By Roya Burton
Holt Journal Staff Reporter
Fresh is the word many of us like to hear when it comes to our nutrition. Questions of our food being organic or processed can be a frequent concern. However, no matter how you like your food, many of us can rely on our local farmers markets to supply locally-owned and grown produce year round.
In Holt, that includes low-income customers.
Eating fresh is something that can be accessible to anybody. For those who desire to consume freshly-grown fruits and vegetables, Double Up Food Bucks is a program that encourages low-income consumers or people on assistance to eat more healthy food.
“It’s a great system because people who don’t have access to it can use their bucks at local farmers markets and get twice the amount back,” said Lori Underhill, a DDA representative.
The SNAP bridge card can only be used at farmer’s markets, and at certain grocery stores.
Supported by local and statewide vendors every Saturday year-round, the Holt Farmers Market has an array of fresh produce supplied by local and statewide vendors, but some question the value of organic foods.
Dr. Steve Nizielski Ph.D is a Biomedical Sciences Professor at Grand Valley State University. He believes that eating fresh has it’s advantages but also some disadvantages as well.
“We’ve all been under the same impression that fresh is always better, and as many advantages that fresh produce may have, it has its disadvantages too,” said Nizielski.
Most of our fresh produce is highly dependent on the time of the year but also the climate in which we live.
“It’s really a question of efficiency, not every produce grows well. Some vitamins might degrade quicker than others but, how would you know? For example we necessarily want to grow oranges here, because we don’t have the term soil or climate for it,” he said.
Not everybody grows produce outside in fields, especially in a northern climate. Crisp Country Acres uses greenhouses during the winter.
Located in Holland, Michigan, it is currently owned and run by the Visser family, and together they farm over 100 acres of produce.
“During the winter months, most of the produce starts in greenhouses. Vegetables mostly such as onions, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes you name it,” said Doug Visser.
The purpose of most greenhouses is to extend the growing season and supply the produce year-round.
“We start it in the greenhouse, watch the produce grow, eventually harvest it and supply it to consumers,” said Visser.
Crisp Country Acres has been vending to Holt’s farmer’s market for the past couple of years.
“Fresh produce is really just all around a healthier choice. As opposed to food being processed and shipped, it’s the better option for everybody,” Visser said.