Time is money, nutritionally speakingPosted: 06/15/2011
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA for short, is a way for local farms to share their produce with the people living in their communities. At the start of each growing season portions of the farm’s expected harvest is sold upfront to farm “share holders”. During the spring/summer growing season the farm’s harvest is divided and distributed to the “share holders” as it becomes available. My CSA is coming from Green Meadow Farm in South Hamilton,MA only a few miles from my house. I am lucky to have such a wonderful resource available so close to my house because when it comes to the nutrient density of food time means everything.
Spinach is vegetable often associated with a strong body and good health. Like all dark green leafy vegetables, spinach is packed with essential vitamins and minerals vital to maintaining a healthy body. Vitamin B9 (folate/folic acid) protects your body against heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer as well as reducing your risk of obesity, depression, infertility, and osteoporosis. Although the spinach leaves and the grocery store, farmer’s market, or in your CSA share may look the same, there are some very important differences that determine just how much B9 is still left in those leaves.
High demand for fresh food year round causes some of our food to travel several days to a week before it arrives at the grocery store. And, if you are like most Americans, it may be several more days before the spinach gets eaten. You bought this food to ensure your diet is rich in vitamins and minerals, but how much is left by the time it gets to your plate? A recent study done at Penn State found that time, as well as storage conditions, had a drastic effect on how much B9 was retained in spinach leaves in the time between when the leaves were picked and when they were eaten. Spinach that was stored between 50 – 68 degrees, perhaps the same temperature as a truck driving a haul of spinach to New England fromCalifornia, retained only 53% of its folate after 6 days. Even if your spinach is hauled in a refrigerated container, the numbers aren’t much better. Spinach kept at 39 degrees lost 47% of its folate after only 8 days. I love spinach, but I don’t want to eat 2 times as much just to get all the vitamins and minerals that were present if I have eaten it the day it was picked.
The less traveling your food has to do to get to you, the less time it spends just hanging around waiting to be eaten, the more nutrient dense it is and the more valuable it is to your body. If you don’t already belong to a CSA, check out your local farmer’s market. They are a great place to learn more about the food grown in your area and to pick up some of the healthiest, tastiest, freshest food around!
Want to find the Farmer’s Market in your area? Check here!