If you’re looking to fill your plate with healthy foods this summer, you don’t have to go far. Pennsylvania produce offers many benefits to you and to the state.
According to the Department of Agriculture, money spent on Pennsylvania produce strengthens the economy and supports Pennsylvania farmers who pick the local produce at its peak ripeness so you get the freshest products available.
Plus, the Department of Agriculture says when the distance between farm and market is minimized, it has a lighter impact on the environment.
As for your health, fruits and vegetables offer a variety of nutrients. This summer, there are more than two dozen fruits and vegetables on the PA Preferred Seasonal Calendar.
Blueberries, which are in season from June to September in Pennsylvania, are referred to as a “super food” because they have high levels of Vitamin C and antioxidants.
Peaches, also packed with nutrients and antioxidants, are in season from July to September.
Cauliflower is very trendy with many people using the vegetable as a substitute for rice, pasta or even pizza crust. Pennsylvania cauliflower can be bought now through November.
If you are looking for locally grown produce, check your local farmer’s market or if you’re shopping at the store, there are signs to look for.
“Look for the PA Preferred symbol. It may be on the sticker, on the shelf somewhere or displayed prominently in the store,” says Shannon Powers, PA Department of Agriculture Press Secretary. “It might also be on the label of the product.”
Shannon came to the ABC27 kitchen to share a summer appetizer her family loves using Pennsylvania strawberries and basil.
Strawberry Caprese Bites
Ingredients: (makes 12 bites)
– 1 baguette, sliced thinly & toasted lightly
– 6 large, fresh local strawberries, halved, leaves & stems removed
– Fresh, local basil leaves – removed stems and cut in half or smaller to taste
– Goat cheese, softened
– Balsamic vinegar
– Maple syrup
Balsamic Vinegar and Maple glaze: Bring 4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar & 3 tbsp of PA maple syrup to a boil, then simmer, stirring ‘til reduced by half. (about 5 min.)
Spread goat cheese generously on toasted bread, place basil, then strawberry half on top, drizzle with cooled glaze and serve at room temp.
Freely substitute peaches, blackberries or raspberries; or substitute honey for maple syrup; and microgreens or fresh herbs – whatever’s in season!– Shannon Powers, PA Department of Agriculture Press Secretary