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ORGANIC vs SUSTAINABLE vs LOCAL … Which is best?

EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / March 5, 2019

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

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

newsletter 2019-03-06 FINAL-1

organic vs sustainable vs local

Organic vs sustainable vs local — which is best?

Organic vs sustainable vs local — which is best?


By the Seasonal Roots Veggie Fairy Team:

We get this question pretty much daily: “So are your farms Certified Organic?” When people ask that, we totally get where they’re coming from. We all just want to eat nutritious, safe, non-toxic, eco-friendly food, but it’s not like any of us have the time to research every item we buy. So the government’s “Certified Organic” label has become a convenient shortcut to eating healthy without harming the planet.

If only it were true.

Organic vs sustainable vs local… how do you decide which is best? Here at Seasonal Roots, we’re more concerned about sustainable and local than organic, so we don’t require our local farmers to be Certified Organic. Here’s why:

1. We partner with local farmers.

Many of them are multi-generational. That means they care for their land, crops, and animals with the next generation in mind. They use sustainable practices like rotating their crops to avoid sucking all the nutrients out of the soil. The vast majority of our farmers don’t spray, either, because that would jeopardize the integrity of their land. If they do spray, it’s minimal and only as required. One of our sustainable farmers has a friend who runs a Certified Organic farm not far from him. One year, our sustainable farmer sprayed his yellow squash one time all season because it was necessary. His Certified Organic friend, on the other hand, sprayed his squash on a weekly schedule using a spray approved by the USDA. Our farmer isn’t considered Certified Organic, but his weekly spraying friend is allowed to use that title.

2. “Organic” doesn’t equal “locally grown”.

In fact, it may even be grown in a foreign country and shipped to the U.S. The result? A bigger carbon footprint. That’s not eco-friendly. There’s also no guarantee that the food was produced under ideal conditions for farmers, laborers, or livestock, and an organic label has nothing to do with food safety.

3. The best way to know if your food is nutritional, eco-friendly, and safe is to know your farmer.

That’s not possible for most of us as individuals. But when we come together as a group like Seasonal Roots, that’s exactly what we do. We know our farmers. We talk with them, visit their farms, and develop relationships with them. We share their stories with you so you can know them too, even if you don’t have time to go visit them yourself. It’s not quite as easy as the “Certified Organic” shortcut, but it’s a lot easier than trying to do it all by yourself.

4. Most nutrients begin to degrade from the moment produce is harvested.

The sooner it gets to you the better. Also, many studies have shown that fruit that’s picked closer to the peak of ripeness (rather than being picked green and ripening on the shelf or by being gassed) is more nutritious than fruit that’s picked before or after peak, whether it’s organic or not. This is why we hustle to get your produce to you as soon as possible after harvesting, and why being local helps — it doesn’t have to travel very far. Much of the food in grocery stores has traveled thousands of miles and many days to get there, losing nutrients every hour of the way.

5. There’s no standard definition for “local”.

Our standard is within about 150 miles of our delivery areas in Virginia. So most of our local partners are in Virginia, and a few are in southern Pennsylvania or eastern North Carolina. To maintain a healthy variety of options during the winter, we partner with sustainable farmers in Florida. We call that produce “regional” because it can get to us within a day of harvest without resorting to flying. Members who prefer to eat only what’s in season locally can opt out of our winter-time regional offerings.

We support our local farmers because we know and trust them and their practices. They produce safe food for their families, our families. and your families. Wherever you may be, we hope you’ll join us in supporting your local farmers, too!

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS


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

back-to-school meal planning

Back-to-school meal planning

Actually, meal planning is great for any kind of back-to-busy!

Adapted from veggie fairy Shanna D’s 5-part meal planning series:

After the summer, everything starts back up again, which can leave you grabbing whatever’s convenient to eat on the run. That can be hard on your body and your budget. Whether it’s back-to-school at your house or back-to-busy (or both), meal planning can keep you eating healthfully.

It took me a long time to figure out how to successfully meal plan for my family. I kept trying different meal planning systems – trying and failing.

I’m a busy, homeschooling mom. I’ve been a neighborhood market manager for Seasonal Roots’ home-delivered farmers market, and I used to be an agriculture research specialist… if anyone should’ve known how to meal plan, it’s me! Why wasn’t it working? What was I doing wrong?!

Step 1: Throw out the rules

The thing is, there are a lot of websites out there that will tell you how to plan a week of meals. I’d get frustrated trying to follow their rules and lose all the joy that came with cooking and eating nutritious food. What happened to meal planning making your life better, right?!

Well, better means different things for different people. For you, better may mean less time cooking, or less time shopping and more time cooking. Maybe you’re tired of wasting fresh veggies.

I was. I would find myself standing in the kitchen at 4:30pm wondering how I could turn a pile of wilty swiss chard and semi-mushy zucchini into dinner. It was often easier to compost it or even worse, throw it away and opt for the broccoli from the freezer. It was NOT working.

Meal planning IS the answer but everyone meal plans differently. I have diet restrictions and so does my daughter, but my husband can eat anything. Trying to make someone else’s meal plan fit our needs was a recipe for failure. Meal planning only started working when I figured out which rules fit our life. Then I threw the rest away.

So throw out the rules (not the fresh veggies)! With that in mind, check out these free meal planning resources. Just remember: Keep what works, throw the rest away.
http://realeverything.com/tag/meal-plan/
http://www.thekitchn.com/danielle-walker-new-york-times-best-selling-author-of-meals-made-simple-tells-us-how-she-meal-preps-for-the-week-229368
http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/our-free-meal-plans/
http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/month-of-dinner-recipes
This next one has some sample plans, otherwise it’s a paid service:
http://emeals.com/meal-plans/?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=meal%20plans&utm_campaign=B_Meal%20Plan

Step 2: Shop at home

My favorite way to start meal planning is to take inventory of everything I have on hand. In other words, I shop at home.

That was the problem back when I was using prefabricated meal plans. Many have shopping lists prepared for you based on meals selected. I would print these nice little lists and head to the store, completely disregarding what I already had at home or had ordered from Seasonal Roots. Not budget friendly! I was also buying weird products for recipes and never using them again.

Now, before I decide what to cook, I determine what I have, including what’s buried in my freezer. You never want to find the last pound of that beautiful, pastured breakfast sausage bundle you ordered from Seasonal Roots covered in freezer burn!

I was also freezing vegetables to help reduce waste, but… I didn’t know that they should be blanched prior to freezing. The veggies were almost always freezer-burned by time I remembered I had them. Argh.

Now let my order from Seasonal Roots and the freezer inspire my meal planning every week. I’m saving money and time!

Here’s a quick guide on how to freeze extra produce… the correct way, by blanching first!

  • Prepare a stock pot of boiling water.
  • Clean and roughly chop vegetables.
  • Prepare an ice bath for the blanched veggies.
  • Place chopped veggies into a wire basket and lower into rapidly boiling water for a few minutes. The time depends on the vegetable. Here’s a good guide for times.
  • After blanching, put the veggies straight into an ice bath. Once they’re cool, drain them and put them in a freezer-safe container or baggie.
  • You can find more info on freezing produce (which lets you save it for up to a year!), here on the Veggie Fairy Blog.

    Step 3: Know your schedule

    After I finish my home shopping and review my upcoming Seasonal Roots order, I have an accurate idea of what I have on hand. That’s what I use to inspire my weekly plan. But there’s one more vital piece to this puzzle: our weekly schedule.

    It took me a while to figure that out. Normally families have the same commitments week in and week out, but when I assumed I could follow a plan that had a predictable daily themes, like Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, and so on, I failed again. It didn’t work.

    Once a week batch cooking — a.k.a. cooking up a storm one day and using the pre-cooked items throughout the week — also didn’t work. No one in my family is ever stoked about leftovers and it felt like that was all we were eating.

    I felt trapped. Once again, these “tried and true” meal plans were not working for me. I was either trying new recipes on my busiest days, or winding up with a large amount of cooked food that had to be eaten whether or not we felt like eating it just to avoid having to throw it away.

    Then it finally hit me. Every week is unique. Duh! It seems so obvious now: If I was going to be successful, I had to plan meals that actually fit our schedule. Rules were tossed again. After all, tacos taste good any night of the week.

    So now, Sunday is my planning day. I take about an hour and sit with a cup of coffee, cookbooks, Pinterest (where every week Seasonal Roots posts new recipes that use seasonal produce items), and my calendar planner.

    Based on what’s actually on our schedule for the upcoming week, I can better decide which nights I should use the crock pot, which nights I can look forward to cooking, and which nights we will need to have leftovers. Leftover night is much more fun when you have a choice in the matter. So make your plan fit your schedule, not someone else’s.

    Step 4: Teamwork

    Teamwork makes the dream work! Five words that make my family giggle and remind us that we are in this together. But if teamwork is so important to our family, why was meal planning and cooking ALL on me?! Involving my family in the planning process was a game changer.

    I was selecting all the meals when I was following prefabricated meal plans. It was easier this way, but I’d wind up frustrated when my family (mainly my daughter) wasn’t interested in eating what I had prepared.

    We all have unique palates and I was only cooking to mine. Meals became more enjoyable for everyone once I started asking my husband and daughter for their input. This is yet another example of why following someone else’s meal plan is not always successful.

    My family helps plan meals each week, which keeps us on track because we are all invested. This is important for children as well. Including kids in the planning process helps them learn healthy eating habits and will make them more excited about what’s on the table for meals. They’re more likely to try new things if they helped choose them.

    My daughter helps me choose the items in our basket every Friday when the Seasonal Roots farmers market opens. Not only is she helping me plan, she’s learning where our food comes from. Many children are not aware of how our food production system works. Food doesn’t come from the grocery store — that’s simply a place where we can buy it. When we order from Seasonal Roots, we can choose our items and see which family farm it’s coming from.

    Knowing where our food comes from and how to prepare it are important life skills. I’m helping my daughter learn by inviting her into the kitchen. In turn, she’s more willing to try new foods and eat what we prepare together. A total win-win!

    And in conclusion…

    Implementing these four things helped us transition from a family that eats on the fly to a family that plans. That’s helping us eat more healthfully. Hopefully it will help you too!

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

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

    summer superfoods

    11 summer superfoods to boost health

    Plus recipes for each one!

    Summer is Mother Nature’s blockbuster season. Some faves come early, some late, and some keep coming all summer long. There are dozens of summer superfoods, but here are 11 rock stars — complete with health benefits, harvest season, and a link to a delicious, do-able recipe for each one from our Pinterest library.

    Basil

    This fragrant herb is popular for its flavor. Its impressive nutrition content is less well known, but it’s actually a great source for vitamin K, manganese, and magnesium, with strong antioxidant and antibacterial qualities. Together they help fight illness and infection. Add to a salad or marinade, sprinkle over berries and ice cream, or tear it into a summer cocktail. Virginia harvest season: May-November. Try this recipe: Easy Caprese Salad

    Bell Peppers

    All colors of sweet bell peppers deliver plenty of vitamin C, as well as some fiber and vitamin B6. Red peppers also contain beta-carotene and lycopene, antioxidants that help prevent cancer, improve cognitive function, and support healthy lungs and skin. Those red colored peppers also give you twice the amount of vitamin C you’d get from a citrus orange. Virginia harvest season: June-August. Try this recipe: Spanish Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

    Cherries

    These antioxidant-packed fruits contain anthocyanins, the flavonoids that give cherries their deep red color along with some serious superpowers. They help regulate immune responses and act as an anti-inflammatory. The sour varieties of this fruit may be even more helpful as an anti-inflammatory. In fact, studies suggest tart cherries could be more effective than aspirin at relieving pain and reducing inflammation. Virginia harvest season: May-August. Try this recipe: Cherry Bread Pudding

    Eggplant

    It’s one of the world’s healthiest foods. The anthocyanins in it protect heart health. Its nasunin may help improve blood flow to the brain. It also contains chlorogenic acid, a powerful free-radical scavenger that helps prevent cancer. It supports strong bones, boosts cognition, and protects the digestive system. Virginia harvest season: June-August. Try this recipe: Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach

    Grapes

    Sweet and tangy and bursting with antioxidants, grapes are a good source of vitamin K. That helps blood clot and may contribute to strong bones. A study in Experimental Gerontology found that eating grapes twice a day for six months protected against metabolic decline in regions of the brain associated with early Alzheimer’s disease, and enriched metabolic activity in areas of the brain related to memory and attention. You can snack on them fresh, frozen, or add to salads, salsas, or smoothies. Virginia harvest season: August-October. Try this recipe: Muscadine Almond Smoothie

    Peaches

    Every time you bite into a juicy summer peach, you’re getting a dose of antioxidants, vitamins C and A, and potassium. Potassium plays an important role in regulating blood pressure and may aid in muscle recovery after a workout. Virginia harvest season: June-September. Try this recipe: Balsamic Peach Chicken

    Summer Squash

    Zucchini and yellow squash are excellent sources of vitamin C and antioxidants for a strong immune system and good eye health. Use a spiralizer to make a healthy pasta substitute, chop them up and add raw to a grain salad, or brush slices with olive oil and grill. Virginia harvest season: May-September. Try this recipe: Summer Squash, Bacon & Mozzarella Quiche

    Sweet Corn

    Is it a veggie or a grain? One thing we can be sure of is that it’s a rich source of vitamin B1, vitamin B5, vitamin C, phosphorus, manganese, folate, and fiber. All of which means that, on or off the cob, it’s good for your heart, eyes, cancer prevention, and memory enhancement. Virginia harvest season: June-August. Try this recipe: Cowboy Caviar

    Swiss Chard

    This dark leafy green may look like it belongs in winter, but it reaches its peak during summer. It’s also full of cancer-fighting antioxidants, as well as magnesium, which helps fight depression and migraines, and control blood sugar levels. It’s also got potassium for good blood pressure, heart health, and bone and muscle strength. Add to your salad mix, use it as a sandwich or burger wrap, steam it, or add it to soups and stews. Virginia harvest season: All summer. Try this recipe: Swiss Chard Rolls

    Tomatoes

    These guys deliver an army of antioxidants that have been shown to fight various cancers. They’re also a rich source of vitamins like vitamin C and the beta-carotene that makes them red also makes them good for your eyes and skin. Minerals like potassium and phosphorus protect against cardiovascular disease, build strong bones and teeth, and help reduce blood pressure and inflammation. They detoxify the body and are good for your stomach and urinary tract. Virginia harvest season: July-October. Try this recipe: Tuscan Lentil Soup

    Watermelon

    Low in sugar and high in vitamins A and C, this summer treat can be eaten as a refreshing snack, a low-calorie dessert, or part of larger dish. Studies suggest watermelon may lower blood pressure and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Plus the lycopene in watermelon could help protect the body from UV rays and cancer. Virginia harvest season: June-August. Try this recipe: Watermelon Salad with Mint & Crispy Prosciutto

    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.

    potato nutrition facts

    Amazing potato nutrition facts

    Behold the mighty potato!

    Adapted from Live Science:

    Fresh potatoes like the ones grown by the McKenney family at Sion House Farm in Farnham, Va., above, may look like pretty dull company. But beneath every potato’s mild-mannered exterior lies a super-tasty, super-nutritional SuperSpud! Or they are when you eat them fresh, like these, not processed into store-bought French fries, chips, tater tots, or hashbrowns.

    Prior to the 1960s, Americans ate most of their potatoes fresh. But as freezing technology improved, processed potatoes became more popular. Today, the USDA says processed ‘taters eat up 64 percent of the potatoes we consume! Compare that to just 35 percent in the ’60s. Americans, on average, eat 55 pounds of frozen potatoes per year, 42 pounds of fresh potatoes, 17 pounds of potato chips, and 14 pounds of dehydrated potato products — whatever the heck that is.

    That’s a lot of potatoes. No wonder potatoes are the #1 vegetable crop in the United States and the fourth most-consumed crop in the world. According to the bean counters at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, they’re beaten only by rice, wheat, and corn.

    Anyway, potatoes are often thought of as a comfort food — mashed with rich butter and sour cream or fried up crisp in vegetable oil. But when you prepare them like that, they can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Of course, grassfed butter is a different matter, because grassfed results in healthy fats.

    In fact, a study published in 2017 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate fried potatoes twice a week wound up with an increased risk of death. Yikes!

    But happily, the study did not find any correlation between non-fried potato consumption and increased death. This backs up University of Texas nutritionist Victoria Jarzabkowski, who argues that potatoes aren’t necessarily bad for you.

    The healthiest way to cook potatoes

    Baked, boiled, or steamed — which is healthiest? Well, the best way to eat a potato is in its whole, unprocessed form. So baking, or roasting, a potato is the best way to prepare it. Roasting loses the fewest nutrients.

    The next-healthiest way to cook a potato is to steam it. The worst thing you can do is boil it, because if it’s cut up or peeled, all the water-soluble nutrients leach out into the water. That includes B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, and calcium. As much as 80 percent of a potato’s vitamin C goes down the drain if you boil it.

    The same thing can happen when peeled or cut-up raw potatoes are left to soak to keep them from darkening. Exposing any cut up veggie to air is no better — air, light, and heat are the enemies of nutrients. Best to do all the prep right before you cook whenever possible.

    So when you cook potatoes the right way, without heaps of butter, cheese, or cream (unless all that dairy’s grassfed, because grass produces healthy fats), they really can be good for you. Just check out these amazing potato nutrition facts.

    Amazing Fact #1: The skin is the best part

    Don’t peel that potato! However you cook it, try to eat the skin. Ounce for ounce, the skin contains more nutrients — including the majority of the spud’s fiber — than the rest of the potato! Speaking of skin…

    Amazing Fact #2: Potatoes are your skin’s best friend

    According to Organic Facts, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorous can all help keep skin as smooth and creamy as, well, mashed potatoes. These nutrients are all present in potatoes, mashed or not.

    Amazing Fact #3: Potatoes are lo-cal

    Lo-cal, as in low calorie. Potatoes weigh in at just 110 calories for a medium-sized baked potato. And they’ve got zero fat calories. So a spud’s calorie count is not going to add to your waistline. By the way, in addition to being fat-free, potatoes are also cholesterol-free.

    Amazing Fact #4: Potatoes’ relationship with blood sugar is… complicated

    While a potato’s low calorie count won’t make you loosen your belt, they are starchy carbohydrates with very little protein. And those carbs are the kind that the body digests rapidly. They’ve got what’s called a high glycemic index value. Potato carbs cause blood sugar and insulin to surge and then dip, so you may wind up feeling hungry again soon after eating. That can lead to overeating. Plus the rapid rise in blood sugar can also lead to increased insulin production — not a good thing if you’re diabetic.

    On the other hand, potatoes are also a great source of fiber, and the fiber content helps you feel fuller longer.

    Meanwhile… a 2016 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that different people respond to a food’s glycemic index value in different ways. So this study suggests that the glycemic index is only somewhat useful when it comes to making food choices.

    Bottom line: Whether or not you should avoid potatoes depends on how your individual body reacts to them. There’s no one-size-fits-all.

    Amazing Fact #5: Potatoes and arthritis — also complicated

    Some people think potatoes and other members of the nightshade family — such as eggplants, tomatoes and peppers — trigger arthritis flares. However, the Arthritis Foundation says there is limited scientific evidence to support this hypothesis. They suggest that arthritis sufferers try cutting nightshade vegetables from their diets for two weeks to see if symptoms improve.

    Some studies indicate these vegetables may actually help reduce arthritis symptoms, the foundation said. For example, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that potatoes might actually reduce inflammation.

    Again, figure out what works best for you.

    Amazing Fact #6: Potatoes may help prevent cancer

    A 2017 study published by the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that consuming purple potatoes might reduce the risk of colon cancer. Purple potatoes are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce levels of a protein linked to cancer cell growth in the colon.

    Amazing Fact #7: Potatoes have as much vitamin C as half an orange

    Spuds are the new citrus! Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, and antioxidants ward off damaging free radicals that destroy healthy cells throughout your body.

    Vitamin C also keeps your immune system strong, helps wounds heal properly, and aids in the absorption of a certain type of iron. Because of vitamin C’s many roles throughout your system, keeping up with your daily intake is important. Potatoes can get you there.

    Amazing Fact #8: Potatoes may help lower blood pressure

    According to Jarzabkowski, the nutritionist, there may be several reasons for this. All that fiber may help lower cholesterol by binding with cholesterol in the blood. “After it binds, we excrete it,” she says.

    Potatoes are also a good source of potassium, even more than a banana. A lot of it is in the potato’s skin, which also contains a good deal of fiber. Potassium is a mineral that helps lower blood pressure, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, by widening blood vessels.

    Plus, scientists at the Institute for Food Research have discovered that potatoes contain chemicals called kukoamines, which are also associated with lowering blood pressure.

    Potatoes are just plain good for your heart. Vitamins C and B6 help reduce free radicals; and carotenoids help maintain proper heart functioning. B6 also plays a crucial role in preventing damage to blood vessel walls, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

    Amazing Fact #9: Potatoes make you smart

    Potatoes’ high level of carbohydrates may have some advantages, like maintaining good levels of glucose in the blood. You need that for your brain to function properly. A 1995 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that modest increases in glucose could help enhance learning and memory. Potassium, by encouraging wider blood vessels, also helps ensure your brain gets enough blood.

    Also, the B6 vitamins in potatoes are critical to maintaining neurological health. Vitamin B6 helps create useful brain chemicals, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. This means that eating potatoes may help with depression, stress, and maybe even attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

    Amazing Fact #10: Potatoes go down easy and come out the same way

    Potatoes aid digestion, big time, due to their high fiber content, Jarzabkowski said. Their high level of carbohydrates also makes them easy to digest, while their fiber-filled skin can help keep you regular.

    Amazing Fact #11: Potatoes are a win for athletes

    When athletes sweat they lose sodium and potassium, two important electrolytes. Electrolytes are necessary for optimum body function, and having too few can cause cramps, as many athletes know. It just so happens that potato skins are full of sodium and potassium and can help restore electrolyte balance.

    And last but not least…

    Amazing Fact #12: Eek! Potatoes are poisonous… sort of

    Potato stems, branches, and leaves are toxic, containing alkaloids such as arsenic, chaconine, and solanine. Solanine is “very toxic even in small amounts,” according to the National Institutes of Health. But, seriously, who eats the stems, branches, and leaves? No one.

    Still, poison is also found in green potatoes. They turn green if they’re exposed to light too much. NIH says you should “never eat potatoes that are spoiled or green below the skin.”

    What about a potato’s “eyes”? Are they poisonous? The “eyes” of potatoes are buds, which will sprout into branches if left alone. If they’re not sprouting, they’re totally edible. If they are sprouting, NIH recommends cutting off the eyes and the sprouts. Once that’s done, you can chow down on the rest of that ‘tater.

    To get more details on the science and history of potatoes, read the original article.

    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.

    local organic food

    Is organic worth it?

    EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / May 9,2018

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

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

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

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

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    local organic food

    Is organic worth it?

    And can you even trust those organic labels?

    By the Veggie Fairy Team:

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

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

    The truth, it turns out, is complicated.

    Organic toxins — yep, that’s a thing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Organic or not, freshness counts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    That’s not possible for most of us as individuals. But when we come together as a group like Seasonal Roots, that’s exactly what we do. We know our farmers. We talk with them, visit their farms, and develop relationships with them. We share their stories with you so you can know them too, even if you don’t have time to go visit them yourself.

    It’s not quite as easy as reading a label, but it’s a lot easier than trying to do the due diligence all by yourself!

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

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

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    As temps drop, farmers keep farming

    EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / November 8, 2017

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

    WHAT’S ON TAP FOR THANKSGIVING, PLUS WHAT’S UP WITH THOSE PALE YOLKS?

    Thanksgiving is com-ing, right about the time most traditional farmers markets are closing for the winter, or scaling back.

    But not your online farmers market! We stay open year-round.

    A little dip in the temperature gauge can’t stop our local farmers from…

    Continue reading about local winter farming and what’s happening with your yolks, below, or view this issue as a PDF with clickable links.

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    Why fresh local food tastes so different

    EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / November 8, 2017

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

    CASE STUDY: CELERY

    It’s celery season out on the Flores family’s farm on Virginia’s Northern Neck. Gerardo and his son Omar are harvesting fresh, aromatic celery bunches from their fields. Then we deliver it straight to you within just a couple days. If you ever needed proof that freshly harvested local produce tastes better than the stuff you get at the grocery story (which is at least a week old), do a celery taste test.

    When most people think about the taste of celery, they think of grocery store celery – bitter or, at best, blah…

    Continue reading about local celery and why its so awesome, below, or view this issue as a PDF with clickable links.

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    Organic vs Local vs Sustainable

    EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / November 1, 2017

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

    ORGANIC vs LOCAL vs SUSTAINABLE: WHICH IS BEST?!!

    We get this question pretty much daily: “So are your farms Certified Organic?” When people ask that, we totally get where they’re coming from. We all just want to eat nutritious, safe, non-toxic, eco-friendly food. But who has time to research every item we buy? So the government’s “Certified Organic” label seems like a convenient shortcut to eating healthy without harming the planet. If only it were true.
    Here at Seasonal Roots, we’re more concerned about sustainable and local than organic, so we don’t require our local farmers to be Certified Organic. Here are 5 reasons why…

    Continue reading the 5 reasons why, below, or view this issue as a PDF with clickable links.

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