Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Locally Grown Vs. Store-Bought

Nutritional Quality of Locally Grown Vs. Store-Bought Produce



As some may already know, the sweetness and juicy flavor of a fresh picked tomato or any produce always tastes a million times better than your store-bought. This is because, whether a produce is locally grown or store-bought there is a vast difference in nutritional content. This is due to four factors that differentiate the two types of produces: the ripeness of the produce, the varieties chosen, the length of time since the harvest, and the harvesting methods.

Ripeness of The Produce:
When produce is shipped to a grocery it has a long commute, typically 1,500 to 2,500 miles travel time. Due to this factor, the produce must be picked prematurely to arrive at the grocery store in sellable and consumable condition. For example, a tomato harvested prematurely will have about 31% less vitamin C, than tomatoes fully ripened. But vitamin C is not the only nutrient depleted, vitamin A, folic acid, lycopene, and other antioxidants are also reduced. Therefore, this method does not allow the fruit or vegetable to naturally ripen; thus, the produce never fully develops it's nutritional content.

The Varieties Chosen:
Produce shipped to grocery stores are not based on which taste the best, or have the most nutritional value; instead, the produce chosen is based on how well it will ship and continue to "look fresh" (so it is sellable). For example, tomatoes are often selected because when picked prematurely they look ripened in color, and their firm body is perfect for shipping and store display. Unfortunately, these characteristics do not formulate the best tasting or nutritional tomato!

Length of Time Since the Harvest:
As previously mentioned, the travel time for store-bought produce is very lengthy. While the produce is stored during the travel it is very difficult to keep optimal temperatures for them. In fact, vitamins deplete the most when stored for too long even if the temperatures are close to optimal. For example, lettuce stored for seven days in cold temperature, loses 46% of key nutrients. This is also true for many other fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Harvesting Methods:
The handling of fruits and vegetables also affects the nutritional quality by the time they arrive at the grocery store. Today, commercial farms use mechanical harvesting methods which cause bruises and damage to the produce. Once damaged, this accelerates the process of losing nutrients as the produce lost the ability to fully ripen properly. For example, if a tomato is bruised it will likely have 15% less vitamin C, than the non-bruised tomato.

As can be seen, local or home grown produce has greater nutritional content, as there are less barriers to fruits and vegetables in reaching their full nutritional potential.

For more information on where to find locally grown food in your area, go to the Local Harvest, and type in your area of residence. Here you will discover where to shop, local events, farmer’s markets, and more!

Or if starting your own home garden appeals to you, go to Better Homes & Garden, and read the 10 steps for beginning a garden.

(http://www.aerogardenblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/White-Paper.pdf)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Seasonally Sustainable Foods

Not many of us know what we are purchasing at our local grocery stores. Although we buy fruits and vegetables that seem to be a healthy choice, is that really what we end up with?

When purchasing foods from the grocery store what your actually getting is skewed from what they are probably advertising or what you believe in in these fruits and vegetables. The food system that grocery stores use today works wonders for us who like to have all kinds of fresh foods year round. The downside to this system is that these foods are stripped from natural and delicious flavors. Aside from loss of flavor these foods are also missing important nutrients.

Fixing this issue is quite simple because there are multiple solutions. The first solution is to buy foods such as fruits and vegetables from a local farm. The second solution is to grow your own. These two solutions that are easy for everyone to do and something that can change your health overall.

Information obtained from http://www.aerogardenblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/White-Paper.pdf

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Neighborhood/Community Gardens

Neighborhood Gardens for Sustainability



Neighborhood or community gardens are great as they bring friends and families working together on a sustainable food source for their community. These gardens can be used as a shared garden space for everyone in the community that wishes to participate; or, may have individual garden plots that are owned and maintained by individuals within the community.

How they are sustainable:
  • Reduces energy consumption
  • Reduces transportation and storage costs
  • Saves water and fossil fuels
  • Plants and trees provide shade and oxygen, as well as consume carbon dioxide
Each of these factors are extremely important in reducing pollution and minimizing the carbon footprint left by each individual.

Neighborhood Garden Benefits:
According to the American Community Garden Association (ACGA), neighborhood gardens have many benefits such as:
  • Enhanced social interactions
  • Improved quality of life
  • Good exercise
  • Reduces stress and improves mental health
  • Healthier eating habits
  • Grow your own organic and nutritional produce
  • Neighborhood beautification
  • Reduced crime
  • Lower family food budgets

Interested in starting a local community garden? Click here and learn the basic steps in getting started!

For more information, or to find a community garden near you, visit the American Community Garden Association's website.

Supporting your local food system








Supporting a local food system has many different benefits. It helps the local economy and it helps the small local farming communities. Here are a couple of suggestions for helping your local community out.

Try choosing a restaurant that supports locally grown foods. Many people believe that the only way they can eat locally means they have to cook their own food, but this isn't true! There are some restaurants that get all of their ingredients locally. Another way to support the local food system is to look for local brands in stores. The Eat Well Guide (http://www.eatwellguide.org/?) is a good way to look for local grown produce in stores. On the other hand, you could go directly to a farmers market to buy food there.

Lastly, an important point to remember is that buying local food builds up the community. When you or someone else buys produce from a local farmer it establishes a time honored connection between the consumer and producer. The local farmers put a lot of time and effort into their produce and it builds a strong relationship in the community when people know that others care about what they do.