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Farmer Challenges Easton To Eat Local

Patty Popp of Sport Hill Farm in Easton challenged herself last summer to eat only what she grew on the farm. Now, she is asking Easton residents to take on a similar challenge.

"Prepare one meal once a week from local products that are organic, if possible. Don't go to the grocery store and sit down and eat," she said.

Popp suggested a few changes many families should make to be healthier: Read labels, avoid products with high fructose corn syrup and soy (unless it's not genetically modified) and buy local products. In her store, Popp carries salsa, hummus and black bean dip made in Fairfield as well as Goatboy soap made in New Milford.

"The fewer ingredients, the better. So many things are not good. It tastes good. Believe me, I'm just as guilty as the next person, but it's not healthy," she said. If 5 percent of the population stopped buying name-brand products from grocery stores, Popp said that could push the companies to make changes and alter the products to make them healthier.

"Organic? I'm obsessed," said Shira Friedman of Easton, who was buying lettuce and hummus from Popp on Friday. Friedman has her own garden in Easton and buys what she doesn't grow from Popp.

Organic and locally grown products are more expensive than mass-produced items from the grocery store. But Popp said the health issues that arise from eating those products are much more costly.

"Going to the doctor for diabetes ... or, why do so any children have allergies?" she said. "What happened in the last 50 years? There is a lot more illness."

The lettuce and other vegetables may look good at the grocery store, but Popp said, "There's a reason why things look too pretty." Organically grown lettuce can look less appealing because bugs can get to it. "People ask me what to spray on plants, I say nothing — get out there with your fingers and pick the bugs off," said Friedman.

Popp never planned on being a farmer. In 2000, she began clearing the woods in Easton. "I never stop learning. There's always going to be something that happens that teaches me another lesson."

On May 21, Friedman will teach Organic Gardening 101 at Sport Hill Farm, 596 Sport Hill Road. Friedman will show the class how to grow vegetables at home easily and will teach projects to do with kids.

How do you stay healthy? Leave your comments below.

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