At April’s SMArt Kids’ SMA in Burlington, we were joined by Wright-Locke Farm’s Farm Educator, Rebekah Carter. She taught SMArt kid and parent alike the importance of eating locally.
We learned that a typical grocery store tomato hails from Mexico and travels about 3,000 miles before it arrives at your local store. About 3 weeks elapses from the time it is picked to the time it is eaten. With all of this time and travel, the nutritional value is sacrificed. Exposure to heat, light, and air can decrease both the quantity and quality of vitamins in that once-vitamin-rich tomato. And it loses more vitamins still when you chop it, cut it and cook it at home.
The SMArt Kids were reminded that eating locally means the food won’t last as long in your kitchen but it will be healthier for you and taste more delicious than other food. The SMArt Kids already know that food that rots is healthier for them. (Remember: those are the foods on the perimeter of the grocery store rather than the aisles – eat plenty of these or, even better, eat foods grown at a local farm!) These foods are fresher, less processed (or unprocessed) and are more natural. It may be healthier for other reasons, too. Not only did we learn that eating local food is healthy and delicious, but we even found out that consuming local, unprocessed honey may help reduce seasonal allergies.
The SMArt Kids helped Rebekah plant some summer crops in “cells” she brought from Wright-Locke Farm. They planted lettuce, lemon cucumbers, summer squash and more. They got their hands dirty and their interest sparked in gardening.
Consider planting your own garden at home. Rebekah recommends organic seeds like the ones you can buy at Johnny’s seeds. Check out this link to purchase some for your garden. Remember it can be as simple as an herb garden in a ceramic pot!
For those of you with more space or ambition, try a pizza garden. Perhaps you can plant basil, garlic, tomatoes; you will have a continual supply for your homemade pizzas. And this will enable you to achieve another SMArt Kids’ goal: reducing fast food. Don’t forget to add some marigolds to keep those pesky bunnies from eating your salad!
Still not sure how or why to eat locally? Here are ten ways to eat locally this spring and summer:
Not sure if there is a farmer’s market in your neighborhood? Go to the website below, insert your zip code and you’ll find a nearby farmer’s market to visit. Check out www.massfarmersmarkets.org
Check out the Wright-Locke farm website to plan your next visit. Look under the Education tab for education program availability and registration information. You can sign up for an educational program or just visit the working farm. It can be fun and educational experience for you and your family.
I look forward to the May 16th SMArt Kids SMA. With Spring officially here, I am eager to hear how the SMArt kids are playing outside more and perhaps even working in their gardens. Keep up the SMArt work!
Brittanny Boulanger, MD