‘No, you cannot have your cookie unless you eat your veggies.’ If your childhood was anything like mine, you heard this ALL the time. Those dreaded florets of broccoli and asparagus sticks were enough to give me a nightmare. But the promise of the wonderfully sweet cookie made it worth it.
If parents worldwide say the same things, there must be some truth in it, right? Well, as we grew up, some of us developed a taste for greens, but almost all of us agree they are superfoods. Moreover, eating fresh fruits and vegetables is considered better for our health. But what exactly does fresh mean? How much ‘fresh’ is fresh enough? Does it really have any substantial benefit over, let’s say, the lesser ‘fresh’ varieties?
Over the last few decades, these questions have piqued the interests of nutritionists and mothers all over the world. Fresh produce is the new buzzword in the world of culinary sciences, and everyday people are working on new ways to bring the farm to your table in the quickest time possible! Read on as we try to unravel some of these questions about why eating fresh is eating right!
Is a tomato from a fresh product market better than your average supermarket tomato?
Well, not just a tomato but pretty much everything you eat is better when eaten fresh. When food doesn’t go via cycles of sorting, cleaning, and preserving in cold storages, they retain their original nutritional value much more. Think of it as drinking a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice instead of drinking an orange-flavored energy drink. Not only does it taste better, but you are also confident that all the Vitamin C enriched goodness of oranges goes straight to your body. Of course, no preservatives and added sugar, a proven health hazard, are the cherry on top.
So, one of the main reasons why eating fresh is better is because of more nutrition, but there’s more to that. When you buy from local farm shops, you pay less for better quality, know precisely where your food came from, for most cases know that your food is free of harmful chemicals and quality enhancers, and get to support your local farmers. Let’s talk more about each benefit in more detail.
- Higher nutritional value and taste: When you buy from local farm shops, the produce is procured daily. Without the need for extended refrigeration, travel and its associated processing, fruits, veggies, and meat are richer in their nutritional content. Unlike the food in supermarkets, most of these items are not produced in bulk, and hence, fruits are allowed to ripen naturally. The taste is unmatched.
Since they don’t sit on shelves for weeks, there is no need for waxing, polishing, or even adding colors in some cases. They look and taste exactly as they would if you plucked them from a tree! This is the real deal.
- Access to seasonal supplies: This is a well-known fact that consuming seasonal and locally grown fruits and vegetables is way better than paying triple for that exotic variety. When you buy from a fresh product shop, you get only those items that grow in the season. It is a great way to connect to the seasonal changes – eating asparagus in spring, a sweet potato and corn casserole in the summers, enjoying that spiced pumpkin pie in the autumn, and the leafy goodness of kale and spinach all through winter.
- Transparency in food production: Unlike most supermarket food, where there is hardly any information about where it was grown or processed, in fresh product shops you get to know all about the production process. Regular visits to these places will be nothing less than a know-your-community exercise where you meet and greet with the lovely people involved in growing your food items.
- Support family-owned farms and farmers: As unfortunate as it may be, retailers and supply chain units dominate the agricultural industry at large. When large agribusinesses dominate the food production process, they severely ignore the farmers who work hard in growing the food.
Mass production leads to several malpractices like non-environmentally friendly farming methods, inhumane treatment of cattle, etc. But, on the other hand, when you buy directly from farmers, you help small family-run farms sustain themselves and, in turn, encourage them to continue farming ethically.
From Farm to Table – How does it work?
“I grow my own vegetables and herbs. I like being able to tell people that the lunch I’m serving started out as a seed in my yard.” – Curtis Stone.
So, if Curtis Stone does something, it must be good, right? Well, in this case, yes! While not all of us can boast of a huge backyard to grow and sustain a kitchen garden, we can certainly try the next best thing – Farm produce.
For most of us, our daily ration of fruits and vegetables comes from farms grown miles away. By the time they reach aisles in the supermarket, they are typically a few days old (and have spent the same number of days getting less fresh). While modern storage and logistics have improved the quality of the products greatly, it is still not as fresh as we would want them to be. This is where the newest rage in the food industry, farmer’s markets, or retail units that source locally come into the picture.
These fresh product markets liaise with local fruits and vegetable farmers, meat and dairy farmers to procure items locally and sell them to end customers the very same day. Since they source the produce locally and also sell them locally, they cut down the need to store or ship. In a few hours, food travels from farms to your plates.
The Bottom Line
So, next time you think of making a Caesar salad and wish your Romaine lettuce was greener and crunchier, pay a visit to the local fresh product shop. You would be surprised grocery shopping could be so much more than just buying veggies!