Tuesday, July 15, 2008

1, 2, 3, 4 ... 9 A Day

Remember back when the Food Pyramid urged us to consume at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day?
When my older son was a toddler, Dole sent me a compact disc at work with catchy tunes for children promoting the government’s then 5-A-Day campaign. I can still hear the strains in my head (“One, two, three, four, Five A Day, that’s the fruit and vegetable way ... ”).
In fact, the CDC now asks Americans to shoot for nine servings a day. At www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov, there is a handy calculator that tells you, based on your sex, age and level of physical activity, exactly what you should aim for.
My goal should be 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables every day. Not as impossible a goal as “9 A Day” sounds.
By that measurement, the pint of native blueberries I purchased this morning at the Middletown Farmers Market will fill my day’s requirement of fruit.
And do I love berries.
What a boon are the summer months to those of us who love fresh and local produce. No pesticides or waxes mar their unique beauty and taste. Tomatoes are often “ugly” by grocery store standards and the prices are a bit higher than you’d find at a supermarket, but I’m willing to pay that for something rarely found in these mass markets — flavor.
Can you remember the last time a grocery store tomato wasn’t pale and mealy tasting? How about a peach that’s succulent and intense?
Today, the farmers market opened on the South Green, across from where the old Middletown Press building stood. It runs every Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to noon until October. Gotta’s Farm of Portland and Killam & Bassette Farmstead of South Glastonbury staff were among those manning the table, offering just-picked spaghetti squash, zucchini, tomatoes, peaches, cherry peppers, green beans, corn, cucumbers, beets, lettuce, plums and blueberries. Homemade jars of jam stood in neat little lines. Linda Rumsey’s Sweet Memories of Portland offered her pies, scones, lemon bars, fruit and nut breads and pastries.
Tonight we’ll enjoy the early ears of corn with butter and sea salt. My son will love fat slices of heirloom tomatoes drizzled with olive oil. I’ll have to “steal” a sprig or two of basil from the neighbor’s garden to complete this simple appetizer.
Fuzzy peaches will ripen in a brown bag on my counter, then delight my preschooler’s unending lust for fruit.
I eyed the zucchini for purchase on Thursday for the sweet bread my husband loves made with real butter and walnuts.
Sorry guys, the blueberries might not make it home tonight. I saved those fatties for myself. I can always nab another pint in a couple days.

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