Do you get the “most” out of your fresh produce?

ProduceIt feels as if it’s been somewhere close to… oh, I don’t know… “forever”(?!) since I’ve been able to buy fresh, local produce.  I’ve paid ridiculous amounts of money for fruits and vegetables over the winter months because, in my opinion, it’s always worth it.

It will be a few months yet (for many of us) before it’s high time to enjoy our fabulous, local harvest.  But whether you’re shopping your local farmers market or buying the usual organics from your grocery store, you want to make sure you get the “most” out of everything you buy.

Sadly, the nutritional content of today’s conventionally-grown produce is believed to be dramatically decreased from 30 years ago. The vitamins, minerals and proteins are dwindling (due, in part, to the use of synthetic fertilizers that make them grow faster and inhibit the absorption of nutrients!) so this is another little testimonials for “going organic” too.

But whether your produce is conventionally-grown (afterall, the “Clean 15” is often considered) or you go 100% organic, there are a few helpful tips to get the “most” out of your produce:

  • “Fresher is better” – all produce begins to lose nutrients are soon as it’s harvested, so consume it as soon asfarmers produce possible after you buy it. The rule of thumb should be one week maximum (plus, you must consider where your produce “originated”), so plan for what you need and don’t overbuy, even if it will “keep”.
  • “Bigger isn’t better!” – choose smaller pieces of fruits and vegetables instead of the largest ones in the bunch.  Plants have limited amounts of nutrients to pass on, so if the produce is smaller the nutrients are more concentrated.
  • “Keep it together, people!” – while pre-washed, pre-cut, and pre-prepped fruits and veggies may sound appealing (and convenient!), skip them… this causes them to lose nutrients as well.  And don’t do a lot a prep, cleaning, chopping or cutting at home until you actually need to consumer them either… no need to set those nutrients loose!

My kids have always been great eaters when it comes to a variety of fruits and veggies but, whether for us or our kids, we all know every bit matters, so use these tips to make the “most” of every precious bite!

A resource for everyone who loves their organics

org consum assocTwo weeks ago I wrote an article about “Antibiotics in our Food Supply”.  I got some interesting emails as a result (after I addressed the fact that I had been accused of writing “fear based content”). Again, that’s never my intent, but anyhow… a reader also sent me a fact and a link.  This, too, is worthy of sharing.

“Today, 7 out of every 10 items on grocery stores shelves contain ingredients that have been genetically modified. In other words, scientists are using new technology to transfer the genes of one species to another, and these altered foods are in the market stream. And yet many scientists have concerns about the safety — to people, wildlife and the environment — of this process. That’s why consumers in Asia and Europe are demanding that their food be free of genetically modified ingredients.”

Take that however you’d like but I will say again and again that I hate my foods being “messed with”! (And now I will jump off my soapbox and just continue…) As for the link, it directed me to the Organic Consumers Association site.  I checked it out and it’s fantastic.organic food aisle

Whether you are want to join a campaign and take action, find green/organic products and services in your area, or just catch up on some green news, it’s a great resource… for everyone.

As the saying goes, “we are what we eat” and, although I am far from perfect, I prefer to remain “un-modified”! You?

Do you know what your PLU produce labels mean?

PLUOkay, another “confession”… until recently, I had no idea either!  I’m talking about the little stickers on the produce we purchase.  They’re actually called PLUs, (“Product {or Price} Look-Up” labels), and would you believe the numbers actually mean something?… they aren’t just random numbers.

(*Insert a look of surprise from me too!*)

The important number is actually the first digit and they can tell you a whole lot about the produce you purchase.  It tells you exactly how it was grown.

Here are the digits you need to remember:

  • 3 or 4 – indicates conventionally grown produce (grown with pesticides, herbicides & fertilizers)
  • 9 – indicates that the produce is ORGANIC

The next time you pick up a piece of produce: (1) look at the first digit of the PLU label, (2) remember these numbers, (3) know what you’re buying and then (4) rest assured that they’ll tell you everything you want to know about the food you’re buying for (and serving to) your family.

(*Yes, continue that look of surprise from me too!…*)

It’s not too soon to think “Summer CSA!”

CSA basketYes, I know the snow is still flying for some of us, but my friends, it is NOT too soon to think “summer CSA”.  It’s just the right time, in fact, because many CSAs have already opened up reservations for summer participation.

But first things first!… you know about CSAs, right?

If not, here’s a little bit of explanation:  CSAs, or community supported agriculture, are the best way to share in the bounty of the freshest, organic, locally-grown produce and foods.  It’s a partnership between farms and community individuals who support the growing and production of food.  Members “purchase” a share of the harvest and are usually on a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of fruits and vegetables (and sometimes even dairy, meats and grains).CSA harvest

It’s the perfect scenario… you get fresh and organic foods, support local growers and farms, AND avoid the CO2 emissions created to bring your food from other parts of the country… or world, for that matter!

Last year we participated in a CSA with Fresh Fork Market.  If you’re lucky enough to be in Cleveland, take a look because… yes, they’re taking reservations NOW!  Last year, during the 22 weeks of summer, our CSA participants sampled over 350 different products from 62 local farmers.  At year’s end, Fresh Fork proudly spent over $300K with local farmers! THAT gives me the warm fuzzies!  Not only was I serving my family fabulous, organic food but we ALSO helped generously support local farmers and the local economy.  Everyone wins in that scenario!

straw1If you aren’t in Cleveland but want to find a CSA in your area check out Local Harvest or Biodynamics to put you in the right direction.

Get on board, sign-up, eat organic and support your farmers… I promise, you won’t regret it!

(These are our strawberries from last year… NO methyl iodide included!)  🙂

Black Friday or “Buy Nothing Day”? (= free giveaway!)

(This giveaway is now closed for entries.)

Black Friday… I NEVER shop Black Friday! Instead, I celebrateBuy Nothing Day.  Every year.  Period.

Yesssss, I know… the bargains, the excitement, the tradition… I simply choose to spend the day NOT spending.  It’s a great reminder that we don’t need to spend obscene amounts of money, rise in the wee hours of the morning and push and shove our way to luxury items that aren’t even needed, if we really think about it.

So, if you would like to get a step up on a great green gift, I will help you… no purchase necessary… I’ll sponsor some giveaways in the coming weeks and I’m starting today with a 33 oz. EcoUsable stainless steel water bottle and “Green 4 Life” water wrap that will make a fabulous gift for someone on your list… or simply for yourself, for that matter!ecousa wht

You want it, don’t you?  Well, it’s a great one too!:  Stainless steel, no BPA, reusable and free.  You won’t even need to get your toes stomped either…

So leave a comment here saying you’d like to win and tell me who you’d like to “gift” it to (there is no penalty for saying you want it for yourself!), send a Twitter message that includes a reply to @momgoesgreen and a link to this blog, or leave a comment on Facebook to be entered. The winner will be selected two weeks from today’s post. (US entries only… sorry!)

grn 4 lifeSkip Black Friday… celebrate “Buy Nothing Day”… and take a chance to win something absolutely FREE instead!