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Staff Review: Smoothie Mix Micro Greens

Scarecrow (2)

Reviewer:  Pamela Denholm

Micro greens have the reputation of being a wonder  food. They are potent, offer as much as 100 times more beneficial enzymes in than in regular veggies, contain 10 times the anti-oxidants, and are rich in minerals and vitamins that are easy for us to absorb. Essentially, sprouts and shoots contain everything needed for (new) life.

Micro greens from 2 Friends Farm look so fresh and green and vibrant, I was dying to try them and eventually settled on the Smoothie Mix to bring home last week. The same last week of Friday the 13th, and a full moon.

I have to say, right off the bat, that the smoothie portion is generous. If you are adding a handful of micro greens to your smoothie each morning, the clam shell they offer will last about a week. And although it is the ‘smoothie mix’ – it looked like such a nice blend of different micro greens I decided to try a couple different things with it:

  1. Sandwich – I put the micro greens  on a wrap, with cucumber, cottage cheese, grated carrot, and green beans.
  2. Salad – I didn’t have salad greens so added grape tomatoes, cucumber, left over roast chicken, and a drizzle of olive oil to a handful of micro greens for lunch
  3. Smoothie – an orange (peeled), frozen banana, micro greens, and 1 inch peeled ginger

Of course, as I eluded, it was Friday the 13th, the moon was a full, brightly lit round orb. ‘The Wolf Moon’ no less. And guess what? My Vitamix gave up the ghost. That is, it kicked the bucket and went to blender heaven. What the heck!?!  I was committed (to doing this, not to an institution) so after a couple minutes of mild panic and dismay at my recent loss, I threw all the ingredients in my regular blender which made it a little lumpier than usual, but still very enjoyable.

img_4457I really enjoy smoothies, but I am fussy about the flavors. I don’t like it when they taste too ‘grassy’, which can sometimes happen with greens. And I don’t love it when they taste like peas either, which is why I tend not to use pea shoots in smoothies – it is a difficult flavor to mask. But these micro greens which are a blend of pea shoots, baby kale, and other micro greens, were just perfect and not at all overpowering. My smoothie may not have been very ‘smooth’ (RIP Vitamix), but it did go down well and I am eager to make it a morning ritual because it is a no fuss way to get those nutrient dense greens in! They were equally enjoyable in the salad and on the wrap – no need to limit yourself just because the label says ‘smoothie’.

Now I’m off to get on to Vitamix to see if we can do an emergency air-lift. Cross fingers that a full recovery is possible, otherwise I’ll be back on Craigslist hoping somebody’s  New Year’s resolutions dissolved into a ‘Vitamix for sale’ post.

About 2 Friends Farm:

Two friends, who share passion for fresh young greens, sprouted the seed of an idea into a busy, indoor farm growing organic microgreens and wheatgrass  in rich, fertile soil year-round!

“We are organic farmers, consciously growing fresh, beautiful microgreens and wheatgrass, promoting a lifetime of health for your family and ours,” say Ashley and John, Founding Friends.

About Pam:

I believe the healthiest thing for you, is a healthy relationship with food. I enjoy cooking and trying all sorts of things, and have a kitchen full of life that needs sustaining from scoby’s to yeasty bread starters. It is a real treat to have good quality micro greens in my kitchen too, without having to add a tray of young sprouts that would also require maintenance and care.

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OCTOBER COOKING CHALLENGE : Week 1, Meal 1 – Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Calzones

These are easier than you think, and quite delicious! I decided to do the calzones first because I didn’t want to keep the pizza dough too long. This recipe uses a bunch of the greens, and it is a good idea to prioritise use of greens first.

I asked my driver to deliver my order to my home on Friday, and I brought it inside later in the day when I got home. I did this because I wanted ‘the customer experience’. These greens have been sitting in my fridge since Friday. One of the reasons they keep their freshness is because they are stored in Vejibags. Greens in plastic bags never work, but wrapped in soft, organic, wet cotton toweling they will keep for at least ten days.

Ingredients:img_3861

1lb sweet potatoes

1 bunch swiss chard

1 head lettuce

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes

1 lemon

1 green pepper

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1lb pizza dough

4oz Atwells Gold cheese

8oz Poblano Farm pasta sauce

4 tablespoons olive oil

Step 1 – Prepare Vegetables (10 minutes)

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Before you begin, preheat oven to 475 degrees

 

Peel and dice sweet potatoes

De-stem and chop up chard

Slice cherry tomatoes in half

Shred lettuce by hand

Cut half a lemon into wedges

Mince garlic

Core and dice pepper

Dice cheese

Step 2 – Sauté (15 minutes)

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Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan over medium heat

Add sweet potato and garlic, sauté for ten minutes

Add swiss chard, keep over heat until wilted

Add 1/5 the jar of pasta sauce and remove from heat

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3 – Assemble Calzones (10 minutes)

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Dust flat surface with flour, divide dough into four balls

Roll ball out flat until it is about the size of a side plate

Dust baking sheet with flour, lay out flat dough

Spoon sweet potato and chard onto one side, add blocks of diced cheese

Fold over, and press edges closed with a fork

Tip: I assembled these on the baking sheet so that I wouldn’t have to move them once assembled because they are soft

Step 4 – Bake Calzones, Assemble Salad (18 minutes)

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Bake calzones in heated oven for 16 to 18 minutes

Add tomatoes and green peppers to lettuce (I had some left over cheese, so added that as well)

For the dressing, mix 3 tablespoons of olive oil with juice from lemon wedges and season with salt and pepper

I had enough time to clean up, stack the dishwasher and wipe down the counters once the salad was made so the kitchen was clean before plating the food

 

 

Step 5 – Plating The Food (2 minutes)

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Four plates – each get their own calzone and dressed salad

Divide the remaining pasta sauce between the four plates for dipping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Analysis

Assessment: Terrific Meatless Monday meal. It was very filling, everybody cleaned their plate. The dipping sauce was nice to have because the parts of the calzone without filling were very dry. I barely tasted the chard which is a plus if you have fussy kids like me. I loved the salad dressing, but then lemon, olive oil, and pepper are one my go-to favorites.

Total time: 55 minutes

Mess factor: one large pan and a baking sheet (and lots of bowls if you are photographing the process LOL)

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Waste: I saved the chard stems, garlic peels, pepper core and stem, and the sweet potato peels for a veggie stock later in the week.

I composted the cardboard pint container, lemon tips, and outer lettuce leaves.

I put the elastics from the chard and the tomatoes in my office drawer to reuse.

Not featured is the glass jar from the pasta sauce – it was in the dishwasher!

It was just the plastic the cheese was wrapped in, and the bag the dough came in that needed to be recycled.

 What’s Left Over for the Week?

1 spaghetti squash

4 ears corn

1 bunch radishes

2lb sweet potatoes  1lb sweet potatoes

1 bunch brussel sprout leaves

1lb sweet peppers 2 sweet peppers

1lb green beans

1 fennel bulb

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes

1 green leaf lettuce 1/2 a green leaf lettuce

1 bunch swiss chard

1.2lb chicken thighs from Feather Brook Farm

8oz Atwells Gold cheese from Narragansett Creamery 4oz cheese

16oz pasta sauce from Poblano Farms

1 lemon 1/2 a lemon

8oz of garlic 6oz garlic

1 bunch of cilantro

1lb pizza dough

1 can organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

10oz GMO-free lo mein egg noodles

1 can organic coconut milk

Glyphosate: Not So Easy to Escape

From Berkshire Organics

First releasedround up commercially in 1974, glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, as well as DuPont’s Abundit and BASF’s Extreme brands.  After the introduction of “Roundup Ready” soybean crops in 1996, other glyphosate-resistant crops soon emerged—and its corresponding use increased dramatically. Over 20 years later, glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in commercial agriculture, and the second most widely used in home gardens—in part due to the misinformation provided by its producers, who have touted their products for years as being rapidly biodegradable and safe for humans and wildlife.  In fact, it was this very promise of safety that kept it from being monitored by the USDA or the FDA. In March 2015, however,  the  World  Health  Organization’s  International  Agency  for  Research  on  Cancer classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Perhaps in response to this information, the FDA plans to begin testing corn and soybeans within the food supply for glyphosate residue—for the first time ever.

It’s safe to say that these “Roundup Ready” crops will contain glyphosate; however, given the extensive use of the herbicide, it’s also likely to be found in other foods as well. In an effort to get a jump start on this process, the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) USA used an accredited independent laboratory to test both organic and conventional versions of 12 popular breakfast foods and ingredients for glyphosate residue: flour, corn flakes, instant oatmeal, bagels, yogurt, bread, frozen hash browns, potatoes, cream of wheat, eggs, non-dairy creamer, and dairy-based creamer. The testing showed that 10 of the sample ingredients (instant oatmeal, conventional and organic bagels and bread, whole grain oatmeal, conventional and organic eggs, organic dairy and organic soy coffee creamer) contained detectable levels of glyphosate, although most were well under the EPA allowable daily intake (ADI) of 1.75 mg per kg of bodyweight.

However most critics are quick to point out that the EPA’s ADI for glyphosate is almost 6 times higher than that of the European Union. Surprisingly, the highest levels of glyphosate residue were found on foods that have no direct contact with the herbicide, including both organic and conventional eggs and dairy-based coffee creamer.  Gretchen DuBeau, executive and legal director for the ANH-USA states that this is likely evidence “…that it’s being passed on by animals who ingest [glyphosate] in their feed.”

Based on the fact that producers have long touted the chemical as being highly biodegradable, she goes on to state that “This is contrary to everything that regulators and industry scientists have been telling the public.” Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that all of the wheat products tested (including those labeled organic) showed detectable levels of the herbicide.  The ANH said that these findings indicate that glyphosate is being sprayed on crops which are not designed to withstand it—but which for some reason are.

It’s also worth noting that glyphosate was up for its 15-year toxicity reassessment by the EPA in the summer of 2015, but action was postponed for one year.  Furthermore, the FDA has stayed conspicuously silent when questioned by the press about the WHO report released last year, and is dragging its heels on the testing of corn and soy products. Meanwhile Roundup, Abundit, and Extreme are being sprayed on a multitude of crops…and subsequently finding their way into every corner of our nation’s food supply. After reporting on the ANH-USA’s findings, naturopathic medical doctor Alan Kavish at the Center of Health recommends the following: “Continue to eat organic foods, and petition the EPA and your government officials to take an interest—not a donation from Monsanto—in reducing our maximum levels of exposures to EU standards.” To this, South Shore Organics would like to add how important it is to know where your food comes from. Supporting local farms and pushing for non-GMO ingredients allows us to continually strive to offer foods that we can all trust are clean.

Gillam, Carey. “Private Tests Show Cancer-Linked Herbicide in Breakfast Foods; FDA Mum on its Assessments.”
The Huffington Post. 19 April 2016.
“Glyphosate Levels in Breakfast Foods: What is Safe?” The Alliance for Natural Health USA. 19 April 2016.
Kadish, Alan. M.D. “Herbicide (Glyphosate) in Your Organic Eggs and Creamer and More.” Center of Health. 20 April 2016

DARK Act

right to knowBy Pamela Denholm

To get everybody up to speed, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are food products, mostly crops and recently salmon, that have been genetically modified to produce certain traits. Genetic intervention was undertaken because scientists are crossing the species barrier, and inserting genes from an entirely different organism and this cannot be achieved through selective breeding. These foods are in our mainstream food system.

There is a lot of controversy around these genetically modified foods. Many have called into question their safety, and the environmental impact of using GMO’s is of grave concern – evident by the recent discovery that GMO Canola plants, which are wind pollinated, are already mutating. GMO’s are also banned in twenty-six other countries, including Japan, Russia, Germany, France, and Italy. In the U.S. they are now so widely distributed they are hard to avoid. A very public and grassroots movement across California and New England states called ‘Right to Know’, is fighting to have GMO foods in our grocery stores labeled as such (as they are in other countries – England for one). The movement has been gaining momentum, with Vermont to be the first state to actually pass laws around the labeling of GMO products.

However, on July 29th, 2016 President Obama signed bill S.764 into law. This law, called the DARK Act, supersedes Vermont’s GMO labeling law, and it has created a lot of confusion amongst the general public because it is being paraded as a broader, Federal solution to the cry for labeling primarily because it gives the USDA two years to come up with labeling criteria for GMO’s that will be nationally implemented. Sounds like a solution right? Wrong. I’d like to clear up any confusion, and share with you why it’s NOT the solution we fought for and I’ll be concise:

  • DARK Act literally stands for Deny Americans the Right to Know.
  • It excludes most processed foods from the label (most processed foods that contain GMO’s)
  • Companies will not have to declare on the package that the product contains GMO’s, consumers will be required to use phones to scan barcodes and then visit a website, or call a number.
  • There will be no enforcement or penalty if products are not labeled

Looks like they a window dressing solution, doesn’t it? What is upsetting was that a grass roots movement driven by individuals with no hidden agenda was undermined by corporations. Here is how the bill got enacted:

  • 764 began life as “A bill to reauthorize and amend the National Sea Grant College Program Act”
  • That original bill, which had nothing to do with food labeling, was initially passed by the Senate, but since it never made it any further, Sen. McConnell then hollowed out S. 764 and replaced it with a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. Then that text was gutted and replaced with the first attempt at outlawing state-level GMO labeling laws by creating a voluntary national labeling standard.
  • When that bill failed – and with the July 1 launch of the Vermont labels approaching – two of the Senate’s biggest recipients of agribusiness money, Sen. Pat Roberts (KS) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI) rushed out a “compromise” bill that would eventually create a national standard while outlawing any state-level labeling rules

Because McConnell fast-tracked that bill, it never saw a day in committee, where there would have been hearings involving stakeholders, followed by proposed amendments. Instead, it went straight to the Senate floor, where members from both sides of the political spectrum okayed it with minimal consideration. Call me naïve and idealistic, but fair and equitable process was denied to anybody who fought for their right to know when this bill was enacted last Friday, and it has become more important than ever for anybody who wants the right to know, to vote with their dollar and let their voice be heard.

Resources: Institute for Responsible Technology www.InstituteforResponsibleTechnology.com
Consumerist.com “President Signs a Law…With Barcodes”, July 29, 2016

28058147 - sun through the pilings under the pier at low tide, old orchard beach maine

Staff Review: Insect Repellant by ‘Things That Work’

Michelle

Reviewer: Michelle Berry

“Vacationland here we come!” I smiled, thinking of spending time with friends on our annual trip to Old Orchard Beach, Maine.  Our ‘camping tribe’ expands each year, and we anticipate new stories, lots of laughter, and that familiar feeling of coming home.  It was a great trip, but we did have a few hundred uninvited guests.  As soon as the unpacking began, we were eagerly greeted by hungry greenhead horse flies, we expected mosquitos at dusk but not these tenacious beasts during the day! They were everywhere; the campsite, the beach, and they even accompanied us on our morning kayaking expedition through the curving canals, under the Amtrak bridge, and the along the sparkling coast. This was a good test for Things That Work deet-free insect repellent.

S - Insect Repellent

Needless to say, we sprayed down frequently.  During our leisurely bike ride on the Eastern Trail, snowy egrets, glossy ibis, salt marshes, winding tributaries, wildflowers, and busy, buzzing insects were the stunning back drop that lead to a cool, woodsy, flat, open path.  The temperature was a perfect 75 degrees and fluffy white clouds floated overhead.  We passed backyards with large gardens, roaming chickens, and watched a playful little goat trying to engage a big black potbelly pig in a game of barnyard tag.  We found a trail off to the side that lead down to a steep, roller coaster (precariously rooted) path, to a quiet river.  All the while, only a few horseflies landed on us and we had no itchy bites.  I’m happy with the effectiveness of the spray.  The scent is pleasant too and I don’t feel concerned reapplying often since it is made from essential oils.  No weird chemicals seeping into my pores.  It wasn’t sticky and didn’t have an overly strong scent.  The bottle size is generous too.  I do give it a good shake before applying.

I’m relieved to report, we weren’t covered with bites as I expected after four days and nights.  This deet-free insect repellent is a “Thing That Works”.

About Things That Work:

Lisa is a busy wife and mom of four. She’s a career gal by necessity and a creative by choice. She always has a new project in the works, such as wild crafting herbs for the medicine cabinet, growing and canning vegetables for the pantry, making rag rugs for the floor, hand spinning yarn, or whatever her newest passion is.

Things That Work started as one of those projects to eliminate toxins from her home in 2012. She started by making her own detergent and cleaners that were free of controversial chemicals and provided better everyday options for her home like Fluoride Free Toothpaste, Non-aerosol Hairspray, Aluminum Free Deodorant, Fragrance Free Detergent and a Bleach Free Cleaner. In 2014, this developed into a business to help others in her surrounding community discover the benefits of using natural based alternatives, paired with a passion to support small, locally owned businesses with her own.

About Michelle: 

Michelle’s work at SSO aligns with a personal mission to live sustainably and meaningfully. She and her family grow vegetables, and happily play host to honey bees. Michelle is a good woman to have around, she doesn’t complicate simple situations and enjoys finding ways make it easy for her family, and our customers, to enjoy the local harvest.

41956374 - rolled oats in the wooden spoon. close-up.

Staff Review: Fresh Rolled Oats

B - HazelReviewer: Hazel Bacigalupo

For a many years I have enjoyed oats for breakfast, aware that they are a healthy way to start the day – unlike empty calorie-packed breakfast cereals! When South Shore Organics started selling rolled oats, Pam gave me a bag to see if I liked it.   I didn’t expect to notice any difference to the oats I had previously being buying from the supermarket, but I was in for a pleasant surprise.

These oats are naturally sweet and fresh, supermarket oats taste like cardboard in comparison. I don’t cook my oats in water, but instead use skim milk allowing them to simmer slowly (around 20 minutes, which is longer than generally recommended).  They are wonderfully chewy and so tasty, it is like eating a favorite dessert.  I find oats for breakfast are filling enough to keep me on the go until lunch time.

"I find oats for breakfast are filling enough to keep me on the go until lunch time

“I find oats for breakfast are filling enough to keep me on the go until lunch time

I also use them when cooking an excellent cookie recipe I used to make when living in Zimbabwe.  Say “Crunchie” to any Zimbabwean or South African, and they will know exactly what you are talking about!!  They are square cookies with a wonderful crunchy chewy consistency (hence the name) and they don’t hang around for long, especially with kids in the house.

Recipe for Zimbabwe Crunchies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 2 cups oats
  • ½ lb. margarine (or butter)
  • 1 large tablespoon of Lyle’s Golden Syrup (available in the British import section of Shaw’s or Stop ‘n Shop), I have also used honey in a pinch and it works well.
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Optional – ½ cup dried cranberries

Put all dry ingredients in a bowl. Melt the margarine and syrup (or honey) together, add baking soda and stir till frothy.  Add this to the mixed dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Flatten (I use my hand) into a large greased shallow pan and bake at 3000 until golden brown until crisp – about 30 minutes.  Cut while warm and leave to cool in the pan. Best enjoyed with a good cup of tea, Zimbabwe style. YUM!!!

NOTE: you don’t have to cook your oats, in the heat of summer, you can make ‘overnight oats’ that are just as chewy and delicious. Just do equal parts oats, to your choice of liquid (almond milk, soy milk, yogurt, cows milk) and let stand overnight, here are some other yummy combinations for you to play with:

  • oats, almond milk, peanut butter, banana
  • oats, almond milk, agave or honey, blueberries
  • oats, french vanilla yogurt, pumpkin pie spice, banana
  • oats, almond milk, vanilla extract, dried cranberries, sliced almonds
  • oats, greek yogurt, brown sugar, cream cheese, vanilla extract
  • oats, greek yogurt, bananas, mango
  • oats, almond milk, apples, maple syrup, cinamon
  • oats, milk, chocolate chips, cherries

About Maine Grains:

Their mission is to cultivate and deliver exceptional stone ground grains, which are locally grown and sourced. Through a unique stone-milling process, Maine Grains preserves nutritional content and the performance of their grains and flours for natural fermentation baking and cooking. Locally grown grains provide a variety of delicious hearty flavors, and are non-GMO and sustainably grown, preserving Maine land for work and play for generations to come.

About Hazel:

Don’t let Hazel’s petite frame, blue eyes, and lovely accent fool you, this lady is as tough as nails.  From a remote farm in Zimbabwe to the South Shore community of Massachusetts, she’s seen it all and knows how to get the job done, and it is her breakfast of champions that keeps her going long after the rest of us are worn out!

Chemical Load of our Environment

no bugsI am on some of the Facebook gardening groups, and there seems to be a buzz across the board about bees! Not about keeping bees, but about how few we are seeing in our gardens, and I see it my garden too. Bees love certain spots in my garden, they LOVE the sage and salvia flowers, bees simply can’t resist clover – which is starting to flower right now, and they go gaga for catmint. But in the last two weeks I have counted just three bees. And it is not just bees, my garden is quiet. I have not seen many bugs at all, especially flying bugs.

Who knows what the reason is, it could be the mild winter, the cool spring, the cold snap, the prolific amounts of pollen everywhere – maybe bees just don’t have to forage. Maybe all they have to do is dust the hive (or they could come dust my house, pollen has been everywhere this spring!) I did call our town to see if they had done any spraying, and they hadn’t – they sent me over to Plymouth County Mosquito control. I have not heard back from them yet, but in the meantime, I did my own research, and what I found, was staggering.

chart 2chart 1What I looked at was land use, specifically, how many acres in the U.S are committed to agricultural uses (cropland and pasture), and how many acres are committed to urban use. I then looked at average annual spend on herbicides, which includes fertilizers, per acre for each, and I found that the average home owner spends three times per acre more than our farmers for herbicides. Okay, so we are paying retail, and farmers are buying in bulk. But then, this article is not about the weeds, it’s about the bees. Right? So I did the same exercise for pesticides, and guess, what, we are bug-a-phoebes! Here the average spend of homeowners was nearly 15 times higher and although I didn’t give it a graph, when I included commercial and industrial spend, non-farmers spent 21 times more on pesticides than farmers did.

I think we come down on farmers because a) there is much more farmland than urban area – for each acre of urban area, there are 17 acres of farmland and grassland/pasture. That makes farmers the custodians of a large chunk of our land. And b) what farmers are growing, is the food we put in our bodies – so of course we care about what they are doing to it!

Those of you that have been with us a while know how I feel about agricultural monocultures and industrial farming, of course. I am not condoning these practices. But what about our responsibility? As custodians? We raise our children in urban areas, we visit recreational ponds which are the ultimate catchment areas for our garden run off during the rain. In my rational mind, I understand that I cannot dictate what my neighbors do in their homes and gardens, and I understand that mosquitos and ticks spread diseases that are no laughing matter – but the toxic load of our environment is no laughing matter either, and sacrificing one for the other will not prevent us from getting sick, just look at the out of control cancer statistics.

Ultimately, we have to be responsible too. Our communities cannot point fingers for the disappearance of the honey bee, or the large number of butterflies whose numbers are dwindling. We are a part of that problem, and as a community, we need to collaborate, educate, and make better, organic, and healthy choices for our gardens and open spaces.

By Pamela Denholm

Eating Seasonally

eatseasonThose of you who have been with us a while, and those of you with gardens of your own, will have watched the seasons transform and evolve in a way that you just are not able to in a modern, air conditioned grocery store. I love eating seasonally, I feel like I eat much, much more variety, and I appreciate all my food so much more because it tastes better in season, and I get to dream for it and long for it when it is out of season. Here are some other tangible benefits to enjoying your food seasonably:

1. Health Benefits – Seasonal foods are picked at the peak of freshness and offer higher nutritional content than out of season unripe fruits and vegetables. When you eat with the seasons you can enjoy a rainbow of colorful and diverse foods in your diet as well as providing your body with a wide variety of important vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that you need to maintain vibrant health.

2. Sustainable Benefits – Organic seasonal foods are grown in a sustainable manner by farmers who really care about protecting our planet. Organic farmers rotate crops to increase soil fertility, use integrated pest management to control pests using beneficial insects instead of toxic pesticides, and use sustainable composting methods for disposing of organic waste. We are also not using extreme energy, chemical fertilizers, and other funky agents to force crops to fruit out of season.

3. Environmental Benefits – It reduces the number of miles your food has to travel before it Spring Listreaches your plate, and also the amount of time (and energy) required to store it and maintain temperatures conducive to storage. This helps cut back on the amount of fuel used which reduces pollution. By making a conscious choice to purchase organic, seasonal, and local foods we help protect our water, air, and land.

4. Economic Benefits – When you buy organic, seasonal, locally grown foods you help provide financial support to the farmers in your area which helps to grow your local economy. Did you know that you need to spend three times as much with a chain store, than you do with a local business to have the same economic impact and benefit on your community?

By Pamela Denholm

Resources: http://www.eatlocalgrown.com – 4 great benefits to eating locally

My Goodness, We Are a Pig Headed Bunch!

pig headedMy husband and I have a little ritual in the morning. We wake up, make a cup of tea, rouse the children, and then pick up our phones and scroll through our respective headlines while sipping said tea. It’s the modern day version of reading the paper, only the paper is tailored to our specific interests – so he feeds me snippets of global news and politics, and I feed him all the human rights and environmental tidbits. We are usually done by the time our tea cups are empty, and we meet the kids at the breakfast table to get the day started. On this particular morning, here were some headlines that stood out:

  •  Bleaching kills a third of coral on Great Barrier Reef’s north pristine coast
    Warm sea temperatures are the cause
  • Iconic places under dire threat from climate change
  • Yellow stone national park, Venice’s iconic lagoon, Galapagos Islands, Ilullissat Icefjord – being damaged by onslaught of climate related effects
  • Doctors ‘drug of last resort’ falling prey to antibiotic resistance
    Antibiotic resistant diseases on the rise because we’ve allowed agribusiness to turn antibiotics into livestock feed

This last one is the one I would like to focus on. The first drug resistant bacteria was discovered half way around the world in China in November last year. A few weeks ago, a woman in Pennsylvania was diagnosed as the first American to carry the strain. An entirely separate investigation turned up a similar strain in tissue taken from a pig slaughtered here in the US. What is concerning, is this discovery ties the new resistance directly to the routine use of antibiotics in livestock.

Both the patient and the pig were infected with a strain of E.coli resistant to multiple antibiotics, including some potent versions considered ‘last resorts’. They did eventually manage to treat the patient, however, Christopher Braden, MD, deputy director of the agency’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, warned that the plasmid-borne colistin-resistance gene could transfer to CRE or any other superbug, making them deadlier. Essentially, other bacteria’s can potentially become harder to treat.

CDC Director Tom Frieden hardly minced words when he told The Washington Post, “It basically shows us that the end of the road isn’t very far away for antibiotics—that we may be in a situation where we have patients in our intensive care units or patients getting urinary-tract infections for which we do not have antibiotics. I’ve been there for TB patients. I’ve cared for patients for whom there are no drugs left. It is a feeling of such horror and helplessness. This is not where we need to be.”

However, despite these dire warnings, we still continue to use antibiotics routinely in large scale husbandry (factory farms), and the reason is twofold: one, it makes the animals grow bigger more quickly, and two, since these animals are kept in close quarters unlike their natural habitat, and fed foods unlike what they would choose to forage for, they are sicker and instead of isolating sick animals and treating them, it is easier to add antibiotics to their feed and treat them all routinely. It is estimated that 70-80% of the antibiotics used in the US, are given to livestock.

So, what can we do? Well, of course you can let your Representative know what your position on the matter is, whatever that may be. But you can also help change the face of food production by supporting smaller scale farmers in your area. Smaller farms, regionally located, that raise animals humanely, are the answer to so many problems, and this may just be one of the more important ones.

By Pam Denholm

Resources: http://www.medscape.com – First Case of E-Coli Resistant to Last Resort Antibiotic, May 2016
http://www.Takepart.com – ‘Doctors Drug of Last Resort’ is Falling Prey to Antibiotic Resistance – May 2016
Photo courtesy of Brown Boar Farm

Weeds are plants too!

dandy

It feels like summer! The weeds in my garden say so. What I mean is, the prolifically growing weeds sprouting up everywhere (I daren’t blink) tell me the growing season has begun. I enjoy spending time outside in my garden, I love the flowers, the buzz of insects, the song of the frogs, and we have so many birds, so many. Our garden is rife with life, and it makes me happy. Except for the weed life, which I feel you can never turn your back on, not even for a minute, because they grow from a barely visible sprout to man-eating ‘feed me Seymore’ little shop of horrors plant overnight. OVERNIGHT I tell you!

So, imagine my delight, my joy, when I discovered how many of these weeds are deliciously edible. Call me sadistic, but I find consuming pesky weeds extremely gratifying! So here are a few frequently featured weed pests in my garden (chances are, they are in yours too) you can confidently add to your barbecue salad. Of course, be responsible, make sure you know what you are eating before you eat it or feed it to others.

Dandelions – it’s all edible, roots, leaves, flowers, go for it! The more mature leaves can be bitter, young leaves are best but older, ahem; ‘more mature’ leaves can be boiled to remove the bitterness. Boil the roots before eating as well, and I have heard (don’t quote me) that in a pinch, dandelion roots can be a stand in for your morning coffee. Just pick some roots to dry, roast them in a cast iron pan and add 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried roasted roots to simmering water for 7 to 15 minutes. Voila. Let’s go camping!

Purslane – Gandhi named purslane amongst one of his favorite foods, and elsewhere on this planet, it is grown on purpose. How lucky are we that it insists on growing here for free! All season long. Ask me, I know. This little plant has more omega 3’s than any other plant known, it has a light flavor, and can be eaten raw, boiled, or scrambled into eggs. It’s heart healthy!

Sheep Sorrel – okay, no matter how dire the apocalypse, my family will not starve. I have this stuff everywhere, it’s the first thing up out of the ground, and one of the last things to die back – the word invasive was coined to describe this blasted plant. It also has a light, lemony flavor, tastes better than spinach, is wonderful in salads and on sandwiches, and is widely used in French cuisine. Bon appétit.

Bishops Weed – Do you have this? I’m so sorry. You have my deepest sympathies. Truly. Also galled Ground Elder, this weed is one of the MOST obnoxious in my garden. The (insert profanity here) plant is tenacious, and I’m tenacious, so I know it when I see it and we have a real battle of the wills going on. So get out there and harvest, harvest, harvest! You can’t kill it, I promise, take as much as you want. Eat the leaves and stems cooked or raw; I like to burn them to a crisp. Just kidding. It has a taste similar to celery, and is apparently called Bishops Weed because it used to be grown at all the monasteries to treat grout. Maybe I should just give up and drink more red wine.

Clover – Yup, the bees will thank you. The butterflies will thank you. And your grass will thank you as it is a nitrogen fixer that actually IMPROVES the quality of your soil. You can eat the leaves and stems; I think it tastes kinda grassy raw, so not my favorite, but I am told it tastes better cooked although I haven’t tried it yet. My husband is pretty conservative when it comes to food, and he is a sweetie. He has not done anything in a long time that would make me mad enough to march right outside, and come back in with a handful of clover to cook for his dinner.

Garlic Grass or Wild Garlic – you will know you have it if you mow over it. All you will smell is garlic. Also a hard one to kill (I pull and pull and pull and it just keeps growing). Makes great pesto, good with eggs, and I’ve used it in soups, on pizza, in scrambled eggs, quiches – even garlic bread – with great success!

By Pam Denholm