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Letter: Farm fresh

Farmers markets have started across Franklin County, and if you eat (that includes most of us) you might consider the following.

The folks at Organic Gardening in Pennsylvania sampled the vitamin content of broccoli, then put it in a freezer at 10 degrees below zero. After a few months, the frozen broccoli was tested again. Due to the action of enzymes, it had lost more than half its vitamin content. Enzymes are present in all vegetables and they start breaking down plant matter as soon as the food is harvested. Corn is another example of how enzymes affect what you get from your food. It’s useful to have the water boiling before the corn is harvested.

The effect on corn also shows how enzyme activity affects food flavor; a toddler who might not eat certain green vegetables will often eat them fresh from the garden. But the only way to get all the nutrition and good taste you’re paying for is to buy your produce truly fresh. That’s the true value of farmers markets that offer locally grown, fresh produce. Local farmers often pick the food the day it is offered for sale.

Another important benefit in buying from farmers markets is that you can help ensure the success of local farms. If local farms disappear we could be helpless in the face of future drought. During the Midwest “Dust Bowl’’ of the ’30s, for example, Franklin County farmers were still able to grow the food needed by others. However, there were many more local farms in the 1930s; there are few today. The ongoing drought in the American Midwest should be a concern; major droughts like the ‘’Dust Bowl’’ will almost certainly be repeated, but if local farms have already failed where will the food come from?

It should be food for thought.

The Bernardston Farmers Market will offer local, fresh produce each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the United Church parking lot in Bernardston Center, from June 1 to Oct. 5. See you there.

JIM GILDEA

Bernardston

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