One of my favorite summer or fall activities over the past year or two has been U-Pick. U-pick veggies, like asparagus, peppers, and eggplant. U-pick fruits, like strawberries, raspberries, and apples. One of my all-time favorites this year was U-Pick tomatoes.
I enjoy it so much, I wanted to share it with you! As a nutrition and pubic health professional, and an overall fruit & veggie enthusiast, I 10/10 recommend you start going to U-Pick farms, and here’s why:
There are a couple reasons why I enjoy doing this so much:
It gets me outdoors, enjoying the weather, and our environment
Connects me to the local food system, and supports local farms
High quality produce, picked FRESH and RIPE (not the case from the grocery store)
Creates memories and traditions with friends and family-- it’s such a fun outing!
Supporting local farms helps our local economy by keeping dollars local and supporting small businesses. It also helps our environment by eliminating the processing and transportation of food hundreds or thousands of miles to get to us.
Did you know the average distance food travels to get from farm to plate in the United States is 1500 miles? That’s crazy!! This means there’s extra pollution from transportation. Just compare 1500 miles to the couple you have to drive from the farm field to your front door when you go to a U-Pick farm! Additionally, the food is picked before it’s fully ripe so it has time to make it to it’s destination before spoiling. Harvesting when produce is not ripe, means the nutrients are not at their peak, and it can compromise quality.
This is why seasonal homegrown produce tastes so much better than store bought produce the majority of time, and often packs more vitamin and antioxidant content! (varies with the type of produce and other factors)
Another added bonus is that when people, including kids, are exposed to the food system, and where our food comes from, it influences their eating habits and food preferences!
And.. It’s truly ‘Off the Vine Nutrition’
How can you try this?
Hop on Google and search for U-Pick farms or orchards in your area. I promise you won’t regret it!
If you are from the Ann Arbor area, my favorite place to go is Slow Farm. This farm is just north of Ann Arbor and is a certified organic U-Pick farm. They are part of the Slow Food Movement, which promotes biodiversity and sustainable agriculture, and supports small-scale food producers. The mission is to build networks to advocate and transform the way we produce, consume, and enjoy food. Slow Farm also participates in the Ark of Taste, which is an organization that travels the world identifying delicious and endangered varieties of food. In efforts to keep these varieties out of extinction, Slow Farm grows these varieties to keep them thriving! Check out more information on the Ark of Taste Tomatoes they grew this year!
I have enjoyed so many delicious, local, and seasonal fruits and veggies this year, which have truly elevated the recipes I’ve used them in, and have thoroughly enjoyed approximately half of my harvest that did not make it to a recipe because they were enjoyed on the way home!
Most farms are wrapping up their season right now, but it doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for next year, or check out local farmers markets to get local produce a different way! Even here in Michigan, many communities have winter farmers markets. The last weekend Slow farm is open is THIS weekend (October 26-28th, 2018). I know they have pumpkins and squash, but check their facebook page for hours, available produce, and other details!
Do you have a favorite place for U-Pick near you? Let me know if you make it out to Slow Farm this weekend & how your experience was!