How to get kids to eat veggies!

How You Can Get Your Children
to Eat Their Vegetables

Article written by Kristin Louis

Have you ever struggled to get your children to eat their vegetables? They may have recoiled and downright refused to eat them, but don't be discouraged. Thankfully, there are many ways you can help create a positive relationship between your children and healthy vegetables.

Integrate the Vegetables

Let's face it: Some kids may never be able to enjoy vegetables on their own. However, the great thing about vegetables is that they can be incorporated into just about any type of delicious meal. Even smoothies can be an effective way to give our children their daily dose of nutrient-rich vegetables. Experiment as much as you can, as you may hit upon combinations perfect for your children. Try different styles and look to enhance flavor by using ingredients like brown sugar and butter. Also, take advantage of their favorite foods. Are they passionate about pizza, muffins, or brownies? There's always a way you can integrate some vegetables into them. Be sure to start off slowly with the amount you add, and it may actually be a good idea to tell your children about their inclusion. It's a creative strategy that may be the beginning of a meaningful relationship between your children and vegetables.

Set an Example

Children look up to their parents. As symbols of model behavior, we can encourage positive emulation through self-precedent. After all, children by their nature often respond better to what we do rather than what we say. Simply telling our children that vegetables are healthy generally doesn’t work. Children feel perfectly invincible, and matters of health may seem quite irrelevant. Often, when we keep badgering our children, there's an unfortunate tendency for their resolve to resist our wishes to strengthen. Show your enthusiasm for vegetables. Make them a central part of your meals that your kids can see you enjoy during family dinners. As parents, we can be sources of inspiration, as well as agents of positive change, in our children's eating habits.

Involve Them

Giving children a role in choosing and preparing their meals can nurture a sense of investment in their food. Being able to see their choices mature into a whole meal can also foster excitement and enthusiasm. You could either start by having them pick out vegetables first or build around vegetable-rich recipes they choose. At the grocery store, you may find that a child won't instinctually opt for vegetables, especially if they are very young. If that's the case, try to gently guide them towards vegetables and give them choices they can select from. Recipe pictures can be an effective tool in enhancing their appeal, particularly if they are bright and colorful. Whichever comes first, ingredients or recipe, you may find that involving your kids can persuade even the pickiest of eaters to at least give vegetables a try.

Head to the Farmers Market

Another way to involve your children is by taking them to a farmers market. This is a great opportunity for an educational family outing that may get your little ones excited about eating healthier food. There can be such a diverse range of vegetables, interesting and unusual, of every imaginable type and color. A farmers market is a perfect environment to teach children about the origins of vegetables and to see just how vibrant healthy food can be. What’s more, your children can even meet the people who produce their food. By visiting a market often, you can nurture a positive association with vegetables.

Introducing our children to vegetables may take effort and patience. Be an inspiration and involve your children in the process of discovering vegetables they like. Don't be afraid to experiment and try various approaches and recipes. Eventually, you may find that your children grow not only to appreciate vegetables, but they might truly enjoy them.


Meet the Farmers at Cecarelli Farms

Cecarelli Farms has been in the family for 106 years. The Cecarelli brothers came from Italy to grow vegetables, they found the perfect property in Northford that was for sale. The owners were using it for raise some cows and had planted a few fruit trees. Even in those days there was prejudice against immigrants - back then it was the Italians or the Irish; they were refused the sale. A family friend, a doctor, stepped up and purchased the property for them and the brothers worked the farm together for many years. Raising their families here, each generation kept the farm going.

Nelson Cecarelli
Nelson Cecarelli inherited the farm after his grandfather after he past and worked the farm along with his very successful insurance business since 2002 along with Will Dellacamera. Nelson had taken Will in as a partner three years ago. Will started working at the farm when he was 17 years old during the summers while he attended SUNI in New York, he graduated with a agricultural engineering. Nelson past away this year after battling cancer, leaving the farm to be run by his widow and Dellacamera.   
On the farms 100th year anniversary Nelson was interview as "Meet your Farmer" and a video was made with Nelson talking about the farm and you can see the hard work he and Will accomplished in the short time they had together, he is missed at the farm... Here's the video link:

Will Dellacamera
You can tell Will loves farming, he's a hands-on boss, doesn't just sit around giving orders, he is part of the farm from start to finish. He starts by planning out what seed to purchase each year and decides which fields to grow them in, he manages about 15 to17 workers each day,  makes his own deliveries and you can find him in the fields checking on the plants. He is very involved in the day to day needs of this 200+ acre farm, and it shows.

Will showed me where he plans on expanding the strawberry patch, and where he plans on growing blueberries and raspberries next year. 
They have a farm stand down the hill from the fields by the road and you can find many fresh vegetables available daily. They also sell CSA shares for the weekly pickup at the farm.
I had a nice time hanging out with Will that morning and I hope this helps you see the face behind the products that you purchase from us. We have his non-gmo corn, green beans, carrots and tomatoes available at our store in East Haddam and online for home delivery or pickup.

When is Fresh Really Fresh?

What’s your definition of fresh? Picked that day? Yesterday? How do you know what’s fresh means when you go to, say, Whole Foods, Walmart or Stop & Shop? Where do they get their “organic” food from? Is it from China, Peru, California or is it coming from the state you live in? What are the “organic” practices in other countries? Who’s watching across the pond and what standard do they follow? We should all be aware of where and how our food is grown. In the dead of winter will do purvey organic produce from California and sometimes South America, because who can live without coffee and avocado's?  

My definition of fresh and local food is simple: to me fresh is walking out to your back yard and grabbing a few veggies or herbs from the garden, eggs from your chickens, and berries from your bushes. The advent of the “Eat Local” and “Farm to Table” movements have been made popular by celebrity chefs and social media and have forced big agriculture and big box stores to jump on the bandwagon or be left behind. But they only make things blurry with their claims of freshness and local!

I am not sure how the big box stores get away with using the terms "fresh" and "local" together. These stores have a system of moving food that takes time. When it reaches your home, it’s been around awhile, and has lost a lot of it’s nutritional value, which in my view is more important than being certified organic. Big supermarkets are moving large quantities of product all over the state and sometimes the country. They store in warehouses and they ship to different stores, from there the store managers place it on the shelves and you come in and buy it. So fresh doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. Fresh to them may be 3-4 days old or longer. At the end of the day how do you really know? 

Fresh without the fuss…and knowing its always fresh, always local. 

Connecticut Farm Fresh Express (CTFFE) has been gathering local and fresh foods for over 10 years and delivering it to doors of homes, stores and restaurants all over the state. We began the business and remain motivated by the desire to help our local farmers remain viable and sustainable, by offering  another avenue to distribute their products. We choose our farmers and vendors with a lot of care. We search for farmers that look to have nutrient-dense soil - no need to be “certified organic” as long as they follow organic growing methods. The livestock farms need to provide an area for free-range, grass-fed and the animals need to be able to roam around and not be kept in a small pen without the ability to access pastures if they want.

Is our FRESH your FRESH? We hope so!

At (CTFFE), we know it’s hard for working couples and parents to even get to a grocery store let alone a farm or farmers market. Pea Pod has a thriving home delivery business for big agriculture food companies. We decided to bring the farmers market to your door all year long. We publish what products from farmers and artisans will have for us and we make it available on our online store. Items change weekly and with the seasons. Once a week we send our team out to those farms and bring fresh food back to our facility in East Haddam, where we collate and package orders for delivery the following day. 

We will be opening our warehouse to the public, daily from 9-5 except Wednesdays... 24 Mount Parnassus Road, East Haddam - COME IN AND SEE US!

The benefits of eating local are myriad: fresh, environmentally sound, healthy, supports local economies, tastes better, and it’s the right thing to do!

Deb Marsden, Founder of CT Farm Fresh Express, LLC


What All of the “Cage-Free” Stuff on Egg Cartons REALLY Means

by Adrienne Rose Johnson

Vegetarian-fed hens don’t make a lot of sense because chickens are bloodthirsty scavengers. Sure they eat grains and seeds, but chickens are omnivores and eat just about everything: earthworms, crickets, little specks of insects and fly larvae harvested in cow patties. All sorts of tiny buggy living things we can’t see and would probably rather not think about.

As long as they’re not cracked, almost all chicken eggs are kosher. Only broken eggs or eggs with blood spots aren’t kosher, and you’d probably notice that anyway.

Conventional egg-laying hens live in battery cages: cramped mesh cells that prevent hens from ever stretching their wings, nesting, or doing much at all beside produce eggs. “Battery” might sound like the cages are electrified or the chickens are battered. But the term actually comes from how hundreds (sometimes thousands) of the wire cells neighbor one another and share wire dividers—like the cells in a battery.

The FDA already outlaws hormones in poultry production. Check the asterisk on the carton. Any claim of hormone-free should be qualified by the statement: “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”

Pretty much the same goes for this one. Even though antibiotics are common in chicken feed, egg-laying hens rarely get medicated with antibiotics.

Humane is a subjective term. The Certified Humane seal (figure ZY) or Animal Welfare Approved (ZY) spell it all out. To be Certified Humane, egg producers must abide by a host of rules that ensure chickens live in decent conditions, following wonky stuff about monitoring for rodent activity, ventilation, and floor covering in nest boxes. Basically, there can’t be too many rats, and there needs to be some air flow, with a nice, cushy litter material to build nests.
Hens don’t need roosters to lay eggs just like women don’t need men to ovulate. But the “fertile” label means that roosters had access to the hens and if they mated, the eggs could possibly turn into chicks.

Everything is natural because everything— even diesel fuel and Velveeta—comes from nature. The USDA clarifies that egg products are natural when they contain no artificial ingredients, added color, and are only minimally processed. Anything other than an Easter egg would probably qualify as natural.

The USDA grades eggs AA, A, or B, with AA being the best, most uniform egg and B the most unsightly or somehow defective.
The USDA regulates “organic” and organic eggs must come from free-range chickens fed with 100% organic feed, meaning no administered antibiotics, no hormones, no arsenic, no poultry-slaughter byproducts. It’s a reliable standard, and usually a good indication that free-range requirements are enforced.

Brown, white, jumbo, organic, free-range, vegetarian-fed, humane, farm-fresh: My grocery store literally has 15 types of eggs. The cheapest dozen cost $3.56 and the most expensive are $9.99. Some cartons look like advertisements for down-on-the-farm hoedowns, a fantasy of cheery chickens and farm folk in a quilting bee or at a barn-raising. There’s Meadow Creek Farm, Happy Egg Co., Scenic Vista Farm: Would I rather my eggs come from a meadow or a scenic vista? Do happy chickens with a view lay better eggs?

And they all pretty much look the same. Even the giant flat shrink-wrapped pallets of eggs seem okay: they’re jumbo, “farm-fresh,” and “natural” just like cute little organic 6-packs. But are they the same?
We pinned down what those labels mean. Turns out, “vegetarian-fed” might be a bad idea. “Hormone-free” means nothing. And we can thank the USDA grading for keeping “black rot” and “meat spots” out of our scrambles. Here’s how to decode egg cartons and start shopping smarter.

Vegetarian-Fed Hens
One chicken farmer at Polyface Farms in Virginia reported a nasty case of cannibalism after feeding his chickens a vegetarian diet. Apparently so deprived of protein, the chicks began eating each other (actually, to use the farmer’s words, “the more aggressive chicks were tearing at the weaker ones from the outside in”). They only stopped cannibalizing when fed small pieces of a deer carcass, freshly skinned and harvested from the roadside.
“Problem solved,” the farmer reported.
Free-Range, Cage-Free, Pastured
On average, each hen has about 70 square inches of space, which is less than a regular sheet of paper. Seven or eight birds sometimes share a single cage. 

One reporter explained the system as “spending the rest of your entire life in a wire cage the size of your bathtub with four other people.”
Activists have successfully fought against battery cages. California outlawed the wire cells in 2008 and major companies like Safeway and McDonald’s have voiced their commitment to sourcing “cage-free” eggs. In Quebec, free-range eggs are translated to Oeufs en Liberte which sounds appropriately revolutionary.
But cage-free doesn’t always mean cruelty-free. Cage-free only means that chickens aren’t kept in cages. They might still live on top of one another in cramped facilities and never see daylight. Some studies suggest cage-free chickens have a higher mortality rate because, without cages, chickens peck each other to death, and disease spreads more easily.

Free-range is better because chickens must have access to the outdoors. “Access” doesn’t mean chickens go outside any more than a gym membership means you go to the gym. Some free-range chickens roam freely on picturesque fields, but other chickens can only access a screened-in porch. Depends on the farm.
Pastured is your safest bet. Usually pasture-raised hens actually live outdoors and eat a diet of seeds and insects that could improve the taste and nutrition of the eggs.
Individual companies sometimes clarify these claims. That $6.49 dozen I mentioned earlier? Happy Egg Co. explains “our girls have plenty of room to roam freely, about eight acres” and “have lush green pasture.” Other than the goofy “our girls” stuff, the explanation holds up.
No added hormones
So hormone-free is like saying you took Japanese for three years when you flunked the first two rounds. Or that you read War and Peace when you only read the three-word title.
The FDA only approves three types of antibiotics for egg-laying flocks and even if hens are treated with antibiotics, their eggs shouldn’t be affected. Actually, antibiotics can cure sick chickens from deadly respiratory infections or E. coli. People mainly worry that preemptive antibiotics (feeding animals before they get sick) can create antibiotic-resistant disease strands. E. coli has mutated over the years and some antibiotics no longer work—in chickens or in humans—to treat the disease.
Hens are also given boxes of dirt to roll around in. Chickens naturally do something called “dust-bathing” to prevent lice and other parasites. They look like feathery hippos in a sandbox, but chickens need dust-baths to keep healthy.
Animal Welfare Approved goes a few steps further with pasturing (hens are raised almost entirely outdoors) and slaughtering and is considered the most rigorous animal welfare certification.
Nutritionally, fertilized and non-fertilized eggs are basically the same. Taste-wise, barely noticeable. Fertilized eggs might mean sexually-satisfied roosters, but doubtful that’s a top concern.
Egg Grades: A, AA, or B
Critics argue that the grades are cosmetic because they don’t promise protection from salmonella, the most dangerous and common pathogen carried by eggs. Consumers confuse egg grades—only an assurance that the eggs aren’t cracked or misshapen—for a safety standards. At best, egg grading tries to make sure the white eggs aren’t mixed with the brown. At worst, the seals allow companies to pump up prices.
Well, maybe the critics should take a look at the USDA grading sheet. There might be a reason we never see the eggs that don’t make it into the supermarket.
USDA describes sour eggs like a bad movie monster, the eggs cast a “weak white and murky shadow around an off-center swollen yolk.” Under UV light, the sour eggs fluoresce and give off a green sheen. Other defects include blood spots, meat spots, bloody whites, mixed rot, blood rings, stuck yolks, embryo chicks, and problems with bubbly, ruptured air cells.
There are also green whites and something called black rots—and I’m relieved that the USDA is keeping me from ever knowing what that looks like.
So what can we trust? First, find an egg company certified by outside boards: Vital Farms, Family Homestead, and Oliver’s Organic all have good reputations according to the Cornucopia Institute and Shop Ethical!, two respected consumer guides. Walmart, Target, and other big box stores carry Happy Egg Co. and Pete and Gerry’s, the largest of the free-range egg producers that has generally good ratings.
Outside watchdog groups often rank egg companies based on their own criteria of sustainability, nutrition, and humane treatment. Some, like the Cornucopia Institute, investigate unethical practices themselves while others like the Shop Ethical! consumer guide will include egg producers among other consumer products.
So forget hormone-free, antibiotic-free, natural, fertile, or any other nonsense. Ideally the best egg is organic, pastured (or free-range), USDA A or AA, stamped with the Certified Humane or Animal Welfare Approved seal. If you have to pay a dollar or two more than usual, you’ll know you spent money on the things that matter.



Fiddlehead Ferns


Can you imagine eating a fern? WEIRD?

It may seem unusual to forage for food but that is exactly what the owners of Monument Hill Farm did this weekend. And they found the fiddleheads.

The flavor is reminiscent of asparagus but maybe a little nuttier.

To prepare: 
Clean and trim the fiddleheads, drop in a bath of ice water and drain. You can sauté in oil or butter with garlic add some chopped nuts and it's a wonderful side dish that says "yeah winter is over"

We deliver on Thursdays
Order HERE
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