National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

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Did you know June was National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month? Isn’t that appropriate, with all the fresh produce you see at Farmers’ Markets and in stores? Have you had a chance to visit a Farmers’ Market this season? They are often open on Saturdays so hopefully you’ll have a chance to go this week-end and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors.

To your health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Food and Nutrition Consultant

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Going Food Shopping at the Farmers’ Market

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Going to the local farmers’ market with your child helps him or her learn where their food comes from. Here your child will see the many varieties of fruits and vegetables that are grown right in your own region.

Understanding that the corn in the can or frozen package really started as corn in the husks on the cob is sometimes hard for children to comprehend. Seeing carrots with bushy tops and not perfectly scrubbed clean in plastic bags can be eye-opening for them as well. Even seeing the quantities of melons in the back of pickups and truck beds piled high with corn is really quite a sight.

I always think of the hard work that goes into growing this food and getting it to market. I know that those who work the soil are always dependent on Mother Nature to bring the rain and sunshine just at the right moments. The fruits of their labor relies on cooperation from the elements.

Even though farmers’ markets offer food at the peak of freshness, we still must be concerned with maintaining the freshness and keeping it safe for eating. It’s always a good idea to go right home to get perishable foods in the refrigerator.

Some produce can be ripened on the kitchen counter and then stored in the refrigerator. Foods such as peaches, nectarines, pears, and plums fall into this category.

Some foods taste best at room temperature, such as onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and squashes. They need to be stored in a clean, dry, well-ventilated place, away from direct sunlight and areas where meat is prepared.

I always like to prepare what I bought as soon as possible. The last time I went to market I bought some beautiful looking onions. I hadn’t baked onions for a long time but remembered how my grandmother used to just set the onion on the top of the cover from a metal coffee can. (I suppose because aluminum foil wasn’t readily available and the juices do run out – can you remember the time before aluminum foil)??

Anyway, baked onions are delicious.

This is what you do…and it’s easy enough that kids can help and be part of the “going to market and then using the fresh food” experience.

Baked Onions

Cut off both ends of the onion and peel the outer skin. Cut an X in the center of the onion and dribble on some olive oil or add a dab of butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place each onion on a piece of foil and wrap tightly. Set in a baking dish. Bake for about 1 hour, or until tender. You can sprinkle top with freshly grated Parmesan, or crumbled cooked bacon, or some fresh herbs.

Serve with any meat dish or pasta.

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New Food Innovations

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I just ran across an article in a college magazine about changes college kids are enjoying in their cafeterias. One food service offers “the real thing” in flavored filtered water.

Individual dispensers are filled with layers of ice with cut up fruits and vegetables. Foods such as oranges, lemons, limes, apples, strawberries, cucumbers and other seasonal foods and vegetables are added to the ice to create water that has the flavor of the food. I would never have guessed their favorite flavor is cucumber! The report stated the students are drinking their way through about 150 gallons of filtered, flavored water per day and cutting down on soda drinking.

Another innovative feature of this cafeteria is to go tray-less. This may require more trips to the food counters but the students are responding positively. Going tray-less is saving on water and wash products, as well as on the amount of food wasted.

This sounds like they are taking seriously environmental benefits. Good for them!

Lee Jackson
Books for home and family

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“Fast Food” for Your Family

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Before you go grocery shopping, think of foods your family would like for quick “pick-me-up” snacks. This could be your family’s “fast food”.

Raw fruits and vegetables are great to include. You might consider fruit such as grapes, apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries or other berries. Add some veggies like carrots, cut up cauliflower, celery stick and others. And you might want to have on hand non-sweetened cereals, granola bars, yogurt, dried fruits, cheese, whole grain crackers, and nuts.

Especially now when children are home from school for the summer, it’s good to have nutritious grab-and-go foods available.

Here’s to happy and healthy snacking.

Lee Jackson

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