Pulling radishes from our yard garden this week, the kids initially made faces at the gnarly misshapen not-perfectly-rounded shapes so dramatically different from the perfection seen at the stores. But a few minutes later, the first crunches into the delectably tasting produce that melt in their mouth with a rainbow of flavors, there was no further complaint. In fact, the ten years old started a conversation on how this is similar to people – we are all different and that is a great thing!
Farmers markets are all around us – and they often display things that are not perfect in the classic sense of the word, but are perfection in the context of nutritious and delicious.
Did you know that a landmark study on this was done in 2004 by University of Texas team led by Donald Davis and published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. This declining nutritional content is linked to the wide adoption of agricultural practices designed to improve appearance, size, growth rate and pest resistance with little effort focusing on nutrition.
“Crops can grow bigger and more rapidly,” reported Davis, “but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.”
The resurgence of the 100 miles diet, urban farming and farmers markets gives me hope – and so is the concrete example that this teaches our kids that what is not perfectly pretty is actually truly beautiful.
You can find a farmers market near you, using the Farmers’ Markets Canada Association.
Alexandra T. Greenhill, physician mom CEO myBestHelper