Harvest is a busy time for the farm family and healthy eating becomes a challenge even for dietitians who are also family farmers. Just as farmers prepare and maintain all their equipment for harvest, farm families can prepare for and maintain healthy eating for optimal “operation” during this stressful time.
As pre-harvest equipment preparations begin in the weeks before harvest, farm families can prepare for healthy eating. Registered dietitian and South Dakota family farmer Katy VanderWal describes how she prepares, “In the months leading to harvest, I try to get some things in the freezer. When cooking pre-harvest, I will often make two of an item and put the second in the freezer.”
The right equipment makes healthy meal preparation easier. Dietitian turned full-time farmer, Jennie Schmidt of Sudlersville, Maryland gives this advice, “Harvest requires me to think about what food items I need to have on hand for on-the-go eating and ingredients for a slow cooker meal. During harvest, slow cooker meals are my friend and mean we will have something nutritious to eat with veggies and protein.” Online services help VanderWal. She saves time in town by completing her grocery order online while waiting in the field.
Having food throughout the day maintains the farmer’s energy for those long days of harvest. In addition, healthy eating can help reduce stress. With that in mind, make sure everyone has something to munch on. Schmidt says in the morning she packs fruit, granola bars, baby carrots, trail mix, meat and cheese sticks, and sandwiches for healthy options. Farm families become creative with tortilla wraps, pizza dough, and even waffle cones to make food that can be eaten without silverware. Fluid intake also helps with stress management. Make certain everyone has water or other beverages available to drink.
Making certain everyone is eating healthy meals often requires family participation during harvest. “If I am in the field, and my husband is driving the truck to the yard, I ask him to set the crockpot on low, so we all can enjoy a supper that isn’t burnt! I also engage my kids, asking them to dish up the food in containers and send it to the field with a truck driver.” VanderWal says.
To maintain optimal operation of your farm family through healthy eating, do pre-harvest preparations, utilize the right equipment, provide food and water throughout the day, and work together.
And just like there can be a machinery breakdown in the field, VanderWal adds from experience, “Do your best to be prepared and plan meals ahead. But, be forgiving when the plan falls apart.”
A VanderWal family favorite for a freezer meal (it is finger food to take on the go)
Loaf of Frozen Bread Dough (white or wheat)
Pizza Toppings (hamburger, pepperoni, pork sausage, onions, peppers, etc)
3 cups cheese
Defrost frozen bread dough. Roll out into a large rectangle. Sprinkle 1 ½ tsp pizza seasoning down the center of the dough. Add your favorite pizza toppings and cheese. Roll sides up and pinch to seal. Place on pan, seam side down. Brush with egg white. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Cool, wrap in saran wrap and freeze.
On baking day:
Place Stromboli in refrigerator the night before so it is defrosted. Place on pan, seam side down. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and baked throughout.
Slice and serve with a side of pizza sauce.
Harvest Ham Sandwich
A little crunch and a bit of sweetness to your lunch sandwich. Serve with carrot sticks and hummus.
2 slices bread
2 tablespoons apple butter
4 slices ham
1 apple (sliced thinly)
1 slice Havarti cheese
Spread apple butter on one side of bread. Layer apple slices, then ham slices, and top with slice of cheese. Top with second slice of bread.
By Charlotte Rommereim
Published in the 2021 Fall Soybean Leader