In Praise of the Asian Pear

by Maria DiMaggio, Healthy Waltham Project Coordinator (and Waltham Public School parent)

This unassuming-looking piece of fruit has become a staple in my house and a lunchbox favorite.  Golden brown in color, it looks to be half pear, half apple.  We discovered it by accident during a day of apple-picking at Belkin Lookout Farm in Natick.  Turns out these folks also grow a lot of Asian pears.  Instead of apples, we came home with bags and bags of Asian pears.

Besides tasting pretty good (crunchy like an apple but sweet like a pear) there are several other things we like about them:

  • They keep for weeks in the fridge
  • They can be substituted for apples and pears in baked goods with excellent results
  • When peeled and cut, they don’t turn brown for hours

This last one, not turning brown, makes them great for sending in a lunchbox.  My kids prefer apples to be cut up rather than biting into a whole apple.  However, most apples turn brown quickly.  After several hours, cut up apples don’t look that appealing.  But Asian pears will generally keep their color for several hours at room temperature, and for 24 hours in the fridge (cut them up and store in a plastic container).

These fruits can be quite pricey in winter and summer.  But in the fall, locally-grown Asian pears can be found at the grocery store at a decent price.  More information on Asian pears can be found at Fruits & Veggies – More Matters


Waltham Farm Day

On a beautiful fall day, well over 200 people came to the Waltham Fields Community Farm to connect with Waltham’s agricultural past at the first “Waltham Farm Day.”  The September 26 event was co-sponsored by the Waltham Fields Community Farm, Healthy Waltham, the Mayor’s Office, and the Waltham Public Schools.  Young and old enjoyed apple cider pressing, digging for sweet potatoes, cleaning shallots and garlic, a composting demonstration, and an art project.  Presentations on cooking greens and drying herbs were some of the other activities enjoyed by attendees.

Here are some highlights of the day from the Waltham Community Access Channel:

Vegetable Recipe Book

What’s on your Table? is Healthy Waltham’s vegetable cookbook compiled in collaboration with the Waltham Fields Community Farm.  This excellent resource is arranged alphabetically by vegetable.  In addition to recipes, there is nutrition information, storage tips, and more.  

You can find the recipe books here:

What’s on your Table? (English Version of Cookbook)

Que hay en tu Mesa? (Spanish Version of Cookbook)


Healthy Kids, Healthy Snacks Recipe Book

Looking for healthy snack ideas for kids?  Our Healthy Kids, Healthy Snacks recipe book can be downloaded by clicking here.

Healthy snack grants in two Waltham Schools this year

This fall, fresh fruit and vegetable snacks will be provided free twice a week to students at the Whittemore and Stanley Elementary Schools through a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) Grant.  The Waltham Food Service Department applied for this grant in collaboration with Healthy Waltham.  The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Mass. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).  The FFVP began as a pilot project authorized by Congress in 2002 as a part of the effort to combat childhood obesity by helping children learn to make healthier food choices.  The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, also known as the Farm Bill, permanently authorized the program nationwide. The program is currently limited to elementary schools with 50% or more participation in free and reduced-price lunch. Schools are encouraged to support the program with classroom activities that focus on healthy eating and the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables.