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Backyard “Superfoods” to Grab Now at Markets and Yards Near You

Backyard “Superfoods” to Grab Now at Markets and Yards Near You

Backyard “Superfoods” to Grab Now at Markets and Yards Near You

I’m teaching a class on “Super” Salads this Sunday, and while I love a media-hyped “superfood” as much as the next health-obsessed home chef, I’m also interested in what I can get locally, and in many cases, hyper locally.

Generally, a superfood gets the moniker because it’s exceptionally nutrient-dense and high on the ORAC scale (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).
In English: ORAC is how we measure antioxidant activity in foods.  Antioxidant activity is what brings down inflammation and neutralizes acidity in the body.  Inflammation is at the root of almost every chronic disease known to man, so making friends with high-ORAC foods seems like a pretty good idea!
The general guideline for how much “ORAC power” we need on a daily basis is to consume between 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units per day from fruits and veggies.
I was also fascinated by a recent article about how some of our modern foods have changed from ancient versions and may actually be less nutritious than in by-gone days.   The exception is herbs.  From the New York Times article, “Herbs are wild plants incognito. We’ve long valued them for their intense flavors and aroma, which is why they’ve not been given a flavor makeover. Because we’ve left them well enough alone, their phytonutrient content has remained intact.”
This week, I came up with a list of 15 “super” foods I can either find in my garden or from another local grower.
Keep in mind that part of what makes any local food “super” is that the time it takes for that food to get to the table is almost zero.  Freshness plays an important role in how much nutrition remains by the time we eat it.  Foods harvested many days ago will be depleted, so realistically almost anything grown close by is superior to a food that’s travelled some distance.
Here’s the list with their ORAC values per 100 grams/3.5 ounces.  All of these will make an appearance on Sunday in a dressing or a salad.
Local Food
Raw Value
Dried or Cooked Value
Alfalfa Sprouts
1,510
n/a
Beets
1,776
n/a
Chives
2,094
n/a
Garlic
5,708
n/a
Green Onions
913
n/a
Kale
1,770
n/a
Oregano
13,970
175,295
Parsley
1,301
73,670
Raspberries
5,065
n/a
Rosemary
n/a
165,280
Spinach
1,513
n/a
Sweet Red Pepper
821
n/a
Tarragon
15,542
n/a
Thyme
27,426
157,380
Tomatoes
546
n/a
Compare this list with some hot-shot “celebrity superfoods,” and these come out pretty strong, considering we’re getting them from humble Virginia.

“Celebrity” Super Food Raw Cooked or Dried

“Celebrity” Super Food
Raw
Cooked or Dried
Acai Fruit
n/a
102,700
Goji Berry
3,290
n/a
The summer is a great time to enjoy the cost savings and convenience of locally grown produce and herbs that actually EXCEED the nutritional value of these foods with more prodigious PR.

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