What could be better than berries, picked fresh and still warm from the sun; vine-ripened, sweet summer tomatoes; crisp green beans that snap with flavor; and acres of bountiful fresh produce packed with powerful nutrition? A farmer who is passionate about what she does and who’s on a mission to connect her community to the power of eating and enjoying locally grown foods! That’s what you’ll see on our latest YRMC’s Your Healthy Kitchen video featuring a tour, talk and tasting with Sharla Mortimer at Mortimer Farms in Dewey, Arizona. In this episode, Sharla shows off her U-Pick Garden, extensive berry patch and happy farm animals while offering some mini-lessons about how good food grows. Check it out and then watch me turn the gorgeous beans, eggplant, squash, tomatoes, onions and herbs that I picked at the farm into a delicious summer meal.
The benefits of eating locally grown, freshly picked, ripe summer produce are numerous. First, freshly harvested fruits and vegetables taste far better than produce that has been sitting in storage or at the market for days, weeks, or even months. When produce is allowed to fully ripen on the plant before picking, and then enjoyed shortly after, its flavor pops and shines!
Second, hands-down, freshly picked fruits and vegetables are more nutritious. Many studies show that fresh produce starts losing valuable nutrients almost immediately after harvest. For example, University of California studies show that most vegetables lose from 15 to 55 percent of their vitamin C in one week while fresh spinach drops a whopping 90 percent in a day! Spanish researchers in a 2003 study measured the nutrient content in broccoli while following a harvest as it was transported from field to warehouse to market. In the 10 days it took to get to a consumer, the broccoli lost 50 percent of its vitamin C, 80 percent of glucosinolates (compounds shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer) and 75 percent of flavonoids (powerful antioxidants that protect every cell in your body from damage and aging).
On average, produce grown in North America spends up to 5 days in transit while fruits and vegetables traveling from the Southern Hemisphere may be on the road from a few days to several weeks, depending on how it was shipped. Those same fruits and veggies spend 1-3 days on display in the store before being purchased and may be stored in home refrigerators up to 7 days before someone finally eats them. There’s no better argument than that for eating freshly picked, local produce! Watch my video below to see how I prepared the summer veggies I picked at Mortimer Farms that very day and follow the recipe attached to make it at home.
Lastly, when you buy and eat locally grown fruits and vegetables, your money directly supports local farmers, who earn more from direct sales, and helps to keep land in farming instead of development. As Sharla Mortimer says, “Once you put a house on land that used to be farmed, that land is gone from farming for good”. Mortimer Farms is located at 12907 E. State Route 169, in Dewey, Arizona and is open 7 days a week, from 7 am to 7 pm. Stop by to pick, or buy just-picked fabulous produce sometime soon, and remember to tune into all of our educational and fun videos at YRMC HealthConnect. You can also stop by my kitchen by following me on Facebook at YRMC’s Your Healthy Kitchen, where I post photos and videos about the meals I make for myself and my family, plus interesting links to my favorite food, cooking and gardening destinations on the web.