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Take 12 Steps for Health

Take 12 Calendar


May 2015

STEP 5: Eat Local

Learn about the local produce grown around you by visiting a Farmers Market or regional farm. Many grocery stores and restaurants also stock locally-grown produce.

Visit Fairfax County Park Authority Farmers Markets.

Making Healthy Strides

  • Give Back: If you grow your own produce or get it from a market, donate any abundance to your local food bank or kitchen.
  • Go Green: As the weather gets warmer, open the windows and turn on a fan before using the air conditioning. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using ceiling fans as they consume as few as 15 watts of electricity, while AC systems can use upwards of 5,000 watts when used for the same amount of time.
  • Get Active: Support a local farm by visiting and picking your own produce. Walk the grounds and tote your bounty to burn some extra calories.

Eating Organic

What is Certified Organic? Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.

Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. The USDA has identified three categories of labeling organic products:

  1. 100% Organic: Made with 100% organic ingredients.
  2. Organic: Made with at least 95% organic ingredients.
  3. Made With Organic Ingredients: Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may list organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.

At this time, there is no definitive research that makes this claim that organic food is more nutritious than conventional food. However, some recently published studies in peer-reviewed journals have shown organic foods to have higher nutritional value. Taste is definitely an individual matter, but gourmet chefs across the nation are choosing organic food to prepare because they believe it has superior taste and quality. Because organic food is grown in well-balanced soil, it makes sense that these healthy plants have a great taste. Try organic food for yourself and see what you think!

Source: organic.org

Farmers Markets 101
  • Finding a farmers market Local Harvest (localharvest.org) is a great resource for finding farmers markets anywhere in the United States. You can search for a farm or market by city, state or zip code. You can also search for what kind of produce, meat or products you are looking for. Certified farmers markets are locations where farmers and ranchers can sell directly to consumers without being subject to the USDA regulations and packaging requirements, and must be certified by the county Agricultural Commissioner. The farmers must also prove to grow the food they are selling before being allowed at a CFM.
  • Bring your own Use your own reusable grocery bags for easier toting and unloading at home. A stroller or small cart can also double as a grocery basket for hands-free picking.
  • Bring cash Some vendors have ways to swipe debit cards, but using cash just makes the whole process easier. Try to bring smaller bills if possible – you will be buying from the individual vendors instead of a central checkout.
  • Get there early. The best and ripest produce will always go first. Get there when the market opens to get the first picks.
  • Take a walk first All of the fresh fruits, vegetables and baked goods look so good in the first booth, but you may find some you like better down the row. Walking the market first lets you plan your purchases better so you don’t spend all of your money before you hit the end.
  • Understand your terms and ask questions There are many ways to describe how food and animal products are treated. Conventional. No-spray. Organic. Sustainable. Transitional. Decide what is important to you and understand what terms go with it. Realize that being certified organic can be a long, expensive process for small family farms. Ask how vegetables are treated for disease or pests and what sprays are used, and know that just because it is not certified organic doesn’t mean it isn’t treated that way.
  • Leave your pets at home Since certified markets are considered permitted food facilities, they do not allow pets except for service animals. Markets are often held in parking lots or streets, and the ground is too hot for four-legged friends.
  • Try something new Ask about produce you’ve never seen before. Ask how the farmer prepares it at home, or try samples if they are available. Buy it then because some have a short production window.

Source: somedayilllearn.com guide to farmers markets

Locally Grown

Looking for a place that utilizes the freshest local ingredients around? Here are just a few listings from the Eat Well Guide that support sustainable, organically grown food in our area.

The Organic Butcher
A cut-to-order, traditional butcher shop, The Organic Butcher features a full line of sustainably-raised and certified organic meats. The Organic Butcher also carries seafood, wine, and cheeses.
McLean, VA

Sweetgreen Offers customers delicious, all-natural salads and refreshing frozen yogurts with local, farm-fresh ingredients. Sweetgreen creates a chic atmosphere and a unique dining experience.
Locations in VA/DC/MD

The Counter Burger With a market selection featuring locally sourced and sustainable protein, cheese, topping, sauce and bun choices, The Counter serves only fresh 100% natural, hormone and antibiotic-free Angus Beef that was humanely raised and handled.
Reston, VA

Restaurant Eve Restaurant Eve is one of the first U.S. restaurants to be Certified Humane by the national non-profit organization Humane Farm Animal Care. Adhering to their philosophy of local, regional, seasonal.
Alexandria, VA

Hook The menu changes daily to reflect whatever sustainable fish are in season and available. We also use locally grown produce, and humane meat and dairy products.
Washington, DC

Source: eatwellguide.org




Take 12 Steps for Community Health

Download Your

Take 12 Steps for Community Health in 2015 Calendar

Download 2015 Calendar

Download 2014 Calendar

12 Months, 12 healthy goals. Don't miss out on this year's great community wellness opportunities in the Fairfax County community! The calendar contains fitness and wellness tips, ways to improve your nutritional habits, and better health ideas for kids, teens and adults. Also, the calendar contains coupons to use throughout the year. STEP UP to better health!

The Take 12 program is free and anyone can participate at any time. This program is designed to:

  • Help you accomplish healthy goals each month, with tips to keep you going for the duration.
  • Give you access to information - free workshops are available each month on different healthy topics and bulletin boards loaded with information are posted at all the RECenters.
  • Provide an opportunity for you to experience fitness and wellness programs offered across Fairfax County.
  • Empower you to make important lifestyle changes... you can do it!
  • Plus, sign-up to receive the monthly e-newsletter, packed with recipes and healthy tips, upcoming events, and opportunities to achieve your Take 12 goals!
2015 Healthy Strides Community 5k/10K, Burke Lake Park, April 25, 2015

2015 Healthy Strides Community 5K/10K
Burke Lake Park, April 25, 2015, 7:30 a.m.

2015 Healthy Strides Community Expo, Burke Lake Park, April 25, 2015

2015 Healthy Strides Expo
South Run RECenter, April 24, 2015, 4-7:30 p.m.

We are seeking support from local businesses and organizations for Take 12! Steps for Community Health in 2015. Our participants are the same people your business is looking to attract. Take advantage of this opportunity.



Healthy Workshops and Events are always being added!
Check our events calendar often for great opportunities in the community.

All events are free (unless indicated with a "$") and require advanced registration.
To register, please email Take12@fairfaxcounty.gov.


We are looking for people who have used the Take 12 program and found better health as a result of their participation. We are also looking for any kind of feedback about the program - the calendar, events, workshops, tips, articles - anything that you want to tell us, we're listening! Email us at Take12@fairfaxcounty.gov.


Take 12 Newsletter
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Email: Take12@fairfaxcounty.gov
Phone: 703-324-8423

Mailing Address:
Fairfax County Park Authority
Attn: Take 12 Program
12055 Government Center Pkwy, Suite 425
Fairfax, VA 22035-1118

All content within www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/take12/ is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Always consult your doctor if you are concerned about your health. Always consult your physician or health care provider before taking any new medication, beginning any program of exercise, or following any health or wellness advice contained herein.

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