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Archive for the ‘Growing Food’ Category


Fresh strawberries from a U-Pick It farm near Mt. Vernon, Washington.

What do imported grapes, domestic blueberries, celery, lettuce, strawberries, spinach, bell peppers, peaches and nectarines have in common? If they are conventionally raised, they have some of the highest amounts of pesticides of any produce available. They are known as the “Dirty Dozen”, and experts  strongly recommend that you purchase these items organically. The trouble is, some items such as bell peppers, are waaaaay more expensive if purchased organically. My solution? Select an alternative produce item if the cost is too burdensome. Or, grow it yourself.

 

Baby spinach growing big and strong in our little home garden!

The Environmental Working Group, or EWG, also provides a “Clean Fifteen” list that names the cleanest non-organic, or conventional, foods are avocados, domestic cantaloupe, onions, and a few more. These are safer to purchase non-organically. The foods selected for the “Clean Fifteen” and “Dirty Dozen” were tested for pesticide residues after produce was rinsed and/or peeled. Often, people think that purchasing produce with skin gives their food a layer of protection from pesticides. But little do they realize that fruits and veggies are porous, and are comprised primarily of water. They absorb everything from their skins and make it part of its cellular makeup, just as our bodies do with whatever we put onto our skin. Not everyone can afford a fully organic diet – nor is creating a fully organic diet an easy task. Thanks to this guide from EWG, however, we can selectively decide which produce  we must buy organically, and which we can cut corners on. Print the list and keep it with you for an easy reference. Make sure everyone in your family understands the list, too.

An even better option: grow the produce that is expensive to purchase organically!

Okay, now I want to hear from YOU: Do you purchase organic foods, and if so, which items are top priority to buy as organic on your shopping list? Please tell me in the comments section below.

Please rate this post and share the love with those you love.

Thanks for your support!

xoxo

Frances

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Our right to good and healthy food choices is threatened by intense global demand for food and the increasing shortage of meeting this demand. But that’s not what scary to me. I’m upset and frightened that the companies who brought us some of our most toxic chemicals – hard-core pesticides, PCBs and Agent Orange – are now in control of our food through biotechnology. Dow, DuPont, Monsanto, and others are major players in our food system, oil our politician’s pockets, and help keep us in the dark on whether our food is contaminated with GMOs. Unlike in the European Union, in the US we are not afforded the right to choose clearly labeled foods about whether it is from GMOs. (You can bet that most food – including “natural” and even some “organic” foods are contaminated by GMOs.)  And we continue to be threatened as local and federal rulings throw the 1-2 punches at American consumers and our rights to make choices about exactly what we are consuming.

Don’t believe me? Read up on the latest news about Judge Fiedler who ruled that you do not have the right to choose your own foods. WTF? Yea, you read it right. Click on this link. Scroll to paragraph 2 of page 3 and the ruling on pg. 4. It states that one does “not have the fundamental rights to produce and consume foods of  . . . choice.” This ruling is the response to a case questioning whether farmers have rights to consume their raw milk from their own cows. If the farmer does not have the right to his own food choices, why would any average citizen have those rights? Just weeks after this ruling, Judge Fiedler resigned and went to work for Monsanto.

Have you read about Monsanto ruthless suing-sprees against small farmers and seed cleaners? Read this brief article, as it outlines the actions of Monsanto against small food producers and farmer support. Perhaps what’s most frightening is the revolving door between Monsanto and politicians. From Secretary Tom Vilsack, to FDA Commissioner Michael Taylor (also a VP at Monsanto), to Ag Trade reps and the Supreme Court powers, Obama is lining the halls with Monsanto’s faces. This means that Monsanto big wigs are writing the rules and regulations for our food, drug, and farming practices.

Jail time for growing veggies. Did you hear about Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan? City officials threatened her with 93 days of jail if she didn’t remove her front yard vegetable garden, even though there wasn’t a law stating it as criminal to grow a front yard veggie patch.

We are a hungry nation. According to the latest data, 19% of Americans are food insecure, which means that they do not know where their next meal is coming from. That’s more than 1 in every 6. Statistically speaking, this means that someone in your neighborhood, office, and church are going hungry. The stats for kids are worse: more than 1 in every 5 children is going hungry. How many kids are in your child’s class? Divide that number by 5 and you will have a conservative number for how many of your child’s schoolmates are going hungry. According to this report, US is now second in the world, only to Mexico, for food insecurity among children. Sesame Street recently took up this issue, in an effort to raise awareness about food needs among kids and their families.

How did we end up here? Rather, how can we prevent things from getting scarier and protect our rights to food sovereignty?  National Food Day is part of the revolution to support healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane, dignified manner. We all need to be concerned about the plummeting welfare of our current food systems.

The Goals of National Food Day:

  1. Support sustainable farms
  2. Reduce diet related diseases by access to quality foods
  3. Decrease food deserts by expanding access to food, thereby improving food security
  4.  Reform factory farms to support humane conditions for farm animals, farm employees, and the environment
  5. Promote health through increased access to nutritious and whole foods
  6. Curb junk-food marketing to children
  7. Reduce financial subsidies to giant agri-businesses

Take the Power Back!

What you can do today and every day:

  1. Buy local whenever possible. You can join a local CSA (community supported agriculture), local food co-operative, or visit your farmer’s markets.
  2. Grow something, anything! Start with herbs or a salad mixture. Lettuce and kale are easy to grow at this time of year. Grow more if you can. You can join in on a cooperative space for growing. You can also replace some of your ornamental greenery (like shrubs) with food-producing plants (like berry bushes or grapes). Not only is it beautiful to grow edibles, it is greatly satisfying.
  3. Cook. Prioritize it in your schedule. Budget your time for it. Commission help from your kids. Cook cooperatively with neighbors or friends. Do whatever it takes. Don’t know how to cook? Take a class. Buy a cookbook. Watch a You Tube instructional video. Buy Mark Bittman’s book “How to Cook Everything.” It’s not hard, but it does take practice, patience, and a sense of adventure.
  4. Inform yourself and inspire yourself. Here  are a few great documentaries to put at the top of your movie night list:
  1. Urban Roots
  2. Food, Inc
  3. Ingredients
  4. Fresh
  5. The Future of Food
  6. Here is a guide to more excellent documentary recommendations. 

Important actions for us, the consumers, to explore:

  1. Right now: Watch this Sesame Street video on childhood hunger.
  2. What would it take for you to cook at least one meal per day for your family?
  3. Why do you think that buying local is important? Can you aim to eat 20% of your foods from local sources within the year?
  4. What simple steps can you take to consume better foods today, at your very next meal?
  5. Get some perspective about the demands on our food systems. Let it inspire you to start growing some of your own foods. Watch this video from the Center for Food Integrity.
  6. Speak out about your right to choose healthier foods and know if what you are buying is GMO.

Please support the movement. Visit the FoodDay.org website to learn more and sign the petition in favor of the mission. And on behalf of all eaters today and in the future, THANK YOU.

 Did you like this post? Please tweet it, Facebook it, email it, and ‘like it’ on this page. I appreciate your support. Share your questions and thoughts below. Your insights and questions help us all to grow.

 

To our food rights and choices,

Frances

 

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As fall ripens and cooler temperatures sweep in, pumpkins begin dotting front porches and fences as we prepare for Halloween.  Decorating and scary-evil pumpkin faces aside, these ancient fruits are a super power against chronic and killer disease.  Pumpkin has proven itself worthy of cancer-fighting powers, specifically in decreasing the risk of prostate, breast, lung, colorectal and gastric cancers.  Despite being a high-carbohydrate fruit, research shows that blood glucose control is improved when participants eat plenty of pumpkin. In studies with rats, the oils found in pumpkin seeds reduce hypertension from advancing. And, the seeds are also wonderful because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which means they are a fantastic means of increasing your daily omega-3 intake. (Read about how to fall in love with omega-3’s here.)

Pumpkins come in all varieties, including white, red, gray, green, blue, striped, and heirlooms, as well as large and small. Their flavors are as dynamic as their appearances. They can take a humble background note in casseroles and soups, or they can proudly hold the center stage with vibrant flavors in main dishes and stand-alone side dishes. By giving yourself the opportunity to explore with these ancient and veritable fruits, you’ll not only excite your eyes and pallette, you’ll also support your immune system, your skin and eye health.

Personally, I enjoy sprinkling a handful of pumpkin seeds over warm cereal (such as cooked millet or oats). I also regularly add them to yogurt parfaits, salads, and rice-bean-veggie dishes, such as kitchari.

Pumpkin is great in soup. Try this adventurous recipe for Pumpkin-Curry-Coconut-Apple Soup from Crescent Dragonwagon in her famed book, “Passionate Vegetarian”. If you are short on time, buy the stock and use a little apple juice in place of water. Just read the ingredients list to avoid using anything with hydrogenated oil, trans-fat, or MSG, please. Buy something with ingredients that you can understand and pronounce, like carrot, potato, celery, etc. You get the idea. Pacific Naturals is a great company that produces organic soups and stocks. (Perhaps one of my upcoming posts should be on ways to easily make your own stock. It’s always cheaper and healthier, and it is faster than you might think!)

Find great pumpkins at farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and pumpkin patches or pumpkin orchards. Remember, save some of your pumpkin seeds for next year. Pumpkins are simply delightful to grow, especially for kids, growing with giant enthusiasm, as if showing you how grateful they are for the opportunity, and require relatively little tending. Start them in the late spring or early summer. Plant raw seeds (not roasted or salted) in healthy soil and in a very sunny location. You can  train the vines to grow up alongside your home and onto your rooftop. Imagine what how cool your rooftop would look if dotted with pumpkins! If you decide to do this, you MUST send me photos, okay? Another important note is that they are up to 90% water, so pumpkins are thirsty fruits  and require a lot of water, and prefer to drink before the hot sun rises (before 11 AM). You can mulch around the pumpkin patch to reduce moisture losses, but you’ll still need to water them every day. Don’t skimp! Here is a charming and thoughtful article on how to grow your own pumpkins next year.  For the more adventurous gardener, try growing an heirloom variety. Follow this link for a free growers guide from a NON-GMO, heirloom seed company. Your prolific pumpkins will provide you with enough product to trade with someone who is growing another crop you didn’t grow this year. Growing will save you money, will nurture positive relationships through sharing and trading, and will sponsor a joyful communion with nature and traditions.

Do you have another pumpkin recipe or growing tip? Please tell us about it in the comments! Help readers to discover the tantalizing ways we can enjoy the exciting world of PUMPKIN!

Love you Pumpkin-Heads,

Frances

P.S. If you like this, please share this post with others you love via Facebook, Twitter, and Email!

Other Resources:

Vegan Pumpkin Walnut Bread

Pumpkin Waffles Blog

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With home gardens and Farmer’s Markets abound, fresh fruit and vegetables arent hard to find. The challenge often is what to do with a
The abundance once you have it. For many veggies, like zucchini, broccoli, chard, kale and string beans, ypu can quickly freeze them and eat them for the next three months from the freezer. First, blanch them and freeze on a cookie sheet before bagging them. This way, they won’t clump together into a hard mass when frozen. Check out this link for a more complete guide on freezing your favorite veggies.

These are the first harvest of our heirloom bush beans. After being blanched and frozen in a single-layer, they are now ready for bagging and labeling.

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