Stay in the Know – Do You Know Where Your Produce Comes From?
In the age of mass production, it’s no surprise many of us have no clue where our food comes from. Many consumers simply head to a chain supermarket and pick out their produce by comparing prices and looking for the best deal. Shoppers may even choose to forgo fresh produce altogether and opt for canned and frozen fruits and vegetables. However, if you shop local, you can actually not only save money, but also enjoy delicious seasonal fruits and veggies.
Top Reasons to Care More About Your Food
We have become a society where many of us take for granted the food on our table. Very rarely do many of us stop and take a second to think about how the cows were raised that provide us with milk or what types of farming techniques were used to grow our vegetables. When you shop local, you are cutting out the middleman to get a better overall sense of your food.
Buying produce at a farmer’s market is also making your meals more nutritious. Fewer additives are likely to be found in the foods. Many preservatives added to produce could increase your trans-fat and sugar intake. Local produce is also likely to be picked at the peak of ripeness—essential for keeping the fruits and vegetables nutrient-dense. Before you go produce shopping at a farmer’s market, find out what fruits and vegetables are currently in season. This will help you plan out your shopping list.
Produce Buying Tips
According to The Spruce, when shopping for local produce at a farmer’s market, head out early. The best selection of fruits and vegetables will be available as soon as the marketplace opens. The best deals will be bulk purchases, which shouldn’t be problematic. Since you’re buying produce right from the farm, the produce will have an extended shelf life.
One of the biggest adjustments you must make when shopping locally are the fruits and vegetables will be minimally processed. Many of the foods, such as carrots and beets, will have greens attached and may even have leftover dirt on the skin. Check the produce thoroughly before buying, just like you would at a supermarket. Avoid produce with holes and bruising and with obvious signs of insect damage. You don’t want any fruits and vegetables that look withered and decayed.
If you have any questions on preparation, ask the vendor. Farmers are usually more than willing to talk about their crops and provide tips on preparation and cooking of their wares. Most importantly, ask the farmers about their USDA organic certification and if chemical pesticides were used on their crops.
Shop Local Considerations
Depending on your geographic location, shopping a farmer’s market may not be an option. However, don’t assume you have to be in the dark about where your produce comes from if you purchase from supermarkets. Many produce suppliers have now begun using a labeling system called Harvestmark. Through the Harvestmark website, you enter a unique code from the label of your produce and their system provides sourcing details including country of origin, farm name, and distance traveled to reach the vendor. Knowing the distance is an important part of shopping for produce. You want to aim for fewer miles since this impacts not only freshness, but contributes to your carbon footprint.
Since 1993, Pure Pita has served up fresh and delicious food throughout the Northern New Jersey area. Flavorful produce is essential in many dishes, especially on our Vegetarian menu. Menu highlights include Goat Cheese Salad, Falafel Pita, Grilled Vegetables and Goat Cheese, and Hummus Platter. Not only will you enjoy ingredients from locally sourced vendors, but we also give back to the community by donating a portion of proceeds to non-profit organizations. Stop in today or order online to taste the difference.