This time of year it’s always such fun to go apple picking and pumpkin picking. I’m not a great baker but it’s become a ritual to make loaves of apple bread and pumpkin bread and, of course, roasted pumpkin seeds. It’s not just the experience of picking the apples that makes them taste better – locally grown produce that’s allowed to ripen naturally does taste better.
Your local produce doesn’t have to be curtailed to apples and pumpkins. Exploring farmer’s markets on Saturday mornings with the kids is an opportunity to get them interested in a variety of fruits and vegetables and, at the same time, reducing the amount of harmful pesticides that are entering their bodies.
It’s true that we are what we eat and our bodies are screaming out against the harmful toxins that are being ingested. Many moms I speak with, who have children with neurological issues, question the role artificial growth hormones, pesticides and other chemicals play in their child’s disease. Unfortunately, the government seems to be deaf to our concerns. Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of the pesticide methyl iodide, mainly for use in strawberry fields. Methyl iodide is a new, highly toxic fumigant, a neurotoxin and carcinogen that has been linked to thyroid cancers, neurological damage and miscarriages in lab animals. On the EPA’s site, they state that "In humans, acute (short-term) exposure to methyl iodide by inhalation may depress the central nervous system (CNS), irritate the lungs and skin, and affect the kidneys. "
Farmers markets are a great way to find locally grown produce but certainly not the only way. Locally owned grocery and natural foods stores and coops are much more likely than supermarkets to stock local foods. The Local Harvest website (www.localharvest.com) provides a comprehensive national directory of farmers’ markets, farm stands and other sources of locally grown food. So this weekend, take your kids out and let them experience the amazing flavors of locally grown produce.