Howdy from down on the farm! We are nearing the end of our series on Simple and Easy Skills to Make you Grocery Store Free. If you haven't joined us on the journey please find those previous posts below:
Week 1- Simple and Easy Ways to Make you Grocery Store Free Includes free menu plan and more)
Week 2- 7 Reasons for Eating Seasonably Down on the Farm
Week 3- Learn to Eat in Season and Love it! Includes menu planner, recipe cards and Seasonable Eats Chart
Week 4- Food Recalls Make you Sick and Tired: Best Ways to Gain Food Security Learn why eating locally is so great!
This week we are sharing 5 great reasons to grow your own food, the essence of this blog series. This is the most productive and best way to kick the grocery store to the curb!
#1 Saves a Load of Money
Gardening may be done where ever your live. If you are living in an apartment plants may be grown in pots inside and out (on a porch), quail may be raised in cages for eggs, fish in tanks for more food. If you have a small city lot, whether you are renting or buying, square foot gardens, raised garden beds and container gardens work great. If you are blessed with 1/2 acre, 1 acre or 40 acres you can grow some or all of your own food.
Gardening is a low cost investment. You may spend as little as a dollar or two on seeds and use the ground or container that you have or you can invest money into garden beds, compost and tools. Gardening can fit any budget. Just keep in mind that it is an investment, that means a little more up front than what you might spend at the grocery store initially.
You get way more from a packet of seeds than your money will get you in the grocery store. Lets take zucchini for instance. Our family, when we buy our produce, go for the organic, locally grown produce. At the moment zucchini is going for over $3 a lb at our local health food store. This year, I (and yes I'm taking the credit for this) planted 17 zucchini plants. Most gardeners jaws are dropping right now. One plant is said to feed the world. Hand raised high here.. yes I'm an over achiever and I couldn't part with those starts that came up. So to say the least we have our share of zucchini. I weighed a single days harvest last week and we had 7.5 lbs. x $3 a pound would have been $22.50. I think we paid for our $2 package of seeds, don't you? We get that harvest about every other day for the last month. Lets say thats about 112 lbs of zucchini, thats over $300 of food in one month. A savings wouldn't you say?! I know what you are thinking, how do you eat that much zucchini?! Check out our Zucchini Recipe post for ideas. But also make sure you plant some other seeds too! ;)
Cooking from scratch with whole foods cuts your food budget down. Now one more step, growing those whole foods, is going to make your food bill plummet.
Money isn't everything though, lets check out some other reasons to grow your own food.
#2 Better Health
Now that you are eating all those home grown whole foods your health will be better for it. What do you get from better health? More ability to do things around the home because of better health and more time in which to do those things. Time that was previously spent on taking care of your health. Better health means less doctors visits and less spent on healthcare. It means less time lost from work because of illness. It means less time spent with sick children. All of that is money in your pocket. Not to mention saying goodbye to any health problems that may have been diet related. Its amazing what food can do for our bodies when its the right type.
We get nutrients from the garden that we can't get at the store. There are so many microbes in the soil that get washed off and sanitized when it goes to the grocery store. When we grow our own food there is a freshness like no other and a plant picked at its peak is more nutritious than one that is picked when green and then shipped from thousands of miles away.
Fresh air is great for our health. After a long winter no doubt everyone is ready to get out and about. What better reason than to go out and work in the garden for a while. Its an excuse to get even more fresh air. In times past people use to spend much more time outside than we do in our modern culture.
#3 God's Gym
Nothing like a workout in God's Gym (aka the garden or yard or barnyard). Thanks to Justin at Abundant Permaculture for the term (Earth's Gym), though we added our own twist to it. There is nothing like using a pitchfork to turn hay or clean out barnyard stalls to get a good sweat going. Or digging up potatoes, pruning plants, climbing apple trees for apples, bending over to plant seeds or pull weeds. And guess what? Instead of paying for a gym membership, gym clothes or workout videos this exercise PAYS YOU - in food! See reason #1 for growing your own food. Each and every gardening tool will give you a new workout and probably find muscles for you that you didn't know you had.
Gardening increases the amount of fresh air going through your system and with this exercise you will leave your work feeling ready for the rest of your day. It just clears up the mind and makes thinking much easier!
Gardening is also a wonderful workout for children, who are usually most willing to help any how! In reading about ADHD, autism and other details about the spectrum of learning issues, many of the therapies are simulating things that children would naturally do on a farm. Such as balancing on a balance beam vs a log to improve balance and body awareness. Pushing and pulling heavy carts of books to expend energy. It leaves me wondering..... if we returned to our farming roots would the numbers of children with ADHD, autism and learning disabilities decrease dramatically?
Sometimes it seems that we have lost so much education in our modern age. Sure we can google this and that when ever we have a question. But is that really knowledge? Or just being resourceful? When one grows their own garden they learn all sorts of things about the seasons, season changes, weather patterns, when to plant, when to wait, when to harvest, how to harvest.
Instead of learning about plant parts in elementary school gardeners learn them by growing the plant. Learning what part of the plant is good to eat, which part is not, how to use the plant, how to save seeds. Reading about the plant parts is one thing but working with them, growing them, cooking with them, is a whole new education that just doesn't come out of a book. It also sticks in the memory a lot better.
Gardening also teaches us about cooking and preserving. Knowing the characteristics of a plant and what kind of weather it likes or doesn't and how much water it needs, tells us about preserving that plant for future use. Do we want to ferment that plant, dehydrate it, can it, cook it, eat it raw, save it for winter or eat it now because it doesn't store so well?
We learn about budgeting too because we have to know how much our family eats of which vegetable, how long that harvest will last us until the next harvest, what to eat if it doesn't last. How much money it will save us to grow it or if it isn't worth our time and effort and we should plant something else.
It also teaches us about life and death. All things must come to an end and that is true with every garden. We are excited to start the seed in the ground and be God's help in watering the plant and pulling away the weeds. We watch it grow bigger, bigger, bigger until it reaches full maturity and fruits. Then we take our harvest from the plant. And then... the plant dies. Perhaps it will come back next year or maybe we just saved the seed. The off-spring of the plant which will live on the next year. Gardening can teach so many lessons.
Life and death are just one spiritual lesson that gardening teaches us. Our first beginnings were in a garden with Adam and Eve, an apple tree and a serpent. Our Savior was buried in a garden after His Crucifixion. At Easter we celebrate the Divine Gardner who rose from the dead. The entire old testament is filled with so many parables about the garden and raising one's own food. It was a way of life back then to have to work and garden for ones substance. While food is still necessary for us we have lost our connection with it through the use of the grocery store and mass production.
And he said: Let the earth bring forth the green herb, and such as may seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, which may have seed in itself upon the earth. And it was so done.  And the earth brought forth the green herb, and such as yieldeth seed according to its kind, and the tree that beareth fruit, having seed each one according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. -Genesis 1:11-12
Weeds can be a symbol for sin and vice in the world. When we pull that grass away from that squash or cucumber we are saving that wanted plant from another unwanted plant that will take away its nourishment. Sin is so much the same way. It sucks away the nutrients that we need, God's grace. Good microbes and earth worms are like God's gifts, they are God's gifts! They help the soil become rich and healthful to the growing plant.
The garden is a wonderful place to meditate on God's gifts and His teachings. Its a great stress relief and way to relax.
Alright, how do I grow my own food? If you have come this far with us in the blog series you learned that the best way to get started it to buy what you might grow and learn how to cook with that and menu plan around it. In our next post we will talk about how to get started with gardening. We hope that you will join us. The best way to keep up with our new posts is to join our e-newsletter (by the way you get a free cup of tea to boot!). You can do that here! Want to see what we are un to daily? We tend to favorite Instagram so if you aren't following us there then hop on over to our page and start following! Also keep up with both blog posts and Instagram goodness on our Facebook page.
The Hermit's Barley-Field
In the year 1757, during the Seven Years' War between Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, and other European Powers, it happened that a cavalry officer was commissioned to go forth on a foraging expedition in one of the provinces occupied by the troops.
When he reached a certain valley where he had expected to find abundance of corn, he discovered that the whole country as far as his eyes could reach was barren and uncultivated. He was about to return to the camp, when his eyes happened to fall on a hut almost hidden in the dense foliage of a thicket not far from the rough path on which he rode.
Going up to the door, he knocked, and it was opened by a hermit, whose hair and beard, white as the driven snow, showed that he had reached the evening of life.
"My father," said the officer, "could you point out to me any place in the neighborhood where I might be able to procure provisions for our horses?"
The old man informed him that at some distance there was a field of barley, and offered his services to accompany him and his men, and point it out to them.
When they had proceeded about the distance of a mile through the valley, they came to a field on which was growing a magnificent crop of the cereal they wanted.
"Ah," cried out the officer, on seeing it, "this must be the place. What a splendid crop!"
"No, sir," replied the hermit, "the field to which I am leading you is still at a little distance, but we shall soon now reach it."
About half a mile further on they came to another field, covered also with ripe corn, but not so luxuriant as the one they had passed. Here the hermit stopped, and pointing to it, said: "This is th field of which I spoke to you."
The men dismounted and cut down the ripe crop; them binding it in large bundles, placed them upon their horses, and returned by the path they had come. When they were passing near the other field, the officer thus accosted the hermit: "My Father, you have made us take a useless journey in bringing us so far, when here, much nearer to your abode, is a field of barley even more abundant than the one you brought us to."
"Yes, sir," replied the old man, "the barley in this field is certainly better than that which you have taken; but then, this field belongs to someone else, whereas the field you have harvested belongs to me."
The officer, struck with astonishment at these words, and filled with admiration at the conduct of the pious old man, uncovered his head, and bowed it towards him in token of his profound respect. He had observed with scrupulous exactness during his whole lifetime every point of honor exacted by his position, but he had never before seen an example of such admirable disinterestedness displayed by those among whom his rank caused him to be associated. "This is indeed the sublime fruit which the love of God and of His law produces," he said, "in the hearts of those who love God and serve Him perfectly."
The Catechism in Examples Vol. III
By: Rev. D. Chisholm 1908
Photo Credit: Bear Branch Farms
Listeria contamination........undeclared allergens...... lead contamination..... elevated lead levels..... metal fragments in food...... e. coli in cheese. SIX recalls in the last 11 days. Yes that is SIX, one recall every other day. It seems a little unbelievable but a visit to the FDA Recalls of Foods & Dietary Supplements website will show that the list continues on. One would really like to say that food recalls are a new thing and that they seem to be increasing but they are really an old issue. In the 1940's it was common for millers to add corn meal or sand to their flour because it was cheaper and gained them more profit. While these methods and issues are not new problems they have had a profound affect on all of society from the health of the individuals in our country, to healthcare reform, to taxation, political movements as well as affecting the morals of our business men and the character of the people in our country. We can regain some of our freedoms and increase our food security by learning to shop and eat local.
Thank you for joining us on part 4 of our 6 part blog series to Simple and Easy Ways to Make you Grocery Store Free. If you are just joining us please check out the following posts and come back to enjoy this one!
Week 1- Simple and Easy Ways to Make you Grocery Store Free Includes free menu plan and more)
Week 2- 7 Reasons for Eating Seasonably Down on the Farm
Week 3- Learn to Eat in Season and Love it! Includes menu planner, recipe cards and Seasonable Eats Chart
That brings us to Week 4, our post today! We are excited to share with you some information and tips on eating locally. Not only what it can do for you, your health and family, but how it benefits society and lastly HOW to go about eating locally.
"The sooner it is recognized that agriculture and industry form an economic whole with varied implications of moral, social and political character, the better it will be for the material well being of the nation."
Why should we eat locally?
The best way to change society is to change our habits and the best way to change our habits is by being education on the topic and than putting that education into practice. So why would we want to eat locally? What does that really mean?
Eating locally means buying our food, or growing our food, from a local source. That means instead of tumeric coming from an Asian country it is grown here in our country, or our state or city or home. Buying local means that our beef was purchased from a farmer in our city rather than from many different cattle farms in Australia, or multiple other countries. Or perhaps we raise our own beef.
Why do we want to do this? Lets check out 7 of the reasons below:
Local Eating Better for Our Health
Local food does not have to travel as far (from Mexico, China, Georgia ect.) and because it does not have to travel as far it contains more of its nutrients. An example would be a peach picked at our local u-pick peach farm in Oregon. It came right off the tree and is eaten or preserved within days at the peak of freshness. That peach contains a lot more nutrition than say one that traveled across the country from Georgia. Now if you were in Georgia, that would not be the case.
That same peach is FRESH. It not only was picked at peak of nutrition but it went straight into my children's bellies or straight into the freezer. It didn't sit on a truck for a week, or in a store.
When food is local we eat it in season. As we discussed in our previous post, 7 Reasons for Eating Seasonably Down on the Farm, when we eat foods in season we get even more nutritional value, its great for our pocketbook, the foods tend to be what our bodies need for that time of year and so on.
There is a larger variety of food when we purchase locally. Most people tend to eat the same items all year long, using the same set of recipes. Eating locally regulates our food by giving us in season food but it also creates variety in our diet this way.
Local food tastes better. It doesn't have to sit in a gas chamber to ripen like bananas that travel from afar. It waits in the orchard, or on the vine, or on the bush until the farmer knows that its ready to be consumed.
Our healthcare system would benefit from local food because consumers would be so much healthier for eating in this way that healthcare benefits would not be as sought after. Less people looking for medical attention means that medical bills go down and so do premiums.
Better for our Economy
'...every dollar of sales," says Growingproduce.com "....generates twice as much economic activity." A simple Google search of the news will bring up several articles on how money spent in the local economy increases more local economic growth. That means more jobs in our local areas. That means less people on unemployment. More families with food for their children. When we send our money out of our state, out of our country we only hurt our local companies and our local families.
We choose which companies we support and which we want to grow. In the land of capitalism we show support with our dollar. When we spend that dollar at Walmart for a China made product we are supporting Walmart, we are supporting China. If we spend that same dollar at the local farmers market for produce or we buy a handcrafted item we instead support that local and usually small business. We support the family or owner behind that business. We have the power to make decisions and put our money where those decisions are made.
Rather than complain that everything is cheaply made in China, that there are no USA made companies or that certain stores do not have labor practices we like, or moral practices we agree with, we can have an affect on those issues by the way we spend our money. Did you see that Target, because of protests over their bathroom policies, is adjusting their methods? While not ideal it does prove that when we withhold our money from companies that we can change the way things are done. Where we spend our money creates a reaction. We can direct that reaction with our spending.
"What goes on back at the farm has its repercussions in the city, and what happens in the city has its reactions on the farm."
Lastly local business and local foods promotes tourist business. When people are traveling or passing through, as we so often seen at the local farmers market, they are looking to take a bit of local back home with them. Many of us can probably attest to buying that t-shirt while visiting Yellowstone, Yosemite or the Grand Canyon but what about purchasing a locally hand crafted item. Here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon we are famous for our wines. What a local treasure to take back home and that money helps our local community. How about salt water taffy made on the Oregon Coast? Or some Oregon hazelnuts. Not only are these treats for out-of-towners but it boosts our local economy.
Makes us Stewards of Our Land
When our food travels less, be it 100 miles away vs 100,000 miles away or maybe even 10 feet from our home it saves a lot of waste. It saves on labor waste, fuel waste, packaging waste. All of that waste saved helps to preserve the earth that God put us on and made us stewards of. The earth is our tool and the better shape our tool is in the more it will work for us.
Locally grown foods also prevent urban growth. Now this is not said in the pagan spirit of "save Mother Earth", but because the more land that is available to farm the better it is for all of us. There is more food abundance, and a higher quality of life where there is more land to live our days on. As Pope Leo XIII says, "that which is required for the preservation of life and for life's well-being is produced in great abundance by the earth, but not until man has brought it into cultivation and lavished upon it his care and skill. Now, when man thus spends the industry of his mind and strength of his body in procuring the fruits of nature, by that act he makes his own that portion of natures filed which he cultivates..." "The farm is the native habitat of the family," as Bishop Aloisius Muench says and family is what our society is based on. Without the family unit there would be no society.
Eating Locally Creates Food Security
When our food comes from local sources it creates a secure border around us. The instance that comes to mind is my husbands great-grandfather who lived during the depression. He lived on what was known as a typical homestead growing most of their own food and trading their abundance for what they were not able to grow themselves. When the Great Depression hit they were not affected much because they had insulated their food resources. They grew what they needed. Not only did they not have to wait in food lines or go hungry, but they had such an abundance that they were able to feed their starving neighbors. What a great source of security, not just food security but all around security. How few fears they had when they knew that God was providing their food and they didn't have to worry about the store shelves being empty!
I bet they didn't have to worry about food recalls either. Growing your own food allows you to be the food inspector, for you know the story of your food. But we will get more to that in our upcoming blog posts. Even if you don't grow your own food but you are buying local you still cut out so many 'middle men' that you know much more of the story of your food and how and where it was grown. That right there cuts down on the amount of 'food recalls' you have in your home. There is no need to worry about floods, freezes etc. taking out whole entire crops because most of the nations "insert food crop here" was grown in that one location and as the farmer saying goes... the eggs were all in one basket. Local food crops even if the crop is ruined there is usually another local farmer with a similar crop and so not all of that certain type of crop was ruined.
And again, when we spend our money local we control what businesses we are supporting. If there is a business who has bad food practices, such as a restaurant known for being dirty, we don't eat there. That restaurant either fixes its issue or it closes down. That isn't so easily done when we place our dollars in large corporations.
Connecting to Community
My grandparents grew up in a time and small city where everyone knew everybody. In general that was a good thing. One could go next door to the neighbors and ask to borrow something. Today many of us do not know our neighbors. Houses are bought and sold and people move many times during their life times. Jobs are changed even more frequently. As for our food, we don't have much of a relationship with it either. We know it came from this grocer or that but many of us don't know even know the country of origin or when it arrived at the store. When we purchase our food locally we get to know not just the story of our food but also the people behind it. The families we are supporting with our dollar.
In our recent local purchases we have met so many people and learned their story that buying locally has brought us closer to our community. We are able to support those families and know that our dollar went to help that father work from home, that mother to be with her children, for them to be able to give their children a life on the farm. Or helping out a farmer that wants to grow food to better the quality of food for their customer. We all work together when we buy local rather than supporting a big box store with nothing but its profit and loss statement as its story.
Last but Not Least....
.... we get an education! When we meet the farmers that we are buying our food from, we get a local hands on expert to talk to and learn from. When we pick up our raw milk at our dairy share we get to learn all about the cows who are providing that milk for us. When we pick up our locally grown chicken and vegetables we get to hear the story of those items and the methods used to grow them.
We learn what is in season, when it is season, why it isn't in season. We learn how to cook it, if there is an abundance of that item we learn MANY different ways to cook it or how to preserve it. When we eat local, and by doing so with the seasons, we get an education in new flavors and textures. There are SO many things we LEARN by eating whole, local and in season foods that it would take at least one other blog post to contain them.
How to Eat Locally
All those reasons are fine and dandy for why we should eat local but now I hear you saying HOW, how do I find local food? There are several ways to find food that is locally grown and we will go over some of those down below. From the grocery store to your local farmers market and in-between.
Start with the Grocery Store
Many grocery stores, at least here on the West Coast, are starting to carry locally made and/or grown products. Some of the bigger chains such as Safeway, Roths, Winco, Fred Myer are advertising their locally made items with a little sign that says 'locally grown'. If your grocery store is not carrying local foods or not all the ones you are hoping to find make sure to check out some of the health food stores that carry produce. More often than not they will have the largest selection of locally grown foods.
Photo Credit: Salem Saturday Market
Next on our list would be to hit the farmers market in your area. That is the place to be when locally grown foods are what you are looking for. Most of the farmers markets will open early in the spring and while there isn't a huge selection of foods because of what is in season, it is local and it is fresh and the farmers are always glad to have you stop by. The farmers markets will usually go on into the early fall providing a great abundance of fresh local foods for a good portion of the year.
Not only will your find fresh veggies and fruits but there will often be meat vendors as well as bakeries, crafters, handcrafted cheeses, herbal items, gifts and more. Here in Oregon we participate in the Salem Saturday Market but also enjoy shopping the Silverton Farmers Market. Find those and a database of other farmers markets at The National Farmer's Market Directory.
Consumer Supported Agriculture
Photo Credits: Bear Branch Farms
Another great way to buy locally is to purchase a share from a local farmer. There are many farms who have CSA (consumer supported agriculture) programs where customers purchase a part in a farm, much like a stock. In return for their investment up front the farm provides them with a weekly share of the abundance from the farm every week. Essentially you are hiring a farmer to grow your produce for you. While not all of these are organic certified many if not all of them are grown without using sprays and with organic methods. Typically the cost per pound is less than you would pay at any grocery store for organic produce and there is always an exciting adventure waiting in your weekly box.
Another benefit of a CSA is that you get to know where your food comes from, you know who is growing it and most farms will give you a tour and gladly tell you about the progress on the farm. You also get the knowledge and expertise of the farmer. The picture above is of a share from Bear Branch Farm's CSA located in Stayton, Oregon. We have had the pleasure to get to know this family and see how hard they work to provide our local community with wholesome food produced using organic methods. Make sure to check them out and find other similar CSA's at the website Local Harvest and Eat Wild.
Another great local farm we use is similar to a CSA but we actually buy a share in this dairy farm. Wholesome Family Farm is a great local dairy farm who uses the shares they sell to raise healthy cows that produce raw milk. This is a great way for locals such as our selves who do not have the space for our own dairy cow to get a quality raw milk. Not only that but we get to support this great family here so that they can live a farm life style and raise their beautiful children in it as well. Our dollars support this family and we love doing it and knowing where our milk comes from. Did I also mention that the drive to their farm once a week is just beautiful and relaxing? Its a real treat!
Direct from the Farm
While CSA's and Farm Share's are direct from the farm there are yet other farm's who will sell direct to you either by way of an individual product grown on their farm or via a product that they make on their farm. Our little farm would fit under this category when we have an abundance of fresh veggies and/or eggs sell them locally as well as our teas that have ingredients we grow on our little acreage. From our little farm to bigger local farms like Mt. Hope Farms of Molalla, Oregon. This farm is run by a great little family with deep roots in the farming industry. They not only have a meat CSA but they also specialize in unique crops bringing lots of variety to the Willamette Valley and other parts of Oregon. This is another hard working farm family that we have had the pleasure of getting to know. Their dedication is amazing and so much heart is poured into their work. They make the most wonderful and flavorful fruit spreads that we have tried.
Other options for farm direct food might be road side stands anything from very tiny little farm stands to a little larger seasonal stand or even farms that have small farm stores which are open year around. These are all great and wonderful places to find local farm fresh food for you and your family.
Co-ops such as Azure Standard are great companies to work with. They tend to source wholesome ingredients from various farms and companies getting a bulk price on their purchase and passing that on down to their customer. Many times orders are placed just once a month or as often as once a week and then those bulk orders arrive at their destination and are dispersed to the purchasers. This is how we buy grain down on the farm and gives us access to a quality organic grain for our animals and ourselves. With Azure its more like grocery shopping online and having it show up for pick up or sometimes even delivered to your house.
Your own Garden
All of those beautiful options bring us around to what our next two posts will feature and that is growing your own food. Getting food straight from your garden! That means if you are in the city getting food from potted plants, if you are in a small city lot perhaps you are growing them in small square foot gardens. If you are blessed with acreage your garden is probably measured by acres or parts of acres. Whatever your space may be there is always options to grow and get food right from your own space. We hope that you will venture into buying local this week and join us again next week for learning the WHY's of home gardening. Thanks for joining our journey to wholesome seasonal and locally grown food. From our farm to your home we hope to see you again!
A Visit to the Country
May is a little girl who has always lived in the city. She has come with her mother for her first visit to the country. Every thing is new and strange to her. She has never seen real live chickens, or ducks, or geese before. She is just a little bit afraid of them.
Her cousins, Bessie and Frank, have taken her out to the grove to play. Bessie is sitting on a log in a cool shady place. She holds May on her knee.
Frank has just brought a tiny chick and placed it in May's hand. She seems to be afraid to touch the downy thing, but Frank tells her it can not hurt her. He holds his hand so it won't fall and get hurt for he loves his little chick.
After a while May sees that it will not hurt her and she thinks it would be nice to have a chick to keep. Soon May's mother comes out to see how her little girl is getting along. They start back to the house for it is almost supper time.
In the way back they pass the barn yard. May sees some little yellow balls and thinks they are little chicks. She runs to pick one up when she hears a dreadful hiss. The old gander was trying to save his goslings. May is so frightened she cries out, mamma, mamma, save me!
Her mother hurries and takes her frightened little girl in her arms. She tells her that the gander did not mean to hurt her. He was only taking care of his family.
The Catholic Education Series, First Book
+ Imprimatur Cardinal Gibbons 1908
Plant a zucchini and feed the world, the saying goes. Well my over exuberant self had to plant the WHOLE package of zucchini seeds because what if those pill bugs liked zucchini seeds and left me with none like my lettuce, like my beans? I didn't stop to consider that they might all grow. They might all turn into viable large, feed the world plants. And they did, but I couldn't dare throw them all out. What a waste! Well, not only are we 'feeding' the world with zucchini now but our whole family, at every meal and every dish. Time for some variety! Here are a few yummy looking zucchini recipes for your zucchini abundance.
Preserving Zucchini (freezing shredded zucchini) from Life Between the Kitchen and the Coop
Salt and Vinegar Zucchini Chips by Sugar Free Mom
Dehydrating Zucchini for Winter Use by Learning and Yearning
Fermented Zucchini Pickles from the Fermented Food Lab
Blueberry Banana Zucchini Bread from Made to be a Mamma
Zucchini Brownies from Crazy for Crust
Zucchini Breakfast Casserole from Simply Recipes
Side Dish Recipes
Roasted Garlic-Parmesan Zucchini, Squash and Tomatoes from Cooking Classy
Zucchini Tots from 31 Daily
Main Dish Recipes
Zucchini Stuffed Shells with Italian Sausage from Yellow Bliss Road
Zucchini Season Italian Sausage Boats from The Beautiful Life
Zucchini Pad Thai from Eat. Drink. Love
Zucchini Meat Loaf by Diet Taste
Mexican and Zucchini Beef from Low Carb Yum
Garlic Margherita Chicken and Zucchini from Healthy Fitness
Chicken Parmesan Zucchini Boats by The Wholesome Dish
Last but not least our yummy zucchini muffin recipe for those rather large, "missed you when I checked the garden yesterday" zucchini, you know the type. They are now going into one of the best chocolate muffins I've ever had. We hope you will think so too or at least have a new way to use those monster zucchini's!
Last week in our blog post, 7 Reasons for Eating Seasonably on the Farm, we talked about the reasons WHY to eat in season. How that benefits our health, the world that we live in, our pocket book and so on. If you missed out on that post please hop on over and read that one first. Today we are talking about the HOW of eating in season. I really think that the practice of eating in season brings the love of seasons to each person even if they only truly appreciate that vine ripe tomato in the hot days of summer. A tomato in any other season just isn't the same!
How to Find Seasonal Foods
When eating foods that are in season first we have to know where to find those foods. It can be as simple as shopping at the same grocery store that you currently shop at or as fun as hitting the farmer's market in your local city or visiting a local farm.
When searching out seasonal foods in your local grocery store you want to think about what season it is. Many of us know that watermelons grow in the summer as do tomatoes, we know that pumpkins and squash come the end of summer and into the fall ect. Many of traditions and our culture are based on these things so some of them will come naturally. You will want to look up online what is in season in your area and when. This great database by the Sustainable Table gives you a way to search your area and time of year for seasonable foods, just click here to check out their database. Usually the price of the produce in the grocery store will tell you how seasonal it is. Also many grocery stores are now placing the details of where the item was grown or placing a local sign near the price tag. If it was grown in Mexico it is probably not seasonal for our area. Look for those locally grown signs and stick with things you know tend to be eaten in the season you are in.
A great way to get an education, without searching online for what is in season, is to visit your local farmer's market or a small local farm. When you visit a farmer's market they will only have farmers there that are local and have grown all their fruits and veggies (even meats) on their farm. This means that they are not imported and they are only growing what is in season. This is probably the best and easiest way to switch to foods that are in season. To find a local farmer's market near you check out the USDA Local Food Directories Listing found here. You can also Google or look on Facebook by typing in a city near you and the words 'farmers market'.
How to Plan and Prepare Seasonal Foods
Now that we know WHERE we find seasonal foods what do we do with them? Many of us are use to eating what ever the recipe we are making calls for no matter what the season is. Hamburgers in the middle of winter with tomatoes and lettuce, no problem! Oh wait there is snow out on the ground... maybe those things are not in season right now.
Some of eating in season requires an adjustment to our mind frame and our eating habits. While it is natural to want a juicy watermelon in summer to cool you off, we are just very habitual people that we have to make a mental effort to change our habits. Which is why the prior post was about reasons for changing to seasonal foods.
Adjusting Foods you Already Love
Here are a few ways to adjust the foods you love to our current season:
#1 Make Your Favorites Seasonal
It is always easiest to start with those foods that are familiar to you and your family and just tweak them a bit to fit the season. Lets take a few examples and tweak them a bit:
Hamburgers- Keep the bun (make sure its whole foods!), keep the cheese, keep the meat (both local and grass fed of course) but lets change out those veggies for the season. In the summer lettuce and tomatoes are fantastic or maybe change it up and add some fresh basil pesto to your burger. How about the fall? In the fall use sautéed mushrooms and cheese. In the winter how about some fried onions from storage and some homemade BBQ sauce, preserved pickles or go for a veggie burger made from beans and rice. In the spring what about trying a cauliflower 'chicken' burger or adding grilled spring onions and herbed mayo to your beefy burger.
Tacos - In the spring, fried cauliflower tacos are wonderful and taste like cod fish. Add some in-season cabbage slaw and your good to go! In the summer some grilled chicken with zucchini and tomato salsa with fresh fruit on the side would be perfect. In the fall how about these Chipotle Quinoa Sweet Potato Tacos with Cranberry Salsa? They look great! Last but not least, the winter taco, how about a potato and chorizo taco? Or ground beef and lentils with preserved tomatillo salsa?
Lasagana- In the spring use a white sauce and fill it with chicken and spring veggies such as asparagus, spinach etc. In the summer its time for the tomatoes and basil to shine! In the fall a good butternut squash lasagna would be perfect and in the winter hopefully you preserved some of those lovely tomatoes into sauce, dehydrated some mushrooms and have fresh spinach growing in your greenhouse or cold frame, or even from the store.
Spaghetti- Springtime spaghetti could be a white sauce with lot of spinach and asparagus, in the summer again the tomatoes and basil will shine through and some grilled chicken or ground beef. In the fall its time to turn those zucchini into noodles or find a spaghetti squash and add to your sauce what ever veggies you have on hand. The winter is always about featuring your preserved foods or cold, hearty winter veggies such as squashes, hearty greens and root veggies. Mix it up a bit with a white sauce, use veggies as noodles, your stored or dehydrated spices and veggies. Get creative!
Salads- We eat these year around because our kale seems to want to grow year around. Our lettuce is totally another story. We always start with a base of greens, what ever is fresh, local, seasonal. We add what we have and there have been some combinations that looked strange but tasted great. Our travels abroad to Russia, Bulgaria and Rome have taught us a few things about salads! Like that citrus in them is better than tomatoes and fruit of any kind for that matter. Our favorite winter salads have apples, dried cranberries or raisins and nuts with an apple cider vinaigrette. Sometimes we eat that through the spring if our spinach is abundant and apple storage lasts that long. Eventually in the spring we welcome radishes, carrots, cabbage, strawberries, sugar snap peas. In the summer its tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, peaches, blueberries, cucumbers. In the fall apples start coming back and we tend to cook more veggies during this time when the weather is cooling off.
#2 Switch Out Ingredients for Seasonal Veggies
Necessity is the mother of invention right? Later this spring I found myself totally forgetting to buy celery. Well it wasn't at the farmer's market so what is a girl to do?! I found that using fennel in place of celery in many dishes didn't affect the taste much and sometimes made it more exciting. It is very similar to celery in its texture and form but has a bit of a licorice bite. I must say, in our curried chicken sandwiches it brought more life to it.
Another example could be onions. In the spring, 'spring onions' are ready to use, sub them in place of your typical storage onion (or what we might consider a regular onion). Chives come on a bit after spring onions so those could be used next in season. You could pull your onions from the garden early and use them as 'new onions' and later on use your storage onions.
Potatoes also do not grow year around but are typically stored for long periods. In the spring new potatoes or fingerlings will be more affordable than your typical baking potato. Start with the new potatoes and wait for the fall for your baking potatoes.
Take a look at the veggies in your recipe, are they what is in season now? Could you trade out something else instead?
#3 Try Something New!
Its ok to change up your eating habits and try something new. Many ethnic recipes tend to use whole foods that are in season because for most of them that is all they have avialable to them. A blessing in disguise if you ask me, they do not have to learn what is in season as we who are reading (and writing this post) have to work to learn.
Resources, Data Bases and More
A lot of eating in season is just eating what is available to us. The best way to know what that is to shop the local farmers market (or purchase a CSA), see and purchase what is available and then learn to make do with those options. That could be related to learning a language by full emersion such as when a student partakes in an exchange program. There is nothing like learning by diving in. Though even those students do their due diligence before they fly off to their country of choice.
Below we are excited to share with you some of the resources we use to learn to eat in season! Our favorite place to find seasonal recipes is on Pinterest! It is probably the main reason we use this social media website. Its just full of too many good ideas. We have a board of recipes for each season. Feel free to click on them and check them out!
Make sure you also check out the Sustainable Table's Seasonal Food Guide online! Its super easy to just enter the area you live in and then the season you are searching and up come a list of your seasonal foods! How awesome is that?!
Another great place to find seasonal recipes at the Sustainable Table
Download our Seasonal Eats Pack here for free which includes a menu planner for local, in season and whole foods as well as a list of seasonal foods and free recipe cards! Don't miss out on this great resource!
The Chicken's Mistake
A little downy chick one day
Asked leave go on the water,
Where she saw a duck with her brood at play,
Swimming and splashing about her.
Need, she began to peep and cry,
When her mother would not let her,
"If the ducks can swim there, why can't I?
Are they and bigger or better?"
Then the old hen answered, "Listen to me,
And hush your foolish talking,
Just look at your feet, and you will see
They were only made for walking."
But chicky wistfully eyed the brook,
And didn't half believe her,
For she seems to say, by a knowing look,
such stories could not deceive her.
And as her mother was scratching the ground,
She muttered lower and lower,
"I know I can go there and not be drowned,
And so I think I'll show her."
Then she made a plunge where the stream was deep,
And saw too late her blunder;
For she had hardly taken time to peep,
When her foolish head went under.
And now I hope her fate will show
The child my story reading,
That this who are older sometimes know
What you will do well in heeding;
That each content in his place should dwell,
And envy not his brother;
For any part that is acted well
Is just as good as another;
For we all have our proper spheres below,
And 't is a truth worth knowing:
You wil lome to grief if you try to go
Where you never were made for going.
Catholic National Reader
Benzinger Bros. 1889
Howdy from down on the farm! If you are just joining us, welcome to our 6 part series of learning how to ditch the grocery store and grow all your own food sustainably. Our first blog post in the series may be found here; Simple and Easy Skills Make you Grocery Store Free. Make sure to check that out if you haven't already and grab those free printables!
Today we are going to share some great reasons about WHY you would want to eat in season and WHAT eating in season is. The third post in this blog series will go about showing you the HOW to eat in season. We have some great resources and recipes for that upcoming post.
What is Eating in Season?
Eating in season means that we eat the foods that are harvested in the season we are in. Simply put we would not eat watermelons in December or pumpkins in May fresh from the garden. Instead we would be eating pumpkins in the fall (put up in cold storage or preserved) and watermelons in August or September depending on the area you live in. Another good example is tomatoes, nothing tastes better than a garden fresh tomato in August but those December tomatoes taste off and are never as flavorful as in summer.
"All things have their season, and in their time all things pass under heaven." - Ecclesiasticus 20:22
#1 Forces us to Use Whole Foods
Why should we eat with the seasons? We would love to share with you 7 different reasons. The main purpose of our blog post today though is to follow up with progress and ditching the grocery store and growing a sustainable garden. So the main reason to eat seasonably is that it first forces us to eat whole foods. If we are eating with the seasons we are not consuming things like potato chips from the store, microwave meals, fast food etc. We are cooking at home from scratch with real whole foods grown/harvested in the current season. We are picking which ingredients go into our foods from the type of sugar and flour to the type of potatoes we use to make our own chips and if we bake or fry those. For this reason its much healthier as well as more affordable. For when we do the work ourselves we save money by paying ourselves to do the labor.
#2 Trains You to Eat What you can Grow
The second most important reason is that by eating in season it trains us to eat what we will grow ourselves. If we eat a watermelon out of season in December we will never be able to eat what we grow. Watermelons love warm weather and it takes a lot more effort and tools to grow them out of season. By eating in season we can 'pretend' that we are eating from the garden. We learn what we would be growing in the garden if we were growing our own food and we also know what we would be harvesting. It gives us practice on the cooking and preservation of those items that we may grow later. It also gives us an education in gardening before we dive in and grow our own. Eating in season also gives us a chance to discover if we want to grow that vegetable or fruit in our own garden or if its not something that we would enjoy. There is no reason to grow what you won't eat.
#3 More Affordable
Eating in season is also more affordable. When fruits and veggies are in season they are usually in abundance. Take for instance zucchini. We have it in abundance down on the farm right now with 3-5 or more a day. The grocery store or farmers markets are also going to have an abundance and the general rule of supply and demand applies here. When there is more supply the price goes down according to the demand. It also costs less to grow zucchini in the summer locally than to have to import it from another location far away and so naturally the price would be less. This applies to all seasonal fruits and veggies not just zucchini.
#4 Better for our Health
Seasonal eating is much healthier for us because the fruits and veggies are usually picked at their peak. They tend to be more local and so they travel less. For these two reasons there is much more nutrition in an in-season fruit or vegetable than there would be for an out of season veggie or fruit. They are also healthier because they are a whole food and not processed. Eating seasonal foods, locally, provides even more nutrition because they are harvested at their peak. When they are picked at their peak they also have more flavor than those picked too soon. Did you know that bananas are typically gassed to speed up and control their ripening?
#5 Inspires Creativity
Eating whole seasonal foods tends to inspire some creativity in the kitchen. When you have gone through 10-20 zucchini, zucchini sautés just don't cut it any more. Many can probably attest to baking zucchini bread, zucchini cake, zucchini this and that and the other. By the way... have you seen our zucchini recipe board on Pinterest? Just incase.... you know... your like us and have lots of zucchini hanging out! Yum... I think its time to make some zucchini brownies now.
Any how, case in point. When there is an abundance of produce it forces us to come up with interesting dishes, ways to preserve them and use them in order to make sure they don't go to waste. And while that might seem like a trial, some of the best things have been invented out of necessity.
#6 In Tune with God's Seasons
"All expect of thee that thou give them food in season." -Psalm 103:27
This reason to eat foods in season is what started our little farm adventure. We are Catholics here down on the farm and the Catholic Church has what is called the Liturgical Year. Its the means by which the Church organizes the year and its devotions. Every Sunday's Mass has certain prayers that go with it and certain Bible verses and stories that are read and meditated on. There is also a day of the year in which each Saint has his/her feast day and that is commemorated in the Mass. This is what is called the Liturgical Year. Just as in a secular calendar, the Church's calendar has seasons and we call those Liturgical Seasons. All of the lessons are very much based on the cycle of the earth's seasons. In the late fall and early winter we have Advent, the waiting of Christ coming to earth (time before Christmas), in winter we have a long Christmas season, then in the Spring we welcome Lent and Easter. The summer time is referred to as Time after Pentecost or as Maria Von Trapp called it "the green meadow".
It is this Liturgical calendar that brought us to love and appreciate every season for its harvests, for its rest, for its work. We celebrate and do penance according to the season in which God has designed and it isn't only designed in His liturgical calendar but also in the world which He created. When we add eating in season to this we look forward to summer because the fruits are on their way, sometimes we look forward to the end because the zucchini is done (can you see where my brain is these days?!). God in His omnipotence has certainly ordained that certain fruits and veggies grow during certain seasons so that they are the most beneficial to us during certain times. For God has a purpose in all His designs. He created nutrition packed berries and water filled fruits to help cool us in the summer and He created many wonderful nourishing greens and cruciferous veggies to help our systems clear out after a long winter of heavy rich foods. God is so good in designing things for our benefit! Eating with the seasons brings us closer to God and His creations.
#7 Better Steward's of God's Creations
"And the Lord God took man, and put him into the paradise of pleasure, to dress it, and to keep it." Genesis 2:15
When God created Adam He created Him to take care of the world which He just made. As descendants of Adam, we are called to do the same and make sure that we are using the tools that God gave us properly. When we eat in season we are more likely to eat locally sourced food. More often than not that locally sourced food doesn't require the chemical usage that a food from a distance will require to preserve it. Those whole foods will not come, usually, wrapped in plastics and as much packaging had it traveled a long distance or if it was preserved for a long time. So there is much less waste especially if you compost or feed food scraps to farm animals. Less energy is used when growing foods in season than out of season. Less fertilizer and less water is needed. Eating in season is also very sustainable. When we use the left overs of those whole in season foods properly they can also build up the soil where we can plant again. A food system based on processed foods, grown abroad creates a lot of garbage waste, labor waste and resource waste that could be saved by eating whole foods grown locally and in season.
How to Eat in Season & What's on the Menu?
Now that we know and understand why eating in season is so healthy for our body's and minds, why it is much more affordable and how it helps us to be better at taking care of God's green earth, HOW do we do it? What veggie grows during what time of year? How do we cook it? We plan to answer those questions and provide some free tools for you to put to use in next weeks blog post. Please make sure to return for part 3 of our 6 part series!
Are you on our newsletter list? If not make sure to sign up so you don't miss the next post. You may do that by clicking this link, we are excited to have you join our farm. From our farm to your home we hope you have a blessed week! Thanks for stopping by!
If we could sum up our July in a few words I think they would be: Plant, harvest, eggs, zucchini, dirt, rocks..... and God's beauty. Pictured above is our 'coming soon' download in our Simple and Easy Steps to Ditch the Grocery Store series. If you haven't read part one you may find that here and the part 2 of 6 is coming early this week.
In the Barnyard...
Chickens! Now that we ferment and regulate their feed (thanks to Justin Rhodes and family at Abundant Permaculture) they know that I feed them and are SURE that I have food every time they see me. Or hear me. Or think they do! One was sure my camera was food and took a nip at it and me.
See that mean look in her eye?! Watch out!!
Ok moving on to something MUCH cuter. My buddy Tiny is the sweetest little lamb. We will see how this Farmer's Wife does when it comes time to butcher in the fall.
In the Greenhouse...
Transplanting round two of the pole beans hoping they survive the pill bug infestation.
Yep, that pill bug infestation! Timmmmmmber! I call them little lumber jacks. The Oregon extension office told me they only eat dead and decaying matter. Maybe after they fall over the bean plant... but it wasn't decaying when they fell it. Accepting all tips of how to be done with these things. A live trap so I can feed them to the chickens would be awesome. So far nothing has worked.
Harvesting spinach seed from the green house plants. I think we have enough for quite some time.
Harvest from our spring greenhouse clean up. Learning out the cabbage patch, it did ok considering it didn't look like it was going to do anything a month or two ago. Some bits of lettuce, green onions and the eggs.... those came out of the barn not the greenhouse. ::wink:: ::wink::
Around the Farm...
Our list of reasons for LIKING all the abundance of wild blackberries is actually growing though we are still constantly cutting them down and using every thing not made from chemicals to get them to go away. List of reasons we DO like them: #1 Pigmy Goat food = less animal feed #2 Blackberry leaves make great tea, check out our Bloom'n Hibiscus #3 Those lovely blackberries! Some work but they are worth it.
Red clover.... red clover.... send some Farmer's Wife tea right over! We love this time of year when the tea grows in our yard.
Bloom'n oregano! The bee's are loving this!
Lavender has to be the Farmer's and my favorite herb. Its such a pleasure to see it bloom and then to have that beauty in the yard. I have such a hard time cutting it down to dry it but here it goes! Featured in our Rose City Repose and Lavender Earl Grey Teas.
Oregano, rosemary and thyme from the yard going into one of our farm fresh meals.
Breaking ground on our up and coming tea studio!
After being sick for six weeks last year I'm finally making it back into the Mary Garden to clean it up and hopefully find a way to keep all the weeds (unwanted plants) out. Trying out some watermelon plants up here for now since we ran out of space in the crop garden.
In the Farm Kitchen...
One of our last salads with snap peas in it, good bye spring and yellow summer!
Sourdough Breakfast Braid featuring Mt. Hope Farm's Aroina Berry Fruit Spread.
Chicken Pesto Salad Sandwich with Kale Pesto and dehydrated tomatoes from last years garden.
Local grass fed beef, organic tomato sauce, garden fresh zucchini, and onion/garlic/mushrooms from the farmer's market...... all going into this.....
Farm grown lunch; eggs from the chickens, zucchini from the garden, Rosemary from our herb garden and cherry plums from our wild trees.
Kale Grain Salad with locally grown quinoa, wild black berries, locally picked blue berries and wild cherry grapes with a watermelon from the farmer's market.
Its been hot so salads are in order! This was a Chicken Grain Salad with kale and zucchini from the garden topped with tomatillo salsa from last years garden.
In the Crop Garden...
Pulling grass and remulching the crop garden to give the starts a better chance at out growing the weeds.
The tomatillos and zucchini are coming along. Also a few cabbage seed pods in the greenhouse.
The crop garden is filling in and looking good. The tomatillos are in bloom and so are the potatoes!
Our nasturtiums are blooming! We planted them in the crop garden to help with insect replant and bee attraction.
A baby cantaloupe! Sweetness is in our future...
Our first pickling cucumbers are in their jar fermenting. Its super simple and a great way to skip the heat of canning. If you would like a short video tutorial make sure to follow us on Instagram!
In the Farm Store ...
We are still spending every other Saturday at the Salem Saturday Market enjoying meeting new customers and sharing our tea. Pictured below is some sample tea, make sure to stop by and try a cup at our next market August 6th!
Our lovely sign carved by the Farmer's brother-in-law and our bulk single teas.
Trying out a new tea display and trying to beat the sun! St. Fiacre is on guard making sure they don't get too hot.
This lovely photo is from Elizabeth Looney at the ModernHippy87 on Instagram. We swapped some goods during the #trademethursday swap. She took this lovely photo of our end of the trade. She did such a good job!
Thanks for visiting us down on the farm for July's update! We hope to see you in a day or two with our newest blog series; Simple and Easy Skills Make You Grocery Store Free . From our farm to you home we hope you have a blessed week!
Welcome to our Family Tea Farm!
Howdy from our farm to your home! It is said that the, "farm is the nursery of the family," and that "the family is the nursery of the nation." We hope you enjoy your visit to our blog as we share with you the happenings on our little "nursery". Thank you for following us on our journey and watching us GROW! Read more about our farm HERE.