LOCALLY GROWN: Push To Increase Knowledge

We’ve heard we’re supposed to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. This time of year, you have plenty of options to get your hands of fresh local produce. And, as the local food movement grows, there’s a push for one group of professionals to learn more about it.

Louie Bergquist is getting back to his roots. The ten-month-old doesn’t have much to say, but you can tell he enjoys digging in the dirt. Mom Erin Bergquist says, “He likes to get out in the garden and help and eat a little bit of the dirt.”

Bergquist is teaching her son a love of produce at an early age. Not just because she’s a mom, but also because she’s a Registered Dietitian. As an instructor with Iowa State University’s Dietetics Internship Program, she’s helping others learn about the benefits of eating locally grown food. She says, “Local food is usually picked when it’s ripe, so the flavor is better. When things taste better we eat more. We all know we need to eat more fruits and vegetables.”

Bergquist joined about a dozen other dietitians from around the country in developing guidelines dietitians can use for a resource. The “Standards in Sustainable, Resilient and Healthy Food and Water Systems” is published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Jean Anderson with Iowa State University’s Dietetics Program says, “The local food movement and the sustainability concepts are very important as we work with our students and with our clients so they are doing the best practices.”

Practices like helping consumers find where local food is available or grow their own, and encouraging them to try produce in a variety of colors you may not find in the grocery store. Bergquist says, “If you like carrots, try purple carrots or yellow carrots. If you like potatoes, there’s blue potatoes and there’s a million varieties of tomatoes.”

She goes on to say, “We’re kind of getting a more nutritional punch when we have a variety of bright colors.”

Burgquist is hopeful the standards will plant seeds of health for future generations. She recommends people visit cultivateiowa.org, if you need help growing a garden or donating extra produce from an established garden.

If you don’t want to grow your own, Bergquist says you can find a farmers’ market in central Iowa most days of the week. Or, you can buy a community supported agriculture share to get a box of produce fresh from the farm each week. Click here for more information from Drake’s Buy Fresh Buy Local.