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Why Should I Buy In Season / Locally Grown Food?

Even though fall officially started over a month ago, we haven’t been formally graced by its presence until this past week. I don’t know if you guys have noticed but it’s starting to get cold out there! With the change in season comes a change in the type of produce being grown and available for purchase. Buying fruits and vegetables that are in season is beneficial for your health as well as the environment. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.

  • Saves you money. Locally grown produce that is in season is usually less expensive. Because there is such an abundance of the crop during that time of year, the cost tends to be a little easier on your wallet.
  • Better quality. Produce that is locally grown is fresher, more nutrient dense and richer in flavor. Local farmers harvest crops based on when they are at their peak freshness, nutrient density and taste. Produce that is not grown locally is usually grown in a hothouse or shipped from another part of the world. When crops are transported they must be harvested early and refrigerated so they don’t rot during transportation. They may not ripen as effectively as they would in their natural environment and as a result may not develop their full flavor. Also, produce that is being transported can spend as many as 7 to 14 days in transit before even arriving at the supermarket. So the fruits and vegetables you are buying in your grocery store could already be 2 weeks old. Not exactly fresh or high quality food. Locally grown foods, however, are usually sold within 24 hours of being harvested. Also, nutrients are quickly lost during transportation, so not only are locally grown foods fresher and tastier, they are more nutrient dense. Another point to consider is that pesticides and other chemicals are usually added to these foods in order to keep them fresh and help them to ripen while being shipped.
  • Adds variety. Buying locally grown foods promotes variety. Since certain produce is only grown and available during specific times of the year, choosing foods that are in season helps to add variety to your diet. Instead of eating the typical fruits and vegetables that are always available in your supermarket such as granny smith apples, baby carrots, and white potatoes, experiment with the different varieties that are available throughout the different seasons.
  • Good for the environment. Buying locally grown food is not only better for your health and wallet, it is also better for the environment. Did you know that the average American meal travels about 1,500 miles to get from where it is grown to your plate? This leaves a huge carbon footprint on the environment that can easily be avoided by eating locally.
  • Supports local economy. Buying locally also helps to support your local economy. When you buy directly from local farmers, you help strengthen your local economy as opposed to a company in another city, state or even country.

So how can you get started and make the switch? There are a few ways you can buy locally grown food. First, you can start by shopping at Farmer’s Markets. In New York City you can find a farmer’s market in pretty much any neighborhood. These markets are held on different days, at different locations every week during the summer and fall (some are even open during the winter months). You could also join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). When you become a member of a CSA, you purchase a “share” of produce from a regional farmer. Your produce is then delivered to you either on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. You could also grab some friends and take a field trip out of the city to a U-Pick where you can pick fresh produce right off the land. Now that we are in the fall season, Apple Orchids are in full swing offering many delicious varieties. Lastly, you can choose to eat at restaurants that source locally. There are a variety of restaurants in the NYC area that buy from local and regional farms.

So what’s in season now? Try these fruits and vegetables that are at their peak during the fall season:

  • Apples
  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Collard Greens
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Gourds
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Melons
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Peas
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Spinach
  • Summer Squash
  • Sweet Corn
  • Swiss Chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Winter Squash
  • Zucchini

To find a local Farmer’s Market in your neighborhood visit: http://www.grownyc.org/greenmarket/ourmarkets

For more information on the CSA program visit:

http://www.justfood.org/csa

http://nyccsa.org

For more information on U-Pick visit:

www.pickyourown.org

For Apple Picking visit:

http://nyapplecountry.com/

To find restaurants that source locally visit:

http://www.cleanplatesnyc.com

What’s Up Next Week: Know Your ABCs. Vitamin of the Month

This Week’s Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Now that the weather is getting colder, warm up with this delicious soup made with this season’s most popular vegetable.

Ingredients:

  • 2, ¾ pounds sugar pumpkin or butternut squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered through the stem
  • 2 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps wiped clean
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium vegetable stock

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Cut pumpkin into 2-inch pieces.
  • Combine pumpkin, onion, mushrooms, and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Add oil and 2 teaspoons salt; toss to coat, then spread in a single layer.
  • Roast until pumpkin is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 30 minutes, rotating pan and tossing vegetables halfway through.
  • Let cool, then remove skins.
  • Transfer vegetables to a medium saucepan and heat over medium.
  • Pour in 2 cups stock and puree with a blender until smooth.
  • With the blender running, slowly add remaining 3 cups stock, and puree until smooth.
  • Bring soup just to a simmer.
  • Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover to keep warm.

Makes 4 servings

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