Welcome to August, that fabulous month when local farmers markets and grocery stores are brimming with fruits and vegetables fresh from the fields. They are usually picked early that same day, or the night before, and are at peak flavor. It’s a welcome contrast to the produce available during the winter months, which is picked before its peak ripeness and trucked or flown long distances. While it’s nice to have some variety during the winter, those veggies and fruits are not nearly as tasty and are quite a bit more expensive than the local bounty available right now.

Try It Fresh, You’ll Like It!

An important step for the nutrition of the next generation is to introduce your children to what fruits and vegetables look and taste like when freshly picked. In today’s busy world, many kids have only been exposed to canned or frozen vegetables, sometimes in already prepared frozen meals—these are convenient but with flavors and textures that probably won’t encourage them to develop a life-long love of veggies. Take a trip to the farmers market, have the kids choose some unique vegetables and fruits, and have them help you prepare them for dinner or snacks. We have found that children are much more willing to try new foods when they have been involved in selecting and prepping them. Try our recipe for Quinoa, Sweet Corn and Green Bean Salad. The sweetness of the corn has huge appeal for kids, and most like the unique texture of the quinoa compared to other grains.

Veggies Are Not Just Side Dishes

Next week’s blog will feature ideas for vegetable-based entrées. It’s a good reminder that a nutritious, tasty meal doesn’t need to feature meat—it’s not only possible, but also smart, to prepare a few meals each week that feature protein from non-meat sources. While meat provides great nutrition, it is also higher in saturated fats, which should be consumed in moderation.

Support Your Local Farmers

This month, we will also highlight Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and talk further about the advantages of buying produce from local farmers, both through CSAs and at farmers markets. Many people don’t realize they can buy a part share in a CSA, which delivers to them a weekly source of both new and familiar varieties of seasonal produce. It’s also good to know that farmers markets feature not only produce but also are a great source of other local products such as honey, organic meats and fresh flowers.

Salsas Add Zing

Later in the month, we will feature salsas, both traditional tomato-based ones and others that use unique fruits and vegetables. This is a creative way to use our seasonal bounty and these make great condiments for both vegetable entrées and meats.

Preserving the Harvest

Finally, we will give you some tips and tricks for preserving fresh veggies and fruits to enjoy later. This is something previous generations always did because they didn’t have the luxury of South American fruits and vegetables during the winter season. There are some easy methods that allow you to buy items now, at their peak flavor and lower cost, and preserve them to enjoy when the snow is falling.

The Time is Now

Just as we take advantage of seasonal bargains when shopping for clothes and school supplies, we are reminded that August is a great month to take advantage of our seasonal bounty of produce. It can be used in a variety of ways and adds major flavor and nutrition to our meals. Try some fresh produce this week and learn how easy and tasty it is. And continue to seek out new items as the harvest progresses and more delicious, nutritious offerings become available.

You will love the way you feel!