Partner Profiles: Ireland Farms in Alpine, Alabama

Partner Profiles: Ireland Farms in Alpine, Alabama

Here at Market Table, we care about our community. We’re committed to providing healthy foods and meal options for your family. We’re also committed to supporting local businesses and the Central Alabama food economy. Whenever possible, we buy our fresh produce from nearby farms. We’re proud to partner with Ireland Farms in Alpine, Alabama, a farm focused on bringing the best naturally grown ingredients to your table. Get to know the good folks of Ireland Farms below!

Text by Sarah Vice

Ireland Farms logo.

Who is Ireland Farms?

Ireland Farms is located in Alpine, Alabama. It’s owned and operated by Scott Ireland, Hollin Williams, John Riddle, and Joseph Batistella. The farm began as a way to provide more local food options to the central Alabama food economy with an emphasis on naturally grown produce. Scott Ireland founded the farm with Hollin Williams in 2016 with a trial run for friends and family. Once the two men got a grasp on how to run the farm, it became an official business in January 2017. Then, they outsourced foods to local restaurants as well as selling on-site. Soon after, team members John Riddle and Joseph Batistella joined the crew. The four men share responsibilities on the 5 acre farm.

Organic farmer tends lettuce.

What is Ireland Farms’s Mission?

Ireland Farms wants to bring food to their community’s table while preserving the environment. They strive to bring healthy and natural produce to local vendors, restaurants, and individual buyers. This includes providing food to the Jimmy Hale Mission. When the crops are plentiful and won’t last throughout the season, Ireland Farms shares their gains with the Jimmy Hale Mission food bank.

What Does it Mean to Grow Crops Naturally?

Ireland Farms grows crops naturally as a way to help protect the environment and provide healthier soil for planting. They keep 6 greenhouses year-round and rotate crops during the winter months. Rotating different plants in different seasons eliminates the need for preservatives. During the summer months, Ireland and his associates cover the greenhouses in cloths to shade some of the plants. This provides cooler temperatures.

Greenhouse growing organic lettuce.

Ireland Farms Community Involvement

Scott Ireland not only produces food on the farm, but also helps teach a local middle school about agriculture. He’s given presentations on how to properly maintain food sources on a farm. He also helps the students with a small farm of their own. Ireland stated that the farm occasionally shares fertilizing resources with the school in addition to the farming lessons. Ireland Farms aims to help other generations grow food successfully and naturally.

The Future of Ireland Farms

Scott Ireland hasn’t made plans to expand the farm beyond local communities. There is a chance that the produce could make its way into the Atlanta market, because of the close proximity to the farm’s location, but nothing is set in stone right now. The farm was created to provide for a local community, and Ireland holds true to that idea for the future.

Everything You Need to Know About Processed Food

Everything You Need to Know About Processed Food

You’ve likely heard horror stories about processed food. People call processed food the enemy of the diet. Though some can be part of a healthy diet, too much processed food can wreak havoc to the human body. From the good to the bad, here’s everything you need to know about processed food.

What Is Processed Food?Chicken in a processing factory.

Processed food is any food that has been altered for our consumption. Because we live in a society where the consumer typically lives far from places where food is actually grown, food is often altered for storage purposes. For example, preservatives can increase the shelf life of the food. However, some food is also processed for safer consumption. These kinds of processing can actually make the food better for you to eat, as they remove dangerous bacteria. But processed foods become hazardous when they contain added sugar, trans fat, and sodium.

Good Processed FoodsMilk.

Lots of foods are processed, but not all are bad. Milk, for example, is pasteurized before it reaches your grocery shelves. This kills off harmful bacteria, allowing for safe consumption. Milk is also homogenized, a process intended to keep fat from separating.

Some minimally processed foods can still be healthy in moderation. Breakfast cereals, for example, contain processed grains. If they contain whole grains, these cereals may still be healthy. However, processed cereals also often contain too much added sugar. And the next time you’re picking up orange juice at the store, check the label. Some companies fortify OJ with calcium, which is even better for you than the juice alone. Dried fruits, roasted nuts, seeds, and 100% whole grain bread are all quite good for you as long as they don’t contain added flavors. These flavors are packed with sodium and other chemicals. Make sure to check the label for added and artificial ingredients!

Frozen processed TV dinner.Bad Processed Foods

Processed foods become bad for your health when packed with heavy amounts of preservatives, sodium, sugar, and trans fat. These harmful substances can be found in most canned foods. Also, pasta made from refined white flour instead of whole grain flour isn’t beneficial to your health. Packaged snacks often contain astronomical amounts of sugar, sodium and fat. You should also stay away from packaged cakes and cookies and cake mixes. Most frozen dinners, such as fish sticks and pot pies, contain a lot of sodium as well.  At Market Table, however, our prepared foods and freezer meals are prepared in-house with locally sourced ingredients, so there’s no need for preservatives. Also, our fresh, healthy produce and meat is packed with flavor, so we don’t add artificial flavors as well.

Nutrition label. How to Tell the Difference Between Good and Bad Processed Food

You may be wondering how you can tell if food is moderately or extremely processed. Thankfully, these tricks can help you decide what’s okay to eat and what you should avoid.

The best way to tell the difference between something you should and should not be eating is the ingredient list. As a rule of thumb, go for foods with less ingredients — and with ingredients you can pronounce, rather than complicated chemical names. If you can pronounce all of the ingredients and know what they all mean, then you’re probably in the clear.

Fresh vegetables, fruits, and greens are generally okay to eat, as they’re chopped and bagged for your convenience. Some preservatives are added to keep them from wilting or browning, but they’re not typically extremely harmful. On the other hand, you should avoid processed meats, which contain dangerous preservatives.

The worst processed foods you can find in the grocery store are frozen dinners like lasagna, pizza, etc. If that sentence makes you stress about what you can feed your kids, don’t worry! Market Table has you covered. From our Cheeseburger Bake to our Pizza Casserole, we make healthy, hearty versions of the frozen foods your kids crave.

Text By Martha Kendall Custard

Paleo Diet

Paleo Diet

Deciding to go Paleo is a big step, but it might be worth it in the end. Read on to find out if the Paleo diet is right for you.

 

Why Paleo?

Paleo is a diet designed with human genetics in mind to help people stay lean, strong, and energetic. Most of what we put in our bodies these days is refined food, trans fat, and sugar. These three combined are thought to be causing some of the diseases that plague people today like obesity, cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, and infertility.

 

What Can You Eat on Paleo?Fruits, vegetables, and meats.

When practicing the Paleo diet, there’s a list of the main foods you should be consuming. These include fruit, vegetables, lean meat, seafood, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats. Fruits and vegetables provide the body with an abundance of vitamins and minerals. They also contain phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are beneficial compounds we get from fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are an example of phytonutrients.

These three in abundance can lower the likelihood of the dieter getting cancer, diabetes, or neurological decline. Paleo diet recommends you consume healthy fat like Omega 3 to reduce obesity, cancer, heart disease, and cognitive decline.

 

What Can’t You Eat on Paleo?

When on the Paleo diet, you can’t eat any dairy, grains, processed food and sugars, legumes, starches, or alcohol. This is partially because these are not foods consumed by early man, but it is also because these are all foods that are at odds with health.  Dairy contains A1 Casein which can cause allergy. This combined with the IGF growth factor 1 in milk is thought to be cancer-causing by some. This growth factor means dairy can cause acne. Grains are thought to irritate the immune system. Legumes contain lectins and phytic acid which can cause inflammation and gastrointestinal distress overtime. They also trigger insulin release. Starches are high on the glycemic index scale and too many carbs. They can disrupt blood sugar levels as a result.

 

Health Benefits of Paleo DietHealth benefits of Paleo chart.

Results from the Paleo diet can include improved blood lipids, weight loss, and reduced pain from autoimmune disease. This works because the diet raises the level of nutrients you receive while getting rid of things your body does not need or things that are harmful to it.

People have reported better workouts, steadier energy levels, reduced allergies, reduced fat, more stable blood sugar, better and more consistent sleep at night. Improvement in skin and teeth health has also been reported.

 

Paleo measuring strip around waist.Does the Paleo Diet Actually Work?

The Paleo diet has had many success stories. Studies show the Paleo diet has reversed insulin resistant type 2 diabetes. Dr. Terry Wahls even claims she reversed the effects of her multiple Sclerosis.

Because the foods you cut out when starting the Paleo will lower your calorie count automatically, there is no need to count calories. While you should definitely keep your portions under control, calorie counting is not sustainable. The paleo diet is actually sustainable, which means that it is a good option for long term health maintenance.

 

By Martha Kendall Custard

How to Eat Seasonally This Fall and Winter

How to Eat Seasonally This Fall and Winter

Fall is the traditional time to harvest fruits and vegetables. If you have your own vegetable garden, you may already know this. However, if you’re new to the in-season-produce game,trying to figure out the ins and outs of eating seasonally may be a little intimidating. Fear not! Here’s a step-by-step guide to seasonal produce.

What Does “In Season” Mean?

Simply put, “in season” refers to food that’s harvested at a particular time of year. This ensures that you’re getting produce when it’s at its very best. This produce will have all the nutrients needed for a healthy diet. Also, your produce won’t be treated with harmful chemicals, so it’s even more healthy for your family.

What’s “Peak Season”?

“Peak season” is the time of the season when buying a particular fruit or veggie is most beneficial. First off, it’s when the produce is most available. Next, since it’s in abundance during peak season, the produce is far cheaper than any other time of year. Another benefit is that the produce has the most flavor during this time because it’s been allowed to fully ripen. However, perhaps the most important reason to buy produce in peak season is that it also has the maximum amount of nutrients.

 

Why Buy Local?Young woman inspects produce at farmers market


Buying locally grown produce ensures that there are little to no chemicals used as preservatives. If you were to buy seasonal produce from a farm out West and you live in the South, it’s highly probable that the farm will treat the produce with preservatives. Also, local produce doesn’t have to be shipped from another location, cutting down on pollutants like carbon dioxide gas. You can either purchase produce directly from the farmer at a farmer’s market or from a nearby farm.As an added bonus, buying locally stimulates the economy in your area, which is good for everyone in the long run.

Not in the mood to shop and cook for produce? Here at Market Table, we partner with local farms and food distributors to make sure we use locally grown and responsibly farmed produce whenever possible. 

Farmers Market gourds and mini-pumpkinsFinding Out What’s in Season


The best way to find out what’s in season in your area is to visit your state’s Department of Agriculture website. They will have a list of produce with information on when the season for something starts and when it ends. The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture also offers convenient seasonality charts. On Alabama Farmers Market Authority’s website, you’ll find a list of seasonal produce and information about when it’s in peak season. This Alabama Cooperative Extension System guide, put together by Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities, lists seasonal produce and ideas for preparing it.

What’s in Season Now?


Here’s a list of what’s in season this fall and winter in the Southeast:

Flat-lay of heirloom tomatoesApples
Greens
Cucumbers
Grapes
Leeks
Lettuce
Okra
Peaches
Peppers
Herbs
Onions
Pecans
Beans
Tomatoes
Figs
Pumpkins
Rutabaga
Squash
Persimmons
Peas
Salad Greens

 

Text by Amber Pope

The Food Bowl Trend

The Food Bowl Trend

Woman Instagramming a Smoothie Bowl

If you’re still eating your food off of a plate, it’s time to get with the hottest new trend: bowls. Need further proof? Go search #bowl on Instagram, and you’ll see over two million pictures of food bowls. Even at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markel, reception guests ate various options of the food bowl. Though you probably won’t be dining with the Queen of England, you’re still going to want to get in the bowl game. Here’s why these aesthetically pleasing dishes are on the rise.

 

They’re Healthy

Blue spirulina smoothie bowl with fruitFood bowls may look too beautiful to eat, but they are definitely good for your health. This is why the trend is so popular amongst healthy eaters. You’re getting all your grains, proteins, and vegetables right in one main dish, and the heartiness of the meal will leave you full for hours.

This bowl trend also means there’s more healthy food options. Restaurants are competing to “out bowl” each other. More restaurants offer healthy bowl options, which is a win for you. Instead of driving across town for your food bowl, you’ll probably find a nearby restaurant that’s caught on to the new trend.

 

They’re Easy to Make

If you’re trying to save some money, food bowls are also simple to make. Another great thing about food bowls is that they’re infinitely customizable. You can mix and match bases, toppings, and dressings to your heart’s desire. This make food bowls great for meal preppers, lunch lovers, and picky eaters.

 

Poke bowl with avocado and seaweedThey’re Multicultural

If you’re skeptical about joining the craze, just know that this is no fad. In fact, food bowls have been around for a long time. They get their origins from Hawaiian and Brazilian culture with the poke and açaí bowls, respectively.

Poke is a staple Hawaiian dish and traditionally includes raw cubed tuna. But, there are other options such as octopus, salmon or tofu. All of this is served on a bed of rice and topped with furikake, a Japanese seasoning equivalent to America’s salt and pepper. This dish has left the island and established itself as a popular food bowl throughout the rest of the country.

Acai bowl with nuts and berriesAçaí is a superfruit with lots of health benefits. It gained its popularity through smoothie bowls, but it’s also a popular icecream flavor. Açaí bowls, or Açaí na tigela in Brazil, are fruit smoothie bowls topped with granola, bananas, other berries and syrups. These are the bowls you’ll see the most on Instagram.

 

If stepping up your Instagram game or the Royal family wasn’t enough motivation to join the food bowl movement, then maybe these benefits and cool origins will inspire you to join soon.

 

Text by Kendal Harris