Thursday, March 29, 2012

buy local

I have to admit, I am an old-fashioned girl.  I love fresh-cut flowers from the garden in a simple jar or bottle.  Especially daisies...

...and lilacs.

I shamelessly hang an old window in my kitchen that came from my grandpa's barn on the family's 100 year old farm.  

I have more antiques from my grandparents than I can count... 

Some of which I still put to good use.  

No, no!!  I'm not so in love with the past that I manually wash my clothes! (Although I do love the smell of clothes that have been dried in the sun!)  This washer has a less noble purpose now days - it's our drink cooler for parties!

I may be a bit old-fashioned b/c I come from a long line of farmers, some of whom still farm, who have blessed me in sooo many ways. One of those ways has been to allow me to help with the canning and freezing. I'm sure to kids growing up on the farm, it's just another chore, but for me, an old-fashioned girl living in suburbia, having everyone get together to bust out some honest work, laughing and telling stories, only to end up with a delicious product is nothing short of awesome!  It has developed such a love in me that now I "put up" (I love that phrase) my own jellies, salsas, and spaghetti sauces, as well as peaches, corn, tomatoes, and anything else I can get to grow in my yard. Sometimes my mom and I do it together which is always more fun! [I have 1,000's of blossoms on the peach trees mom! Better set aside some time in early Sept!! ;0)]

Canning and freezing produce makes me feel so.... I don't know....from the earth.  It's the most satisfying feeling!  I feel like I'm maximizing my harvest, increasing our bounty under budget and taking great care of my family and their health by giving them food that I started from seed or seedling and saw through to it's harvest and use.

You may have read my last few blogs on dyes and this whole Pink Slime nastiness that is put in our beef without our knowledge. What I haven't posted is some of the info I have found researching different preservatives, additives, pesticides and GMO's for my own curiousity.  I was continually disappointed by what I found hidden in a can of beans, tucked into a box of "all natural" cereal or drenched all over my healthy veggies. Not to mention the pesticides and weed-killers engineered right into the seeds of my produce - no longer is it simply ON the plant, it's actually IN it!  more info

This disappointment has motivated me to step up our already healthy eating to something that allows us to eat more food straight from it's source, that helps us avoid all those nasty hidden cancer-ambassadors, that is so fresh it's nutrients are bursting to work their magic in our bodies, and all the while, keeps me within our budget.  Eek! Can it be??

Yes, meet the latest "vore" in the consumption of food - the locavore.  A big word introduced in 2005 for a small concept. This is simply an eco-conscious person who eats from locally owned farms as a way to promote sustainability for the earth and health for the family - fruits and veggies, meats, eggs, dairy, etc . Granted you can't get everything from near your home - how would I get my chocolate?  But as an individual, you can decide how local you are able to be.

The benefits of eating local are that you are supporting your local economy by supporting your local farmers. You minimize your carbon footprint since food won't travel very far to reach your table.  You are able to get the freshest food to your table with the most nutrients. And what I love best of all, is you can actually talk with those who are growing your food or raising your beef. 

Below, I have listed a few of the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms that are located around Loveland and Fort Collins.  If you live elsewhere in the US or want some other options, no problem, simply visit this website local harvest and type in your zip code and you will be presented with a long list of CSA farms in your area.  The CSA farms on this website are required to meet certain standards in order to be listed, such as certified organic or naturally grown, biodynamic, conventional, transitional, naturally grown, etc.  Here is a link for you to see those standards and their definitions

By purchasing a membership and a "share" of the produce at a CSA farm, you benefit the farmer with cash flow, and yourself with the freshest of produce (which helps retain all the flavor and nutrients in the food) at a lower cost to you.  Each week during the growing season, you will get box of whatever produce is in season.  Each farm grows different veggies and has longer or shorter seasons.  Choose the one that fits your family best.  What a great way to introduce your family to all sorts of vegetables and grass fed beef and lamb! Some farms even have festival days where the family can come and visit the farm. Most all of them allow kids to come any time to see what's going on.  Kids eat that up!! And they will likely eat up what's on their plates because it's from "their" farm! 

There is a bit of risk involved.... you pay for your share before the start of the season.  If the growing season is abundant, you will get lots of produce, however, if the growing season produces poor or minimal results, you will get less produce that may not be as "perfect" as what they sell in the store.  Then again, what kind of manipulation is required for the store produce to look so perfect?  Maybe we need to retrain our eyes and brains as to what is "better" produce.

If that feels like a really big step and you are not ready to commit, shopping at your local farmer's market will allow you to get many of the benefits without the risk though at a higher cost.  Many of you know where your summer farmer's market is, but your community may also have a winter farmer's market where they sell such things as..."late-season produce, grass-fed meats, eggs, mushrooms, cheese, wine, salsas and sauces, baked goods, sweets, and locally made handcrafts," etc. (Fort Collins winter marketJust google it!

I hope this has been helpful information! I know it requires some different thinking, even for this old-fashioned, farm-hand girl from suburbia, but maybe it's time for us to start thinking outside the box and go back to practices from a time when there was less heart disease, cancer, allergies and diabetes. I wish your family great health and happy eating!

Fort Collins/Loveland area (these are just a few that I took note of)

Sylvandale - beef

Dottie's Garden Berthoud  northeast of Ft C
Garden sweet n ft collins
happy heart farm csa - off elizabeth in Ft C west
the food coop downtown ft c mountain ave
ole dern farm laporte but veggies AND meat!!  larger share  $650

Monday, March 26, 2012

Things are warming up here in Colorado!! We are heading into BBQ season!! Nothing like a juicy burger topped with caramelized onions, a slice of crispy bacon, a dollop of guac and topped with lettuce and tomato!  Yum!! I can almost taste it!

However, there is an evil lurking in your beef that you may be unaware of...Pink slime!! Have you heard of it?! Does it sound tasty?!?? Wanna eat it?

Well, you probably have been, as have your kids, especially if they eat school lunch.  A year ago the USDA bought 7 million pounds of it for school lunches. (more info) Have they used it all, I wonder?  Will they buy more?  I hope not!

I'm sorry, maybe you don't know what Pink Slime is.  Pink Slime is connective tissue and cow product - whatever that is - ground up to produce Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) or how about something a bit more descriptive... "It’s more like Jell-O than hamburger, plus it’s treated with ammonia..." (see here) due to the higher likelihood of contaminants such as E. Coli and salmonella. Hmmm... if you grew up in the 80's you might be wondering "Where's the Beef?".  

And what exactly is this Ammonia Hydroxide that this contaminated, non-meat product is being treated with? 

          Besides being used as a household cleaner and in fertilizers, the  compound releases flammable vapors, and with the addition of certain acids, it can be turned into ammonium nitrate, a common component in homemade bombs. It's also widely used in the food industry as an anti-microbial agent in meats and as a leavener in bread and cake products. It's regulated by the U.S. Agriculture Department, which classifies it as "generally recognized as safe."

Hmmm... I hadn't thought of flavoring my burger with fertilizer! Or sprinkling a little window cleaner on my lettuce!  And I hope the acid in my tomato doesn't have any weird side effects with the chemicals in my meat!! That would cause quite a stomach ache!  Ok - I'm getting a little cheeky! Sorry! But does anyone else still wonder why cancer is so rampant in our society these days?!

Thankfully, there has been a large outcry against putting pink slime in our beef.  One of the most well known warriors is Jamie Oliver who is trying to improve school lunches overall.  As of next fall, schools working with the national school lunch program will be able to choose whether or not they serve pink slime to our children. (more info)  You may want to speak up at your school's PTO or to a member of the school board. I'm not sure who will be making the decision but let your voice be heard if you feel strongly about it.

Interestingly, with all the research I did, it appears that there are the people like Jamie and myself who are appalled we have been eating this stuff - without knowing! - and there are others who don't think it's a big deal because it is "thought" - by some - not to be harmful, or at least "generally recognized as safe" (emphasis mine), according to the USDA.

Here's what it comes down to.... there is a reason ingredients are to be listed on a package of food.  It is so I can decide what I want to put in my body and the bodies of those I love!  If there is ammonia hydroxide in my food - which is listed on the  Right To Know Hazardous Substance List - then I have the Right To Know that it's in the beef I'm feeding my family!

So, how do you know if this pink slime is in your beef since it's not labeled on the package? If the meat is not organic and is pre-packaged, it is likely in there! Yes, even if it says "All Natural".  Don't be fooled by that label, it is not regulated!  Your safest bet is to purchase organic ground beef, buy from a local rancher, or shop from one of the stores that don't tolerate pink slime. To see if your store sells meat with pink slim, click here.  The other option is to shop at your store and have the butcher grind up some sirloin or chuck roast for your ground beef. 

Here's the latest. if you care to look a little deeper.

I guess my biggest "beef" with this whole thing - oh that was bad - is that I am not being fully informed as to what I'm putting in my body.  And if they aren't telling me about a hazardous substance that is on The Right To Know list, then what else am I ingesting that I don't have the right to know?  What are they doing to my ground turkey?  What other ingredients or treatments to ingredients am I ignorant of which leads me to naively ingest things that can harm me? Why bother with an ingredient list if the nasty things don't need to be mentioned?

So, while the weather warms and we fire up the grill, be aware of your options out there!  By all means, grab your homemade buns and cakes and enjoy your juicy burger with all the toppings!! Just make mine organic, please!

Thursday, March 22, 2012



Wow! What I wouldn't give....



It's delicious!!!  It's life-giving!! It never seems to last long in my house!! 

What do these two things have to do with each other? Read on and find out!

If you haven't seen Lisa Leake's blog 100 Days of Real Food,check it out! I love this blog because this woman gives me back up for avoiding processed foods.  She gives me the "why" behind my intuitive "that has to be bad for you".  She also gives hundreds of ideas to help me swim against the tidal wave of processed foods that seem to be swamping America.  

I am shocked by the things the FDA passes off as "food".  

Twinkies - really!?  What is that?! And I'm saddened by the lack of education in so many Americans that leads us like sheep to the slaughter houses of cancer, obesity and diabetes because we don't consider what is in our "food". We are manipulated and deceived into thinking that "low-fat", "sugar-free", "all natural" and "contains x-number of vitamins and minerals" means it's good for us.  It is time to educate ourselves! It is time to tell manufacturers and the FDA what we WILL eat.  What we WILL allow in our foods! And what we WILL put in our bodies!! Manufacturers are driven by the dollar and if we stop purchasing the products  they pass off as food, they will start producing food that is safe and healthy enough for us to live on.

The UK is already doing just that! Consumers have driven the government to demand that any "food" containing artificial dyes must have a warning label that reads "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children."  Due to this simple additional label, major companies like Kraft and Pepsi no longer use artificial dyes, instead they use natural dyes such as paprika extract and beetroot.  However, in the US where no label is required, to save a few pennies on the dollar, the same Pepsi and Kraft products are sold with artificial dyes; not because American kids digest these products safely but because, as parents, we are not demanding the same quality of food for our kids! 

Lisa gives way more ammo to the argument for avoiding synthetic dyes such as this from "Artificial food dyes are made from petroleum and approved for use by the FDA to enhance the color of processed foods." Mmmmm...yum! Pass the red M&M's!  She also discusses the link dyes have to cancer, as they contain known carcinogens, and how they encourage obesity and diabetes.

Why the government is so slow to move on this is beyond me!  Except that we keep buying these products and working ourselves into the healthcare system with diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc, that can largely be prevented with a healthy diet!  We could likely solve the health care dilemma if we'd just start eating right and demand that we are provided the healthy foods to do so!  But we are part of the problem and just keep the cycle going!  

We must depend on ourselves to make a change and not the government or manufacturers.  The government might care about our children as a whole but it doesn't care if, individually, they are hyperactive, medicated for attention deficit diseases, or if they struggle in school because they can't focus!  I have no doubt that we, as parents, love our children dearly, and therefore, we must take the greatest care for what goes into those beautiful bodies because if we don't, no one else will!!  Let's step up!

What power do we have as parents and consumers? Our power is in how we spend our dollar!  Stop purchasing these products and see how fast changes are made!

Let's go back to my dreamy Jeep....

So, what do real food and my dream car have to do with each other?  Well,  think of your body as your dream car and food as the gasoline!  Are you really going to put in a fuel that contains contaminants that clog, corrode, wear down and slowly buildup in the car's system?  Then why would you put bad fuel into your body?  Why would you not eat foods that make the "engine" run smoothly?  You can't trade your body in for a newer model when it runs down.  It's the only one you've got and it needs to last you awhile!  Fueling your body with real foods will allow your body to run well, longer.  And the more changes towards real food that you make the cleaner and smoother your body will run!  

So, I encourage you to check out 100 Days of Real Food and start with some small changes.  You may be amazed how well you and your family start to feel with a little high-powered fuel!!