Benefits/calendar of seasonal produce availability
It’s no secret that a well-balanced and varied diet is an important part of living a happier and healthier lifestyle.

Eating healthy can help ward off diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular illnesses, obesity and even some types of cancers. Key vitamins and minerals in your diet are integral to increasing immunity and promoting healthy development.

Establishing a balanced diet begins, of course, with smart, nutritious food choices. Take the tomato, for example. There may still be a debate about whether it is a fruit or vegetable, but one thing is certain: it’s an extremely nutritious and versatile health product. Tomatoes are jam-packed with potassium and vitamin C. They are also a fantastic source of Lycopene, an antioxidant that helps to battle cancerous cell formation along with many other health-related issues. How about oranges? One orange contains up to 70mg of vitamin C and loads of fiber, folic acid and magnesium.

Having regular access to safe and healthy agricultural products plays an extremely important part in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. That is where the dedicated U.S. cooperators come in. They produce agricultural foods essential to our diets, and make them available to Canadians 365 days a year, always ensuring that they are of the highest quality and meeting the strictest safety standards.

Some interesting facts and nutritional information from our cooperators.

Medjool dates are packed with goodness and energy. They are the perfect fruit snack for active people, and an excellent choice as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Since the approval of the final National Organic Program rule published in 2000, sales of organic fruits and vegetables have grown from $2.55 billion, representing approximately 3 percent of all fruit and vegetable sales, to the nearly $9.5 billion level and 11.4 percent penetration level. Meanwhile, during that time, organic food sales have grown from $6.1 billion to $24.8 billion in 2009, jumping from 1.2 percent of all U.S. food sales to 3.7 percent.

Tomatoes may actually protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. The lycopene found inside tomatoes help your body protect itself against the sun’s rays by neutralizing harmful free radicals. But don’t rub them on your skin! You need to consume tomatoes to get the benefits.

Consumers continue to seek out fresh organic fruits and vegetables at their local food cooperatives, supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and through CSAs. There are even companies that deliver organic products directly to customers’ homes.

Research reports that 75 grams (approximately 2.5 ounces) of walnuts consumed per day improved sperm vitality, motility, and morphology (normal forms) in a group of healthy young men between 21-35 years of age.

Peaches contain vitamin C, an antioxidant, which boosts the immune system, promotes healing and builds strong bones, teeth and gums.

Sunflower oil is trans fat free and low in saturated fat, but high in monounsaturated fat, which helps to reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. It also contains more Vitamin E than other oils.

Organic product sales continue to grow each year in the United States. U.S. organic food sales reached $24.8 billion in 2009, up 5.1 percent from 2008 sales, according to figures from the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) 2010 Organic Industry Survey.

Organic foods are increasingly found in more mainstream retail establishments. In 2009, 54 percent of total organic food sales were handled through mainstream grocers, club stores and retailers. Meanwhile, natural and specialty retailers were runners-up, with 40 percent of sales. Direct sales through farmers’ markets, co-ops, community-supported agriculture (CSAs), and the Internet, as well as exports, represented the remaining 6 percent.

California Almonds have the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Health Check symbol.

Cherries are a source of melatonin. Melatonin is an effective means for reducing jet lag and promoting overall healthy sleep patterns.

Pears are packed with 6 grams of fibre, vitamin C, plus have no cholesterol and no sodium.

Studies have shown that apples and apple products (like sauce and juice) can help lower your risk of developing heart disease and may also help decrease your waist size and possibly even your blood pressure.

Catfish are low in saturated fat and are an excellent source of magnesium and phosphorous. They are also high in potassium and low in sodium.

The wide variety of organic foods available meets the diverse tastes and choices of consumers. In addition to fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, meat, eggs, dairy items, and baby foods, it’s possible to buy organic pasta sauces, salsa, fruit juice, soup, cereal, ice cream, peanut butter, tea, coffee, frozen dinners, chocolate, popcorn, snack food, beer and other beverages, to name just a few options available.

Experiencing the most growth in 2009, organic fruits and vegetables, which represent 38 percent of total organic food sales, reached nearly $9.5 billion in sales in 2009, up 11.4 percent from 2008 sales. Most notable, organic fruits and vegetables now represent 11.4 percent of all U.S. fruit and vegetable sales.

OTA findings show that by the end of 2009, organic food sales represented approximately 3.7 percent of total U.S. food sales.