Students saw, touched and sometimes tasted produce that were new to them at Nottingham Elementary School in Arlington, VA, on Wednesday, October 12, 2011. Farmers from Bigg Riggs Farm in Hampshire County, WV, and Maple Avenue Market Farm in Vienna, VA were very popular with the students. Today's menu included roasted chicken, roasted butternut squash with dried cranberries, farm fresh mixed lettuce salad, turkey wraps, pita wedges, hot muffins, carrots, Asian pears and more.  USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Local Food Heads Back to School

Economy, Find Local Food, Kelly Wilson, Learn More

The days are getting shorter and the smell of drying leaves and woodsmoke is in the air. Fall is here and that means it’s back to school for Michigan’s 1.5 million public school students. For many of us, back to school conjures up a variety of images and smells: freshly sharpened pencils, crisp notebooks, new backpacks, and the infamous mystery meals served in the cafeteria. For many of Michigan’s students, however, the school year also brings with it the tantalizing smells and flavors of locally sourced, and carefully prepared, food.

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Cultivating Health through School Gardens

Benefit, farm-to-table, Find Local Food, Health, Marissa Natzke, Paula Martin, Stories

Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District (TBA ISD) is using gardening as a tool to improve student health. Thanks to SNAP-ED funding through the USDA and the Michigan Fitness Foundation, TBA ISD implements a program called LifeSPAN, which performs cooking and nutrition lessons year round in the classroom to increase students fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity levels. Currently, they’re running summer garden camps where kids partake in nutrition lessons, help in school gardens, and cook healthy meals using produce they harvest.

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Good Food, Better Health

Event, Find Local Food, Get Involved, Health, Kelly Wilson, Learn More, Southeast Michigan

Baste. Blanch. Chiffonade. Roast. Saute. Zest.

Ever see these terms on recipes and wonder “what the heck does that mean?” ? Well, if you have, you are not alone! One of the biggest challenges many of my clients face when changing their diet is navigating the kitchen and new recipes. Culinary education is no longer a staple in public education and our lives have become increasingly hectic. As a result, many people feel intimidated and overwhelmed in the kitchen and with cooking for themselves.

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Lady Jane Gourmet Seed Co.: Spreading the Good Word about Hemp

Farmers Markets, Get Involved, Guest Post, Laura Noble

It was a passion for good nutrition that started Lady Jane Gourmet Seed Co in 2011. The company’s mission is to provide better access to more healthful food choices while educating consumers about the powerful benefits of hemp. Lady Jane (LJ) uses hemp seeds, a nutritionally dense plant based protein food, as the main ingredient in all their delicious, shelf-stable products.

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Ready, Set, Grill! Summertime Grilled Vegetables

Farmers Markets, Find Local Food, Health, Local Ingredients, Paula Martin, Recipes

Summer grilling is in full swing!  Local vegetables are ready to join the picnic.

Here are our favorite vegetables to throw on the grill:

squash Carrots
 Cauliflower
 Corn
 Eggplant
 Garlic
 Green Beans
 Mushrooms
 Onions
 Peppers
 Summer squash & zucchini
• Potatoes
• Asparagus

Grilling vegetables is a good way to meet your daily vegetable intake goals or event go meat free at the next family barbecue. Find these veggies at a farmers market near you.

The National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, has identified that a high consumption of well-done, barbecued meats is associated with an increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer due to the formation of harmful chemicals when they are cooked.  Fruits and vegetables do not pose the same risk when grilled as long as you avoid charring by:

• Soaking wooden skewers in water to prevent burning kabobs;
• 
Using a grill basket to prevent small pieces from falling, which may cause flare-ups; &
• 
Staying attentive to the grill while cooking.

One of my favorite things to swap into the menu during the summer is this easy grilled sandwich when I’m ready for a break from the traditional BBQ fare. It’s high in dietary fiber,  Vitamins A & C, and good source of protein- PLUS it is filling & tastes great!

Grilled Vegetable Sub Sandwich: (makes one serving)

½  sweet bell pepper (green, red, yellow) ¼ purple eggplant, skin on

¼ small summer squash, like zucchini, skin on 1 tbs. balsamic and olive oil dressing

¼ small onion, peeled 1 large Kaiser Roll or sandwich bun

1 slice provolone cheese (optional) olive oil, for lightly brushing  

Cut the vegetables in uniform sizes. Lightly brush with olive oil. Place in a grill basket. Grill on low to medium heat until wilted or fork tender. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, toss with the TLD recommended The Redhead’s balsamic vinaigrette. Place vegetables (as many as can fit) on the Kaiser Roll and top with provolone cheese. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts: Cal 442 , Fat 23g, Sat Fat 5g, Carb 46g, Dietary Fiber 7g, Pro 14g, Vit A 40% DV, Vit C 136% DV, Calcium 17%

Paula Martin is the Community Health Coordinator for TLD and a registered dietitian. Contact here at health@localdifference.org

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Lady Jane Gourmet Seed Co.: Hemp & Health

Find Local Food, Guest Post, Health, Laura Noble, Specialty Producers

In an era when many food products are processed and modified, Lady Jane Gourmet Seed Co seeks to provide better access to healthy, whole food options. Based in Metamora, Michigan, this artisan, gluten-free food manufacture focuses on making products from nutritionally dense hemp seeds.

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Berry Sweet: Fragaria ananassa (aka strawberry)

Farmers Markets, Find Local Food, Health, Kelly Wilson, Recipes

Strawberry season is here! Strawberry season is here! In Michigan, farmers produce over 46,000 pounds of these juicy berries between early June and, weather depending, mid-July. Some growers are extending the normal strawberry season by planting into hoop houses (aka high tunnels or passive solar greenhouses) and by growing everbearing varieties.

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Healthy Habits Sprouting at Platte River Head Start!

Find Local Food, Get Involved, Health, Marissa Natzke, Recipes

The Head Start classrooms over at Platte River in Benzie County are instilling healthy habits in kids with help from Taste the Local Difference (TLD). Through the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) grant, this partnership is using funds to incorporate nutrition education into the Head Start curriculum. Kim Micham and Debra Rafferty at Platte River Head Start are working closely with Paula Martin, Registered Dietitian and Community Health Coordinator at Taste the Local Difference. Together, they’re creating healthy snack options that have less sodium, less sugar, more fiber, and more fruits and veggies. But, they’re not just serving up healthier options – they’re also empowering kids and their families to make healthier choices.

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Move Over Chia…there is a New Superfood in Town!

Farmers Markets, Guest Post, Health, Laura Noble

Move over chia, step aside quinoa, it’s time for hemp seeds to take center stage! These small but mighty seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. They contain all 9-essential amino acids which means that, unlike most grains or seeds, hemp is a complete protein. Pair that with hemp’s high rate of protein digestibility and you have a fabulous source of plant-based protein. Just 2 Tb of hemp protein powder contains 11 g of highly-digestible protein.