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A Spotlight on Honey

Honey has been around since the start of written history and most likely before that however there is not records prior. Since 2100 B.C.  it has been recorded as the first commonly used sweetener by humans. The first record is in Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform writings and writings from Egypt and India. In years past it was used as currency, to make cement, polish and varnish, and in medicine.

Honey does not spoil and is best kept in a cool location out of sunlight. It is mostly sugar but does have some antioxidants depending on the bees and plants is comes from. There are different types of honey depending on the type of flower the bees go to. Some examples include lavender, clover, acacia, chestnut, sage, and many others. Honey can go threw different production and can be created into liquid in raw and pasteurized varieties, it can be in honeycomb, and also whipped. Honey can be used in many different recipes including baked goods, marinades, and can be added to tea.
Honey begins as nectar collected from flowers by bees. The bees then store the nectar in their honey stomachs. Those bees regurgitate the nectar into the hive and give it to worker bees. The worker bees then evaporate the water in the nectar by swallowing and regurgitating until the water content is lower. Once the water content of the nectar is lowered it is considered honey.
Honey can be found at you local farmers’ markets and from these farms.

The Man Behind Nutrition Incentive Programs

Post by Seacoast Eat Local Intern and UNH Student Meriah M.

Who is Gus Schumacher?

Fresh fruits and vegetables should be found in all of America’s kitchens regardless of the income of the household, however, access to affordable produce is out of financial reach for many low-income families. Gus Schumacher had served as an advocate for these families since 1980 in his capacity as an agricultural policy leader and Co-Founder of Wholesome Wave, an organization dedicated to supporting the healthy food purchasing ability of underserved families. 

Schumacher championed the importance of healthy food access, conceiving a program that would motivate low-income consumers to buy more fruits and vegetables by increasing their purchasing power and in turn, their ability to purchase healthy food. The power and reach of Schumacher’s innovative new approach to promoting fruit and vegetable consumption among underserved populations expanded to a broad network of what are now known as Nutrition Incentive Programs supported by federal grants, including Seacoast Eat Local’s very own Market Match. When Gus Schumacher died in 2017, the nutrition incentive grant program was renamed to the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), honoring Schumacher’s dedication to universal access to affordable fruits and vegetables. 

We have Schumacher’s innovative agricultural spirit and passion for food access to thank for the implementation of many nutrition incentive programs. After gaining diverse experience in various food and agricultural sectors, Schumacher went on to serve as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, where he oversaw the Farm Service Agency, the Foreign Agricultural Service, and the Risk Management Agency. Schumacher made invaluable contributions to the Department of Agriculture, impacting the lives of food assistance recipients, farmers, and his colleagues alike. 

In Schumacher’s role as founder and Vice President of Wholesome Wave, he increased the ability of low-income people to access healthy, local foods that spurred the creation of similar programs across the country. Wholesome Wave was built on the Double Value Coupon Program, the same dollar for dollar fruit and vegetable match program that Granite State Market Match provides today. 

Gus Schumacher’s death on September 24th of 2017 was met with great sadness, and his loss was felt deeply by all those in his life, including those involved in his food access advocacy work. It is with great appreciation for Schumacher that nutrition incentive programs move forward, serving his mission to provide healthy, delicious, farm-grown food to all. 

A Spotlight on Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is made by tapping maple trees and collecting the sap. The sap is then boiled until it becomes thicker and resembles a syrup. The sap is clear and looks almost like water but when boiled the brown color comes out. Once boiled the syrup is then filtered to remove any sediment, and that is how the smooth textured maple syrup is created. North Eastern Native Americans were the first known to make maple syrup. European settlers learned how to tap maple trees from indigenous tribes.

Maple trees make sugar in the summer and the starch is stored in the roots over the summer. The trees are then tapped for sap in mid-February to mid-March. Sap collection ends when temperatures stay above freezing or when the trees start to produce buds. 80% of the world’s maple syrup is actually made in Quebec, Canada. Maple syrup can be either grade A or grade B depending on the color of the syrup. Grade A can be either light amber, medium amber, or dark amber. Grade B is the darkest maple syrup available and is created from sap that is collected later in the season. It has a stronger maple flavor and is commonly used in baking, whereas grade A is usually drizzled over food like pancakes.

Maple syrup isn’t only a sugary treat, it is a great source of manganese and riboflavin. It also contains calcium, thiamin, copper, and potassium. However, the sugar content is very high, 1/3 cup supplies about 60 grams of sugar! With this high of a sugar content, maple syrup should be consumed in moderation. You can find maple syrup at your local farmers’ markets.

How to Incorporate Local Vegetables Into Your Winter Eating

Post by UNH student and Seacoast Eat Local intern, Chris G.

At the February 8th market in Exeter High School, the focus of my food demo was root vegetables and incorporating them into a fully balanced meal. Root vegetables are an imperative source of Vitamins A, B and C, fiber, iron and antioxidants. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend that in the diet, half of grains be whole grain, and vegetables be from a variety of subcategories including dark green, red/orange, beans/legumes, and starches (potatoes.) Keep in mind that 50% of the population reach the recommended dietary fiber intake daily, 38g for men and 25g for women. Not only can a vegetable medley cover the recommended subcategories necessary for healthy eating patterns, but these vegetables are easy to store for long period during the cold months, whether it be dry storage or in the refrigerator.



 

The goal of a root vegetable hash/medley is to incorporate a variety of different root vegetables into one serving to cover the widest range of nutrition possible. Open year-round, Brandmoore Farm offers this variety of ingredients as well as other items such as dairy and meat. Here is an outline of the process I used for a recent farmers’ market market:


 

For a root vegetable medley, I use organic carrots, russet potatoes and golden beets. Slice them the way you like, and toss in olive oil. Olive oil is one of the few dietary staples I like to pair with veggies, as it offers a large amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats-great for the heart! Additionally, this can be paired with any source of protein (eggs, chicken, steak), for any meal of the day, which makes it a versatile option on any menu!

 

A Spotlight on Garlic

Garlic is often used to flavor food, but has had many uses in the past including medicine! The flavorful bulb has antibiotic properties and has been used since the Egyptian times. In Ancient Greece the original Olympians were given garlic to “enhance” their performance. Garlic is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can act as a natural blood thinner.

Garlic is related to onions, leeks, and chives and is thought to have origins in Siberia. Garlic can maintain its shelf life in a dry, dark place with air circulation. If stored correctly a whole bulb can be stored for up to 6 months, however if peeled it will last a few days to a week in the fridge. You can tell if garlic has gone bad if you see brown spots and the clove is no longer firm to the touch. The smell garlic produces is actually from an enzyme called alliinase. The alliinase breaks down a chemical called alliin into allicin. Allicin has sulfur molecules and that is where the pungent smell comes from.
Whether you enjoy garlic as a flavoring agent or on its own there are so many recipes out there. If your looking for inspiration here are a couple recipes that put garlic at the forefront. Garlic can be found at your local farmers’ markets and from these farms. What is your favorite way to use or eat garlic? Let us know in the comments.

Market Match Across the United States

Post by Intern and UNH Student Meriah M.

Here in New Hampshire shoppers using SNAP (formerly food stamps) are able to double their buying power at farmers markets through the Granite State Market Match program, where food assistance benefits are matched with vouchers to purchase fruits and veggies from local farms. 

Across the country there are programs similar to Granite State Market Match, commonly known as nutrition incentive programs, that help low-income shoppers buy more fresh produce. 

California is home to another Market Match program that parallels the Granite State Market Match in its goals to provide additional income for SNAP shoppers to use at local farmers markets. The California Market Match program is funded by the same grant that supports Granite State Market Match, the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant, with the Ecology Center implementing and overseeing the program. In both New Hampshire and California, the FINI Grant (now called the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program) supports efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among SNAP recipients. 

Since the program was originally founded in 2009, Market Match in California has evolved to best support low-income consumers and local farms. At its inception, California’s Market Match looked similar to the current structure of the Granite State Market Match, with community-based partnerships of market operators and local organizations that created the California Market Match Consortium (CMMC) facilitating the program. What started as a program offered at 44 markets has expanded to 290 sites across the state. 

Though it is helpful for states to model various programs on the success of other states, programs will differ based on the culture, location, and government of each state. One obvious difference between California and New Hampshire is the climate, lending to significantly different agricultural products and timelines that effect when and where fresh produce is available. Outside of physical differences that affect farmers’ market shoppers, there are differences in the way Market Match is allocated. As in New Hampshire, California shoppers are able to get $1 to $1 SNAP dollars matched for produce vouchers, but only up to $10 depending on the market’s Market Match budget. In New Hampshire, shoppers are not limited by Granite State Market Match as to how much they can spend and customers will commonly match $20 or $30 at a time. 

In California, WIC benefits (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) can also be used for the Market Match Program, allowing new mothers and children up to the age of five another opportunity to engage with Market Match and in turn, local farms. In New Hampshire, Market Match is currently limited to SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). 

Access to affordable, healthy, local food is important everywhere in America, and it is exciting to see New Hampshire and California pioneering unique Market Match programs that benefit low-income consumers and local farmers. Evaluating the various ways states implement nutrition incentive programs will lead to better informed national policy and solutions to address food insecurity. 

A Spotlight on Hot Sauce

Everyone has heard of hot sauce in one form or another.  Hot sauce has been around for a long time and can even be tracked back to Mayan culture! Hot sauce became bottled and industrialized by the Tabasco company in the 19th century, and almost all cultures have their own rendition of hot sauce. The chemical that gives the sauce its spicy flavor naturally occurs in peppers, and is called capsaicin. Capsaicin has been shown to be beneficial to one’s health, it has anti-inflammatory properties and promotes a healthy metabolism. Peppers are ranked on the Scoville scale, a scale that measures the amount of capsaicinoids in the pepper. Scoville units range from zero, sweet bell peppers, all the way to 5,000,000 units, law enforcement pepper spray. You can tell how hot a hot sauce is based on its Scoville units.

Most commonly hot sauce consists of chili peppers, vinegar, and salt but there are many different combinations. Some sauces can be fermented to give a more tangy flavor. Naked hot sauces has many different varieties of hot sauces and can be found at some farmers markets, to learn more you can go to their website. The hot sauce I tried is called The One, and it is both spicy and savory. I used the hot sauce by making crispy breaded tofu and tossing it with this sauce, it was a tasty treat! What is your favorite variety of hot sauce? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

Food Insecurity Legislation in NH

Blog post written by Intern Meriah M.

Innovative Solutions to Food Insecurity in the NH General Court — HB 1638

How can New Hampshire best serve its citizens who struggle to access affordable, nutritious food? Representative Joelle Martin of Milford introduced House Bill 1638 this session seeking to provide an answer. 

The New Hampshire Nutrition Incentives Network has worked to increase affordable access to locally grown food since 2013 through the Granite State Market Match Program, which allows shoppers using SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps) to double their buying power at farmers markets. When shoppers spend their SNAP dollars at participating markets, they receive a corresponding amoung of Market Match dollars that can be spent on fruits or vegetables. For the cost of $10, a shopper can leave the market with $20 worth of food, creating an incentive to shop and eat local, healthy foods while stretching a grocery budget. 

 

While Granite State Market Match has made significant differences in the lives of the residents that it serves, it is currently only reaching 2% of New Hampshire’s SNAP recipients because it has been operating as a pilot program supported by the federal grants. There is tremendous opportunity for Granite State Market Match and other nutrition incentive programs to grow with state funding. 

Here is where Representative Martin’s bill matters: House Bill 1638 would continue to support and expand equitable access to healthy food by providing $150,000 in state funding to nutrition incentive programs, including Market Match. This financial support would allow for nutrition incentive programs to reach more SNAP recipients, providing healthier, locally sourced meals for more New Hampshire residents. 

The local, community-based nature of nutrition incentive programs provides added benefits. The Market Match program helps farmers to access a previously untapped revenue stream: SNAP dollars. For some market vendors, 20% of their revenue comes from SNAP shoppers. 

HB 1638 received a hearing in January before the House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee in which many individuals and organizations testified to the success and importance of nutrition incentive programs in New Hampshire. 

As legislators review this bill, the voices of New Hampshire residents strongly influence their perspective. You can support the affordable access to healthy, local foods and the efforts of Seacoast Eat Local by contacting the committee by phone (271-3589) or by email ([email protected]).