This is the week! Spring plantings and installations start this week, and what better a way to kick it off, than a reFRESHer on the benefits of fresh picked fruits and veggies? Did you know that the Oxford American Dictionary declared “locavore” as 2007 Word of the Year? It defines locavore as a person “whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food.” Maybe you’ve also heard of it referred to as the 100 Mile Diet? But other than a delicious scavenger hunt around your home, the amazing meals and doing your part for your local economy, are there are other motivations to eating locally? It turns out that organic or not, fresh is best. Like really fresh. As we like to say around here, fresh can mean five minutes ago.
According to a Harvard study, there are several factors that contribute to the nutritional value of your fruit and veggies. For example, the ripeness when picked; or how your veggies are handled, stored, processed and delivered after harvesting – a process that can take anywhere from days to weeks. Often what we choose from at the grocery store is based on how well it will keep between harvest and their bumpy trek to the produce section. One of the most important factors in a veggie’s nutritional value is its temperature after harvest, which is specific to the veggie, making it nearly impossible to regulate in transit.
Take the tomato for example; it retains the most nutrition when stored between 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit. But, the odds are stacked against the tomato, which is picked before ripe and shipped with a whole stir-fry of other veggies. Did you know that there are over 400 different varieties of tomatoes? Which ones are you hoping to try this summer? Green Zebra? Cherokee Purple? Jaune Flammée? We hope our excitement about backyard fresh veggies is as infectious as it is going to be delicious!