by Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D. in Farmers' Market Finds, May 28, 2016
by Toby Amidor in Food and Nutrition Experts, May 23, 2016
If you haunt your farmers market looking for signs of spring, you’re probably familiar with garlic scapes and broccoli rabe…they’re some of the first greens you’ll find. But scapes and rabe come in more varieties than garlic and broccoli. Here’s the skinny on what they are and what other varieties to look for.
What Are Scapes?
These shoots are one of the first edible greens to crop up in spring. Scapes are simply flower stalks that grow out of the bulbs of garlic, onions and leeks. At the top of each is a bulb that will flower if left unplucked. For eating, though, scapes are picked when the green stalk is sturdy and the bulb is still a bulb. Scapes taste like the alliums they grow from, and you can use them in places you would use chopped onion.
How to Use Scapes
To cook scapes, remove the bulbs and use the stalks. Chop them finely and saute to soften. Add them to omelets or quiche, blitz them into a pesto or preserve them by pickling. Read more
by Dana Angelo White in Healthy Tips, May 21, 2016
Tiny smooth carrots – which are perfect for snacking and dipping – don’t actually grow that way. Find out how they’re made, and why it’s OK to munch on them.
Baby carrots were invented by a California carrot farmer, Mike Yurosek. In the early 1980s, Yurosek found that many of his carrots were not saleable because they were “ugly” — they weren’t the size or shape that could be sold at the grocery store. Instead of tossing these “ugly” carrots, he used an industrial bean cutter to shape them into what are now called “baby carrots.” The success of baby carrots was overwhelming. By 1987, carrot consumption had increased by 30 percent. Today, baby carrots consist of 70 percent of total carrot sales. Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, May 13, 2016
It’s the time of year when home gardeners begin to set a game plan for the season. Their excitement begins to build, as they know that what starts out as small seeds and plants will turn into a backyard bounty of edible goodness over the course of a few short months. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a horticulture newbie, use these tips to get off to a fruitful start.
- Find the right space.
The best place to start digging is one with lots of sunshine and plenty of soil. If you have a designated garden spot, try to rotate the main area every couple of years to help prevent depleting nutrients from the soil. If a new spot isn’t an option, plant items in different spots than the year before — tomatoes on the opposite side of the garden and so on. Also, consider using a combo of raised containers and in-ground beds so you don’t take up your entire lawn. If you live in a wooded area, consider how to set up protection from hungry squirrels, rabbits, deer and other four-legged friends. Read more
by Sally Wadyka in Healthy Tips, May 11, 2016
Healthier veggie prep
We all know vegetables are healthy, but some ways of preparing them are healthier than others. In general, cooked beats raw, CNN reports, noting, “Studies show the process of cooking actually breaks down tough outer layers and cellular structure of many vegetables, making it easier for your body to absorb their nutrients.” And while the ideal method may differ slightly for different vegetables, the news site reports, as a rule of thumb it’s often best to steam (don’t boil) or microwave your veggies and “keep cooking time, temperature and the amount of liquid to a minimum.” Then throw in a wee bit of olive oil and you’re good to go. Read more
by Toby Amidor in Healthy Tips, March 9, 2016
How Does Your Garden Grow? Tips for Beginning Vegetable Gardeners
You see all the beautiful fresh produce at your weekly farmers market and think, “How hard could it be to grow some of this myself?” The short answer: not that hard, provided you choose low-maintenance veggies and follow a few simple rules. We asked Kevin Karl, farm manager at Growing Gardens, a nonprofit in Boulder dedicated to building community through urban agriculture, to help would-be gardeners start to dig in.
by Dana Angelo White in Healthy Tips, July 20, 2015
I know you’re asking: How is March tart cherry month? Tart cherries are different than the sweet cherries that are in season during the warm summer months. These sweet-sour cherries aren’t eaten fresh; rather they are enjoyed year-round dried, frozen, canned and as concentrated juice. Research has also shown that these delicious cherries contain numerous health benefits.
by Toby Amidor in Food Safety, September 2, 2012
It’s the height of the season for fresh summer produce. To help keep fruit and vegetables tasting their best, avoid making these common mistakes. Read more
by Toby Amidor in Food Safety, August 7, 2012
Do pesky fruit flies hover around your fresh produce? Find out how you can get them out of your kitchen.
Fruit Flies 101
Adult fruit flies (Drosiphila melanogaster) range in size from 1 to 2 millimeters, have red eyes and tan or brownish body. They like to lay their eggs on fruit that’s getting ready to be harvested; that’s how they make it into your home, though they can come in through open doors and windows. Once in your home, these small flies will hang out near rotting fruit, especially old bananas hanging out on your counter. These flies reproduce quickly—they can lay up to 500 eggs over the course of their 1-week lifespan.
Other common breeding grounds for these bugs include decaying meat, large spills of sugary soda or alcohol, sink drains, garbage disposals, empty bottles and cans, trash receptacles, wet mops and dirty rags.
by Toby Amidor in Healthy Tips, January 25, 2011
You know you should be eating your fruits and veggies. But it’s just as important to your health to make sure your produce is clean and free of harmful pathogens. Luckily, there are simple tips you can follow to keep you and your loved ones safe.
The culprits include raw fruits and veggies and fresh juices made from them. Choosing organic or sticking to the clean 15 can help decrease the amount of pesticides in your produce but it won’t change the possibility that harmful microorganisms may be present.
At the Store
Whether you’re buying from your local supermarket, farmers’ market or belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) keep these tips in mind:
- Purchase in-season fruits and veggies, especially in the summer when so much is available.
- If you’re heading to your local farmers’ market, go early! You don’t want to buy fruits and veggies that have been sitting out in the heat for many hours or that have been touched by lots of people.
- Buy only what you need for the week. You’re better off making several quick trips to the market rather than stocking up and risking having the excess go bad.
- Choose produce carefully. Look for signs on spoilage such as mold, bruises, mushiness or cuts.
- Instead of buying pre-packaged produce, choose loose produce. It gives you a better opportunity to check for signs of spoilage.
- When buying fresh juice, be sure it’s pasteurized (treated with heat to kill harmful germs). If you’re not sure, ask or don’t buy it. Remember, young kids, pregnant and lactating women, older adults and those with a compromised immune system should lay off unpasteurized juices.
- If you’re bagging your produce in reusable bags, be sure to wash the bags regularly.
- How much do you know about fresh produce? Take our quiz to find out.
The last part of our pop quiz series tests your knowledge of fruits and veggies. Think you’re a produce genius? The only way to find out is to answer these four questions.
Test your knowledge »