What’s Fresh and Local in July*

By: Loris Sofia Gregory, Healthy Kitchen & Home Coach, Apple Valley, MN, Guest Blogger

*The local items listed in this blog post are subject to limited daily availability

July gifts us with a healthy abundance of flavorful fresh produce: the crisp nutrient-packed greens of basil, broccoli, cabbage, cilantro, cucumbers, dark leafy greens, garlic scapes, parsley and zucchini; the succulent yellows, reds and oranges of beets, berries, carrots, melons, radishes, romaine and summer squashes; and the captivating earthy rainbow of heirloom tomatoes. Satisfying summer meals and optimum health are not the only benefits of eating a rainbow of FRESH & LOCAL produce. When we buy local, we help our local farm families earn a living, which in turn preserves farmland around us. Buying fresh local food also supports our local economy and saves money through minimizing and eliminating processing, packaging, marketing and transportation costs. Take your taste buds on a lip-smacking tour of these July flavors and easy fresh eating ideas.

Harmony Valley Farm, Viroqua, Wisconsin

FRESH & LOCAL produce from Harmony Valley Farm reflects the benefits of the 30+ years farming experience of owner Richard de Wilde, who has been growing organic vegetables since 1973. Richard values soil fertility and an integrated, healthy, natural growing environment. Harmony Valley strives to offer the cleanest, freshest, tastiest variety of organic produce available anywhere and weekly delivers a colorful diversity to Valley Natural Foods. Read more at

  • Baby kale
  • Cilantro
  • Dandelion greens
  • Horseradish root
  • Local lettuce varieties: romaine, green and red leaf (switches off with Gardens of Eagan)
  • Radishes
  • Root veggies soup mix
  • Veggie sauté mix

Want to maximize the health benefits of your salads? Red romaine’s ample Vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, fiber and more folate than kale makes it a heart-healthy “green.” Folate also plays a role in battling depression, so try romaine on your next shopping trip.

Parsley is a quiet super food, so packed with nutrients that even that one sprig can go a long way toward meeting your daily requirement for vitamin K. Research suggests the summery aroma and flavor of chopped parsley may help control your appetite. Adding herbs like parsley creates the sensory illusion that you’re indulging in something rich—without adding any fat or calories to your plate. The super nutritional and detoxifying benefits of cilantro and parsley are often overlooked. Consider adding these fresh herbs to your green salads, your summer potato salad, your favorite guacamole or replacing basil when making pesto. Marrying cilantro with lime juice, local honey and shredded cabbage leads to a standout coleslaw.

How about freshening up July picnics with Radish-Cilantro Salsa? Dice fresh radishes and add some diced cucumber.  For every two cups of radishes, add 1/3 cup chopped red onion or green onion, 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic and 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves. Add zing with a few tablespoons of fresh lemon or lime juice or red wine vinegar plus chopped chile peppers or red pepper flakes to your taste. Delicious freshness!

Gardens of Eagan, Northfield, Minnesota

From a small roadside stand in Eagan to 100 certified organic acres in rural Northfield, Gardens of Eagan has grown and evolved. Martin and Atina Diffley, national pioneers in fresh, local and organic, decided to take a breather after more than 20 years of growing vegetables.  In 2008, they leased their farmland to the Wedge Food Co-op, selling them 20 tractors and a well-respected brand name. Gardens of Eagan continues to be knowledgeable, committed, passionate folks dedicated to the organic stewardship of their piece of earth, while producing high-quality produce for the Twin Cities community and Valley Natural Foods shoppers. Discover more at

  • All kale varieties, including green, red and tender sweet Lacinato
  • Broccoli and cauliflower 
  • Cabbage
  • Garlic scapes
  • Hawaiian ground cherries
  • Local lettuce varieties including romaine, green and red leaf (switches off with Harmony Valley)
  • Snap peas
  • Summer squash

Kale is Garden of Eagan’s longest season crop, beginning with mid-June harvests and ending when frosts regularly dip into the teens, generally through the month of November. The soil is heavily nourished before planting, and the fields irrigated as needed to provide optimal, stress-free growing conditions, resulting in sweet mild kale all season long. Gardens of Eagan grow three varieties, including hearty Winterbor Green Kale, curly Redbor Red Kale and tender, sweet Lacinato Kale, also known as Black Tuscan Kale or Dino Kale. For delicious, off-the-charts nourishment, just slide the kale leaves off the stems. Chop or tear into bite-size pieces. Sauté in water for five to 10 minutes. Drain, drizzle with butter and tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos. Serve and enjoy immediately.

Hawaiian ground cherries are slightly tart, tasting like a cherry tomato injected with pineapple and mango juice. Look for their papery husks in a clam shell container with the GOE logo. These berries are also called Warm Cape Gooseberries or Poha berries. Try them out with this delightful recipe for Cardamom-Carrot Griddle Cakes topped with ground cherries and ice cream.

Only recently reaching the culinary popularity they deserve, garlic scapes are the curly stems that hard-necked garlic shoots up a month or so after its first leaves. These shoots will eventually produce flowers and are usually cut off so the plant will put its energy back into the producing a larger bulb instead of flowering.  Young and tender, you can chop garlic scapes into salads or use them as a topping like scallions. More mature scapes can be sautéed lightly and paired with pasta, eggs or cooked leafy greens or used in pretty much in any dish that would be complemented by garlic. Sweeter than garlic, dice and blend garlic scapes with dairy or vegan butter to enjoy on fresh bread or crackers.

Wisconsin Grower’s Cooperative, Black River Falls, Mondovi and Taylor, WI

When you buy FRESH & LOCAL from Wisconsin Growers Cooperative, you are supporting 25 Amish farm families in rural Black River Falls, Mondovi and Taylor. These farmers use horse-drawn plows and hand tools to provide VNF shoppers with some of the highest-quality produce grown in the Midwest. Most of the farms are certified organic and all the farmers follow organic standards. Taste the FRESH & LOCAL difference in Wisconsin Grower Cooperative’s fresh healthy produce now at Valley Natural Foods.

  • Beets
  • Curly parsley
  • Green and spring onions
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Kohlrabi
  • Purple and green beans

Beets have a wide range of tastes, from sweet to earthy. Generally, golden beets are milder and have less of the deep earthy flavor that red beets do. The larger the beet, the more natural sugars have developed and the sweeter they taste. Beets of any color and size sweeten up when roasted.

Sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini and onions are colorful earthy toppings for a healthy midsummer pizza.

You’ve probably spotted knobby purple or white kohlrabi and wondered what the heck does one do with this odd-shaped veggie with the weird name? It’s a fantastically versatile vegetable with a taste and texture somewhere between cabbage and broccoli stems. While the kohlrabi bulbs are what you’ll usually see, don’t pass up an opportunity to pick them up if you see the greens still attached. They’re delicious and can be eaten raw in salad if they’re young and tender or sautéed or steamed like mustard greens. Always peel off the tough outermost layer of the bulb with a vegetable peeler first.

Raw kohlrabi is slightly crunchy and mildly spicy, like radishes mixed with turnip. Toss them in a salad, make a slaw out of grated kohlrabi or eat them on their own with a drizzle of good oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. Kohlrabi can be thrown into a basic chunky vegetable soup and its subtle flavors shine in a pureed soup such as creamy potato, broccoli or mushroom. Fritters are a great way to get kids to eat their kohlrabi. Shred it and mix with an egg and a few tablespoons of flour or breadcrumbs. Heat oil or butter in a flat skillet, drop on small mounds, and flatten slightly with the back of your spatula. Turn after a few minutes, and serve when both sides are crispy. Like most other vegetables, the outside of the kohlrabi caramelizes when roasted in the oven and the flavor sweetens and mellows. Toss it with other roasted veggies like eggplant and potatoes for a hearty side dish. Steamed kohlrabi is a healthy addition to frittatas, stir-fries and pasta dishes.

Be sure to also enjoy the super nutritious rainbow chard from Driftless Organics in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin, and flavorful vine-on tomatoes from Living Waters Garden, Wells, Minnesota.

Based in Apple Valley, Loris Sofia Gregory is a healthy kitchen and home coach, researcher, writer and editor committed to personal, community and planetary health. She has written about local farmers, producers and food artisans for Valley Natural Food’s award-wining publication, “This is Living Naturally,” as well as for Stressfree Living, The Edge and Minnesota History.

Loris teaches classes at Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville, focused on eating fresh, local, healthy food, month-by-month. She inspires class participants and clients towards creating healthy kitchens brimming with a nutritious rainbow of fresh, affordable and easy-to-prepare choices. She delights in coaching and applauding people towards lighter, healthier, toxin-free bodies, homes and lives.

Contact Loris at 952.431.5586 or

Discover more about Beautiful Necessity: Health Coaching for You, Your Home and the Earth at and

Sign up for her monthly FRESH & LOCAL classes at:




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