Archive for March, 2012

You’ll find me in my garden…

Today the 2012 garden took from the grow lights inside to the great outdoors.  They landed in a brand new garden bed of fluffy compost, got a good shower from a lead-free hose, and got tucked into a nice layer of wood chips.  This week I got a trailer load of compost and a truck load of freshly chipped trees delivered to my farmstead.  Yesterday my husband helped me lay down a thick layer of newspaper to start our new garden beds, and covered it with a thick layer of compost.  Today we finished making the wide beds for the cool weather veggies.  Later in the day my son and I planted out all of the romaine lettuce, black seeded simpson lettuce, mixed loose leaf lettuce, bok choy, and onions.  We both enjoyed our time planting together so much, we can’t wait to get out there and do it again.  Next we’ll tackle the broccoli, spinach, carrots, celery, and garlic.

In no time we’ll be elbow deep in delicious red tomatoes…

Gardening is the best hard work of all!

If you need me, come out to the garden to find me.  There are no phones in the garden, as our hands are always covered with dirt.  Just the way we like it.

Next time, photos of the new gardens.

Lacy

Why eat organic, why eat local, and what IS eating seasonal?

Dear friends, perhaps you’ve seen that I have posted a few links on facebook lately about eating local and organic foods.  As a new healthy food producer, I of course hope to see more and more people understand the realities of supermarket food, specifically non-organic food.  For example, “Non-organic supermarket spinach and lettuce tests positive for 50 different pesticide residues” (Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list).  That sounds like a main course of pesticides and a side of lettuce.

Perhaps you’ve forgotten how nasty pesticides are.  Here’s a quick rundown… Pesticides can damage the nervous system, reproductive system, and immune system. They can cause developmental and behavioral abnormalities in children. Pesticides also contribute towards many health risks such as leukemia, lung, brain and testicular cancer, liver and pancreatic damage, decreased sperm counts and spontaneous abortions.  Ummmm, no thanks.

So that pretty much clears up why eating organic is the way to go.  If it was simply to avoid pesticides it would be worth it.  But add to that herbicides, artificial ingredients, hydrogenated oils, additives,  preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, tons of salt and sugar, and a whole list of other things are truly risky for your health, and for sure, eating organic is the way to go.  As for the cost of eating organic, when I stopped filling up my grocery cart with processed foods, boxed snacks, and sugary drinks, it truly didn’t increase my grocery bill by any noticeable margin to buy whole organic foods instead.

So with that brief explanation perhaps you can see why someone may choose to eat organic.  What about eating local?  If you think that eating organic is a challenge, try eating local.  Where you live will greatly affect how easy or difficult it is to eat local.  In a very green metro area it may still require extra effort, but it is often feasible.  Most people live somewhere in between, perhaps in the suburbs or in a smaller city.  But then there’s me (and a tiny percentage of Americans) livin’ out on the countryside.  You’d think that out here where fields stretch for miles and farms dot the scenery that local food would be in abundance.  But sadly, almost all of what is produce out here in rural America is the chemical-laden stuff you find on your grocery shelves.  In my county, I know of one other farmer who raises organic and all natural food.  There may be a few others out there, but not very many.  Even when I go to the summer farmer’s market, many of the vendors sell conventional (chemical-laden) produce.  Really?  So eating local and living in the country (or simply far from a metro area) can be a real challenge.

Perhaps you may wonder what’s the point of eating local?  Isn’t organic broccoli from China the same as locally grown organic broccoli?  It’s usually cheaper, that’s for sure.  I recently saw a news report that highlighted Whole Food’s 365 brand.  “Organic” labels the front of 365 packages of frozen vegetables.  On the back in small print reads “Made in China”.  Upon further investigation, we find that not only is imported food not checked by the USDA, but the organic certifier listed on the package stated they have never certified any products from China.  Yet there their seal of approval was, right on the package, giving false assurance to unknowing customers about a supposedly organic product.  Perhaps the vegetables really are organic.  Perhaps they aren’t.  China’s reputation for chemical use and tainted products certainly isn’t very reassuring.  So why would I pay more for a product that may not be free of chemicals and other harmful ingredients?  I would guess that this situation isn’t an isolated incident in the imported organic produce world.

ImageSo that brings us to eating organic produce raised in the good ole U S of A.  Alright!  American food, American jobs, American USDA certified organic (or in the case of local produce, raised without chemicals).  Good for our health, good for our economy, good for American farmers.  But eating organic strawberries from California when you live in Vermont isn’t exactly eating local.  Those strawberries will certainly have a bigger “carbon footprint” than those grown in your own home town (or state in my case).  But strawberries aren’t available in Vermont for 3/4 of the year, so if you can find them, organic strawberries from California might be your best option for an organic-conscious shopper.  But for the eat local purist, the principle of eating seasonally is an integral part of healthy eating.  Eating seasonally entails doing just that – eating what is in season, and not importing what is in season elsewhere.  That means not eating strawberries in Vermont in the winter.  Just like in the old days, if you want fruit in the winter you will need to root cellar some apples, freeze some strawberries, and dry some grapes.  These consumers are not only concerned with eating organic food, but with how it got to their table.  How many miles has the food traveled?  How long ago was it picked?  How much fossil fuel was burned and how much pollution was caused to bring this food to my table?  Perhaps these issues are important to you, for many of you these thoughts may have never crossed your mind.  Whether or not you are concerned with fossil fuel consumption and pollution may partially impact your motivation to eat locally and to some degree eat seasonally.

But here are some additional reasons why eating local just may be worth considering.

Top Reasons to Buy Local Food

1. Locally grown food tastes better (it really is true!)
Food grown in your own community is usually picked within the past day or two. It’s crisp, sweet, and loaded with flavor. Produce flown or trucked in is much older. Several studies have shown that the average distance food travels from farm to plate is 1,500 miles.

2. Local produce is better for you.
Fresh produce loses nutrients quickly. Locally grown food, purchased soon after harvest, retains its nutrients.  (Plus, pasture raised animals are MUCH healthier for you!  Our coming website will tell you why.)

3. Local food preserves genetic diversity.
In the modern industrial agricultural system, varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen simultaneously and withstand harvesting equipment. Only a handful of varieties of fruits and vegetables meet those rigorous demands, so there is little genetic diversity in the plants grown. Local farms, in contrast, grow a huge number of varieties to provide a long season of harvest, an array of eye-catching colors, and the best flavors.

4. Local food is GMO-free.
(Seen the recent reports about GMO foods?  Not good.)  Although biotechnology companies have been trying to commercialize genetically modified fruits and vegetables, they are currently licensing them only to large factory-style farms. Local farmers don’t have access to genetically modified seed, and most of them wouldn’t use it even if they could.

5. Local food supports local farm families.
With fewer than 1 million Americans now listing farming as their primary occupation, farmers are a vanishing breed. Local farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middle man and get full retail price for their crops.  (If we want to continue seeing food produced in our own country, we have to buy what our farmers produce).

6. Local food supports a clean environment and benefits wildlife.
A well-managed family farm is a place where the resources of fertile soil and clean water are valued. Good stewards of the land grow cover crops to prevent erosion and replace nutrients used by their crops. Cover crops also capture carbon emissions and help combat global warming.

7. Local food is about the future.
By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow, so that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful, and abundant food.
Source: Green Right Now

So eating local benefits you, your health, your community’s economy, your local farmer, the environment, and the future of American food production.  That’s a good thing.  So what is available to you locally?  Next time you cruise through Whole Foods, look for locally grown products.  Ask around or search online to see if there is a local food “CSA” (community supported agriculture) where you can get fresh produce and/or meat every week.  Check to see if there is a local coop you can order through to get locally grown products (I use oklahomafood.coop).  Find local farmers producing organic or chemical free food in your area and stock up once or twice a month.  Sites like naturallygrown.net and www.eatwild.com can be helpful.

I’m on my own food journey to eating more organic and locally produced food.  For me, luckily, my organic eggs and chicken come right from my own back yard.  As I checked my grocery list today though, I can see that I need to plan further in advance for what I will need from the food coop.  My coop order comes next Thursday, and that leaves me a week without access to local food.  This month I get grace having just moved to a new house.  But next month, I want to do better at stocking up when local food is available by planning ahead of time my meal plan for the month.  I’m also looking forward to canning and freezing a whole bunch this year to eliminate the need to buy lots of things on my list right now – pizza sauce, V-8, beef and chicken broth, sweet pickles, apple sauce, green beans, diced tomatoes, etc.  But for today, I’m working on a month’s menu plan with lots of crockpotting, having my list ready for the next coop order, and buying organic from my supermarket to fill in the gaps.

Here’s to your health.  Eat Organic.  Eat Local.  Eat Healthy.

~Lacy

Gardening…

I read a good paragraph about why gardening is enjoyable – besides your product of great vegetables and fruit.  I think more reasons can be added to the following thought, but all in all this does a great job of describing the ideal gardening time.  I hope I have some times like these this spring, when I can garden alone and enjoy an unencumbered flow of thoughts.  I do love to see my children enjoy the garden as well though.  Now for the quote:

“Anyone who has spent time in a beautiful garden knows the tranquility and sense of connection that can be found there.  In this age of technology and urgency, being in the garden can allow us to release our stresses and transcend time.  As we sit in the midst of beauty, watching the bees, butterflies or birds, we begin to let go of our cares and worries.  If we are actively involved in creating the beauty of the garden, we find the acts of planting, weeding and trimming bring about the feeling of being grounded and centered.  As I work in my garden I appreciate not only the physical work and sensory perceptions, but the endless flow of thoughts, spontaneously appearing unencumbered by intellectual musings.  Before I know it, hours have passed.  Thousands of thoughts have come and gone, but as I worked, they required no more attention than the birds singing in the trees.  I leave the garden feeling refreshed and connected to the world around me.” – Swami Atmarupa Saraswati

For the first time ever I have hope that at least some of my seedlings might make it to the garden and perhaps even thrive.  I may be speaking prematurely, but with the new found step of repotting my seedlings, I have reached new heights… and so have my seedlings.

🙂  Looking forward to getting into the garden…

Lacy