This week, Smart Markets began what we hope will be a long and fruitful partnership with the Fairfax County government employees’ Live Well program. The Live Well program is a major in-house effort to improve the health and fitness of county employees through a variety of means, including shopping at farmers’ markets and cooking more at home. We look forward to helping as many county employees as possible to reach personal and program goals through information, education and lots of great vendors. We hope to encourage them to try new foods and new recipes and inform them about how to mix-and-match the naturally raised, locally produced products found in our markets into meals that extend their minds while reducing their tummies — but, most importantly, while promoting good health for them and their families.
The best part of all of this for those of you who do not work for Fairfax County is that you too will benefit from our enhanced programming and the materials and teaching tools we develop for this partnership.
One more message for the masses: Some of you have read other statements I have made about the superior quality of market produce. I was recently reminded of another benefit of buying local when I read this article by Kate Sheppard about “leftovers,” which in this country amount to 14 percent of the food we buy in the USA. In addition, $60 billion in food from restaurants, stores, processors and farms is wasted every year. She is primarily concerned about the unnecessary energy this consumes, but she also mentions that we could also benefit from more knowledge about the storage of food for future use — or reuse for that matter. She recommends StillTasty.com for help in deciding “what to eat and what to toss.”
I have another perspective to add: Fruits and vegetables that have been picked within 24 hours purchase (or even a few days before), as opposed to weeks in some cases for store-bought produce, are going to be edible for many more days and have much less waste to pull or cut away when you are ready to eat them. This means less waste for the world to absorb but also more nutrients for you to absorb. Not only can you reduce your global footprint by buying local, you can create more energy for your own personal use. You can store the unwashed veggies in the refrigerator (except the tomatoes — which of course aren’t really vegetables anyway) for nearly a week and leave much of the fruit at room temperature, where in some cases its flavor will improve over several days.
It might be a worthwhile experiment in our households to keep a tally for a few weeks of what we choose not to eat after we have paid for it — maybe that’s one of those activities that we will include in our partnership programming. Watch this space for a call to action down the road.
See you at the market!