LiveWell Northwest Colorado: Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables during wintertime

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— Enjoying the fall harvest of fruits and vegetables is one of the reasons for celebrating Thanksgiving — the fruits and vegetables are fresh, low cost and delicious.

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Barb Parnell

Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association

This monthly column about health issues publishes on Mondays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.

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How Bountiful Baskets works:

• Go to www.bountifulbaskets.org to order every other week from noon Mondays to noon Tuesdays.

• On the Saturday of the week you ordered, go to the pickup site in Hayden or Steamboat Springs to collect your purchases.

How Yampa Valley Co-op works:

Yampa Valley Co-op gives users access to local beef, pork, chicken, produce, soups, eggs, coffee, cheese, bread, honey, baked goods and more for an annual fee. Produce from local growers is available seasonally.

• Go to www.yampavalleycoop.com to order each Monday.

• On Friday, go to the pickup site in Oak Creek or Steamboat Springs to collect your purchases.

When the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables is lower in the winter, I really have to be intentional to eat enough each day. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating a minimum of nine to 11, half-cup servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The average number of servings of fruits and vegetables eaten in Routt County by adults is 3.7 servings, or 1 3/4 cups per day, and by students is three servings, or 1 1/2 cups per day. This means that our adults are eating on average 40 percent of the USDA minimum recommendations of fruits and vegetables and our students are eating 33 percent of the recommended amount.

Besides the grocery store, there is another way to purchase low-cost, fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter: There are two available online markets in the Yampa Valley, and you can shop just like you would for any online products.

Bountiful Baskets is an online nonprofit food co-op that was started by two moms because they wanted their families to have more fresh produce for less money. It distributes produce baskets, organic produce baskets and other products every other week to rural and small communities across the Rocky Mountain West. The co-op purchases the produce from small farmers and is run by volunteers, including local contacts who agree to host a drop-off or pickup site for the produce boxes in their communities. Conventional boxes are $15 and organic boxes are $25 for an amount of produce that would cost $50 at the grocery store.

Hayden has been a Bountiful Baskets pickup site since 2012, and Steamboat Springs began offering a site in the spring. On Nov. 23, my basket included: 2.5 pounds of cameo apples, 1 head of romaine lettuce, 2.5 pounds of grapes, 1.5 pounds of celery, 1 pound of carrots, 4.75 pounds of sweet potatoes, 4 pounds of potatoes, one cantaloupe, two cucumbers, 3 pounds of bananas, 24 ounces of cranberries and two onions. The fun part of purchasing a basket is you never know what fruits and vegetables will be included. I already have tasted one new vegetable and one new fruit.

Besides produce in the baskets, other products also are available to order, including bread, granola and large quantities of seasonal fruits and vegetables. On average, 35 baskets are purchased every two weeks by families in Steamboat Springs. This is also a great opportunity to purchase a basket and donate it to the LIFT-UP Food Pantry, so we all can have access to fresh fruits and vegetables year-round in Routt County.

Barb Parnell is community coordinator of LiveWell Northwest Colorado.

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