Simple tip: 3 ways to get the “most” out of your produce!

CSA foodSummertime is the perfect time to enjoy fabulous, fresh produce. Whether you’re raiding your local farmer’s 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 of the use of synthetic fertilizers that make them grow faster and inhibits 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 as 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”.fruit
  • “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!

An important letter about my organic lettuce…

lettuce gardenThis evening my daughter and I decided to make a quick trip to the garden we’re growing in a planting area we adopted in front of her elementary school.  We’re growing our own organic veggies and knew that some lettuce was perfect to harvest for the evening’s dinner.

Well, we arrived… and … (*wide-eyed pause*) … it was already harvested! Quite neatly I might add (so we knew that it wasn’t “harvested” by animals… besides, the netting overtop prevents it from BEING harvested by animals!) and the netting was neatly put back in place as well.  (Insert my look of *SHOCK* here!)

So, THAT’S how someone is going to be, huh?  Who do they think they’re stealing from?… the garden is in front of an elementary school for pete’s sake!!!

What do I have to say about that?  Well, THIS is what I have to say about that…

Dear Organic Lettuce Thief,

I love organic lettuce, don’t you?  Oh yes.  Apparently you do.  I also love organic gardening.  You should try it sometime.  I admire your strength and bravery for being able to steal from children.  I also hope you enjoyed your organic lettuce salad this evening, however, my family DID NOT!  Oh, and by the way…

fngr

xoxo, The Mom Goes Green Family

2010 update!… the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen!”

fruit shoppingAny trip to the produce department of a grocery store can give you moments of anxiety when you hover between the organic and non-organic section.  In a perfect world, they would be equally priced and you wouldn’t even have to give it a thought, but alas the world isn’t that perfect, is it?

A few of my most read posts detail Environmental Working Group’s lists of the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen – the fruits and vegetables that are very low in pesticides (clean) and those that receive and retain an extraordinary amount of pesticides (dirty).

Now I’ve learned that EWG has actually updated these lists for 2010!  I can’t explain the exact reason for some shifts but there have been changes nonetheless.  So here, without further ado, are the lists that you’ll want to know for that next trip to the store.

“The Clean 15” (BEST – this produce is acceptable to buy non-organic)

–  asparagus       –  grapefruit             –  pineapple
–  avocado         –  honeydew melon    –  sweet corn
–  cabbage         –  kiwi                     –  sweet peas
–  cantaloupe      –  mangos                –  sweet potatoes
–  eggplant         –  onion                   –  watermelon

“The Dirty Dozen” (WORST – this produce should always be purchased organic)

–  apples            –  cherries                 –  peaches
–  bell peppers     –  grapes (imported)   -  potatoes
–  blueberries       –  kale                     –  spinach
–  celery             –  nectarines             –  strawberries

In our other non-existent-perfect-world we would all have a local, organic farmer’s market a short walk from our homes that made every fruit and vegetable we want available at a cheap price, but alas… that’s not likely.  So print it, memorize it and when you need to make choices, know that you can make the wisest choices possible.

Grab your CSA and get fresh!!!

The clock is ticking!  Have you grabbed your CSA yet???

CSA basketCSAs, or community supported agriculture, are the best way to share in the bounty of the freshest, organic, locally-grown produce.  It’s a partnership between a farm operation 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 and meat).

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

… so what’s with the ticking clock???  Well, many CSAs are getting ready for the season and probably filling up… quickly.  You certainly want to get your spot now, so to find a CSA in your area check out Local Harvest or Biodynamics.farmrs mkt

If a CSA isn’t the way to go for you, and you just want to locate a local farmer’s market, you can also check another area of Local Harvest or the Farmer’s Market site.

Luckily, I WON a spot in a local CSA at EarthFest at our Zoo!  (Yes, for a change {instead of me looking for a winner} I was the winner!)  I will be sharing in the bounty of Fresh Fork Market, so if you’re in or around Cleveland check them out… there are a few membership spots left!

Now don’t wait a second longer… grab your CSA!!!

Simple food tip: read beyond the “organic” label…

horizn mlkOrganic foods are always a hot topic… everything from the controversy over the benefits of organic, to which fruits and veggies are organic ‘necessities’… the list goes on and on.

One thing I have been guilty of is putting organic products on a pedestal when they sometimes don’t deserve it. Now don’t get me wrong, I still recommend organics with my whole heart and soul, and will continue to buy organic produce and products, but my guilt comes from reading the word “organic” and making assumptions about the rest of the ingredients.

Case in point: While we were out-and-about, my kids asked for “a milk”.  I knew they were asking for a Horizon Organic Milk Box, so immediately my answer was, “Sure!”  I mean, why not?  It’s organic milk after all.  But then this caught my eye:

So, I looked closer at some of my other purchases and here is what I found:stnyfld peach yog

This extra sugar is something NONE of us needs, so my point is this… always look beyond the “organic” label.  It’s not necessarily the perfect product just because it has the “magical ‘o’-word!”  Sometimes it has what you want, but sometimes there is an “extra” that you don’t.

Be a label reader and read beyond “organic”…

(* To compute the number of teaspoons of sugar in any food product simply divide the number of sugar grams by 4!)