Chloe’s Post: The Results are In! A Summary of My Older Adult Project

The Results are In! A Summary of My Older Adult Project

Throughout my internship with Seacoast Eat Local, I have been working on a research project involving the local older adult population. The aim of this study was to find out a variety of things including (1) how much they knew about Seacoast Eat Local (2) the best methods to reach them with information and (3) their farmers’ market food preferences. The part I was most excited about was their food preferences. Currently, many older adults do not consume enough fresh fruits and vegetables (FFVs). Therefore, by discovering their preferences, Seacoast Eat Local as well as other organizations could gain insight into how to better serve this portion of our population. Additionally, SEL has a mobile market (SAMM) that provides FFVs to areas that do not necessarily have immediate access to them. The findings from this study could also influence the types of foods provided in the SAMM van.

25 individuals participated in this study, a majority of them ages 81 – 95 and female. This research was done via paper survey. The only qualification was that they needed to be 60+ years old. The data was collected from both an assisted living facility as well as a senior housing authority site.

After analyzing the data, it was found that SEL was more well known at the location where the SAMM van stopped, which makes sense. That is also why this research is so important because it identified locations the SAMM van could add to its route. It also found that mail was the most popular method of communication for the local older adult population. Furthermore, the survey asked some questions about how older adults preferred to buy food at the farmers’ market. The results indicated two things: that older adults like to have autonomy when choosing their fruits and vegetables as well as the fact that they like to purchase smaller amounts of larger foods (i.e. ½ a melon as opposed to a whole one). This makes sense because older adults do not usually consume as much food and do not need as many daily calories. Buying in smaller portions also prevents food waste and spoilage.

Now comes the exciting part! The food preferences of the local older adult population. Foods on the survey were limited to those available at the farmers’ markets and were categorized into four categories: vegetables, fruits, dairy, and protein. Here were the top three from each category: The percentages indicate the percent of individuals that selected for the food.

Top Vegetables: Corn (84%), Potatoes (80%), and Green Beans (72%)

Top Fruits: Peaches (72%), Strawberries (72%), and Watermelon (68%)

Top Protein: Eggs (72%), Chicken (68%), and Beef (60%)

Top Dairy: Cheese (68%), Milk (52%), and Yogurt (48%)

It was interesting to find that eggs were the most liked protein product. Fish was also an extremely popular protein and came in 4th place. The least popular food of all was eggplant surprisingly. When talking with some survey takers, they indicated significant interest in having the SAMM van stop at their location! This is great because it shows that the older adult population wants these FFVs, it is just a matter of access. I’m so glad I got to have this experience. I had a blast learning how to conduct research, meeting all the participants, and presenting my results at the UNH Undergraduate Research Conference! Hope you found these results as interesting as I did!

Till Next Time,

Chloe

Chloe’s Post: My First Experience Canning

My mother is an avid canner. Growing up, I remember always seeing her with her canning supplies making fabulous jams! Though I usually do not consume jams, I still found the process fascinating. Therefore, I decided to learn from the best this Easter weekend. Since the weather is becoming progressively more gorgeous, I decided on making a strawberry-rhubarb jam! Though I wasn’t able to get my ingredients at a farmers’ market this time, strawberries and rhubarb are available at the summer farmers’ markets starting in June.

The whole process was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I learned that in order to store the finished product on the shelf, the cans have to be sterilized first. This is done by boiling the cans for approximately 10 minutes. If this step is not done, the jams must be stored in the refrigerator. I did not realize that so few ingredients make up jam. This recipe only consisted of five ingredients! Though simple, the product is delicious!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam

Recipe taken from Ball’s Blue Book: The Guide to Home Canning and Freezing

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of strawberries, washed and stemmed
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb (about 4 stalks)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 package of powdered pectin
  • 5 ½ cups of sugar

Directions:

Crush strawberries; place in a large sauce pot. Combine chopped rhubarb with strawberries. Add lemon juice and pectin. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add sugar; return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour hot into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch head space. Adjust caps. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield: about 6 half pints.


Canning is a fantastic way to use up any extra fruits that you may have from the farmers’ markets! Additionally, jams made from farmers’ market fruits taste better because the fruits are fresher! Another difference I like between buying jams and doing it yourself is the fact that the homemade jams are more textured and not just smooth.

I love learning new cooking techniques and ways to prepare foods. I think next on my list is going to be bread making. Something my mom also does frequently! I believe that cooking is becoming a lost art due to the convenience-oriented nature of our food system. Cooking and food preparation can be extremely time consuming and with the fast-paced nature of today’s world, many people opt for the faster method (i.e. packaged foods).

I hope you guys get the opportunity to try canning at some point. I had fun doing it! If you haven’t done it yet, you should definitely try it. Go to the summer markets, find some fresh fruits, and start canning!

Till Next Time,

Chloe

Chloe’s Post: My Last Winter Market (an an intern)

This past Saturday was bittersweet for me. Sweet because I would no longer have to get up at 6:30 AM every other Saturday, but bitter because it was my last day working at the Seacoast Eat Local Winter farmers’ markets as an intern. Out of all the activities for this internship, working at the markets had to be my favorite. I loved the atmosphere there because it was lively, bustling, and also fun. I liked how even though it would be miserable and cold outside, the market would be warm and comforting. Besides the getting up early, I always enjoyed my time at the farmers’ market.

Since this was my last market, I had to stop at some of my favorite farms! This included eating some Beef Sambousek rolls from Karimah’s Kitchen, which came with an avocado spread. They were delicious and quite filling. Usually, I get their rice and lentils with carmelized onions, but they were out that day. I also was able to try some duck confit ravioli from Valicenti Pasta Farm. I had never had duck before and it was exciting to do so. This was also wonderful and needed no seasonings! I also got to try out some pickled beets and dilly beans from Debbie D’s, which were fantastic! Everything at the farmers’ market tastes so good. There has never been a food item I haven’t enjoyed! Finally, I saw some gorgeous swiss chard at Heron Pond Farm. I never knew that the stems were so colorful. Nature is simply beautiful if given the proper care.

Some things I’ll miss about the markets include interacting with all the customers and farmers. I loved talking to the customers because they were so friendly and also excited about the markets. It was also nice to get to know the farmers and become a regular at their stands. I’ll also miss being able to try new and unique foods. Because of the markets, I have been able to try new and different foods such as watermelon radish, kohlrabi, apple pie jam, duck ravioli, Lebanese chicken rolls, beef and cheese empanadas, and also pickled beets!

Though I am not going to be working officially at the markets anymore, this internship has reawakened my love of farmers’ markets. They can be very addicting! As a result, I plan on attending the summer markets. I look forward to the being outside, seeing some familiar faces, and being able to try all the unique summertime foods the markets’ can provide. I hope you all had as much fun with the winter markets as I did!

Till Next Time,

Chloe

Chloe’s Post: A Pasta Lovers Dream at Valicenti Pasta Farm

As a nutrition major, I get asked the following question quite often: what is your favorite food? My answer is always pasta, whether it be the comfort food macaroni and cheese or a plain farfalle with olive oil, cheese, and black pepper! I simply love pasta and all the ways in which you can use it. I’ve even had experience making my own pasta from scratch, which turns out to be harder than you think (you seriously need some arm strength to flatten the dough to make it thin enough).

Because of my love of pasta, you can imagine my shock and happiness to find that our very own farmers’ markets (Rollinsford and Exeter) have their very own pasta farm vendor: Valicenti Pasta Farm. I was beyond ecstatic. Just looking at the farm display is wonderful. They lay out each of the day’s pasta in an artistic way. They have pasta shapes and flavors that I have never seen before (like the beet twists)! They also make homemade sauces as well. The pasta I used for the Spaghetti Experiment (previous blog) was Bucatini (a hollow spaghetti). It was delicious and very easy to cook! Because fresh pasta is not dried, it takes a lot less time to cook and is even more delicious.

When I talked with the farm stand, they gave me some more information that made me love this farm even more. 90% of the vegetables and herbs used in the products are grown in a giant greenhouse the farm owns! This means that they can have herbs all year long! Furthermore, the owner of the farm, David Valicenti, used to be the head chef at a Cajun restaurant in Louisiana. Armed with this cooking experience and also his Grandmother’s sauce recipe, Valicenti was able to create Valicenti Pasta Farm and make it the success it is today!

Some of the farms best sellers include brown butter & sage roasted sweet potato ravioli, wild garlic scapes tagliatelle, and fresh herb pappardelle. I made their roasted beet & pecorino toscano ravioli earlier in the week and it was delicious! No seasoning was needed! It was extremely easy to prepare and had a beautiful deep magenta color from the beets. This pasta also tasted extremely fresh, unique, and exotic.

I encourage you to visit Valicenti Pasta Farm (gimmiespaghetti.com) at the Exeter and Rollinsford winter farmers’ markets. I look forward to learning about and tasting the other pastas this farm provides and encourage you to do the same. If you do happen to visit this fantastic farm, comment what type of pasta you tried and how you liked it!

Till Next Time,

Chloe

Chloe’s Post: Kohlrabi is an Up and Coming Superfood!

What makes a superfood a superfood? A quick google search gives the following definition: a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. Kohlrabi is just that. A nutrient-dense cabbage, this cruciferous vegetable is cousins with brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale. It has the texture of a potato or an apple and tastes like the stem of a broccoli but sweeter! The first time I tried it, I was amazed at how good it was.

In order to be a superfood, the item must be nutrient-rich, which kohlrabi is. It is high in nutrients while also being low in calories! Here are some of the health benefits associated with nutrients found in kohlrabi:

  • Vitamin A: good for your eyes
  • Vitamin C: immune system health
  • Iron: prevents iron deficiency anemia
  • Calcium: improves bone health
  • Potassium: helps blood pressure and muscle/nerve function
  • Fiber: great for digestive health

In addition, kohlrabi also contains a lot of phytochemicals, which are highly regarded for their antioxidant properties. It is also an extremely good food choice for those looking to lose weight. This is the case because it is high in fiber which makes you feel fuller faster. Furthermore, it is low in fat, has no cholesterol, and only has 36 calories per cup!

A note when working with kohlrabi: make sure to peel it well because there is another fibrous layer below the outer skin. While this is fine to eat, it can be tough, which can interfere with cooking. Kohlrabi can be eaten either raw or cooked. I like to eat it raw because it is absolutely delicious as is! In addition to being served raw, kohlrabi can also be incorporated into soups, salads, and spring rolls.  It can even be pickled or made into fritters!

This past market, I created a demonstration showcasing kohlrabi and it was an amazing success! Farmers’ market customers could sample kohlrabi raw, with hummus, or with ranch dressing. Additionally, I prepared an apple and kohlrabi coleslaw that was a big hit (see recipe below)! Nearly everyone who tried the kohlrabi loved it and wanted to know where to buy it. It was so in demand that the farm that sold it sold out!

Kohlrabi and Apple Coleslaw

Original recipe can be found here: https://food52.com/recipes/31806-kohlrabi-apple-and-walnut-slaw-salad

 Ingredients:

  • 1 kohlrabi, peeled and julienned
  • 1 large apple julienned
  • 4 large scallions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tsp maple syrup
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • sugar to taste

Preparation:

  1. In a bowl, mix together julienned kohlrabi, apple, and scallions.
  2. In separate small bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, oil, & maple syrup.
  3. Combine dressing with veggies and toss. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar. Enjoy!

Though it may look like an odd vegetable, I assure you kohlrabi is amazing! Not only is it tasty, but it also has a ton of nutritional benefits and is really easy to prepare! If you weren’t able to try any samples at the past famers’ market, make sure you get your hands on a kohlrabi and try it out! Spread the kohlrabi love!

Till Next Time,

Chloe

Chloe’s Post: The Spaghetti Experiment

One of the major benefits to eating local foods is that they are extremely fresh and taste better. In order to confirm this, I conducted a little experiment with my family members as the research subjects. For dinner one night, I prepared two dishes of spaghetti with red sauce. The difference between the two was that one was made with store-bought pasta and Prego sauce (traditional style) while the other was made with fresh goods from the Exeter farmers’ market (pasta from Valicenti Pasta Farm, onions, and garlic). The tomatoes were bought at the grocery store because they are not currently in season.

After letting all my family members try each pasta, they unanimously voted for the version made with local ingredients. Here are some of the things they said about the farmers’ market spaghetti:

Mom: It has flavor. You can taste the ingredients. This one is rich and sweet while the other is thin and bitter.

Dad: It has more character while the other one has a thin packaged-food taste.

Brother: It tastes more real. Has more flavor. The other one is boring.

local pasta
pasta prego-style
grocery store ingredients
farmers’ market ingredients

When I tasted the two different pastas, I also found that the one made with local goods was infinitely better than the one made from packaged goods. I found that the store-bought one did not have much flavor and was too acidic. Usually I can enjoy a basic spaghetti with red sauce, but when compared to the local version, there was no comparison. This is the benefit to cooking with local goods. The food tastes beyond fresh and has more complex flavors! While you can get “fresh” fruits and vegetables in the produce section of the grocery store, they still can have chemicals in and on them that are used to increase the shelf life. So in actuality, they are not as fresh as the goods from farmers’ markets.

This was a fun experiment to do because it was not only fun cooking using local goods, but it was also great to see how much better the local version tasted than the store-bought version! I encourage you to try this experiment at home and recreate a store-bought meal with fresh goods from a farmers’ market! If you do, comment below with what you made and how the dish turned out!

Till Next Time,

Chloe