“Farm to table” is now a household word, and that’s a wonderful thing. Older generations have always predicted that what’s old will become new again. For some, that means bell-bottom jeans and tie-dye might make a comeback (again). For others, it means a return to our roots… finding our seats at the family dinner table and eating the foods we once enjoyed throughout a Southern childhood.
Buying local, farm-fresh food is far from a fad. It’s tradition calling our taste buds, waking them up with flavor that can only be savored through the flesh of a succulent peach on a hot summer day.
And while you’re wiping the sticky fruit juice from your chin, you’re also helping to support local farmers and community gardens – many who toil through the long, hot hours in the peak of the season to bring the sweetest, tastiest gifts from nature to your dinner table. Now who could argue the good in that?
The USDA’s Nutrition.gov website lists its “Top 10 Reasons to Shop at a Farmers Market,” with flavor and nutrition as the top reasons to buy in-season produce. For seniors, this is especially important to promote healthier dining options, as chronic illnesses are common challenges for older adults. The Office for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recognizes a number of reasons why seniors should be encouraged to eat more of these foods:
• Reduces the risk of chronic diseases, such as Type 2 Diabetes, certain cancers, stroke and cardiovascular diseases.
• Adds more fiber to the diet to promote regularity and sense of fullness in the stomach.
• Helps control calories for those needing to lose weight.
These benefits are found to be more pronounced in foods that are closest to their natural state, putting whole, farm-fresh produce at the top of the list for many seniors. In addition, the flavor is more robust unlike the watered-down varieties, making the dining experience more palatable and enjoyable.
This is especially critical for older adults who may be suffering from nutritional deficiencies as well as issues tasting and swallowing food due to Alzheimer’s disease and related diagnoses. Also farm-fresh foods can help make mealtime memorable for those suffering from memory-related conditions, as the fond memories of farm life begin to surface and blossom in the mind.
You’ll hear the people say, “Don’t eat anything your grandma wouldn’t recognize.” I tend to agree. The number of known benefits to going back to our roots have only begun to flourish. Being in the South, we are blessed to be surrounded by an abundance of agriculture, to drive past a number of family-owned fruit stands and farmers markets in many of our towns. For those who think that farm-fresh dining is a blast from the past, my hope is that it is a trend that never goes out of style.