Our school cafeterias are giving students the opportunity to enjoy nutritious food grown locally. The Farm Fresh Friday and Harvest of the Month programs take place to support healthy lifestyle habits and teach students about agriculture and the local farms their foods come from.
Farm Fresh Friday
The Texas Department of Agriculture created the Farm Fresh Friday initiative to connect Texans all across our state to agriculture and our local farmers and ranchers. The Farm Fresh goal is to increase awareness of the integral role agriculture plays in our lives and improving wellness in our community. Every Friday, our cafeterias will feature a Texas-grown menu item.
When students make the Farm Fresh choice they support the hardworking producers across our state and help improve the local economy.
Harvest of the Month
Each month a different locally grown fruit or vegetable option is available in our cafeterias. Agricultural fact sheets teach students about the products and farms of Texas. We hope to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables that students are eating.
Harvest of the Month – heirloom tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes are loaded with health benefits that can, among many other things, reduce stress and strengthen your bones. And don’t be afraid of the heirloom’s odd shapes and diverse colors as these are the result of their rich genetic biodiversity. In short, they are supposed to have lines, bumps and wild color variation, and as long as the skin has not split, you are in for a treat.
Heirloom tomato seeds, like your grandmother’s china, are viewed as precious family treasures that have been passed from generation to generation. For an heirloom tomato to qualify for heirloom status it has to have been grown from seeds that are at least 50 years old. Newer genetic variations are classified as hybrids.
Heirlooms are picked at the peak of ripeness, which gives them greater vitamin content. The rainbow of colors indicates their diversity of antioxidants, which help protect our cells from aging. A good heirloom tomato is botanically a fruit and can have the juiciness and sweetness of a cherry or a grape.
- Heirloom tomatoes are a rich source of vitamin C, which helps nourish the adrenal glands and reduces stress. One medium heirloom provides 40 percent of your daily requirement of this immune-building nutrient.
- Tomatoes protect cardiovascular health. They are rich in potassium, which is known to lower blood pressure as well as folate, which has been shown to help with a lower incidence of heart attacks.
- Organically grown tomatoes tend to be higher in lycopene, a kind of carotenoid that plays a role in the prevention of cancer. Studies show that lycopene is protective against bladder, breast, cervical, colorectal, endometrial, lung, pancreatic, prostate, and skin cancers.
- Heirloom tomatoes are a good source of vitamin K necessary for healthy, strong bones.
- Heirloom tomatoes add tremendous flavor to your cooking yet are low in calories. With only 27 calories per cup, you can enjoy a sun-ripened tomato as a snack, just like an apple! Garnish your next soup or dip with chopped heirloom tomato for an extra zip.