Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lots of superfoods are grown locally

I had my first feed of local blueberries this week and each bite tasted like the essence of a sunny New Brunswick summer. A couple of weeks ago I ate my first NB-grown, field-ripened tomato of the season and thought, this is what a hot July day tastes like. It was the same with the season’s first raspberries and strawberries. A little bit of heaven on a spoon.

This is the time to indulge in local delights but then tuck some away in the freezer so that you can still get a taste of this hot sunny summer through the winter. That’s what we do and I can’t tell you how wonderful a blueberry smoothie tastes in February.

It’s the abundance of fresh local fruit and vegetables this time of year that reminds you how food is supposed to taste. Picked ripe, eaten fresh. If taste and texture are important to you then local produce is the way to go. (No matter how cheap those berries are at Costco, they hardly taste real compared to home grown.) And the bonus: Fresh food consumed close to where it’s grown is more nutritious and has a smaller carbon footprint.

If you’re into food for health reasons you’ll be happy to know that there is an abundance of “super foods” (those foods that are so packed with nutritional goodness that you should make them part of your regular diet) that are grown right here in Atlantic Canada.

A few green blogs I follow recently posted info on super foods and as I scanned these lists I couldn’t help but feel a little smug about the fact that many of the foods featured are grown nearby. That makes them doubly super, since you can get all sorts of goodness without the carbon emissions and buying local supports the Atlantic food economy.

Blueberries top the list for local nutritional goodness since they contain high levels of antioxidants. Strawberries, blackberries and cranberries make the lists too and all grow well in Atlantic Canada. Local blueberries are available at the big grocery stores but look to local markets for the other berries (and blueberries too).

Beans make the list because they’re high in protein, fibre and iron plus they’re low in fat. Some NB-grown dried beans are available through Speerville Flour Mill.

Tomatoes are a super food because they’re so high in lycopene, which supports the immune system. Look for local, field-ripened tomatoes at markets.

Oats contain fibre that has been found to lower total cholesterol and the bad type of cholesterol (LDL), lowering heart-disease risk. Speerville Flour Mill sells rolled oats (called Newfound Oatmeal) made from oats grown right here in the province.

Honey contains B complex vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and can help increase good bacteria in the colon. Most markets carry Atlantic honey.

Broccoli (and other green veggies) are considered super foods for a dozen reasons and all can be found at local markets.

Given all of this, why would we not buy local?

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