Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fresh Food for Health

Nevin Kreider and daughter Regina ,6, sell fresh tomatoes during Palmyra's Producers Only Farmers' Market in 2008. Kreider grows the tomatoes in his greenhouse in Elizabethtown and sells them at various farmers markets in the area. Kreider also sells tomatoes at the Farm Show Complex Farmers Market in Harrisburg.

Fresh Food for Health

Each time you choose locally grown organic foods, you are making an investment in your future health care said Jennifer Halpin, Director of the College Farm Project at Dickinson College. Sometimes you might have to spend a little extra. Or we might have to change our patterns a bit. But the effort is rewarded with food of greater value.

While she made many compelling arguments for buying local, healthfully grown food, Halpin's health based explanation held a special resonance. She was one of the speakers at the Carlisle YWCA Women's Symposium, "It's Easy Being Green."

When making food decisions, concerns about consumption of fossil fuels during long transports of cheap fruits and vegetables and possibly even concerns about the chemicals the food has been treated with, can seem abstract. Distant. Not part of our immediate concern. But Halpin made me think how much more value truly clean and nutritious food holds.

The produce grown and shipped to us from far away, is bred to ship and store well. It is not bred for nutrition or taste. Simply compare the nutritional value of grocery store ubiquitous iceberg lettuce to many leafy greens that are currently available in our farmers markets. Think of the red globes of cellulose sold as tomatoes compared to locally grown tomatoes. Cheap food is cheap in the worst sense. It has little value to our health or our enjoyment of eating.

We are lucky. We are surrounded by great markets and CSA's in this area. So finding healthy food is easier. We also have support in that search. Check out this site:

Buy Fresh Buy Local:

All you have to do is type in your zip code and they will help you find what your looking for. I entered my New Cumberland zip and excluded restaurants from the search and I found 30 producers in a 30 mile radius. They also have a social network component called "Good Food Neighborhood" which encourages sharing of local food experiences.

Another reason to be grateful we live in Central PA? A new farmers market is debuting next Wednesday, June 3rd. Called "Farmers on the Square", the market in Carlisle will run from 3pm to 7pm each Wednesday in front of the 1st Presbyterian Church on N. Hanover Street.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bloom of the moment

Love the perky stems and bouncie bluish bloom. Baptista, False Indigo.

Spring Salad

Lettuce, chives, small strips of arugula, micro-green cuttings from radish with a few hot house strawberries and a vinaigrette and I'm happy. I'm even happier that all but the berries and dressing came from my back yard.

I'm also happy that interest in growing food is, well, growing. And any new gardener should be happy that it is truly easy to do. Decent soil, good sun, proper water and a little love keep your veggies happy. And, if you plant early to mature tomatoes or beans or squash, there is still time to try it yourself. You might squeak by with some lettuce. Especially lettuce that would get just a little shade during the hottest times of the day. We'll talk about late season planting, well, later in the season.

I covered my earliest veggies with row cover draped over simple bent pvc. I was able to safely start my crops that way about two weeks early. The best bang for this effort happened with the cold season crops. The lettuce, spinach, onion, cilantro all thrived. The lone tomato that I added to the box didn't die but didn't do much either. My inside tomatoes grew better.