March 23 • 01:24 AM

Let us enjoy fresh lettuce!

June 20, 2007
Local produce is better for you! According to a recent study, 'Growing for Market' reported fresh produce has a significant loss in nutrition once picked. The sooner you get it to your dinner table the higher the nutrition values. Food that is frozen or canned soon after harvest is actually more nutritious than some "fresh" produce that has been on the truck or supermarket shelf for a week.

Like most of our community, I'm frequenting the "all-new" Almont Food Center much more these days and I noticed they are carrying a locally grown salad mix by local growers "Lettuce Alone". This is some of the freshest, most nutritious lettuce possible, having been delivered direct from the nearby farm. This product has had only a few minutes to travel, thus reaching the consumer at a much more rapid pace, as opposed to head lettuce traveling in from California.

To wash and store fresh picked lettuce, I use a blue enamel blanching pot set. It has the colander that fits inside with a lid. Soak in cold water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar let it set for a few minutes then drain thoroughly. Once drained, I store it in the refrigerator with a linen cloth underneath the colander section to collect the remaining water. It will stay fresh up to 10 days! Drain water and change the linen when needed.

I've gotten to know Mike and Kathy Huxford through the Almont Farmers Market and networking with the networking club. They are some of the friendliest folks I've ever met and are more than willing to share how they raise their produce—proudly with no herbicides, no pesticides and no synthetic fertilizers. They believe in their product, giving it that extra special care, ensuring you top quality produce. Not to mention the packaging in itself is well worth a read.

I've enjoyed their fresh lettuce for a couple of years now, between pickings from our garden. Kathy was saying the darker the greens the higher the nutrients. But be warned once you embark on this fresh foodie trail you will become hooked and your taste buds will demand the freshest of foods available.

Kathy Huxford shared the following interesting food facts:

•Lettuce is the second most popular veggie in the US. Potatoes are #1 (probably in the form of chips and french fries).

•People eat approximately 30 pounds of lettuce each year.

•Lettuce is a vegetable that is pretty much immune to any form of preservation. You can't freeze it, can it, dry it, or pickle it—fresh is the way to go!

May's networking meeting at J& M Farms was a huge success. We enjoyed pancakes with local maple syrup from Nelsons in Imlay City along with Johnny Gyergyov's sausage served up by J & M Farms, as Macomb County Extension Agent Hannah Steven and Barb Fails from the MSU Product Center presented to the crowd "How to give our products, farm stands, etc. the extra touch".

The barn was filled with eager students ready for fresh new ideas on how to present our products to our local consumers. There were 50 plus like-minded people, several from our own community who believe in creating, growing or serving top quality locally grown products. I found myself even more inspired to press on with my agri-business. There's a movement happening here in our state and we're proud to be a part of it.

Knowing who is growing your food is becoming more and more important, as with every news cast we're met with stories of poison and who-knows-what getting into our food health and body systems. You may find you need to eat more seasonally to take advantage of what is freshest and most abundant at the time. There's nothing that compares to a true in-season vine ripened tomato or fresh strawberries, field grown just down the road.

Eating seasonally is the most excellent and easiest of ways to take advantage of the highest nutrients available to you.

As you search out starter vegetable and flowering plants to grow your own, be sure to check out the abundance of local greenhouses around the area. The staff are well trained and ready to answer your gardening questions, giving you the best advantage for a successful backyard garden.

Being farmers ourselves there are quite a few items we raise and are able to put on our dinner table. But, we too depend on the local farmers to provide much of it. Most of my gardening endeavors are on how well it will season our farm raised beef or poultry or how pretty it will look in an arrangement. Not a huge vegetable garden here...mostly because of time. Finding the time to practice food preservation comes hard. My favorite choice being the fine art of freezing. We'll share on that once harvest begins.

Now you may be asking "Teemie! If you're so into eating locally and healthy why are you so curvy and plump?" Well, that's a whole other series that I will gladly share at another time. For now I'll confess that I am a former junk food addict and am now into a year and a half of eating healthy with the occasional exception of a soda pop or deep fried veggie platter. Yes, I have even given up nutty donuts!

I have never felt better in my life, my stamina surprises me and I've never been heavier! LOL! Go figure. As a local herb farmer and a foodie I'm enjoying sharing the adventures of eating locally and striving for the healthiest way of life. I hope you'll continue to join me.

Kathy Huxford also shared this recipe for a refreshing summer salad just in time for strawberry season.

Poppy Seed Dressing

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

¾ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons minced onion

2 teaspoons poppy seed

1/3 cup vinegar

½ cup olive oil

Blend the above and toss with a lettuce mix, sliced strawberries and toasted almonds.

Email Teemie with your fresh ideas or observations at

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