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

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