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Kid in a Blueberry Patch

New to this area, I am like a ‘kid in a candy store,’ discovering all the local foods, including yes, candy stores and bakeries. But as a registered dietitian, I am mindful to seek foods we should be eating generously, like fruits and vegetables.

Adams and surrounding counties are very ‘fruitful’ this time of year. Farm markets with U-pick farms abound. What a perfect way to add healthy foods to your diet and exercise by picking your own produce.

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Scientists have discovered that phytochemicals, the natural substances that give color, smells, and flavors to fruits and vegetables, benefit your health. For example, the anthocyanins – blue, red, or purple pigments found in plants – in blueberries can protect against health disease and age-related mental decline. 

You can prevent those same diseases and conditions with regular exercise, like walking. And while walking through the fields, you can enhance your flexibility by reaching, stooping, and picking. Hidden gems are often buried in all parts of the plants around us.

To consume the produce, think simply when in the kitchen. There is no need to make ornate meals in the summer. Keep fresh-picked fruit handy to grab as snacks. Sauté sliced zucchini, onion, and pepper (red to add color) in olive oil and seasonings such as an Italian herb blend or garlic powder; stir until crisp and tender. 

Jazz up vegetable salads by combining lettuce with your favorite vegetables. Mix in berries, and top with grilled, sliced chicken and a favorite dressing. Make a simple cherry sauce by cooking down fresh, pitted cherries with a little sugar and lemon juice until the cherries are soft and swimming in their own thick syrup. Top a grilled pork chop with the warm sauce or add it to a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Be sure to check with the farmers for recipes and ideas about preparing their produce. They are a wealth of information and feel honored that their produce will make it to your table. And you can feel proud that you supported a local business to help your community thrive.

I also love the conversations I have in the fields while I pick. ‘Expert’ pickers advise us on selecting the ripest fruit or vegetable or what to make with our find. Small children proclaim they picked the ‘best’ berries. Parents and friends discuss coping strategies for issues in their lives. Positivity abounds and no one is usually fighting. 

In his latest book, Dinner with the President, Alex Prud’homme invites readers into the White House kitchen to reveal the sometimes curious tastes of twenty-six of America’s most influential presidents. Our presidents have recognized the benefits of local food in connecting with people. Bountiful meals could soften even the most adversarial leaders to help settle differences. While you may not be able to solve world problems while picking, you can ease your daily stress just by conversing and then sharing the ‘fruits of your labor.’

So, if you love finding new candy stores and bakeries, venture to local U-pick farms too. That way you can include many more disease-fighting fruits and vegetables in your diet. 

And you may resolve a conflict in your life too.

Check these resources for more information: 

  Myplate.gov

  Seasonalfoodguide.org

  VisitCumberlandValley.com

Kid in a Blueberry Patch

New to this area, I am like a ‘kid in a candy store,’ discovering all the local foods, including yes, candy stores and bakeries. But as a registered dietitian, I am mindful to seek foods we should be eating generously, like fruits and vegetables.

Adams and surrounding counties are very ‘fruitful’ this time of year. Farm markets with U-pick farms abound. What a perfect way to add healthy foods to your diet and exercise by picking your own produce.

Scientists have discovered that phytochemicals, the natural substances that give color, smells, and flavors to fruits and vegetables and protect plants, benefit your health. For example, the anthocyanins – blue, red, or purple pigments found in plants, especially flowers, fruits, and tubers – in blueberries can protect against health disease and age-related mental decline. 

You can prevent those same diseases and conditions with regular exercise, like walking. And while walking through the fields, you can enhance your flexibility by reaching and stooping. Hidden gems are often buried in all parts of the plants around us.

To consume the produce, think simply when in the kitchen. There is no need to make ornate meals in the summer. Keep fresh-picked fruit handy to grab as snacks. Sauté sliced zucchini, onion, and pepper (red to add color) in olive oil and seasonings such as an Italian herb blend or garlic powder; stir until crisp and tender. 

Jazz up vegetable salads by combining lettuce with your favorite vegetables. Mix in berries, and top with grilled, sliced chicken and a favorite dressing. Make a simple cherry sauce by cooking down fresh, pitted cherries with a little sugar and lemon juice until the cherries are soft and swimming in their own thick syrup. Top a grilled pork chop with the warm sauce or add it to a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Be sure to check with the farmers for recipes and ideas about preparing their produce. They are a wealth of information and feel honored that their produce will make it to your table. And you can feel proud that you supported a local business to help your community thrive.

I also love the conversations I have in the fields while I pick. ‘Expert’ pickers advise us on selecting the ripest fruit or vegetable or what to make with our find. Small children proclaim they picked the ‘best’ berries. Parents and friends discuss coping strategies for issues in their lives. Positivity abounds and no one is usually fighting. 

In his latest book, Dinner with the President, Alex Prud’homme invites readers into the White House kitchen to reveal the sometimes curious tastes of twenty-six of America’s most influential presidents. Our presidents have recognized the benefits of local food in connecting with people. Bountiful meals could soften even the most adversarial leaders to help settle differences. While you may not be able to solve world problems while picking, you can ease your daily stress just by conversing and then sharing the ‘fruits of your labor.’

So, if you love finding new candy stores and bakeries, venture to local U-pick farms too. That way you can include many more disease-fighting fruits and vegetables in your diet. 

And you may resolve a conflict in your life too.

Check these resources for more information: 

  Myplate.gov

  Seasonalfoodguide.org

  VisitCumberlandValley.com

sharon madalispic

Sharon Madalis is a retired clinical dietitian from Geisinger and co-author of "Truck Drivers: Stop Your Job from Killing You! The Dietitians’ Guide to Smart Eating and Healthy Living for Truckers."

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Lynn R Pankuch
Lynn R Pankuch
10 months ago

Excellent article! Makes you want to come to Adams County to check out the great places to pick your own produce. This is a rich agriculture area. Love the reference to the book too about the Presidents and the meals they served. U-Pick is good for the body and good for your soul!

carolyn george
carolyn george
10 months ago

Excellent article! The happy health benefits of picking your own fruit that Sharon describes also happen when you volunteer to Glean for SCCAP! And as a budding Braver Angel, I find this quote especially ripe with suggestion: “Bountiful meals could soften even the most adversarial leaders to help settle differences. While you may not be able to solve world problems while picking, you can ease your daily stress just by conversing and then sharing the ‘fruits of your labor.’”

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