As I write this letter the day after an outdoor barbecue for Father’s Day, I’m anticipating how fun July is for us in the Washington, D.C. area—as the schools close and the pools open. I overhear joyful conversations from families as they plan their yearly summer vacations and know that fun is on the horizon.
July seems to be the official kick-off of the bounty of fresh corn and tomatoes from our Eastern shore and nearby Pennsylvania farms. There’s a place in Annapolis close to where I lived for a few years that receives beefsteak tomatoes and corn on the cob so fresh, you can still feel the morning dew on the corn husks as the farmers drop them off in the morning. For me, sitting down to fresh crabs caught off the dock, sliced tomatoes and corn from the farmers is heaven on earth.
Although we have a way to go still, it’s refreshing to know how many of us consumers and the caring farmers out there are paying attention to our demand for organic healthy produce choices, as well as their commitment to delivering those healthy choices. Our feature this month highlights the mashup of science and farming for the purpose of enhancing the nutritional value of our local harvests.
Being a farmer these days is not just about putting some seeds into the ground, adding a bit of water, watching for the shoots of green, and then picking the fresh vegetables or fruits when they become ripe. There is renewed care for the soil and the nutrients in healthy dirt and water that provide a harvest that is not only delicious, but also has enhanced nutritional properties.
As our farming system has become more dependent on chemicals to keep away the weeds and pests, our food sources have become depleted of nutrients, if not dangerous. Just as science was used to create the chemicals of the used over the past 70 years, there is a new, bumper crop of farmer/scientists who are re-learning the practices of our founding farmers, developed over centuries, that help produce bumper crops of healthy foods.
Combined with technological advancements and the ability to test for the best results, the farming industry seems to be experiencing rebirth. And with local farmers’ markets, like Spiral Path Farms, even city-dwellers can enjoy fresh-picked strawberries and grass-fed beef. Check out our feature article this month, along with a listing of quality food science resources, for more information. Plus, local nutritionist Elizabeth McMillan provides timely tips on how to have a summer barbecue with foods that are tasty and helpful for the digestive system.
Our other theme this month highlights the growing list of resources for those seeking pain management other than opioids. Any glance at the evening news reminds us that opioid addiction is a national problem. For many families, addiction has become costly, with the loss of jobs and the high cost of treatment, or even deadly. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, legal and illegal opioids killed more than 64,000 people in the U.S. in one year. They note that this is a 21 percent increase from the prior year. The good news is that there are alternatives—natural alternatives—to opioids. Our feature by Kathleen Barnes brings good news to those who are seeking a new path to chronic pain management.
As I anticipate the glorious bumper crop of beefsteak tomatoes and fresh corn, I wish all of you that same feeling for whatever it is that makes your summer fun.