Iowa Ag Groups Promoting Heart Healthy Foods

Iowa Ag Groups Promoting Heart Healthy Foods

Des Moines is hosting a CSA fair for people to purchase fresh produce this Valentine's Day weekend.

Six CSAs or Community Supported Agriculture groups will connect with potential members this coming Saturday at the Campbell's Nutrition CSA fair in Des Moines. The event is presented by Greater Des Moines Buy Fresh Buy Local, Eat Greater Des Moines, and Iowa Heartland Resource Conservation and Development

The Healthy Hearts CSA Fair aims to provide people with the opportunity to meet with the farmers directly, those who produce the food, and to learn more about CSAs. The public can ask questions to help them choose a CSA that best fits their specific needs and lifestyle.

HEALTHIER HEARTS: Central Iowa groups are holding a Community Supported Agriculture Fair on Saturday Feb. 15 in Des Moines, promoting fresh produce for a heart healthy diet.

This is an opportunity to talk directly to each farmer
"The CSA Fair is a great way to learn more about CSA options around the area and talk directly with each producer," says Aubrey Martinez, director of the organization Eat Greater Des Moines. "Each CSA has benefits unique to them. This fair is a great chance to ask questions and find the CSA that is the best fit for you."

When: Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Campbell's Nutrition, 4040 University Ave., Des Moines

Cost: Free and open to the public

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. These farms offer membership shares and deliver the bounty of the farm to members during a set number of weeks. Often the shares are for about 20 weeks between June and September but many farms offer additional shares for early, late, or holiday seasons.

There has been a perception in the past that CSAs are full and it is too late for people to join. While that might have been true a decade ago, today there are plenty of shares available as new farms have started and existing farms have expanded their food production operations.

Joining a CSA is a way for people and families to eat healthier
"CSAs are really a fantastic way for individuals and families to dramatically increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. The produce is often harvested on the day the produce is delivered. Throughout the 20 or so weeks of deliveries, a CSA member will be offered dozens of different fruits and vegetables," says Matt Russell, coordinator of the Greater Des Moines Buy Fresh, Buy Local group, which is headquartered at the Drake Agricultural Law Center.

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In addition to the CSA fair, the Drake Agricultural Law Center is working with Iowa Heartland RC&D on a project connecting CSAs with Des Moines area employers. The project involves CSAs and employers working together to deliver shares directly to worksites making it easier for employees to access and eat more fresh produce.

"This is a wellness project for employers. The evidence is clear that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have significantly better health outcomes than people who only eat fruits and vegetables occasionally," says Shirley Stout Fredrickson, executive director of Iowa Heartland RC&D. "This project is a win, win, win. Employers provide a proven strategy for better health. And the employees receive a growing season's worth of the freshest produce possible. The farmers win because they are able to expand their farm production."

Getting people to buy more locally produced vegetables and fruits
Campbell's was one of the participants last year in the CSA project. They partnered with The Homestead CSA at their Urbandale location.

"Partnering with CSAs is a natural fit for us because our mission is health. Helping our customers eat more fruits and vegetables is an important part of what we do. We sell produce all year and offer locally grown in season. But whether our customers are buying from us or joining a CSA, the goal is the same: more fruits and vegetables for better health," says Diane Lahodny, owner of Campbell's Nutrition.

At Saturday's event, Campbell's Nutrition in addition to hosting the CSA fair will be sampling heart healthy foods throughout the store from Agricultured, Timber Ridge/Popsie Fish Co, Slipstream Organics, and Cirmes all of which are Iowa companies that sell heart healthy foods. Campbell's will draw for a $500 gift certificate from among people who attend the event, and will have special discounts throughout the store.

For more information, contact Matt Russell at 515-689-8219 or [email protected].

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