $20!
When new members sign up, if they tell us you referred them, we’ll add $20 to your Seasonal Roots account. And we’ll give them a $20 credit, too!

Feel free to tell your friends and family about this easy way to save money, eat healthier, and support local farmers at the same time. Local food is healthier because it’s fresher, so it has more nutrients!

We love saving you money on your local food orders, so there’s no limit to $20/20. Every time a new member joins and mentions your name, we’ll put $20 in your account and theirs… to thank you for spreading the word!

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ home-delivered 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.