Using Festivals & Aggregators to Scour Farmer’s Markets

We are obviously big fans of farmer’s markets and local and community driven agriculture. As are many of us. The downside of this new trend, especially in cities, is that inventory can go fast. For the sellers, they can charge an almost unlimited amount for their wares when they can find a big enough audience. But we are all tired of getting up earlier than we prefer on a weekend and still missing the one thing that you rose so early to nab.

This article may be very obvious to many of you, but we wanted to share the little tricks that we do that are far from perfect, but can sometimes help us to avoid heartache and end up with more swiss chard than we want.

This is an old story, but a long while ago before they leveled up their production, we used to chase farmer’s markets every month looking for Merf’s Electric Lime hot sauce. And sometime between those days and today, where you can just find a store on their website, we used to comb various farmer’s markets and food festival websites, looking for another place if we happen to miss it.

Nearly every festival and farmer’s market has a website or app now. They usually list who is going to show, and if you are really on the ball, write to this group and see what they are bringing.

Another spot where we have been particularly successful when it comes to fresh seafood is using aggregators. My husband is from Maine and we had been hunting for ways to get fresh lobster that didn’t involve hassling his old friends and relatives and sometimes not ending up with the best result. In our attempts to buy lobster online for a surf and turf party, we found Quality Seafood Delivery. They aggregate companies who ship fresh seafood, such as lobster, salmon, crab, crawfish, halibut, and smoked salmon. They are free to use, and while they

It’s important to note today that the world has figured out ecommerce better than even four years ago, and you can mostly buy direct and skip the festival or market once someone is established, but until they are established these are the methods that reduce our frustration and FOMO.

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Organic Strawberries

When considering purchasing conventionally grown products or organically grown products, it is important to understand what is used to help the product grow and what the overall benefits and disadvantage of each is.  

Organic Strawberries 

There is little doubt that strawberries are scrumptious fruit produced in almost bite-sized pieces.  
 
There is also very little doubt that strawberries provide many health benefits, but you should always be aware of the difference in how strawberries are grown.  
 
Conventionally grown strawberries are typically grown using toxic fumigants, growth hormones, and chemicals used for plant growth.  
 
On the other hand, strawberries that are grown organically use natural fertilizers, natural mulch, and preventative methods in order to control disease. Organic strawberries also implement mechanical methods to help reduce weeds that require more labored work. 

Expense 

 Anyone who has seen strawberries at their local grocery store can tell you that each pack of strawberries can cost quite a bit in comparison to other fruits and products. In fact, the conventional strawberries can cost about $4 a pound. Organic strawberries can cost more than $6 a pound, driving up the cost even more.  
 
Is it worth? Definitely.  

Benefits 

 The benefits of organic strawberries to anyone’s health include a burst of vitamins C and K, potassium, and manganese. Organic strawberries also have plenty of antioxidants and fiber in every bit.  
 
The antioxidants found in organic strawberries, such as ellagic acid, may help to improve heart function lowering the risk or cardiovascular diseases. These antioxidants offer anti-inflammatory benefits that can also help reduce the likelihood of strokes, inhibiting the formation of blood clots. 

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Organic Potatoes

When thinking of various organic health foods, you always want to consider what kind of health benefit you will receive from consuming different foods.  

Organic Potatoes 

 All around the globe, potatoes are found and commonly used as a staple in any dish or diet. They are very versatile, and many unique dishes can be made from this simple ingredient.  
 
When shopping for potatoes, you should highly consider finding and purchasing organic potatoes. These potatoes are typically more concentrated with minerals that are higher in vitamin C, iron, phosphorous, and even magnesium.  
 
Organic potatoes also provide important protection against cancer and cardiovascular disease as they contain significantly fewer heavy metals than their non-organic counter parts.  
 
Potatoes that are organic contain starch that is more easily digestible by the body and is high in fiber, low in calorie.  

Where and How Much? 

 The term “organic” has been commonly associated with high expense. However, because potatoes are such a staple food that can be grown locally and all over the world, you can find reasonably priced potatoes at high quality levels.  
 
Always be sure to check out your local farmers’ markets for locally sourced organic potatoes at the best prices. However, for the busier family or individual you can find them online and shipped directly to your house, again at little cost.  

Star or Side 

Potatoes that are clean of various pesticides and offer all of these wonderful benefits can be paired with any dish, as the star or the side. Additionally, this is one healthy food that you will hear and have no complaints about consuming. 

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Organic Apples

When you are worried about the contamination from pesticides and other chemicals, you will want to buy organic apples. Apples are a delicious fruit that is easy to take with you to work or to school as a snack, but you can also use these fruits in many recipes. This variety of fruit offers several vitamins and minerals along with fiber that will satiate your appetite.  

Why Organic?

It is easy to buy organic apples today, and some stores offer organic produce at the same price as the other types of apples. Call your local supermarkets to determine if the businesses offer organic produce, but also, you should remember that you can find organic apples at local orchards or at farmers markets. You can find different varieties of apples that have red or green peels.  

Cost

In some cases, organic apples will cost more, but the price difference is usually low, and you will know that the fruit is safer to eat. When you are buying organic apples, you should understand that the produce will often spoil faster because the fruit won’t have any protective wax or preservatives.  

Organic Apple Storage

You should learn how to store the organic apples properly in a cool and dry location that is away from insects or rodents. If you buy a lot of organic apples, then you should learn how to freeze or can the fruit so that it remains edible. Dietitians recommend eating at least five servings of produce each day, so you should buy organic apples frequently. 

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Avocado

Often, we walk pass the avocado section in the supermarket because it seems so expensive. But if we know, spending those extra cents will be beneficial to our health we would prefer spending the cents to keep our health. 

Daily Recommended Value

Among fruits and vegetables, avocado stand apart for the many ways it can support our health with healthy fats, protein, vitamins and mineral content. From 100 grams of avocado you get a quarter of the daily amount recommended. This unique vitamin helps build stronger bones, lower cholesterol, and assist in blood clotting. 

Nutrient Content

Avocado also supplies us with folate which may help in preventing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, prevent some kinds of cancer and may assist with anxiety, depression and sleep problems. With the vitamin C in avocado, your immune system will be greatly enhanced to fight off illnesses. The potassium in this fruit can assist in lowering blood pressure levels, needed for people with a heart problem history. It has also been shown to prevent kidney failure. 

Avocado’s monounsaturated fats can also boost our cardiovascular health, prevent inflammation and related infections. Also, with its supply of fiber, this fruit assists with weight control. Avocados also help with the absorption of antioxidants which helps us to keep infections and even cancer at bay. It also aids in.maintaining eye health. 

Additional Benefits

There are other benefits associated with consuming avocado daily, including keeping arthritis at bay, reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis and reducing the side effects of chemotherapy. Also it’s a versatile fruit and can be prepared in many attractive ways. 

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Grass-Fed Steak

When considering which foods to buy and why, a top priority should always be to think about the future. You should always think about ways to provide the best for your body so that its health is maintained throughout the years.  
 
One way to do this is to consider the use of organic products.  

Grass-Fed Steaks 

 Steaks are usually considered a food that is served on special occasions rather than a part of a weekly diet. Even though this is the case, we should always consider the impact this delicious food has on our bodies.  
 
Grass-fed steaks are a healthy form of steak that should be considered.  

You Are What You Eat 

What cattle graze or feed on dictates the nutritional value of the beef produced. Grass-fed cows graze on grass and while grain-fed cows are fed a diet that is not natural to them. Conventional grain-fed cows are also given growth hormones and antibiotics that can impact their nutritional values.  

Benefits 

Being fed an organic and balance diet, cows producing grass-fed steak offer fewer calories and more healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids.  
 
Organic steak can also help reduce the risk of heart disease as the steak contains lower amounts of saturate fats. It can also potentially help fight off cancer since it contains a great nutrient called conjugated linoleic acid. 

Worth it? 

 Grass-fed steak can cost double the price of your average steak. However, in thinking of the future, this type of food is one to consider for a healthy diet. 

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Organic Peanut Butter

When people talk about pricey health food, peanut butter is one of the first examples they use. “This jar of Jif costs $4 and will last me two weeks!” they declare, shaking a plastic jar of smashed nuts and preservatives in your face. “This one? It costs three times that and tastes like sawdust!”

While we don’t agree that natural and organic peanut butter tastes like sawdust (it’s an acquired taste), there’s a certain stigma around organic peanut butter. Maybe it’s the taste. Maybe it’s the layer of oil that sits on top. In most cases, though, it’s that crazy price tag.

But what does that price tag say about the product? And are there any ways to get around it? We have some ideas, and a few suggestions, to help you make sense of this ubiquitous health food.

Why so Expensive?

Organic and natural peanut butter is expensive for several reasons. Primarily, as is the case with most organic foods, the biggest contributor lies in production. Organic foods are grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, irradiation, and genetic engineering. This means producing the peanut is a lot more difficult and expensive than in non-organic and non-natural peanut butters. The farmers and manufactures of these conscious butters are also considering the environmental impact of their food.

This production goes beyond pesticides. Non-organic peanut butters also contain several preservatives, like aflatoxin, which are known carcinogens. However, the lack of preservatives means the product spoils faster. There is therefore a greater product turnover (I.e they expire faster) and more control placed on the amount of peanut butter produced (to avoid waste). Peanut butter is the perfect storm of health food risks and cost additions.

Could Fresh-Made Peanut Butter be the Solution?

Actually, yeah. It really could.

Even organic and all-natural peanut butter has added oil and, possibly, preserving agents. If it’s on the shelf and has an expiration date more than a few months away, something has been added to keep it tasting good and safe to eat.

The solution? Making the peanut butter yourself. It sounds tough, but odds are, a grocery store within driving distance has the ability to do it.

Take Whole Foods. Their nut butter machines are typically in the bulk bin section, and they look similar to meat grinders. On top, there will be large cases of almonds, peanuts, cashews… all types of nuts. To make your own butter, just choose your container, the nut you want to grind, and hit the start button. The process is easy, completely free of preservatives, and extremely cost-effective.

Most organic nut butters on the market retail anywhere between $7 and $11 per jar, and jars range anywhere from 12 to 16 ounces. Peanut butter at Whole Foods can be between $3 and $4 per pound, and there are frequently $1-off sales. That’s a savings of more than 20%.

So, if you’re looking for a way to bring fresh, organic peanut butter into your life, check out your local grocer or co-op to see what they have to offer by way of the fresh-made stuff. Your wallet will thank you.

How Eating Seasonal Produce and Impact Your Health

Modern agriculture and food processing techniques have made most foods available year-round. This means we have a variety of foods at our fingertips nearly all the time – asparagus in November and honey crisp apples in January. However, this means we forget that food availability is supposed to change with the seasons. Even though new developments make it possible to eat tomatoes with Christmas dinner, that doesn’t mean we should do it. In fact, eating seasonally has several health benefits. Here’s what you need to know.

What Does the Science Say?

According to multiple studies, nutrient content changes in foods depending on the seasons in which they are produced. For example, a study conducted by the U.K. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food found that nutrient content in milk differed depending on whether it was harvested in summer versus winter. This is because the cow’s diet changes. They eat fewer fresh vegetables in winter, and so the nutrient makeup of that milk was less robust. Similarly, Japanese researchers found a big difference in the nutritional content of spinach harvested in the summer versus during winter.

What’s more, eating foods in seasons when they are not grown means you are likely ingesting additional pesticides, waxes, and other types of preservatives. Plus, the longer produce sits on the shelf, the more nutrients and antioxidants they lose. Spinach and green beans can lose up to 66% of their vitamin C within a week of harvest.

Basically, eating seasonally ensures you get all the health benefits and nutrients of the foods you are eating. They taste better, look better, and are better for you.

Additional Benefits

Eating in-season produce is great for everyone involved in the food production — not just you, the consumer. Eating locally supports local farmers who choose to farm sustainably, propping up the industry working against factory farming and industrial agriculture. To this end, it helps preserve the environment, an increasingly important factor for many.

Plus, it’s just better. You’ll have more variety of foods in your diet, and you’ll get to experiment with fruits and vegetables you might be unfamiliar with. Seasonal foods are also often cheaper to produce and buy, meaning your doctor, your farmer, and your wallet will thank you.

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Top 10 Tips

As a certified healthcare consultant and organic farmer, I hear time and again how people want to clean up their diet. The number one reason they site as the source of their failure is the cost of organic food. So, here it is folks. No more excuses. 10 reasons why you can go green without going broke. Look for Rosas Farms local green challenge in the July Issue of Ocala Magazine.

  1. Your “Five Bucks” coffee costs more than a pound of organic chicken in most stores.
  2. Ready made hormone filled rotisserie chicken could buy a lot of organic milk. Use your food dollar wisely. Cooking: It’s where you bring the family back to life and life back to the family.
  3. Store brand organics are nearly the same price as brand name foods and are often on sale.
  4. Coupons, coupons, coupons
  5. After-market stores often carry organics. Try your local scratch and dent.
  6. Preparing food at home, especially in bulk is almost always less expensive than eating out, even if you’re eating fast food. The real cost of your fast food is for a completely different article. But, I digress. Remember leftovers? (No, not the kind in cute little white boxes.)
  7. Organic Rice and Beans are grossly underrated nutritionally and financially.
  8. The time spent waiting in line at a fast food drive through is exactly the same amount of time it takes to make organic scrambled eggs and toast with organic orange juice and burns way less gas. Breakfast is cheap. Who cares when you eat it?
  9. Buy less expensive cuts of organic meat like organic chicken wings and legs or organic ground beef.
  10. Eat less. You’ll likely live longer.