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CSA programs provide healthy fuel for Utah's Olympic athletes

Published February 6, 2014 12:10 pm

Food • Speedskaters enjoyed organic produce and meats from local programs.
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Stephen Rosenberg and Daisy Fair will be paying close attention to Shani Davis, Heather Richardson and the rest of the U.S. speedskaters when they compete next week in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Rosenberg, owner of Liberty Heights Fresh in Salt Lake City, and Fair, owner of Copper Moose Farms in Park City, have been providing the athletes with fresh, locally grown food through their community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, and they hope the healthy fuel offers the competitive edge the Olympians need to bring home a medal.

For the past year, the men's and women's short- and long-track competitors training in northern Utah received a weekly CSA share of organically grown produce and meats, a program started by Nanna Meyer, a sports dietitian with the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs.

While the shares varied from week to week, the Sustainably Farmed Food program at Liberty Heights Fresh usually included seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs, grass-fed beef, sustainably raised pork and lamb as well as other products such as organic yogurts, farmstead cheeses and honey.

Gold medalist "Shani Davis said he never had pork taste as good as what we were providing," said Rosenberg, whose market focuses on organic and sustainable foods.

"Not only does the food taste better," he said, "it's nutritionally better."

Which is exactly what athletes need to be successful and why the Olympic Committee covered the CSA costs for athletes, said Meyer, who also would provide weekly recipes to ensure that the young athletes got full nutritional benefit.

Fair said athletes training for other winter sports also participated in her Park City CSA, including U.S. aerialist Emily Cook and Canada's Nordic Combined athlete Wesley Savill.

"Olympic athletes, former and future, have always been part of our CSA numbers," said Fair.

Long-track speedskater Sugar Todd was happy to get the fresh produce from Copper Moose Farms this summer, and even spent several hours each week working on the farm in trade.

"Fueling our bodies with the right things is so important," said Todd, a first-time Olympian who moved from Milwaukee to Park City to train for the 500- and 1,000-meter races.

Todd didn't even mind doing most of the cooking for her training mates. "I'm really interested in learning about new foods," said the 23-year-old, "and I enjoyed eating it."

While the athletes ate well while training in Utah, Rosenberg is worried about the food they will encounter in Russia.

"They train so hard and burn so many calories, I'm concerned they won't be as well fed in Sochi," he said. "You can't eat at McDonald's and compete."