The Kitchen Vixen is WalkJogRun's weekly recipe contributor. This week she discusses the benefits of buying local produce, and explores some great ways to use fresh berries this summer.
While berries are in season take this opportunity to make as many fresh berry recipes as possible. Of course you can also eat berries 'as is,' right after you rinse them. Place your berries in a large bowl of cool, not warm, water. Add about 20 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE), a natural antiviral/antibacterial. Let the berries soak about 10 minutes, rinse in a sieve and then pop them in your mouth.
You can then blend berries with you favorite protein powder or Greek yogurt plus ground flax, chia or hemp seeds for a quick power smoothie. The choices are endless but the season is not, so stock up and freeze what you can't eat within a week. To freeze, place the washed berries on a baking tray, spread out and not clumped together. In about three hours you should have frozen berries which you can place in storage bags or containers for easy access all year long.
When shopping for berries, it's best to taste them before buying because color is not always indicative of sweetness. If you have access to a local farmer's market, get there early. If the berry farmer has a good reputation, they often sell out before the end of the day.
If you don't have access to a farmer's market, find a local berry farm that offers “pick-your-own” produce. The prices are better since you're doing the labor and you get a workout to boot. Plus, talk about FRESH! Visit pickyourown.org for a farm close to your home.
Need more incentive to buy fresh and local? Did you know that before the average food item even reaches your kitchen table, it has traveled an average of 1,300 miles? And 90% of the fossil fuel from the world's food system goes towards packaging, transport and marketing that food item. Only about 10% is used for actual production. That kind of inefficiency can create many potential problems for the planet.
Shopping at the farmer's market is one small way to make a big positive impact on the environment since typically, the vendors selling you those sweet berries are farmers who live or work within a 200-mile radius of the market, which keeps them in the local realm while decreasing their carbon footprint.
In the hierarchy of produce buying, seasonal and fresh are best, followed by local and then organic. Keep in mind that getting the actual organic certification is a pricy process so ask the farmer about their growing practices. To follow organic farming principles, the farmer should incorporate principles such as crop rotation, to confuse pests; and composting as well as the use of green manures: a type of cover crop grown primarily to add nutrients to the soil. You can read more information about organic farming here.
Some research shows that organic produce is higher in vitamin C and phenolic compounds (antioxidants) essential for the plant's natural defense system. A plant that is grown “organically,” without the help of pesticides, develops a better defense system on its own. You end up eating the “stronger” organic produce and in turn strengthen your own defense system as well.
There are more than 4,000 farmer's market around the country, for a listing near you visit LocalHarvest.org. Here's a list of a few popular ones:
- Santa Monica Farmer's Market: Santa Monica, CA
- Union Square Greenmarket: New York, NY
- SoWa Open Market, Boston, MA
- Chicago's Downtown Farmstand, Chicago, IL
- Ferry Plaza Farmers Market: San Francisco, CA
- Sunset Valley Farmers Market: Sunset Valley, TX
- Seattle University “U-District” Market: Seattle, WA
- Santa Fe Farmers Market: Santa Fe, NM
- Boulder Farmers Market: Boulder, CO
Arugula Berry Salad with Steamed White Fish
Ready in 10 minutes, makes 1 serving
Cost per serving: $8.12
- 4 ounces white fish, such as halibut, trout, cod, tilapia
- 2 cups arugula
- 1/2 cup red raspberries
- 1/2 cup blackberries
- 1 Tablespoon goat cheese
- 1 Tablespoon pecans
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 6 mint leaves, chiffonade (stack leaves and cut into small ribbons)
- Steam white fish until white and flaky, about 5 minutes.
- Toss arugula with balsamic.
- Top with berries, goat cheese, pecans and chopped mint leaves.
- Serve with white fish.
3 1/2 cups/324g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet
Looking for another great recipe that uses fresh fruit and will keep you cool this summer? Check out my power smoothies!