Hot dogs, burgers, ice cream…summer parties can wreak havoc with your waistline. We’ve got five summer party themes that let you kick back and enjoy yourself instead of counting calories.
Think more salsa, less queso. Mexican food comes from fresh ingredients and simple preparations. There are a lot of healthy Mexican dishes such as ceviche, a taco salad, and fajitas with whole wheat wraps. There are only 146 calories in a Corona, so you can even enjoy a little beer.
I love starting my weekend with a trip to the farmers market. I may start the day overwhelmed by my to-do list, but everything slows down as I start to walk past the tables of vibrant produce, local honey, and artisanal breads and cheeses. Connecting with your food and those who produce it makes you pause, breathe, and appreciate the great gift of real food. You know you’re doing something better for your body and planet by going fresh and local.
However, you can’t take for granted that everything at your local farmers market is good for you and the planet. Supporting your local farmers market can provide better quality produce and be beneficial to the environment and local economy. However, it is not a guaranty that the produce is free of pesticides, meets safety standards, or that the product is actually from a local source. If you’re not taking the opportunity to get to know your farmer you may not be getting what you bargained for. Here are some questions to ask at your next (or first) farmers market visit.
DO YOU USE PESTICIDES?
Not every local farmer grows organically. Those who do so often proudly display their USDA organic label. If you don’t see the organic label, you need to ask how they spray and fertilize their crops. Some farmers use all organic methods but simply do not have the resources to obtain the organic certification. Others may use conventional methods of pest control and fertilization. If it is a fruit or vegetable on the Dirty Dozen list, make sure to choose organically grown produce.
WHAT DO YOU FEED YOUR LIVESTOCK?
Local and grass fed seem to go hand-in-hand but you can’t assume that is the case. Cows and chickens may still be eating grain due to cost and land availability (or even junk food!). They may also still be getting things you don’t want in your food, like antibiotics. Organic eggs may be the best protein choice at the farmers market. They can be used in a variety of ways and can be less expensive per serving than organic beef. (more…)
Now is the time for “pickin’ up pawpaws and puttin’ ’em in your pockets” as the children’s chant goes. The best pawpaws are the fully ripe fruits that have fallen to the ground between mid-August and mid-October, perfect for stuffing your pockets or your face!
Pawpaws are the largest edible fruit native to the U.S. and are an indigenous plant to 26 states east of Nebraska, reaching from Florida to New York. The fruit was an important food for Native Americans and early settlers. Pawpaws graced George Washington’s table in colonial days. And even animals aren’t missing out on this delicious treat — squirrels, raccoons, possums, and bears happily feast on aromatic pawpaw flesh.
Pawpaws are large fruits, similar to mangoes or papayas, ranging in color from yellow to green with skin often flecked. When over-ripe, the skin will turn brown like a banana. They have big black seeds that are easy-to-remove, a custard-like texture, and a flavor that is related to bananas, mangoes and melons. They are known commonly as a poor man’s banana.
“It has a sweet, yet rather cloying taste….a wee bit puckery” is the way their taste was described by a botanist of yore. (more…)
It’s no secret: it can often take a lot of money to eat healthy. Anyone who has tried to shop at premium grocers or attempted to buy mostly organic produce can understand this. It can leave you questioning how low-income families can do it! You may not believe it, but the best place to go just may be your local farmers market.
Recently, Dr. Richard Besser hosted a conversation on G+ as a part of the TED-MED series on childhood obesity. Featured in this panel was Don Schwarz, Health Commissioner and Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity in the City of Philadelphia. When asked how to combat the issue of African American and Latino children being exposed to the highest level of unhealthy foods and beverages, he suggested policy change to allow public benefits (like food stamps) to be accepted at farmers markets.
Well, Mr. Health Commissioner, have we got good news for you: They already do!
We have noticed a growing trend in our local farmers markets throughout the country accepting SNAP (or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps) just like regular cash. Gone are the days where affordability and accessibility of fresh produce isn’t possible on food stamps. Shopping at your local farmers market is not only better for the environment, but the nutritional quality is higher, and your money can literally go further.
Wholesome Wave Georgia features more than 20 farmers markets that accept SNAP throughout the state, but Forsyth Farmers Market in Savannah, has taken it to another level. They literally give you twice the bang for your buck. This market will match your SNAP dollars thanks to a grant from Wholesome Wave Georgia. Accepting SNAP since 2009, they developed this partnership to ensure that the highest quality produce was perfectly attainable no matter your resources. And is it working?
“Last year, we had the top redemption rates for a single market in the state of Georgia,” says Forsyth Farmers Market co-founder and coordinator Teri Schell.
But if you’re not in the Savannah area, fear not. There are farmers markets that accept SNAP in all 50 States. We found 50 with the best deals!
Alabama: On Double Days, Homegrown Alabama will match dollar-for-dollar up to $25.
Alaska: Alaska Farmers Market Association says to check that the booth you shop at accepts them, too!
Arizona: Hosts a whole list of SNAP-specific gardens.
It’s my favorite time of year: peak blueberry season! If you’re anything like me, you can’t get enough of these little balls of deliciousness. Farmers markets, U-Pick berry fields, or from the local produce store, I can’t gobble them up fast enough.
Peak season is anytime from late June through early September, so I’m even known to buy extra large amounts in bulk and freeze* for the rest of the year. Then I add them to smoothies, pancakes (my favorite recipe is this one), oatmeal, you name it! I even found a way to add these little guys to a savory salad. Don’t believe me? We’ll let you try the recipe for yourself!
Why the love affair with blueberries? These little blue dynamos… (more…)