Posts Tagged ‘fresh produce’


Why should we be aware?

  • Agriculture is Ohio’s number one industry contributing jobs for one in seven Ohioans, and more than $107 billion to the state’s economy. (ohioproud.org)
  • Ohio offers a unique proximity of metropolitan and micropolitan areas, linking rural and urban consumers, growers and communities to food produced on small, medium and large-scale family-owned farms.
  • Ohio ranks in the top ten states for direct sales to consumers represented by a wide variety of food products including but not limited to eggs, milk, cheese, honey, maple syrup, beverages, bread and other artisan products, fresh, frozen canned and dried vegetables, fruits and meats. (USDA Ag Census, 2012.)
  • One in six Ohioans is food insecure and lacks access to fresh, local, healthy food.
  • All Ohioans are part of the food system just by making daily decisions about what food to eat.

There is not one definition for “local” food. When making food decisions, many people consider where their food was grown or raised and make an effort to develop personal connections with growers and producers to enjoy flavorful, safe, local food. Ohio Local Foods week is not only about enjoying the tastes of local foods but is also about becoming more aware and better informed about the nutritional, economic, and social benefits of local foods in Ohio.

Even during wintertime, Ohio local food is available, whether it is fresh produce grown with season extenders or crops that can be held for long periods of time in cold/cool storage as well as baked, canned, frozen and dried foods. August is a great time to celebrate Ohio Local Foods Week because of the availability of direct-to-consumer marketing of all products including a wide variety of fresh produce.

The Ohio State University Extension Local Food Signature Program invites everyone to celebrate Ohio Local Foods Week from August 9th – 15th, 2015. We encourage individuals, families, businesses and communities to grow, purchase, highlight and promote local food all the time but especially during this week. I personally have a CSA (community supported agriculture) share at a local farm that I pick up every Monday. I also try to shop at my local farmer’s markets or fruit and vegetable stands. I also enjoy freezing a lot of my local produce so I can enjoy it all year long. There is nothing better than homemade strawberry jam or a side of sweet corn in the middle of our long Ohio winters!

Just as there is no one definition for “local,” there is no one way to celebrate Ohio Local Foods Week. Even though I prepaid for my CSA, I still plan to spend more than $10 buying extra sweet corn and some blueberries at my Farmer’s Market this week. You are invited to participate in the $10 Ohio Local Foods Challenge by committing to spend at least ten dollars (or more) on your favorite local foods during Ohio Local Foods Week. Look for regional community events, follow the event on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up at http://go.osu.edu/olfw10dollars for the $10 Ohio Local Foods Challenge. Even though I prepaid for my CSA, I still plan to spend more than $10 buying extra sweet corn and some blueberries at my Farmer’s Market this week.


Not sure where to find local foods or interested in finding new places? Here are some ideas to get started. You can also find an online summary of food directories. You can also check out events throughout the state. Let us know how you are celebrating Ohio Local Foods Week. Share your pictures and stories with us on Facebook or Twitter. #olfw15.

Written by:  Melissa Welker M.Ed., B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA, welker.87@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Patrice Powers-Barker, CFLE, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County, Maumee Valley EERA, powers-barker,1@osu.edu

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If I had to guess I would say you are probably not getting the recommended servings of vegetables and fruits each day, just like most other Americans. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that less than 9% of us are eating the 2 to 3 cups of Dietary Guideline recommended vegetables and not many more are eating enough fruit. The Dietary Guidelines recommend 1 ½ to 2 cups for adults per day, while the study found that just 13% of us consume that much.

Why is it so important to get more of those vegetables and fruits in our diet each day?Veggies and Fruits

  • While vegetables and fruits aren’t calorie free, most are low calorie.
  • Vegetables and fruits are packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals. Look to those with deep colors (dark green, orange, purple, and red) for many of the highest amounts.
  • Fruits and vegetables are often found to have properties that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and even cancer.
  • The fiber found in vegetables and fruits can aid your digestion and may even help with weight loss. Examples of those with higher fiber include beans, pears, apples, berries, spinach, and broccoli.
  • Vegetables and fruits contain little if any fat.

There is a perception that vegetables and fruits are more expensive than many other foods, but eating those that are in season will get rid of that myth. Consider too that a few more cents now may save you thousands of dollars in medical bills in the future.

A few ways to add another serving of vegetables or fruit (or more) each day:

  • Shred or finely chop vegetables and add to meat loaf, pasta sauce, muffins, and more.
  • Change your evening bowl of ice cream to a vegetable and fruit smoothie. Any fruit tastes great with a cup of milk or juice, a yogurt container, and a cup of ice. Toss in a little kale or spinach too.
  • Add black or other beans to any pasta dish, taco meat, or even on top of a salad.
  • Toss a few berries in your morning cereal or yogurt, and chopped veggies in your scrambled eggs.
  • And don’t forget that fruit is the original fast food. Most of it can be eaten after a quick rinse.

To see if you are close to the recommended vegetable and fruit servings, use a tracking log on your phone, computer, or just a small tablet. Write down after each meal or snack how much you had, within a few days you should be able to see how far you have to go.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.

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vegetables-752153_1280The weather lately has allowed some of our early season crops to flourish. As we begin to enjoy the fresh vegetables and herbs from our garden, we should think about the best methods for harvesting them and the other vegetables that will mature in the coming months.

Many of us choose to grow our own vegetables so that we can have the best tasting product possible! However, the quality, taste and appearance of vegetables can be affected if they are not harvested at the proper time and in the proper way.

Store bought vegetables are often picked before they are fully ripe to allow time for them to be shipped and stored. The home gardener has the advantage here by knowing when and how to harvest their products. Harvesting most vegetables when they have ripened on the plant will produce the best taste.
Don’t fall into the “bigger is better” trap and allow produce to stay on the plant too long. This can lead to tough, fibrous, or rotten produce. Also, most vegetables are best when harvested early in the morning while they retain the maximum moisture. After you harvest, keep your produce out of direct sunlight and keep them cool.

You should be gentle with your vegetables as you harvest them. Some vegetables will require scissors, a knife or pruners to remove them without damaging the plant. One example of this may be green peppers which have firm stems attaching each individual pepper to the plant. Also, frequent picking of vegetables can prolong the harvest for that plant. If you wait too long to harvest, the plant may stop producing more vegetables since it will sense that its reproduction goal has been reached!

The ripening process continues when the vegetables are harvested and the quality declines rapidly so they should be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator to slow down the process. Some produce that this applies to are tomatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers, and others. The sugar in some of these vegetables can change to starch and affect the taste of the item.

Home gardeners are often not familiar with the proper time to harvest some of the vegetables they have chosen to grow. The information from Clemson Cooperative Extension and Washington State University Extension should provide guidance on the proper stage of maturity for harvesting many common vegetables. Ohio State University Extension provides information on individual vegetables and the proper storage to keep the quality high.

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Joanna Rini, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Medina County, rini.41@osu.edu





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As we head into spring many of the wonderful green vegetables come into season and are readily available. These green powerhouse foods are the foods most strongly associated with reducing chronic disease risk and are described as green leafy and cruciferous. Plants produce phytochemicals like antioxidants, flavonoids, phytonutrients, flavones, and isoflavones. Green plants specifically produce the phytochemical lutein which has been shown to benefit eye health, cancer prevention, and heart health. Included in this food group are: kabr sproutsle, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuces, artichokes, and collard greens. The phytochemical beta carotene is not only found in dark orange foods, it is also found in the rich green founds of spinach, collard greens, kale, and broccoli. As we have often heard, beta carotene benefits the immune system, vision, and skin and bone health.

Cruciferous vegetables like: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, arugula, collards, and watercress are members of the “Cruciferae or Brassicaceae Family”. Plants in the Cruciferae family have flowers with four equal-sized petals in the shape of a cross. Many of these cruciferous vegetables are found to be “cancer fighting machines”, according to Fruits and Veggies More Matters. Studies show they lower the rates of prostate cancer and may even stop the growth of cancer cells in the lung, colon, liver, and breast.

Another reason to fill up on colorful vegetables is they may help you to age well. Foods rich in antioxidants (like leeks, lettuce and kale) can help fight free radicals, the unstable oxygen molecules that contribute to the aging process.

Many of the power house green vegetables will soon be available in farmers markets but if you would like to start your own in a container garden follow these links to resources to get you started. http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1647.html or http://urbanext.illinois.edu/containergardening/herbveggie.cfm.

Try planting: spinach, leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, cabbage, peppers, herbs, or cucumbers to start your own patch of power house green foods. container garden

Writers: Lisa Barlage and Michelle Treber, Extension Educators, Family and Consumer Sciences.

Reviewer: Liz Smith, SNAP- Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension.

Photos by: Michelle Treber and Lisa Barlage.

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super foods

From Brussels sprouts and blueberries to salmon and sweet potatoes, there is a lot to learn about super foods! OSU Extension professionals will be sharing information on what makes some foods “super” and how to work super foods into your diet.


Follow and chat with the Live Healthy Live Well team…

Lisa Barlage – Family & Consumer Sciences Educator @lbarlage

Linnette Goard – Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management @lmgoard

Polly Loy – Family & Consumer Sciences Educator @WellnessWakeup

Dan Remley – Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness @remley4

hashtag super


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Smoothies continue to be a popular treat at restaurants; although special equipment is promoted to make them it is not necessary. While we think of them as a tasty way to increase our dairy and fruit consumption, they can also be a wonderful way to slide in a few vegetables. Yes, I said “vegetables”!

The perk with smoothies is you can add things that people may not usually think they like – yogurt or kale – and your children (or picky spouse or co-worker) won’t even know they are there. Vegetables that work well in smoothies are spinach, kale, steamed broccoli, romaine lettuce, cucumber, peeled avocado, and carrots. Using low fat dairy, skim milk and lite yogurt, a smoothie can provide calcium and protein in addition to the vitamins and fiber in vegetables and fruits.

Smoothie Tips:

  • While special smoothie machines aren’t necessary, a blender with a tight fitting lid is a must.green smoothie
  • To prevent damage to your blender, always use 1 cup of liquid, either skim or almond milk, or fruit juice.
  • Add a 6 ounce container of light yogurt, vanilla blends well with any combination, but all types work.
  • Choose your washed and chopped vegetable from the list above and add ½ to 1 cup. Remove stems from leafy veggies and add up to 2 cups.
  • Add 1 to 1 ½ cups assorted fruits like – bananas, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, pears, pineapple, peaches, or kiwi. To prepare fruit – wash and chop into smaller pieces for even blending. Freezing fruit ahead will give an icy consistency without the work on your blender of breaking up ice.
  • If you want to add ice – limit the amount to 4 cubes or no more than ½ cup.
  • Blend until smooth without over-blending. Vanilla extract and a dusting of cinnamon or nutmeg can be a tasty addition.

To make a green monster smoothie blend: kale, grapes, yogurt, skim milk, and bananas.

Smoothies can be a fun snack for families to make together, just supervise blending and limit servings to about 1 cup.


University of Maryland Extension, http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_docs/Green%20Smoothie.pdf.

Michigan State University Extension, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/smoothies_a_healthy_alternative .

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ross County.

Reviewer: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Fayette County.

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Asparagus, a member of the lily family, is available from April to early June. It is fat and sodium-free, with about 35 calories per cup. This nutrient rich food is filled with folate; vitamins A, C, and K; potassium; and iron. These nutrients are shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. White asparagus is grown out of the sun and contains fewer nutrients than green, while purple asparagus contains additional anti-oxidants.

To select the best asparagus – look for straight and firm stalks. Avoid wilted or limp stalks. Selecting stalks that are uniform in size will assist with cooking. Asparagus is easily perishable, for optimum quality keep at 40 degrees or below and use within one to two days. Wash with cold water only before using, to prevent bacterial growth.

Asparagus is a versatile vegetable that can be used in salads, soups, or main dish recipes.1574360-SMPT

To steam: bring an inch of water to a boil, insert rinsed stalks, and cover pan. Stalks will be done in 2 to 5 minutes – based on thickness of stalks.

To microwave: rinse stalks and place on microwave safe plate with about 2 tablespoons of water, cover and microwave 2 to 3 minutes – until done.

To roast: preheat oven to 400 degrees and place rinsed stalks on foil-lined sheet. Drizzle with small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 5 to 10 minutes until tender-crisp. Parmesan cheese is also a tasty option on roasted stalks.

To grill: place stalks on grilling skewers or grill griddle, brush lightly with olive oil, grill 2 to 5 minutes – turning once.

To freeze asparagus for future use: sort stalks to similar size; blanch by placing in boiling water for 90 seconds – small stalks, 2 minutes for medium stalks, and 3 minutes for larger stalks; cool immediately in ice water; pat dry and place in freezer bags. Stalks may be left whole or cut into 2 inch sections before starting the blanching process.

Seasoning options for asparagus include soy sauce, sesame oil or seeds, lemon juice, parsley, or vinaigrette dressing.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Cindy Shuster, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.


Utah University Cooperative Extension, https://extension.usu.edu/admin/files/uploads/Viva%20Vegetables%20Asparagus%20Recipes.pdf.

Ohioline, Ohio State University Extension, B. Brahm, http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5508.pdf.

Washington State University Extension, http://county.wsu.edu/chelan-douglas/health/Documents/Asparagus%20Information%20and%20Springtime%20Warnings.pdf.

Photo credit: Gerald Holmes, Valent USA Corporation, Bugwood.org.

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