Category Archives: Food Ideas

Seasonality

Blueberries Ripen in June in South Alabama

colepicksblueberriesWe all pack up and drive 5 hours South to pick blueberries and Grandmama Dollihite’s home.

We go out early to avoid the bugs and the heat and by 10:00 a.m. we have enough to freeze for the next year.

It occurred to me that part of why we enjoy this so much is the berries taste better than they will taste the rest of the year.

Seasonality depends upon your hemisphere

Depending upon the season, as much as 70% of the fruit and vegetables that Americans eat is imported. That doesn’t mean that American farmers can’t grow food year round. What it means is that certain foods are only available in their ripest, most nutritious form during certain times of the year. But given the American obsession for instant gratification, we expect all fruits to be available year round.

Would you consider planning your “food calendar” around the produce that your local CSA could provide? It would give incentive to your local growers to know there is a market for what they can produce and it would bring the spirituality of delayed gratification to your life.

Why Seasonal Sharing Works

buddhamansmall1). It opens your heart so that the issues of greed, possession and permanence are kept in perspective.
2). It turns the “karma wheel” so that at some point you have a goody “coming your way”.
3). It builds the fabric of community. It may be the one time when “co-dependency” is not a bad thing.
4). It teaches you to respect what others have. Just wait until someone returns “your stuff” in less than a pristine manner to understand what I mean.
5). It teaches creativity.  Our friends gave us “pickled eggs” this year. It seemed a bit exotic, like pickled pork feet or pickled okra. It was real joy that I hope to learn how to do.
6). It paces the order of life.
7). Embracing seasonality tempers the desire for immediate gratification and teaches us temperance, patience and gratitude.

Poop in the Soup

How about some “Poop”in your Soup?

Fecal SoupThis is one of my “awareness posts.” Many people are not aware of how modern food winds up on their plates and it’s my joy to bring you this moment of enlightenment.

Most of us would never knowingly eat food with fecal material in it. (That’s shit in the soup for those who don’t speak Latin) Yet, the USDA allows chicken processors to have up to 15% of the weight of processed chicken to be the fluids that are absorbed in the processing plants.

It took me a while to find the specifications on this.  The USDA says “A process would be considered under control if there is a reasonable confidence (i.e., 95% statistical confidence) that a given package in a lot retains no more water than is unavoidable. That is, considering measurement and processing variables, there should be 95% confidence that the continuing measurements are within 20% of the moisture level determined at that establishment.”

This information can be found in its entirety at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oppde/rdad/frpubs/97-054F/compliance_guidelines.htm

When the chickens are run through automated processing, their bowels get spilled everywhere and the mess is washed off at the end. That’s not the problem.  Something like that could happen when you process a bird at home.

The problem is in the volume of what’s being processed. Processing plants process birds by the minute.  At the end of the line they drop into a chilling tank. Over time the water and feces become “fecal soup” and get absorbed into the tissues of the chicken.

Sure, they put some chlorine in the water to kill the bacteria, but do you really want to eat that?

Heirloom chickens, the kind raised by your grandparents take twice as long to mature, but are twice as tasty as the dull, flaccid gray matter that passes for chicken today. Try some “pastured poultry” from a local farmer who processes each one by hand and you will be startled at the difference.

Yes, they will cost a little more. If that bothers you, you can continue to eat the other stuff. Just be sure to factor in your medical bills and health insurance deductions when you compare the costs. You may be pleasantly surprised. It’s always fun when it actually cost less to have better tasting food.

Local Food Growers Reprint

Local Food Growers in Alabama

Studies have shown that local food can help with locally developed allergies.  This idea is revised for publication 04/28/2013

We have had a few problems getting Facebook to accept the blog posts, so some of our friends have asked that we post a few of them again. You may have read this post in March, 2013.

Local Food Fights Local Allergies

We have always thought that the watermelons, tomatoes and other foods from local food growers in Alabama tasted better. Perhaps it’s because our taste buds are seasoned that way.

Recent studies have shown that animals that are raised within 25 miles of their birthplace thrive better than those shipped across country. We believe that is because they assimilate the nutrients available in the local soil and develop immunities specific to the region.

Vegetable School

It’s harder to measure that idea in humans because we are more mobile. But research shows that items like honey, when made by bees within a local radius, can be more effective in helping one resist allergies.

It makes sense that the plants and animals that survive their time in the “school of hard knocks” are going the reflect their experience. That can be either good or bad, but in a system focused on providing nutrient density, nature leans towards good.

By enjoying fruits, dairy vegetables and meats from a local farm you can see for yourself the superior quality and have confidence in what you feed your family.

“Sustainable farms are to today’s headlong rush toward global destruction
what the monasteries were to the Dark Ages: places to preserve human skills and crafts until some semblance of common sense and common purpose returns to the public mind.”

Gene Logsdon “Living at Nature’s Pace”

Imported foods hurt local farms

Farmers have a right to be angry. Forces and politicians much more powerful
than they are have been manipulating the way they live for generations.

All the component parts of the farming economic equation have been maniuplated for the benefit of large corporations at the expense of the farmers that actually supply the food. Everything from the cost of growing food to the price paid for it has endured intense governmental and market maniuplation.

Consumers have a right to be bewildered. Many grew up never knowing any other ways to acquire their food except going to the grocery store. Many children
think food is “made” at the supermarket.

So, when consumers finally realize that the corporate, large-agricultural food model is delivering inferior food that is lacking in nutrient value, they
begin the search for real food. That leads them to local farmers.

These are the same guys who are still being screwed over by the companies like Monsanto and ADM. So, like you, they have a new learning curve.

You have to learn how to buy food. They have to learn how to provide it.
There’s the rub. They can’t provide the food quality that you want with the same level of convenience the grocery store provides. You have to invest more
time, thinking, preparation and cooking experience into feeding your family.

What the farmer wants to know is “Can you be shown a better way?”

Cheap Food Costs Too Much

Cheap Food Is Not Cheap When You Count the Medical Bills It Entails

farmcloudworldOne of the paradigms of American farming is that the farmer has always been grossly underpaid. The people who buy the foods produced do so on a wholesale basis. They contrive artificial ways to penalize farmers for not producing the crops or animals wanted in the ways that are most profitable to the wholesalers. The end-consumers are rarely considered in the process.

Many people do not know that in the average box of cereal it cost more to make the package than the farmers gets paid for the grain.

It is not, it is not,” saith the buyer, but then in his heart he laughs. ” Proverbs 20:14

The farmers rightly resent it. But until recently, there was little they could do. And they get little sympathy from the shoppers who try to stretch their grocery budgets to feed an entire family because those shoppers have born the burden of paying for the packaging, marketing and consumer research.

Present day reality is that once we transitioned from being an agrarian society to an industrial one, the food the farmers sent us was taken for granted. It became a commodity.

All of that is changing because the soaring medical bills most families encounter are proof enough that our food is not doing for us what it is supposed to. Many are turning to local farmers to try to re-capture the health that was common two generations ago.

They do it through CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) that contract to provide fresh produce with pesticides or herbicides. For a good example, see the CSA in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Roll Tide!)

They participate in “Cow Share” programs that facilitate the ownership of individual cows, thus making the unprocessed milk available to the owner.

Expand Your Awareness of How What You Eat Matters

Think!

spot_americana_roosterMany people spend most of their lives reacting to the things that happen around them. Rarely do they reflect on why people say and do the things that they do.

Reflection can open doors to new ways of thinking and living.

People are beginning to see the re-emergence of the small, family farm. They don’t realize what an exercise in courage it is.

Family farms are run by people who dare to defy the government and the large agricultural interests. Their methods are different, quirky, creatively inventive and often executed on shoe-string budget.

Gene Logsdon notes in his book “Living at Nature’s Pace” that “Sustainable farms are to today’s headlong rush towards destruction what the monasteries were to the Dark Ages: places to preserve human skills and crafts until some semblance of common sense and common purpose returns to the public mind.”

 

A Better Way to Find Organic Foods

Finding Organic Food includes your pets.

Try Organic Pet Foods, too

“Sustainable farms are to today’s headlong rush toward global destruction what the monasteries were to the Dark Ages: places to preserve human skills and crafts until some semblance of common sense and common purpose returns to the public mind.”

Gene Logsdon Living at Nature’s Pace

A Better Way to Find Organic Foods.

This post was first published in 2012, but has been revised for the new website 03/23/2013.

People are frustrated because finding organic food can be a real challenge.  Both farmers and consumers have manipulated into accepting convenience and low price as an alternative to nutrient dense foods.

Farmers have a right to be angry. Forces and politicians much more powerful than they are have been manipulating the way they live for generations.

Consumers have a right to be bewildered. Many grew up never knowing any other way to acquire their food except going to the grocery store. Many children think food is “made” at the supermarket.

So, when consumers finally realize that the corporate, large-agricultural food model is delivering inferior food that is lacking in nutrient value, they begin the search for real food. That leads them to local farmers.

These are the same guys who are still being screwed over by the companies like Monsanto, Cargill and ADM. So, like you, they have a new learning curve.

You have to learn how to buy food. They have to learn how to provide it.

There’s the rub. They can’t provide the food quality that you want with the same level of convenience the grocery store provides. You have to invest more time, thinking, preparation and cooking experience into feeding your family.

What the farmer wants to know is “Can you be shown a better way?”

As a society, we spend less of our disposable income on food than the previous generation.  That’s because what we perceive as the cost of the food is less.  Politicians love this because nothing makes people angrier than high priced food except food that is not available at any price.

What we fail to take into account is that because our food is so deficient in nutrients, we eat more of it because or bodies crave the nutrients they need.  The combination of low price, convenience and contrived palatability have led to the epidemic of obesity we see every day.  As soon as we factor in the medical costs associated with eating poor food, the price escalates dramatically.  And don’t forget the environmental costs associated with large agriculture.  The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is the result of 50 years of excess fertilizer, herbicides and lost top soil.  The cost of that never shows up in the grocery store bill, but nevertheless, it will get paid.

Cynical social analysts note that because the poor can only afford foods that lead to obesity they will die sooner, thus lowering the cost to the culture of having them around.  It’s the same attitude that Dickens expressed in “The Christmas Story.” 

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.  Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?”  demanded Scrooge.  “Are they still in operation?”

“They are.  Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?”  said Scrooge.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh!  I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge.  “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth.  We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.  What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge.  “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer.  I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry.  I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.

In the industrial agricultural model, people are just as disposable as any other commodity. 

It’s up to you find your food source, nurture it, protect it from the corporations and their government new hires and share in the joy that a new food model can bring.

You will not find the Organic foods you really want at a grocery store because that process still treats the farmer as a supply side commodity.

You must make the effort to find the farmers at the farmer’s markets, through CSA programs (Community Supported Agriculture) and by word of mouth.  Organizing buying clubs and pick-up and delivery car pools will not only empower the farmer, but help you build relationship with people who share your food goals.

Local Food Growers Matter in Alabama

Local Food Growers in Alabama

Revised for publication 03/23/2013

We have always thought that the watermelons, tomatoes and other foods from local food growers in Alabama tasted better.  Perhaps it’s because our taste buds are seasoned that way.

Recent studies have shown that animals that are raised within 25 miles of their birthplace thrive better than those shipped across country. We believe that is because they assimilate the nutrients available in the local soil and develop immunities specific to the region.

Vegetable School

It’s harder to measure that idea in humans because we are more mobile. But research shows that items like honey, when made by bees within a local radius, can be more effective in helping one resist allergies.

It makes sense that the plants and animals that survive their time in the “school of hard knocks” are going the reflect their experience.  That can be either good or bad, but in a system focused on providing nutrient density, nature leans towards good.

By enjoying fruits, dairy vegetables and meats from a local farm you can see for yourself the superior quality and have confidence in what you feed your family.

“Sustainable farms are to today’s headlong rush toward global destruction
what the monasteries were to the Dark Ages: places to preserve human skills and crafts until some semblance of common sense and common purpose returns to the public mind.”

Gene Logsdon “Living at Nature’s Pace”

Imported foods hurt local farms

Farmers have a right to be angry. Forces and politicians much more powerful
than they are have been manipulating the way they live for generations.

All the component parts of the farming economic equation have been maniuplated for the benefit of large corporations at the expense of the farmers that actually supply the food. Everything from the cost of growing food to the price paid for it has endured intense governmental and market maniuplation.

Consumers have a right to be bewildered. Many grew up never knowing any other ways to acquire their food except going to the grocery store. Many children
think food is “made” at the supermarket.

So, when consumers finally realize that the corporate, large-agricultural food model is delivering inferior food that is lacking in nutrient value, they
begin the search for real food. That leads them to local farmers.

These are the same guys who are still being screwed over by the companies like Monsanto and ADM. So, like you, they have a new learning curve.

You have to learn how to buy food. They have to learn how to provide it.
There’s the rub. They can’t provide the food quality that you want with the same level of convenience the grocery store provides. You have to invest more
time, thinking, preparation and cooking experience into feeding your family.

What the farmer wants to know is “Can you be shown a better way?”