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Welcome to spring! The season is just getting ramped up for farm fresh produce. Sometimes going to pick your own produce just seems like one more thing to do in the long line of tasks within a given day. But this one just might be food for your soul and your body too.

Yesterday I finally took advantage of our local farm just down the road. The boys loved meandering through the rows of strawberries and lettuce. Yes, I said strawberries! For those of you in the midwest, it is definitely not strawberry season yet. I almost missed it because it is so early here in North Carolina. But as we crouched down to find those beautiful red treasures, I was in love with watching my 5 year-old pick his own strawberries. Then watching this same little boy wrestle a head of lettuce from the ground was priceless.

Not only was it good for me to take the time to enjoy this outing with my boys, it was even better getting the produce home to wash it together so we could enjoy it for lunch. I have never seen both my boys eat a salad so well as they did for lunch yesterday. Something about that fresh lettuce!

So what is the big deal, really, about fresh produce? I remember when I lived in Chicago I wondered that same question myself. We lived by a produce market that sold great produce for amazing prices, and I could pick it while I listened to them play Frank Sinatra in the background. I was in love with my little market, and I do miss it.

But as my understanding of how foods nourish and feed our bodies has grown, I find myself looking harder at those fresh farm stands. Did you know that many of the foods we get in the produce section of our supermarket are not as rich in nutrients as their farm fresh counterparts? They’re still very good for you, don’t get me wrong. However, most of the produce we see on the shelves was picked before it was ripe, and it was grown out of it’s natural growing season and/or environment. So whenever you can, pick locally raised produce, and in-season.

Learn to enjoy foods as the seasons change. Right now is lettuce, asparagus and strawberry season here, so I will enjoy some great salads, make some strawberry jam, and roast some asparagus. Challenge yourself to find one local source for some produce this season. You won’t regret it!