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Minneapolis Named Healthiest City in the U.S.

For those of you who may use the weather as an excuse for not exercising, look no further than the citizens of Minneapolis, Minnesota. That’s because they have been voted the healthiest city in the U.S. by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Each year, the ACSM rates the top 50 healthiest metropolitan areas in the country. They attributed Minneapolis’ jump to the top of the list to the increase in size and a decrease in smoking rates. Also factored into the equation was relatively low rates of obesity, heart disease, and asthma.

Additional factors were treated to the increase in healthfulness of the citizens of Minneapolis: an uptick in farmers markets and an above average percentage of park land. I think that would help explain why Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado both made the top five, as they are known for their love of outdoor living and activities. Washington D.C. and Boston, Massachusetts were number two and number three, respectively.
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Jake Gyllenhaal Loves the Farmer’s Market

Jake GyllenhallWe love hearing about celebrities who eat sensible, healthy diets, and we love it even more when we find out that they prepare these meals for themselves. Not only did Jake Gyllenhaal recently discuss his love of cooking, he also revealed that he’s a patron of local foods.

“I’ve always loved cooking, probably because my father and mother always cooked,” he said. Gyllenhaal also collects old cookbooks, to inspire new dishes. “I have a massive section in my library at home of beautiful old cook books. I really have a strange obsession with them.”

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Eat in-Season Produce Year-Round for Optimal Health

My ultimate favorite time of year to eat produce is in the summer. There are all of those fresh berries, watermelon, corn — it’s delicious! Not to mention that I have the best memories of being a kid picking fresh tomatoes straight from the garden and eating them with just a sprinkle of salt. For a number of years I believed that — at least where I live in the Midwest — you could only eat fresh fruits and veggies during the warmer months, but boy was I wrong. Over the last few years I’ve really gotten into gardening and learning more about where our foods come from and the benefits of eating fresh, local produce. And what I’ve learned is amazing! You can truly eat in-season all year round if you know what to buy — and be healthier because of it. Here’s why!

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How to Eat Locally

BerriesWhile much attention is paid to the environmental benefits of organic produce, the local food movement is starting to also make real headway. No matter how your food is grown, if it’s shipped from across the U.S. or even from another country, that’s a long way for your food to travel.

Locally grown foods are fresher because they don’t have to be picked before they’re ripe for shipping, and are less likely to be subjected to different means of preserving freshness. Many fruits and vegetables must stay in refrigerated trucks, which increases the amount of energy the trucks consume.

While there are some extreme locavores out there, introducing more local food into your diet isn’t as hard as it seems. Plus, eating locally puts more emphasis on eating fresh, non-processed foods that will benefit anyone trying to lose weight. When you eat locally, you’re also supporting the local economy. Here are a few simple ways to eat local.

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Pick Fruits and Vegetables Right from the Farm

There’s a lot of great stuff about this time of year. One of the best, and maybe the least known, is the availability of the Pick Your Own Farm. Also called U-Pick or PYO, these farms are wonderful places to take your family. In some cities, these businesses are referred to as agri-business, basically business that occurs on a farm.

In the United States, picking your own berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), apples, and vegetables is most common. Pumpkin patches, often with associated corn mazes, hay rides and wagon rides are common in the fall. Urban legend has it that You Pick Farms started after WWI, when labor was hard to come by and farmers were short on workers.

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