Spring Has Sprung!

Spring is in the air!

Farmers markets are opening back up. We’re moving on from hearty soups and stews and looking forward to light, fresh salads and grilled vegetables.

Now is the time to plan some education and engagement to get your clients, students, or employees excited about the new bounty of healthy produce that will be sprouting up over the next few months.

Here are three ideas to get you started …

  1. Real Food Grows:
    • Real, unprocessed food is especially easy to find this time of year at farmers markets, roadside stands, and your supermarket.
    • Add some recipes to our beautiful Real Food Grows poster for a display they won’t be able to pass up.
    • Offer a Real Food Grows sticker to anyone who shares a tip on their favorite place to buy fresh produce.
  2. Farm to Table:
    • Use social media posts or your newsletter to point clients toward the nearest farmer’s market and show them how to find out what’s in season (here’s a handy online guide by state).
    • Encourage clients to take a picture of their favorite farmer’s market or farm stand, or a healthy dish they make with locally-grown produce. Choose random winners to receive a Farm to Table notepad or wristband.
  3. Fruit & Veggie Fun:
    • Play our Name That Fruit and Veggie PowerPoint game with your group or class.
    • Turn the game’s content into social media posts for spring and summer.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD


What Does Farm to Table Mean to You?

When you hear the phrase Farm to Table, what comes to mind? Perhaps …

  • Shopping close to home, at a farmer’s market, out in the fresh air.
  • Supporting local farmers and getting to know them.
  • Small trucks bringing food straight from the farm (not tractor-trailers hauling it across the country).
  • Just-picked fruits and vegetables at their peak for freshness, taste, and nutrition.
  • Finding new varieties of fruits and veggies and using them in new recipes.
  • A tasty way to fill up half of MyPlate.
  • All of the above?

We have a nice collection of Farm to Table materials and I especially like our Bring the Farm to Your Table notepads. Here are some ways to use them today:

  1. When meeting with a client, talk about where the nearest farmer’s market is located and what’s in season (here’s a handy online guide by state). Write this information on the notepad, tear off that page, and let them take it home.
  2. Send a handwritten note to clients, co-workers, or students – yes, by snail mail! Include a tip about a nearby farmer’s market and suggestions about what to buy.
  3. Host a photo contest on social media. Ask people to take pictures of their favorite farmer’s market or farm stand, or a healthy dish they made with locally-grown produce. Winner(s) get a Farm to Table notepad (or wristband).

In the workplace, our Bring the Farm to Your Table poster will brighten things up and remind employees to stop at the farmer’s market for some delicious fresh produce. Provide some healthy recipes for what’s in-season.

In July, we celebrate National Berry Month, Peach Month, and Watermelon Month – you could spend a week on each fruit, providing facts, recipes, and preparation ideas!

Farm to Table Lesson For College Students In 30 Minutes

Michelle Nelson, MHA, is a college educator who wanted to bring a farm to table lesson to students at Charleston Southern University. She purchased our farm to table banner and handout items. She called us to ask us for ideas for making an engaging lesson with a 30 minute time limit.

The first idea we gave her was to offer the students a farm-to-table salad bar so they can make their own salads. This requires the ingredients to be prepared in advance  since the time frame is so short. But we did give Michelle the idea to enlist the help of the students who want to arrive early or her college cafeteria workers to get it all prepped for their arrival. This is the option that she chose but Michelle went all out and prepared the ingredients the night before in her own kitchen. She kept it simple with fresh lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes. She also made a home-made dressing.

Michelle made 2 salad bars for her students.

The first was using ingredients from a farmer’s market and then the second one was using ingredients from a local grocery store. The students could tell the difference right away and they were very exuberant in letting her know that the farmer’s market salad was a lot more delicious and flavorful.

She asked us to skype in for the morning and we agreed. I gave the students a brief overview about the local food market and how many people their age are involved with it from the farming to the food processing and purchases. After all, the local food market is an $8 billion industry.

Margaret M. Shields, PhD, MS, CHES, Assistant Professor of Public Health, Charleston Southern University, was kind enough to help with the skype session and to provide photographs.

Here are more activity ideas and resources that we shared with Michelle so she could share the farm with her students. Feel free to use them for yours!

Here is a handout about local food:
https://news. nutritioneducationstore.com/ local-food-lesson/

Maybe a couple of quiz questions with prizes:
https://foodandhealth.com/ category-game-cffh/

Here are some other game ideas:

Pass The Potato

Play pass the potato with your participants. Have everybody name a fruit and then pass the potato on. When someone can’t think of a fruit, they get eliminated. The one who wins has named a fruit that has not been named, every time he or she got the potato. The winner gets a prize such as a bag of baby carrots or a jar of fat-free salad dressing. This gets everyone to really think about all of the options out there, and to realize that he or she is usually always eating the same fruit or vegetable time and time again. You can also play the same game for vegetables.

Mystery Veggie Game

Use this game with a variety of audiences, from kids to older folks. It is easy to do, and you can vary it with seasonally available produce.

1. Place a variety of common and unusual vegetables and/or fruits in clean crew-type socks.

2. Pass the socks around the group. Have each participant feel and smell the item through the sock (without taking it out) and write the name of the item they suspect on a sheet of paper, numbered from 1 to whatever number of items you are using.

3. After everyone has had a chance to feel and smell the items in the socks and record their answers, ask for guesses and pull them out one by one. Discuss the nutritional aspects of each item and possible preparation methods or favorite ways of eating. Sample some of the more unusual or exotic items.

4. Depending on budget and type of event, you can sometimes give some of the produce items individually for prizes or put several in a basket for a bigger prize.

This idea can also be used for wellness fairs. And it will make a GREAT fun game for National Nutrition Month this year since the theme is centered around fruits and vegetables.

Here are our favorites for fruits:

  • • star fruit – fun shape
  • • kiwi – beautiful color
  • • avocado – used like a vegetable but botanically it is a fruit
  • • tangerine – easy to eat on the go
  • • lemon – great for salads
  • • apple – great for snacks
  • • pear – easy to guess but makes a great snack

And here are our favorites for vegetables:

  • • sweet potato
  • • broccoli
  • • carrot
  • • zucchini
  • • egg plant

Create an ongoing challenge
https://foodandhealth.com/ fruit-and-vegetable-challenge/

And here is a recipe handout:
https://foodandhealth.com/ blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/ 08/RawVegetablePlatterHandout. pdf
You can also explain that the farm to table movement was started by a chef and is used by some of the most famous chefs in the world. Here are 2 videos by the chef of Noma which was voted the best in the world last year. They feature local foods from their native Norway.

https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=a4cJJs5bOfs
About Noma and their chef and the use of local cuisine in Norway

This one is an actual scene from eating at Noma: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=jLpU75kFMNw
NOMA offers a “tasting menu of about 18 different courses and each one is a small bite.

Noma was voted the best restaurant in the world last year by the San Pellegrino Top 50 restaurants in the world and they feature the local Nordic food prepared very fresh in beautiful presentations (we viewed this for my plate presentation class).

Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, started the farm to table movement by purchasing organic produce from local farms near her restaurant and many of the chefs from all over the world today use the concept. They buy local foods and have farms grow their produce. The French Laundry in Yountville CA has its own garden. This was always the premise of the chefs of France.

Here are the benefits of local food:

https://foodandhealth.com/ sustainability-and-local-food- talk-by-marion-nestle-and- alice-waters/

Local Food Lesson With Handout Download and Reference Links

Local food is becoming an important trend in the U.S. The USDA estimates that over $8 billion dollars worth of local foods are produced and sold in the US. (https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Newsroom/2016/12_20_16.php)

This trend is being shaped by the Millenial generation who are becoming sustainable farmers after leaving high-tech jobs and this same generation also wants to buy these foods.

After shopping at many local farmer’s markets and grocery stores that excel in local food sales we feel it is a very good trend.

Whole Foods has a great article about this trend here:


Basically they point out that the bio-diversity of food is preserved. Land use remains diverse. Food quality remains much higher and local dollars boost the local economy.

When you see the quality of local produce as well as some of the lower prices you will have to agree. By promoting this type of food in nutrition education you can help consumers focus on adding more fruits and vegetables to their diet.

It is really fun to find many types of swiss chard from green to rainbow. Or to explore many types of beets, kale, apples, tomatoes, and lettuce. The feeling one gets while walking through these markets is one of abundance and excitement. Instead of giving up cake and all kinds of packaged snacks you are getting all kinds of new fruits and vegetables to try in your kitchen. Plus walking through the markets is great exercise.

Check out our recent photos and brand new theme titled, “Bring the Farm to the Table”

Here is a handout about the benefits of Local Foods and how to purchase them.