Nutrition and You!

Do You Have Any Idea Where Your Food Comes From?

Stop & Shop Farm Stand.JPG

Every Thursday, between 11 am and 3 pm, until fall, you can walk down the cement walkways of the campus of Boston University and pick up fresh fruit and vegetables. This array of Mother Natureís finest is nestled between the construction of the Law School and the massive concrete Mugar Library at 775 Commonwealth Avenue. While there isnít a patch of land large enough to grow anything but flowers on this urban street, once a week, there is a local farm stand beneath a makeshift canopy thanks to Wardís Berry Farm. Call it the ďfarmer meets the city slicker.Ē Every week you can count on the seasonal fresh pickings such as blackberries that are each the size of a quarter and fresh leafy greens that smell like perfume, all of which are grown and sold locally.

This week is National Farmers Market Week which is a national reminder that when it comes to healthy eating we need to also think about where your food comes from and how to support our local farmers. Contrary to popular thought, the majority of farmers in the United States are local family farmers. Itís a labor of love that extends though the bloodline. Many times there is an elder farmer picking the crops with grandchildren in tow helping.

Since taste is the No. 1 driver of food choices, itís a guarantee that whatever you buy locally will be picked at its peak so it will be so unbelievably flavorful that you will be begging for more. Can you beat basil picked fresh from the garden in the summer, tomatoes picked in the oppressing August heat, or the sweet-as-punch apples plucked from the trees in the crisp fall? If you are falling short of the recommended consumption of a minimum of 4 Ĺ cups of fruits and veggies daily, locally grown produce will deliciously motivate you to eat more.

From an environmental standpoint, locally grown is good for the earth. The carbon emissions associated with the transport of food from farm to supermarket can be substantial. Greenhouse gases, which include the carbon dioxide and other gases released when fossil fuels are burned for energy, are an environmental concern. The gases absorb and trap the heat in the air and re-radiate that heat downward, contributing to the trend in global warming. The lettuce that you put in your grocery cart at the supermarket may have traveled 1,400 to 2,400 miles to reach you. Thus, buying locally grown produce has environmental benefits, as the less your food travels, the less energy is being used, and less carbon dioxide gas emissions are being created in getting the food to you.

To celebrate National Farmers Market Week, click here for an easy-to-use map to find a local farmersí market. If your lifestyle doesnít allow you proximity to a local farm or farmersí market, check the produce section of your local supermarket to see if they are selling locally grown foods. For example, Stop & Shop is partnering with over 40 local farmers to bring farm fresh picked jewels to their shoppers. Produce items currently in season at the stores include corn, tomatoes, green beans, mushrooms, squash, blueberries, cucumbers and green peppers.

The buzz words this week and hereafter are to ďbuy and eat local.Ē Know your farmer, know your food.

Be well, Joan

Follow Joan on Twitter at: @JoanSalgeBlake

Photo courtesy of Stop & Shop

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