Tag Archives: CSA

Summer Lovin’

Why I love summer:

Praise THE LORD school’s almost out.  I know there are lots of people that are anxious (or flat-out don’t like) summer vacation because they have to occupy their kids… or so they think… I’m a proponent of teaching them to self-occupy, but that’s another blog post for another day!  I miss my girl SO MUCH when she’s gone.  Her sister does, too.

That, and it means NO MORE PACKING LUNCHES.  I really hate doing it.  But I hate what they serve in the cafeteria more (and how much it costs!) so packing it is.  That, and I feel that I can convince her to eat well and a more diversified plate if she’s home.  She’s my texture-aversion kid, and for those of you who don’t know, part of getting them to conquer this anxiety is consistency, lots of affirmation, lots of experimenting… in other words, impossible to do for that middle meal for a whole 9 months. I have to give her whatever she’ll eat that whole time. I have to save up the work of coping with the fear for the evening meal, which can make for some stressful times. In other words… I would like to have another meal or time of day to deal with this! Looking forward to it!

The other thing I’m greatly looking forward to – my schedule permitting (I hate that I have to say that!) – is strawberry picking.  I’m looking for jelly/jam/preserve recipes for which I don’t have to use white sugar, and my hope is between strawberry and blueberry season I can manage to put up enough for a year! (And believe it or not, I think it can be done between the two seasons!)

His Mercies - Foodies Gone Real

If you follow on instagram, you might have seen our chickens were moved to the tractor up in the orchard.  (For the record, this agriculture/homesteading venture is joint with family… so if you ever think this stuff seems so huge for one family to bite off, you’re RIGHT! We all have certain responsibilities, and most of us work another job… which is why we’re doing it together).  I think my unofficial job title is the animal husband-er.  I’m raising the chickens, and have plans for layers… and have my hopes on a pig, goat, sheep, dairy cow…. and the list goes on.

I’m ready “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver and I A-D-O-R-E it.  All locavores, or real foodies, or homesteaders should be required to read it.  Her chapter on her daughter’s chickens was spot on.  I agree with her, when she says she’s so glad that baby poultry don’t stay looking like this:

P1190739

They would be impossible to cull! Instead, they turn into moody teenagers, then into brutes that attack each other.  I am so humbled and thankful I get this experience of knowing where my food comes from.  These chickens are getting an incredible life (compared to the chickens raised commercially) and maybe it’ll all just be in my head, but I just KNOW the experience of eating them will be hands-down better.

Also on instagram, I excitedly presented some of my early carrot seedlings.  Gardening I can do, (no black thumb) but I’m still cautious and learning ALOT.  My mother-in-law’s thumb is so effortlessly green I think she just has to wave it around dirt and things magically sprout!  Needless to say, my little carrot seedlings I am so proud of!  Carrots take a long time to germinate, and you have to direct sow (no transplanting), which in my humble opinion, gives lots of room for things to go wrong.  At least when you start seeds indoors, you can pick which ones get transplanted, and get them established before you let the bunnies and deer anywhere near them.

I’m desperately trying to raise green beans again – which I LOVED growing last year, but the bunnies are killing me, here.  My mother-in-law has the right idea on her property: they installed a fabulous hoop house.  Duly noted, duly noted. I’m not sure my beans are going to make it unless I figure out a way to fence it all in.

Green Beans Introduced to Bacon - Foodies Gone Real

(Two years ago green beans!)

On top of raising our own food, we do buy into a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture). (We don’t yet produce enough to be entirely self-reliant.) Basically, a farmer sells shares of his/her produce.  I bought a share, so every week I get 1 share’s worth of vegetables, and a little bit of fruit.  This is worth EVERY penny.  Aside from the locavore aspect – supporting a farmer in the community – this was the BEST way I learned to try new foods, and it felt risk-free since I already paid for the share.  It almost feels free. (It’s not, but it feels that way because you go to pick up your food every week and don’t leave any money behind!) My first “found” veggie – that I just had NO idea what it was, or what it tasted like – was garlic scapes.  I wrote up an explanation and recipe on it two years ago here.  I CAN HARDLY WAIT FOR MY SCAPES!

Bag of scapes!

I hope what you hear here is EXCITEMENT.  Anticipation.  Never in my whole life did I enjoy summer until we started our homesteading venture.  This land explodes new life, new life which God allowed me to participate in growing.  The farmer plants the seeds, but God makes them grow.

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Shopping for Real Food

I love food.

Did you hear the emphasis in “love?”  ‘Cause you should have.

I have loved food long before the way I thought of food changed. (That’s a tricky sentence.)  I was regularly in the kitchen, creating and cooking.  Because I love food so much, I was always trying to not just cook well, but better.

Now that I see food as a way to heal up issues that have plagued me for years (weight, hormones, etc.), I am looking further into “real-food” and what it means to eat it.  While I love my sense of taste, it often leads to gluttony, so I am actively looking for ways to eat food, feel more full for longer, so I’m less likely to over-indulge (that, and a whole lot of praying.  And I’m not kidding about that.).

It is no secret that we are not in favor of genetically modified organisms/foods (titled “GMOs” in the remainder of the article).  I read a very interesting article here from the University of Texas that even hybrid fruits and vegetables aren’t as nutritionally sound, as they’ve been bred for production, not nutrition.  (And there’s another good article referencing UT’s results, as well as other organizations here.)  And for further clarification – GMOs are done with genetic-tweaking, hybrids are not; hybrids are often combinations of the same plant to achieve a certain goal (say, combining two types of apples so you get a new kind of apple that has the good attributes of the two original).  GMOs are created in a lab, hybrid are often done by the farmer’s themselves.

And I can’t really blame anyone, on the surface.  These farmers are running a business, and they have basic accounting principles to deal with – how can we get the most for our money?  Biggest return on investment?  So, they may be opposed to GMOs, but ok with hybrids because it still helps them with the bottom-line.

I’m not here to bash farmers (after all, they give me my FOOD! The real stuff, too!).  But what I am here to do is encourage you to think:  where are you getting your food?  What does their word mean about the quality of their food?

I am proud to have joined a vegetable CSA (community shared agriculture) this year that prides itself on using heirloom seeds.  (Also joined a CSA that raises pastured chickens!) I have a new goal this year to eat as much from local farmers, and as heirloom as possible.  Between the steer I have in my freezer, my CSAs, and farmer’s markets, I’m really hoping to shrink my dependence on big agriculture at the grocery stores this summer.

If you reside in the Mohawk Valley region, you might want to check out this facebook group.  It’s pretty new, but the idea is this: the group is sharing their resources and ideas on how to eat locally and clean up our food.  I have already found questions to answers I’ve been chewing on, and the group has existed for only a week!

If you don’t live in my area, start googling.  I would start with the farmer’s markets.  You’ll meet the farmers and hear about their methods.  And  you’d be surprised to find out all the farmer’s markets that are still occurring in the dead of winter!

We each should determine our own standards, and stick to them; even between Eleilia and I, we have differing opinions. Here are some starting questions to ask the farmers you meet… and you can determine for yourself what is an acceptable answer:

PRODUCE:

  1. Do you use chemicals or pesticides on your produce? (NOTE: organics would use all-natural!)
  2. What, if anything, do you supplement, either directly to the plant or to the soil?
  3. Do you rotate your crops?
  4. Where do you purchase your seed?
  5. Do you use hybrid or genetically modified seed?

MEAT/DAIRY/EGGS:

  1. Do you give antibiotics to your animals?
  2. What do you do when they are sick?
  3. What do they eat on a regular basis?  Is it genetically modified? (Only if they answer to the first question includes corn, soy, alfalfa, etc.)
  4. How much/often are they given access to pasture (roam outdoors and pick what they want to eat)?
(Special note: I don’t ask them if they’re certified organic. You have to understand that NOFA-NY and USDA certification is lengthy and incredibly expensive.  Many farmers cannot afford it.)

Additional resources to help you define what are YOUR food standards – pick one off each document, or adhere to them all… it’s up to you.

  • NOFA-NY (Northeast Organic Farming Association – NY branch) Farmer’s Pledge:  here
  • An explanation on what all the different type of “real-food diets” mean from “100 Days of Real Food”:  here
  • Philosophical post of the feed of animals from “100 Days of Real Food”: here
  • Philosophical post on why it’s important to ask about the soil from “Reformation Acres”:  here
  • A blog entry from Nourished Kitchen that gives some specific tips on shopping at a farmer’s market:  here

My biggest hope and prayer is that you think for yourself and determine what is acceptable, and what is not.  Read up on your food, be wise consumers.  I am not sure who said it, but “you vote with your dollars”… so be careful where you spend it.  God entrusted us with the resources He provides.

And eat real food.

green apple

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