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wreath welcome dominion harvest

Welcome, Oberweis Dairy customers!

Everything you need to know to get started

By the Veggie Fairy Team

Seasonal Roots is Virginia’s oldest and biggest home-delivered farmers market, specializing in locally sourced, sustainably grown produce. When Oberweis Dairy asked us to help make sure you can enjoy the convenience of the freshest, best-tasting, healthiest home-delivered dairy, we said sure!

Seasonal Roots members order a weekly home-delivered produce basket, and can add on Extras like pastured eggs, grassfed meats, and artisan fare. To help you out, we’re now making it possible for you to also add on your favorite Oberweis items.

So for all our new Oberweis customers who join and become Seasonal Roots members, here’s a step-by-step introduction to your new community of fresh local food lovers:

When to place your order

You can place your order all weekend long. Your online farmers market is open from Friday at 2pm until Sunday at 11:59pm. We’ll send you an email on Friday to remind you that the market is open. During that time you can browse and shop all you want. When the market’s not open, you can take an offline tour of the ordering process by clicking here.

How to order your basket

When you sign in while the market is open, you’ll see that each order is fully customizable. It starts with a basket of fresh local produce that you can swap items in and out of. Then in the Extras section you can choose to buy bakery items, meats, artisan goods, more produce, and Oberweis dairy products.

First, the basket. There are three basket sizes to choose from:

basket assortments prices

Whichever basket you choose, it will come pre-filled with a selection of produce. You’re free to change that — just swap out items to get exactly what you want.

How to order Extras

Browse the tabs in the Extras section and add to your order whatever items strike your fancy. You can change your order as often as you like until the market closes on Sunday at 11:59pm. If you do make changes, only your most recent save will be processed, so you can disregard the email confirmations you’ll receive for the earlier saves.

Need to skip a week or more? You can schedule skips anytime before the market closes, up to 12 weeks in advance. If you don’t skip or customize, the default order that was in the Friday email will be processed when the market closes.

The money stuff

Here’s what you need to know, in no particular order:

  • After each weekend that you order, your credit card will be charged on Monday morning.
  • We don’t charge a bottle deposit. We just ask that you return your bottles so Oberweis can sanitize and reuse them.
  • Seasonal Roots has a small annual membership fee of $50 the first year, and $35 every year after that.
  • Delivery

    If you live in Northern Virginia, Wednesday will be your delivery day. If you live anywhere from Richmond to Virginia Beach, Thursday will be your delivery day. If you’re unsure about your delivery day, drop us an email.

    On your delivery day, your box of local food will be delivered to your doorstep — hand-delivered by a neighborhood Market Manager who lives near you. She or he will send you an email reminder the night before that will give you a delivery window of just a couple hours so you’ll know when to expect it. Your Market Manager is there to help, so feel free to send an email if you ever have any questions or concerns.

    On delivery day, you’ll also receive a “Field Notes” email from Sam, your Farmer Connector – he’ll update you on the harvest. Sometimes Mother Nature has plans for our crops that we can’t foresee. If something foils the harvest of a basket item, we’ll substitute the closest item we can find – for example, yellow squash instead of zucchini. If it’s an Extra item that you ordered, we’ll credit it to your account.

    By the way, we check and double check each item before it reaches you, but if something falls through the cracks, like a bruised apple or a missing item, we want to know! It’s easy to report an issue — visit our FAQs and scroll down to “Quality Control” for instructions.

    Each week on delivery day, please leave out a cooler, along with an ice pack if you have one. That way your fresh local food will stay fresh and safe from hungry critters.

    Next to your cooler, please leave out your empty Seasonal Roots delivery box and glass milk bottles from the week before to help us reduce our carbon footprint. Your Market Manager will whisk it all away so it can be reused. That will save energy and, in the case of the boxes, trees!

    Last but not least: Enjoy!

    Once you receive your order, all you have to do is enjoy it! If you ever find yourself with more fresh local produce than you can eat right away, here’s how you can preserve the nutrients and flavor until you’re ready to use it.

    To get to know us better, please visit our Web site where we’ve got FAQs, the story of how we got started, and more. We also hope you’ll join us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest for recipes!

    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.

    home delivered farmers market - open house

    Home delivered local food: How it works

    Take a tour of the Hub!

    – By the Veggie Fairy Team

    When we hosted an Open House at our Hub in Richmond, more than a hundred people stopped by check out the place where we pack up your weekly orders. They got to talk about local food, sample it, and peek behind the scenes at how our home delivered local food gets from the farm to you. You can scroll down for a photo tour that shows you how it works! But first…

    The Open House

    home delivered farmers market - open house

    We sure appreciated the farmers who took a break from their chores to come hang out with us! They included Jack from Sion House Farm

    home delivered farmers market - g flores produce

    …and Enrique and Cristian from the Flores family farm, G. Flores Produce.

    home delivered farmers market - cattle run farm

    Ralph from Cattle Run Farm was there, too, and brought grassfed beef for the sliders.

    home delivered farmers market - farmer connector sam

    Your Farmer Connector, Sam, grilled up the beef, along with grassfed chicken from Harmony Hill Farm.

    home delivered farmers market - corn pool 1

    The smaller ones among us dove into a corn-filled kiddie pool, which hid a whole herd of plastic animals.

    home delivered farmers market - corn pool 2

    Apparently there was a lot of corn splashing going on. After the last cutie crawled out, the corn was donated to Ralph’s pigs, who pronounced it delicious.

    home delivered farmers market - fosters catering zee

    Zee of Foster’s Catering is a local food artisan — her muffin tops in our home-delivered farmers market have many, many fans. She’s also a member of the Seasonal Roots team, leading the neighborhood Market Managers on Richmond’s Southside.

    home delivered farmers market - fosters catering muffins & child

    For the Open House, Zee baked up 265 mini muffin samples and gave them all away. Quote of the day: “These are so addictive!”

    home delivered farmers market - fosters catering SR cake

    Seconds after this photo was taken of the biggest cake Zee brought, the crowd descended… and this cake was GONE.

    home delivered farmers market - fosters catering cakes

    Zee also raffled off four mini animal cakes — a pig, a kitty, a cow, and a… dragon?

    home delivered farmers market - fosters catering winners

    A couple of the lucky winners!

    home delivered farmers market - happy team

    A lot of members of the Seasonal Roots team were there, too. Jamila, in the middle taking the selfie, is our Veggie Fairy Godmother, the one who helps us veggie fairies on our appointed rounds as we take care of members and support local farmers. Zee is on the far left, and between them is Duane, our founder and Head Veggie Fairy. On the other side of Jamila is Sam, your Farmer Connector who vets each farmer and food artisan and chooses what goes in the market every weekend.

    And now for…

    The Hub tour

    Our local farmers and food artisans deliver their local food to the Hub on Monday. As soon as the food arrives, it goes straight into our two big coolers.

    tomatoes beefsteak sion housen cropped

    One is kept at 50 degrees for tomatoes, which don’t like to be too cold in order to max out their flavor… as well as hardy vegetables and fruits that don’t need to be too cold, like potatoes, apples, and winter squashes. The other cooler is kept at 41 degrees for greens, berries, and the like.

    hub outside cooler

    People who take the tour in person are always amazed at how big the Hub is. You can see the entrance to the coolers on the right, there. Through that door, the refrigerated areas alone add up to 3,500 square feet — bigger than a lot of our houses.

    hub 2

    On Tuesday and Wednesday, we set up the conveyor, get out the boxes, pull on our woolen undies, and line up along the conveyor to pack the orders right there in the coolers. Everyone who takes the Hub tour in person says, “Wow, it’s so cold in here!” Especially if they walk in from a hot summer day. But since the food never leaves the cooler until delivery day, it stays cool and fresh until it comes to you.

    hub 1

    Okay, so most of us don’t wear woolen undies. Or even own them. But hoodies, wool caps, and scarves, definitely.

    box and packing slip

    Since most of our members customize their basket and order Extras, every order is different. So a packing slip is generated for each order, and we follow that packing slip as we pack each box.

    hub 3

    It takes about 12 of us to pack up the orders with 8 others helping.

    down the line

    When the line gets going, a packed box comes off the end of the conveyor every 30 seconds.

    quality control

    At the end we do quality control, checking to make sure that each order has everything it’s supposed to have.

    seasonal roots truck

    At dawn on delivery day (Wednesday in Northern Virginia, Thursday everywhere else), we load up the boxes in our trucks and head out to the party stops.

    veggie fairy at party stop

    That’s where the neighborhood Market Managers in each area meet up to collect their neighbors’ orders.

    loading car

    They load up their personal vehicles with the boxes and place perishable items like meat and dairy in a cooler in their vehicle. When they make their rounds, they take the perishables out of the cooler and add them to your order when they arrive at your place — keeping your food cool, fresh, and safe from the farm to your door!

    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.

    veteran-owned grassfed farm Cattle Run Farm

    Veteran-owned grassfed farm is good for America

    From the Army to the farm, this veteran continues to serve

    – By the Veggie Fairy Team

    When Seasonal Roots’ Farmer Connector, Sam, recently visited Cattle Run Farm, LLC, he quickly observed happy, grassfed beef cows grazing the rolling pastures in central Virginia. You can count on Sam to find the best producers we can all feel good about. Cattle Run Farm, LLC, is a third generation family farm and veteran-owned, with the best grassfed beef.

    After five deployments and 21 years in the Army, 1st Sergeant Ralph T. Morton retired in 2017, to his family farm in Ruckersville, Va., to help his father and sister with the 175-acre family farm. But his dad’s health was failing, and just two months later he passed away. Through his legacy and commitment to educating the future, Ralph is excited about continuing the family’s farming tradition with innovation and strategic initiatives. Not only does the farm provide grassfed beef, but they produce thornless blackberries, herbs, and vegetables.

    Cattle Run Farm teaching 2

    In between his daily farm chores, this veteran continues to serve others as he welcomes school groups, 4-H groups, community members, and other veterans to the farm, to engage in non-formal learning opportunities.

    Ralph, a 4-H alum himself, and Cattle Run Farm, LLC, are designing an Agricultural Innovation Learning Lab (AILL) to innovate, motivate, and educate youth and families about science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and math (STEAM) using agriculture. The primary focus of the AILL is to provide hands-on, real-life application experiential learning opportunities that support social-emotional learning and community development. Additionally, programs are designed to develop curiosity and stimulate critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills, while linking key concepts to prior knowledge and practice.

    The program will run from July 8, 2019, to August 1, 2019. Start your planning early as they only have 60 slots available. We will keep you posted about the registration process!

    Cattle Run Farm teaching

    Obviously, Ralph is committed to teaching the next generation, and the Veggie Fairy wanted to find out why.

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    Why teach children who aren’t growing up on farms about good farming practices?

    RALPH:

    If we don’t preserve the family farm way of life, we’ll be a dying breed. All our food will come from big corporations, who don’t have the same commitment to good animal husbandry and land stewardship as small farmers do. Therefore, we wonder why we have unhealthy communities. Good agrarian practices lead to good health.

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    How did you learn about farming?

    RALPH:

    Farming has been a part of me since I was a little boy. I have been around farming my whole life. I was born and raised here on the farm. I grew up learning from my father and grandfather, and participating in 4-H youth development activities.

    My vision is to do the same thing with my children that my father and grandfather did with me. I have four kids — the oldest is in college at the University of Arizona, while the younger three enjoy being out on the farm. As a parent, it’s important to expose and engage children at an early age to help them develop skills, a work ethic, and to have a greater appreciation for agriculture and natural resources.

    Cattle Run Farm Ralph & his kids 1

    I give our kids animals to be responsible for and they look forward to coming out every day to feed and care for them. Kids are sponges. You show them something one time and they’re saying, “I want do it! I want to do it!”

    Cattle Run Farm Ralph & his kids 2

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    Why did you choose to stick with grassfed?

    RALPH:

    For us, it makes raising cattle economically feasible. We have a lot of grass and living outside on pasture is low stress for them. Grassfed means cattle are allowed to forage and graze for their own fresh food. I use a rotational grazing system, using best practices gleaned from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). We took our pastureland and divided it into ten paddocks. Every seven days the cows rotate to a new paddock of fresh grass. This allows the grass to grow back for the next rotation. We do supplement the grass with a little bit of non-GMO grain, that is purchased from our local co-op. Maintaining good animal health requires giving them proper grasses, forages, and legumes which requires good soil health.

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    How do you keep the soil healthy?

    RALPH:

    Soil management is a key part of rotational grazing. We use both commercial and organic fertilizers. We are constantly monitoring the health of the soil by taking soil samples twice a year and adding the proper nutrients as needed. We plant legumes such as different types of clovers that naturally release nutrients into the soil through their roots.

    Clover is a legume crop, belonging to the bean and pea family of plants. Legumes perform a unique service among the plant world. They fix nitrogen in the soil, transforming nitrogen gas found in air pockets of soil into organic compounds that can be used by plants. They do this by partnering with beneficial bacteria in the soil called Rhizobia, which grows in rounded nodules along the plant’s roots. Once legumes fix nitrogen, surrounding plants can use the nitrogen compounds to fuel growth.

    If you just take, take, take from the land and don’t put back, the animals and the grasses won’t get the nutrients they need to grow and produce.

    Cattle Run Farm winter

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    We see you caring for your cows in the snow. How much do your cows stay outside in their natural environment?

    RALPH:

    Our cattle stay outside the entire time. Every once in a while, one might get a runny nose which can lead to transmittable respiratory problems – that’s the only time we administer antibiotics. Confinement, once you start confining them into feed lots, they get crowded and hot and it turns into a muddy muck hole. Not to mention a high-stress environment, which causes sickness and impacts the quality of the beef. Cattle turned out on pastures stay healthier and less stressed.

    Another health practice for our herd is we fenced off our streams, as cattle like to stand in the water when it’s hot to stay cool. But then they develop foot problems and the streams become polluted, which is not environmentally friendly. So we have natural tree canopies for shade and put in an automatic watering system to ensure they’re consuming fresh water daily.

    (VEGGIE FAIRY NOTE: Animals on farms that never give antibiotics may suffer unnecessarily if they do get sick and can’t be properly treated. The opposite problem occurs in conventional feed lots that crowd animals together in an unhealthy environment – often, all the animals have to be given antibiotics all the time just to prevent them from getting sick. As a result, some bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, which is making it harder to fight bacterial infections in humans, too.)

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    How many cattle to you have at one time?

    RALPH:

    We run a cow-calf operation, a grow-your-own concept, so we’re not just buying someone else’s calves and fattening them up. We run anywhere from 40-45 head. We “background” all our calves, meaning when they’re ready we wean them off their mothers and condition them for 45 days. This prepares them to be turned out to pasture for grazing. Calves on a good forage program can gain anywhere from two to three pounds per day, which is good basic animal husbandry. The management is very methodical.

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    How does that compare with feed lot farming?

    RALPH:

    Finishing cattle is a very methodical process. It takes a great deal of planning and crunching numbers. The farmers who are in the cattle feeding business, operating a feed lot, don’t have much time to get their cattle to a certain weight to meet the packer’s request. They only have a window of anywhere from 120 to 240 days to get a 500- to 700-pound steer to a market weight of 1200 to 1300 pounds. Growth implants are delivered through a pellet under the skin in the animal’s ear. They enhance the reproductive hormones that occur naturally in the animal. In steers implants replace some of the hormones that were removed when the animal was castrated. Implants generally encourage protein deposition and discourage fat deposition. This improves both weight gain and feeds conversion. Fat deposition requires more than twice as much feed energy as protein deposition does. At Cattle Run Farm, we don’t foster these practices.

    *

    So those are just some of the facts that back up what we always say here at Seasonal Roots: Humane farming is good for the animals, good for us, and good for the planet!

    Read about another grassfed farm that’s also part of the Seasonal Roots family.

    Here are tips for cooking grassfed beef, which is different from grainfed because it has less saturated fat, more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and more antioxidants like vitamin E.

    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.

    back-to-school slow cooker

    Easy back-to-school meals

    Summer’s end is a time of “too muchness” but a slow cooker can help you find “just rightness”

    – By the Veggie Fairy Team

    Summer’s end is a time of “too muchness” – too much back-to-school busy-ness, too much running around with groups, clubs, and committees restarting after the summer lull, too much local food to cook – and not enough time to get it all done.

    This is the time to plug in your slow cooker and enjoy “just rightness”. A slow cooker gives you control and convenience. Throw in the ingredients, set the heat and cooking time, then walk away and forget about it for hours… without burning down the house.

    When you come back at the end of another crazy day or after a (hopefully) good night’s sleep, a complete meal is waiting for you. Done right, it’s like the veggie fairies came in and worked their magic while you weren’t looking.

    WE’VE GOT EASY TASTY RECIPE IDEAS ON OUR SLOW COOKER PINTEREST BOARD.

    How to pick a good slow cooker

    Depending on the recipe, you can fill a slow cooker and hit start in about five minutes, just enough time to listen to this fun interview with Top Chef judge Hugh Acheson while you chop and toss in fresh local ingredients. He’s got a new slow cooker cookbook and a some great advice.

    Slow cookers are relatively inexpensive, and paying more doesn’t necessarily get you a better piece of gear. All you need it to do is cook slowly and steadily and keep the food warm when it’s done. Most new slow cookers these days are designed to automatically switch to a warm setting after they’re done cooking, which will keep the food at a safe temperature until you’re ready to eat.

    When you’re picking one out, the most important part to consider is the insert pot. A heavy, ceramic insert is best for even heat distribution. Other than that, just pick one with a control panel that’s simple and easy to use.

    While a lot of bells and whistles aren’t needed, a programmable option may be a useful convenience. It lets your meal start cooking at a predetermined start time for a predetermined length of time.

    Planning ahead makes it even more convenient

    If you want to start your slow cooker first thing in the morning and your mornings are pretty crazy, just start the night before.

    Chop up the fresh local ingredients, measure out the dry ingredients, and prepare any sauce, putting each group of ingredients in its own container. Don’t refrigerate them in the slow cooker’s insert pot. If the insert is chilled, it will take too long to heat up. That will lengthen cooking time, reduce the cooking temperature, and could make your food unsafe.

    So in the morning, add ingredients to the cooker according to the recipe. Reheat any sauce to a simmer before you add it to the mix.

    When you set the heat level, here’s a general rule of thumb: Cooking on the low setting (170 degrees for most models) takes about twice as long as cooking on high (usually 280 degrees).

    If you won’t be home close to the end of the cooking time, this is when it’s good to have a slow cooker that will automatically switch to the warm setting when the cooking is done.

    7 easy ways to boost slow cooker flavor

    Slow cookers are admittedly a bit glamour-challenged, mostly because they’ve got a reputation for producing pots of bland mush. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t need help from a Top Chef to make sure your slow cooker meals are satisfyingly delicious.

    1. Use fresh ingredients, never frozen. If you want to include some of your fresh local produce that you preserved in the freezer, let it defrost before adding it. That way it won’t interfere with the slow cooker’s ability to get all the ingredients hot enough to kill any harmful bacteria that might thrive if the temp is too low.

    2. If you’re cooking meat, choose the right cut. Fatty, tougher meats like chuck roasts, short ribs, pork shoulders, and lamb shanks will melt in your mouth after all those hours in the moist, low heat of a slow cooker. Leaner cuts like tenderloin tend to dry out. Same with chicken — dark meat thighs and drumsticks will remain juicier than white meat breasts.

    3. If you have a little extra time, brown meat before you add it to the cooker. For a thicker sauce, dredge it in flour before browning. Then use some of the liquid called for in the recipe to scrape up and pour all the savory, brown, caramelized bits from the pan into the cooker. You’ll get a richer flavor that you can’t get from slow-cooking alone.

    4. One more bit of meat advice: Trim the fat and skin the chicken to avoid an oily, greasy cooking liquid. By limiting the excess fat, you’ll wind up with delectably silky sauces and gravies.

    5. For even cooking, cut everything into uniform-size pieces. Place firm, slow-cooking root vegetables like potatoes and carrots at the bottom and pile more tender veggies and any meat on top.

    6. Definitely use spices! But watch the wine. The slow cooker is sealed so the alcohol can’t escape and evaporate like it would from a normal pot. A splash goes a long way.

    7. Don’t overfill. The insert pot should be only one-half to two-thirds full, or whatever your cooker’s owner’s manual recommends. It’s okay to slow cook roasts and whole chickens, but make sure the lid still fits snugly.

    8. Never lift the lid while it’s cooking — at least not until 30 to 45 minutes before it switches to low to check for doneness. Each peek lets heat escape and adds 15 minutes to the cooking time. Usually there’s no need to stir, either.

    9. Add dairy last. Sour cream, milk, and yogurt tend to break down in the slow cooker, so stir them in during the last 15 minutes of cooking.

    10. At the end of simmering, a sprinkle of fresh herbs or squeeze of lemon juice brightens flavors and cuts through all those rich slow cooker flavors. You can also finish off with hot sauce, citrus zest, grated Parmesan, good-quality olive oil, or even sauteed garlic.

    Cooking from scratch with fresh local food ends in a meal that’s full of more flavor and nutrients than you get from processed foods out a box, bag, or can. And with a slow cooker, it’s almost as easy. Thanks to slow cookers, you can be busy and still enjoy healthy eating!

    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.

    seasonal eating fall foods healthy eating

    Seasonal eating: 5 healthy tips to get ready for fall foods

    Mother Nature’s gift gives us what we need when we need it

    – By the Veggie Fairy Team

    Do you clean out your closets in the spring, enjoy more outdoor activities in the summer, and crave all things warm and cozy in the fall and winter? Your eating habits probably follow the same cycle. Science tells us this is natural, and nature supplies food perfectly designed to give our bodies what they need to stay healthy during each season. Mother Nature’s fall bounty is like a bouquet of good health — a gift for our bodies.

    The foods we need change with the seasons

    Seasonal eating means eating what grows naturally in each season. Now that it’s fall, you’ve probably noticed all the apples that our friends at Saunders Brothers are harvesting these days. Apples are high in fiber and pectin that help cleanse the intestines and support the digestion of fats.

    That’s important, because with the onset of winter our bodies need more fats and protein from meats, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, root vegetables, and winter squashes. Winter’s cold, dry weather can dry us out and foods that are rich in protein and fat restore moisture to our bodies and make us less susceptible to colds and flu.

    In the spring, Mother Nature provides bitter greens like arugula to help clean out our livers. We need to detoxify after processing all those fats and heavier foods that we ate all winter.

    Next up: summer. Since we’re outside more in the summer, and more active, we need the extra energy we get from carbohydrates and sugars in warm weather fruits like peaches and strawberries. Produce like cucumbers and watermelon help us hydrate, more, too.

    Get ready for fall foods: 5 healthy tips

    Now it’s fall, and winter will soon be upon us. So here are 5 healthy steps you can take to make it easy to cook and eat fresh, local fall foods, the way nature intended.

    1. In the winter we eat less cold, raw food and more hot, cooked food. Clean your oven so you can start the season without setting off your smoke detectors.

    2. Start eating fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins A and C. They boost your immune system so it’s good and strong for fighting off the germ attacks of cold and flu season. Add greens like kale and collards to smoothies, soups, and pasta dishes. Other A and C rock stars of our fall-season local produce include apples, cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, hard winter squashes, celery, celeriac, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Many of these contain more vitamin C than oranges!

    3. You’ll get some of the fat your body needs when you snack on nuts and seeds, which contain healthy fats. Cook with healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, and walnut oil. Don’t throw away those seeds you scoop out of butternut and acorn squashes! Toss them in olive oil (don’t waste time picking out those strands that come with them, the strands will shrivel in the heat), spread them on a baking sheet loosely covered with foil, then roast them at about 400 degrees until they start to pop. (The foil keeps them from flying around inside your oven.) Stir them and keep an eye on them. Once they’re brown, take them out, sprinkle with salt, and start snacking.

    4. Eat whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley, and whole wheat breads. Their dietary fiber aids healthy digestion. Whole grains are also full of iron for healthy blood, antioxidants to keep your cells healthy, and B vitamins to give you energy.

    5. Make a homemade, nutritious stock or broth to use in soups, stews, and sauces. Here’s how to make bone broth, which is both immune boosting and good for bone and joint health. And here’s how to make a healthy vegan broth.

    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.

    slow cooker

    Too busy to cook? Try a slow cooker!

    Here’s how you can cook fresh local food from scratch while you do something else

    – By the Veggie Fairy Team

    Too much fresh local food and not enough time to cook it? Try using a slow cooker! It gives you control and convenience – safely. Throw in the ingredients, set the heat and cooking time, then walk away and forget about it for hours… without burning down the house.

    When you come back at the end of a busy day or after a good night’s sleep, a complete meal is waiting for you. Done right, it’s like the veggie fairies came in and worked their magic while you weren’t looking.

    How to pick a good slow cooker

    Depending on the recipe, you can fill a slow cooker and hit start in about five minutes, just enough time to listen to this fun interview with Top Chef judge Hugh Acheson while you chop and toss in fresh local ingredients. He’s got a new slow cooker cookbook and a some great advice.

    Slow cookers are relatively inexpensive, and paying more doesn’t necessarily get you a better piece of gear. All you need it to do is cook slowly and steadily and keep the food warm when it’s done. Most new slow cookers these days are designed to automatically switch to a warm setting after they’re done cooking, which will keep the food at a safe temperature until you’re ready to eat.

    When you’re picking one out, the most important part to consider is the insert pot. A heavy, ceramic insert is best for even heat distribution. Other than that, just pick one with a control panel that’s simple and easy to use.

    While a lot of bells and whistles aren’t needed, a programmable option may be a useful convenience. It lets your meal start cooking at a predetermined start time for a predetermined length of time.

    Planning ahead makes it even more convenient

    If you want to start your slow cooker first thing in the morning and your mornings are pretty crazy, just start the night before.

    Chop up the fresh local ingredients, measure out the dry ingredients, and prepare any sauce, putting each group of ingredients in its own container. Don’t refrigerate them in the slow cooker’s insert pot. If the insert is chilled, it will take too long to heat up. That will lengthen cooking time, reduce the cooking temperature, and could make your food unsafe.

    So in the morning, add ingredients to the cooker according to the recipe. Reheat any sauce to a simmer before you add it to the mix.

    When you set the heat level, here’s a general rule of thumb: Cooking on the low setting (170 degrees for most models) takes about twice as long as cooking on high (usually 280 degrees).

    If you won’t be home close to the end of the cooking time, this is when it’s good to have a slow cooker that will automatically switch to the warm setting when the cooking is done.

    7 easy ways to boost slow cooker flavor

    Slow cookers are admittedly a bit glamour-challenged, mostly because they’ve got a reputation for producing pots of bland mush. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t need help from a Top Chef to make sure your slow cooker meals are satisfyingly delicious.

    1. Use fresh ingredients, never frozen. If you want to include some of your fresh local produce that you preserved in the freezer, let it defrost before adding it. That way it won’t interfere with the slow cooker’s ability to get all the ingredients hot enough to kill any harmful bacteria that might thrive if the temp is too low.

    2. If you’re cooking meat, choose the right cut. Fatty, tougher meats like chuck roasts, short ribs, pork shoulders, and lamb shanks will melt in your mouth after all those hours in the moist, low heat of a slow cooker. Leaner cuts like tenderloin tend to dry out. Same with chicken — dark meat thighs and drumsticks will remain juicier than white meat breasts.

    3. If you have a little extra time, brown meat before you add it to the cooker. For a thicker sauce, dredge it in flour before browning. Then use some of the liquid called for in the recipe to scrape up and pour all the savory, brown, caramelized bits from the pan into the cooker. You’ll get a richer flavor that you can’t get from slow-cooking alone.

    4. One more bit of meat advice: Trim the fat and skin the chicken to avoid an oily, greasy cooking liquid. By limiting the excess fat, you’ll wind up with delectably silky sauces and gravies.

    5. For even cooking, cut everything into uniform-size pieces. Place firm, slow-cooking root vegetables like potatoes and carrots at the bottom and pile more tender veggies and any meat on top.

    6. Definitely use spices! But watch the wine. The slow cooker is sealed so the alcohol can’t escape and evaporate like it would from a normal pot. A splash goes a long way.

    7. Don’t overfill. The insert pot should be only one-half to two-thirds full, or whatever your cooker’s owner’s manual recommends. It’s okay to slow cook roasts and whole chickens, but make sure the lid still fits snugly.

    8. Never lift the lid while it’s cooking — at least not until 30 to 45 minutes before it switches to low to check for doneness. Each peek lets heat escape and adds 15 minutes to the cooking time. Usually there’s no need to stir, either.

    9. Add dairy last. Sour cream, milk, and yogurt tend to break down in the slow cooker, so stir them in during the last 15 minutes of cooking.

    10. At the end of simmering, a sprinkle of fresh herbs or squeeze of lemon juice brightens flavors and cuts through all those rich slow cooker flavors. You can also finish off with hot sauce, citrus zest, grated Parmesan, good-quality olive oil, or even sauteed garlic.

    Cooking from scratch with fresh local food ends in a meal that’s full of more flavor and nutrients than you get from processed foods out a box, bag, or can. And with a slow cooker, it’s almost as easy. Thanks to slow cookers, you can be busy and still enjoy healthy eating!

    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.

    local gluten free bakery

    Meet AnnaB’s: Local gluten free!

    FOOD ARTISAN SPOTLIGHT: A local gluten free bakery

    – By the Veggie Fairy Team

    We’re excited to welcome AnnaB’s Gluten Free Bakery to our year-round online farmers market! Together we’re helping more people to eat better, live better with delicious, nutritious local gluten free baked goods.

    Gluten free food is trendy these days, but for people suffering from Celiac disease, going gluten free isn’t a choice – it’s a life-changing requirement.

    What’s up with gluten?

    Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. For Celiacs, it triggers an immune response in the small intestine that eventually damages the lining and prevents absorption of certain nutrients. In children, that can affect growth and development in addition to other really miserable symptoms. (Learn more about celiac disease.)

    Kimi and Angela, the two sisters behind AnnaB’s Gluten Free Bakery, are the mom and aunt of a Celiac. When eating out they, too, have wondered, “Is this really gluten free?” They cite hidden wheat thickeners as just one of the lurking dangers. “Eating out is hard,” they say. “Actually, eating in general can be hard!” But not with their bakery!

    Enter AnnaB’s

    The sisters started their gluten free bakery in Mechanicsville, Va. There, the mixers are lined up in the kitchen like race cars at the starting line, as if they’re waiting for someone to announce, “Bakers! Start your mixers!” And the kitchen is busy all week, while the store is open on Saturdays from 8:00am to 2:00pm.

    It’s a family business. “Our oldest daughters help bake and work in the kitchen while our younger kids help run the counter at the bakery on the weekends,” they report. “Even our 83-year-old father fixes any equipment that may break.”

    Their stand on gluten is clear: “We don’t allow gluten in our kitchen at all, anytime, for any reason.” They’re also a peanut free facility. However, they understand that most Celiacs have other allergies as well, so they also clearly state they are NOT free of dairy, eggs, corn, chocolate, and tree nuts. Knowledge is power, as they well know.

    Take a tour!

    Get to know AnnaB’s, including where and when to visit the bakery. In the meantime, enjoy this photo tour. Thanks to Aly M for taking the pix during a recent yummy visit!

    Bakers! Start your mixers!

    Bakers! Start your mixers!

    The gluten free and peanut free kitchen at Anna B's in Mechanicsville, Va.

    The gluten free and peanut free kitchen at AnnaB’s in Mechanicsville, Va.

    If the kids eat it, you know gluten free doesn't equal flavor free!

    If the kids eat it, you know gluten free doesn’t equal flavor free!

    It's a family business serving local families.

    It’s a family business serving local families.

    Bagels -- one of the many Anna B's baked goods that you'll find at our Seasonal Roots online farmers market!

    Bagels — one of the many AnnaB’s baked goods that you’ll find at our Seasonal Roots online farmers market!

    Dinner rolls? Yep, we've got those too.

    Dinner rolls? Yep, we’ve got those too.

    Multigrain bread, and white, too.

    Multigrain bread, and white, too.

    Even cookies and more!

    Even cookies and more!

    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.

    fall superfoods health benefits

    12 fall superfoods to watch for

    The seasonal health benefits of local food just keep coming!

    By the Veggie Fairy Team

    Many farmers markets shut down or scale back as temps drop, but not us. No way do we want to miss out on the superfoods of fall! They’re just now starting to hit their peak – the perfect excuse to gather in a warm, cozy kitchen on cool nights and enjoy these fall superfoods that are super-charged because they’re local and super fresh! Here’s what you can look forward to, along with recipe suggestions from our Pinterest boards:

    Apples

    Sweet or tart, raw or baked into a delicious dish, apples offer health benefits like heart-healthy flavonoids that you get when you eat the skin; antioxidants; and 4 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Harvest season: August-November. Try this recipe: Winter Apple Slaw

    Brussels sprouts

    With a mild, satisfyingly bitter taste, Brussels sprouts are great with tangy or savory sauces like balsamic vinegar. Health benefits include the fact that a half cup more than maxes out your daily recommended allowance of vitamin K, plus these sprouts are a good source of folate and iron. Harvest season: September-March. Try this recipe: Creamy Sprouts Gratin

    Cauliflower

    The sweet, slightly nutty flavor of cauliflower is delicious raw, steamed, or roasted. It can also be blended to create a mashed potato-like texture or pureed into soup. Among cauliflower’s health benefits are compounds that may help to prevent cancer and phytonutrients that may lower cholesterol. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin C. Harvest season: September–June. Try this recipe: Sticky Sesame Cauliflower Bites

    Fennel

    Looking like the love child of an onion and a dill plant, fennel tastes mildly like licorice and offers the health benefits of free-radical-fighting vitamin C, and potassium, which is essential for your heart, muscles, nerves, and kidneys to function properly. Harvest season: Fall through spring. Try this recipe: Fennel, Fontina & Onion Pizza

    Parsnips

    They look like pale carrots, and like carrots, parsnips are sweet — sweeter, actually, and nuttier. Eat them roasted on their own, or they go great with just about every other fall vegetable. For your good health, they’re rich in potassium and fiber. Harvest season: October-April. Try this recipe: Roasted Parsnips & Carrots

    Pears

    Crisp or tender, they’re all juicy and sweet and so delicious. Enjoy them raw, baked, or poached. They’re a good source of vitamin C and copper, of all things, and deliver 4 grams of fiber apiece. Harvest season: August-February. Try this recipe: Asian Pear Cranberry Stuffing

    Pumpkins

    What is fall without pumpkins?!! This queen of the winter squashes gets a category all its own, because it’s good for so much more than jack o’ lanterns and pies. This is another fall veggie whose health benefits include lots of potassium, plus tons of fiber and it’s a good source of B vitamins. Harvest season: October-February. Try this recipe: Pumpkin Chicken Tacos (just go easy on the jalapenos and tomatillos if you’re not into hot’n spicy!)

    Rutabagas

    Rutabagas are like a cross between a turnip and a parsnip, with an earthy flavor that’s delicious in casseroles. Or puree them with turnips and carrots to make a sweet soup, or roast them with ginger, honey, or lemon. However you eat them, you’ll get their health benefits of fiber and vitamin C. Harvest season: October-April. Try this recipe: Curried Rutabaga Soup

    Spinach

    Not just for Popeye, spinach is good raw in a salad or steamed or baked into other dishes. Cooking actually makes it easier for our bodies to digest its nutrients. The health benefits are so extensive we can’t list them all here! (Read them here.) Vitamins A, C, K, and iron, and a storehouse of disease-fighting phytonutrients are just the beginning. Harvest season: Year-round, but it gets sweeter after the first nip from Jack Frost. Try this recipe: Spinach & Mushroom Quinoa

    Sweet potatoes

    These veggies are good for so much more than Thanksgiving casseroles! Sweet potatoes are more nutritionally dense than white potatoes, with health benefits that include vitamin A, iron, and anti-inflammatory properties. Roast them like a potato, or cut up like fries. Harvest season: September–December. Try this recipe: Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

    Turnips

    Tender and mild, these root vegetables are a great alternative to radishes and cabbage. Flavor them with fennel, bread crumbs, or even brown sugar, or use them as a slightly bitter complement to the sweetness of parsnips and carrots. Turnip leaves, which taste like mustard leaves, are easy to steam or stir fry and are even denser in nutrients. The health benefits of the roots include vitamin C, while the leaves are rich in vitamins A, K, and folate. Harvest season: September–April. Try these recipes: Mashed Turnips with Bacon (because for the meat-eaters among us, everything’s better with bacon!) and Warm Turnip Green Dip

    Winter squashes

    Cool weather squashes are denser, finer, and sweeter than summer squashes, and their thick skins mean you can store them for months without much loss of flavor or nurtients. They contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids (also good for kids’ brain health), are an excellent source of vitamin A, and taste even better with cinnamon and ginger, which have health benefits of their own. Harvest season: October–February. Try this recipe: Roasted Stuffed Winter Squash

    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.

    wreath welcome dominion harvest

    Welcome, Dominion Harvest members!

    Everything you need to know to get started

    By the Veggie Fairy Team

    Seasonal Roots is Virginia’s biggest online farmers market, and now we’ve joined forces with the oldest one, Dominion Harvest. Together, we’re supporting more local farmers and food artisans and spreading the veggie love to more local families – the more, the merrier… and the better for our planet! So for all our new Dominion Harvest members, here’s a step-by-step introduction to your growing fresh local food community:

    When to place your order

    From now on, you can place your order all weekend long. Your online farmers market is open from Friday at 2pm until Sunday at 11:59pm. We’ll send you an email on Friday to remind you that the market is open. During that time you can browse and shop all you want. When the market’s not open, you can take an offline tour of the ordering process by clicking here.

    How to order your basket

    When you sign in while the market is open, you’ll see that each order is fully customizable AND the ordering process is a little simpler — the best of all possible worlds.

    It starts with a basket of fresh local produce that you can swap items in and out of. Then in the Extras section you can choose to buy dairy, bakery items, meats, artisan goods, or more produce.

    First, the basket. There are three basket sizes to choose from:

    basket assortments prices

    To make it easy for you, we’ve pre-selected one of those produce baskets as your new default because it’s the closest match to the box you had in the Dominion Harvest system. But you’re free to change your default produce basket! Whichever basket you choose, it will come pre-filled with a selection of produce. You’re free to change that, too — just swap out items to get exactly what you want.

    If you were used to getting extras like eggs, cheese, and bread with your order, keep reading!

    How to order Extras

    If you were used to getting extras like eggs, cheese, and bread with your order, here’s how you can easily add a pre-set assortment like that to your order:

  • Step 1: Once you’re happy with your produce basket, scroll down to the Extras section.
  • Step 2: Look for the “Mini-Bundles” tab and click on it.
  • Step 3: There you’ll find mini-bundles of those extra non-produce items. Select the one you want.
  • You’re also welcome to shop a la carte in the rest of the Extras section. In fact, you can change your order as often as you like until the market closes on Sunday at 11:59pm. If you do make changes, only your most recent save will be processed, so you can disregard the email confirmations you’ll receive for the earlier saves.

    The money stuff

    You’ll notice that, overall, prices will not be higher. In fact, for some items you may see lower prices. The main difference is that your box of local food will be priced and organized a little differently.

    By the way, Seasonal Roots has a small annual membership fee, and that membership fee will be waived for 2 years for all Dominion Harvest members.

    Your credit card will be charged on Monday morning.

    Delivery

    If you live in Northern Virginia, Wednesday will be your delivery day. If you live anywhere from Richmond to Virginia Beach, Thursday will be your delivery day. If you’re unsure about your delivery day, drop us an email.

    On your delivery day, your box of local food will be delivered to your doorstep — hand-delivered by a neighborhood Market Manager who lives near you. She or he will send you an email reminder the night before that will give you a delivery window of just a couple hours so you’ll know more exactly when to expect it. Your Market Manager is there to help, so feel free to send an email if you ever have any questions or concerns.

    On delivery day, you’ll also receive a “Field Notes” email from Sam, your Farmer Connector – he’ll update you on the harvest. Sometimes Mother Nature has plans for our crops that we can’t foresee. If something foils the harvest of a basket item, we’ll substitute the closest item we can find – for example, yellow squash instead of zucchini. If it’s an Extra item that you ordered, we’ll credit it to your account.

    By the way, we check and double check each item before it reaches you, but if something falls through the cracks, like a bruised apple or a missing item, we want to know! It’s easy to report an issue — visit our FAQs and scroll down to “Quality Control” for instructions.

    With your first order, you’ll receive a free cooler bag to hold your cold items. Each week after that, you’ll leave out the cooler bag or a larger cooler of your own, along with an ice pack if you have one. We won’t be leaving any of those frozen bottles, so you don’t have to deal with them any more.

    Next to your cooler, please leave out your empty Seasonal Roots delivery box from the week before to help us reduce our carbon footprint. Your Market Manager will whisk it away so we can reuse it again next week, saving energy and trees!

    Last but not least: Enjoy!

    Once you receive your order, all you have to do is enjoy it! If you ever find yourself with more fresh local produce than you can eat right away, here’s how you can preserve the nutrients and flavor until you’re ready to use it.

    To get to know us better, please visit our Web site where we’ve got FAQs, the story of how we got started, and more. We also hope you’ll join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter!

    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.

    reduce carbon footprint recycle

    2 easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint

    Eat local and recycle the box!

    By the Veggie Fairy Team

    The first thing you can do: Eat local food. The second thing: Reuse your Seasonal Roots delivery box. Now let’s get into the details.

    Eat local food

    So first things first: You’re already eating local food from Seasonal Roots. Here’s why that reduces your carbon footprint. Local food doesn’t travel as far as most food you find in the grocery store.

    Compared to the global industrial food complex, food from local farmers and artisans uses less fuel and produces less CO2 – 17 times less! So local food belches fewer greenhouse gasses and fights global warming.

    Supporting local farmers also saves nearby farms from getting paved over and developed. That’s especially helpful when you’re saving small family farms, because they farm differently from factory farms.

    Factory farms plant miles and miles of monocrops. That’s unnatural, and it forces them to fight nature with more pesticides and artificial fertilizers.

    Our family farmers use sustainable methods that work with nature. Sustainable methods create healthy ecosystems that are good for the soil, water, and air – a rich patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, and ponds. That kind of greenspace actually takes carbon out of the atmosphere. Plus it’s the perfect habitat for wildlife.

    Recycle your box for reuse

    As for the second thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, it’s so easy! Just help us reuse our boxes. On delivery day, leave your empty Seasonal Roots delivery box from the week before next to your cooler. Your neighborhood market manager will whisk it away so we can use it again next week.

    As you can see from the photo, veggie fairies like Margo L who deliver your local food really love it when you leave out last week’s box so we can all save energy and trees!

    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.