What Happens on the New Farm This Fall?

Most of you know we bought a new farm, near Mint Hill, this past November.  It was just a big open agricultural field with no buildings, homes, or even a single tree.  We have been working hard to make it a farm with both permanent fruit crops and vegetables.  It hasn’t been easy.  Here is what we plan on doing this fall and winter.  If I write it, I have to do it!

Blueberries

Blueberries

We recently had a well drilled, so one of our most important next steps is to get our irrigation system designed and installed.  This will be a game changer because the new young blueberry bushes, blackberries, and grapes will come into production much quicker if they don’t have to suffer through 100 degree summer days with no water.  It will also allow us to consistently have large amounts of vegetables for our CSA and market, without stressing about what is going to survive the next drought.  Currently, our Unionville farm has irrigation in some of the fields, but the new farm does not, so anything we plant over there is at risk.  This needs to be completed before the spring season comes back around.  It would be glorious if we got it finished this fall!

well

We also want to finish our design.  Where will the vegetable growing area be located?  Where will the shop be?  What about parking?  Where can we secure our equipment?  Can we get cooling over there?  I think we need a bathroom.  These are all a part of the infrastructure we need to put in place.  If we can at least get the design for this whole thing sketched out, we can start working on pieces of it one by one.

well3

The pieces of the design that I will prioritize will be: amending the soil, and adding irrigation to a large area for growing vegetables.  That may sound easy, but it really isn’t because we don’t have any equipment over there, and it all requires tractor work.  That brings up another priority for the fall.  

My sweet cousin is nice enough to loan us his truck and trailer to haul our tractor and equipment over there about once a month.  That arrangement has allowed us to farm over there this summer, but we need to solve this transportation issue.  We need a secure place to park and store equipment.  It is too hard to borrow someone’s truck and trailer to haul everything over there, every time we want to work.  This is going to be a pretty expensive problem to solve.  I think it might require a small building.  

Lastly, one area of the farm is absolutely covered in pig-weed.  I hate this weed and it is almost impossible to get rid of.  That area needs to become a parking lot and work area, covered in gravel!  If those pig-weed make it through that, then I might have to declare they have won the war!  

Wow! I feel really directed, now that I have it written down.  Get the irrigation installed, plan the veggie area, get a shop, and a parking lot!  It might sound simple, but it is going to be a serious challenge both from a time and financial perspective.  Head down and march on, we have veggies to grow! 

Eat your veggies,

Robin

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Refrigerator Scramble

Jay and I almost always have a good breakfast that includes plenty of veggies.  This starts the day off right, and helps ensure we are eating 7-9 servings of fruits and veggies every day.  One of my favorite ways to cook is to just scramble up almost everything I find in the fridge.  Here is how it’s done. 

photo credit @organiceater

Ingredients:

  1. Chopped onion and/or garlic 
  2. Chemical free sausage, bacon, or any leftover meat from the night before.
  3. About a cup of chopped mixed veggies (I like squash, tomatoes, banana peppers, and mushrooms, but any assortment of veggies should work fine. Use what you have)
  4. About a cup of washed and chopped greens such as kale, spinach, or chard. (You could also add fresh herbs)
  5. 4-5 fresh eggs
  6. Your favorite grated cheese

Instructions:

  1. Fry out the onions, garlic, and meat until it is almost as done as you like it.  
  2. Add the chopped veggies and cook until getting soft.
  3. Add the greens and cook until just wilted
  4. Add the beaten eggs and scramble up the whole thing.
  5. Top with cheese and serve.

There really are no rules about this dish.  Use anything you want in it.  One CSA member adds fresh tomato and balsamic vinegar to her egg/veg dishes. Try it!  I also never measure any of it.  I just chop up a bunch of veggies.  Mine is different almost every time I cook it, based on what I have in the fridge.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  This dish is hard to mess up.  It makes a really solid breakfast, that is high in protein and loaded in veggies.  This one will stick with you at least until lunch!

Eat your veggies, and your eggs, 

Robin

Refrigerator Scramble
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Ingredients
  1. Chopped onion and/or garlic
  2. Chemical free sausage, bacon, or any leftover meat from the night before.
  3. About a cup of chopped mixed veggies (I like squash, tomatoes, banana peppers, and mushrooms, but any assortment of veggies should work fine. Use what you have)
  4. About a cup of washed and chopped greens such as kale, spinach, or chard. (You could also add fresh herbs)
  5. 4-5 fresh eggs
  6. Your favorite grated cheese
Instructions
  1. Fry out the onions, garlic, and meat until it is almost as done as you like it.
  2. Add the chopped veggies and cook until getting soft.
  3. Add the greens and cook until just wilted
  4. Add the beaten eggs and scramble up the whole thing.
  5. Top with cheese and serve.
Notes
  1. There really are no rules about this dish. Use anything you want in it. One CSA member adds fresh tomato and balsamic vinegar to her egg/veg dishes. Try it! I also never measure any of it. I just chop up a bunch of veggies. Mine is different almost every time I cook it, based on what I have in the fridge. Don’t be afraid to experiment. This dish is hard to mess up. It makes a really solid breakfast, that is high in protein and loaded in veggies. This one will stick with you at least until lunch!
Bell's Best Berries http://bellsbestberries.com/
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Eggplant Rolitini

This is a recipe I got from the Cannizzaro Famiglia website.  Melanie Cannizzaro has her tomato sauces in the booth right behind us at Atherton Market, so we get to chat about what we are cooking every week.  This is a great recipe that includes eggplant (a veggie many CSA members have trouble with).  It is similar to a dish they serve at Rudy’s Italian Restaurant off Rea road, that I love!  I adapted it a little bit, simply by adding some chopped herbs to the ricotta cheese.  It is easy, low carb, full of veggies, and gluten free!

Eggplant Rolitini
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large Eggplant or 2 Medium EggplantsEggplant rolatini
  • Chopped fresh herbs such as oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley or all of them!
  • 1 8 Oz Container Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Beaten Egg
  • 1 Jar Cannizzaro Marinara or Arrabbiata

Instructions:

  • Slice Eggplant in very thin, lengthwise slices.
  • Lay out on baking racks or a broiler pan and sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix ricotta, parmesan, ½ of the mozzarella and the beaten egg.
  • Spray a small lasagna pan and fill with 1/2 of a Jar of Sauce.
  • Place 1 Tablespoon of the cheese mixture at the top of the large side of each eggplant slice and roll-up.
  • Place seam-side-down in pan. Spoon remaining sauce over each roll, and top with reserved cup of mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, or until bubbly.

Enjoy! 

Robin

Eggplant Rolitini
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. Eggplant Rolitini
  2. Serves 4
  3. 1 Large Eggplant or 2 Medium Eggplants
  4. Chopped fresh herbs such as oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley or all of them!
  5. 1 8 Oz Container Ricotta Cheese
  6. 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  7. 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  8. 1 Beaten Egg
  9. 1 Jar Cannizzaro Marinara or Arrabbiata
  10. Slice Eggplant in very thin, lengthwise slices.
Instructions
  1. Lay out on baking racks or a broiler pan and sprinkle with salt.
  2. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix ricotta, parmesan, ½ of the mozzarella and the beaten egg.
  3. Spray a small lasagna pan and fill with 1/2 of a Jar of Sauce.
  4. Place 1 Tablespoon of the cheese mixture at the top of the large side of each eggplant slice and roll-up.
  5. Place seam-side-down in pan. Spoon remaining sauce over each roll, and top with reserved cup of mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, or until bubbly.
Bell's Best Berries http://bellsbestberries.com/
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The Advantages of Being a Coastal Vulture

This is a guest post written by my offbeat husband Jay.  Love this guy!

Jay and Robin

On our recent visit to the coast, we discovered an interesting fact.  Vultures at the coast live longer than vultures inland.  What an odd phenomenon!  How could this be?  Same species, same genotype?  This fact precipitated many discussions.  With our perspective of wanting everyone to eat clean, fresh and local, Robin and I examined every angle.  First, was there a difference in their micro biome?  Did eating three-week-old possum, do more good for their micro biome than consuming armadillo on the half shell, or possibly last week’s fish cleanings that wash up on the shore?  This just begged for research, so research we did.  We performed fecal coliforms on Vultures from the mountains, on Vultures from the midlands and finally on Vultures from the coast.  At this point, since we had the opportunity, we had colonoscopies performed on all Vultures involved. (Non were harmed in this process.)  It has been proven that finding issues early is a great way to increase longevity.  Aside from a few small polyps and hemorrhoids, all came out with flying colors.  But back to our research, because you really do not want to see the pictures.  We took the numbers, massaged the data, analyzed the results and what did we find?  The micro biomes of all three groups were proven to be, by scientific research, biomes that would make any raw milk, butter culturing, kefir eating, kombucha sucking foodie jealous!  Differences in their micro biomes was obviously not the answer.  So what was it?  Was it exercise?  We headed there next.  If you take a Vulture and look at their territory, you could illustrate that territory as a circle.  That Vulture would fly around within that territory.  For the inland Vultures that is true.  For the Vultures at the coast, this is not the case.  Take a coast Vulture and place a circle to mark its territory.  By definition, living at the coast, the coast Vultures territory is one half as big as the inland Vultures.  Hence, they would be moving one half as much as the inland Vultures.  Getting one half as much exercise would lead you to believe that the coast Vultures would be less healthy than the inland ones.  Our conclusion on this point was that exercise and the relative amount for each group did not have an effect on longevity.

Back we go to square one.  Why DO the coastal Vultures live longer than the inland ones?  We decided to examine the diets of each group in relation to how much of each macronutrient was contained therein.  We are definitely on to something here.  Off we go with renewed energy to determine what the balance of macronutrients was in each group’s diet.  Finding the cause of the coastal Vultures longevity and being able to take that knowledge to provide the inland Vultures with longer, healthier, more productive lives really had us motivated.  Dietary content and samples were obtained from all groups.  Each sample was then sent to University of South Carolina and North Carolina State University for separate, independent analysis.  The results took forever to come in.  At last we had our answer.  Both sets of tests came back the same.  Mountain Vultures consumed 50% protein, 50% fat and zero carbs.  Midland Vultures  consumed 50% protein, 50% fat and zero carbs.  The coastal Vultures also consumed 50% protein, 50% fat and zero carbs.  This entire group was on board with the paleo lifestyle.  What really distressed us was their total abstinence of any vegetables.  How could they live without vegetables?  But we had to continue our research.  But where to look now?  What could possibly be causing this phenomenon?  Out of the box thinking was called for.  Perhaps it is not a surface issue.  Maybe it is an underlying issue that is benefitting the coastal Vultures.  What if, because they are living near the coast, they are eating the avian equivalent of the mediterranean diet!  As earlier stated, they are eating no vegetables, so where is the heart healthy olive oil coming from?  Wait, an epiphany occurred!  How could we have forgotten Vilhjalmur Stefansson, the Inuit and the Eskimos?  It is not the macronutrient balance, it is not the amount or type of vegetable, it IS that they are eating more fish.  Which is giving them more omega 3.  Which in turn is helping boost their heart health.  Eureka!  It is a proven scientific fact that Omega 3 helps you have a healthier heart.  So there you have it.  Another mystery has been explained.  Coastal Vultures live longer than their inland cousins due to the increased consumption of fish, ergo, omega 3 fatty acid.  A sense of relief came over us.  Until we realized that it is not right, maybe even downright unfair for the coastal Vultures to live longer that their cousins just because they eat more fish!  What can be done?  Something should be done.  It turns out we were not finished.  A solution has to be put in place.  A solution we would find.  Discussions occurred with many groups regarding a solution.  The USDA, EPA, IRS, WWE, WWF, the Bureau of Land Management, HHS and many more.  Many highly regarded experts were consulted as well, such as George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, The Rock, Brian Williams, and Al Roker.

This is the solution that was reached.  The government will require that big pharma, such as Pfizer, Merck, and Novartis, produce a topical spray of Statins.  This is the heart healthy drug that has been “proven” to reduce cholesterol.  The government has told us that to make our heart healthier, reduce our cholesterol.  Statins do this.  This spray will be required to be kept in every vehicle on the road across the nation.  Anytime an emergency happens, such as a squirrel, possum, raccoon or a deer, the driver must get out immediately and spray the animal with the topical statin.  Later, when the Vultures come to dine, they will receive a dose of statins, thereby reducing their cholesterol and making their heart healthier.  Problem solved.  

This is just one of the things we did while we were on vacation, but it kept us from being bored.  And the Vultures are really happy too.

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Pizza Stuffed Patty Pan Squash

It is summer, and the squash are abounding!  People seem to know what to do with zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, but are stumped by the strange “flying saucer” looking patty pans.  My favorite way to cook patty pan squash is to stuff them!  You can do this multiple ways, but pizza patty pans are one of my favorites.  Here is the basic recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 big patty pan squash about the size of your hand
  • 1 package of Italian sausage (try to use fresh sausage without chemicals)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • Bunch of mushrooms
  • 1 chopped banana pepper
  • Marinara sauce (I have been using a homemade sauce I get at Atherton Market called Cannizzaro Famiglia that is really yummy)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Ricotta cheese

Instructions:

photo 5

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Cut the top off the patty pan squash and hollow them out with a spoon

photo 4

  • Fry out the sausage, onion, mushrooms, and pepper
  • Add the marinara to the sausage mixture
  • Spoon the mix into the hollowed out patty pan squash
  • Put a big dollop of ricotta cheese on top of each squash
  • Cover each squash with mozzarella cheese

photo 1

  • Bake 40 minutes on a baking sheet with sides (to catch the run off).  Should be nice and bubbly when done.  
  • Serve it up with a nice side salad.  This is a great gluten free low carb dinner that is full of good veggies.

photo 2

Eat Your Veggies, 

Robin

Pizza Stuffed Patty Pan Squash
A delicious option for patty pan squash.
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Ingredients
  1. 4 big patty pan squash about the size of your hand
  2. 1 package of Italian sausage (try to use fresh sausage without chemicals)
  3. 1 chopped onion
  4. Bunch of mushrooms
  5. 1 chopped banana pepper
  6. Marinara sauce (I have been using a homemade sauce I get at Atherton Market called Cannizzaro Famiglia that is really yummy)
  7. Mozzarella cheese
  8. Ricotta cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cut the top off the patty pan squash and hollow them out with a spoon
  3. Fry out the sausage, onion, mushrooms, and pepper
  4. Add the marinara to the sausage mixture
  5. Spoon the mix into the hollowed out patty pan squash
  6. Put a big dollop of ricotta cheese on top of each squash
  7. Cover each squash with mozzarella cheese
  8. Bake 40 minutes on a baking sheet with sides (to catch the run off). Should be nice and bubbly when done.
  9. Serve it up with a nice side salad. This is a great gluten free low carb dinner that is full of good veggies.
Bell's Best Berries http://bellsbestberries.com/
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What Does a Working Farm Look Like?

Often we have farm visitors.  This might include CSA members who pick up at the farm, other growers, chefs, or even a farm dinner or two.  What most people don’t know is that whenever we expect guests, we go into a whirlwind of cleaning and tidying.  Farming is messy business, with long days.  Although it can be beautiful, it is rarely neat and tidy.  Here is a snapshot.

There is almost always equipment out.  This could include the tractor, maybe a few implements, and most likely the Gator.  All of these items have “homes” around the farm, they just won’t stay there!  We use them almost every day, and in the back of our minds, know that we will be using them again in an hour or two, so why put them away?  We are lucky to get them back in the barn at night.  To be honest, we don’t always.

There also seems to be boxes and bins all around during the harvest season.  We get busy picking and packing produce, and by the end of the day, these things are magically everywhere.  I tell all our employees to please tidy up before they leave.  My husband and I try to tidy up before we call it a day.  Even so, most of the time, there are boxes or bins scattered about.  Why put them up when we will just get them right back out the next day?

Packhouse

Tools are a biggie, and seem to magically move around on their own volition.  This includes hoes, shovels, knives, scissors, sharpies, screwdrivers, and pliers.  No matter how hard we try to remind everyone, including ourselves, to put tools away, we still find them in cubbies in the Gator, side pockets of the truck cab, sitting on the picnic tables, or even worse, left somewhere in the field until we run over it with a mower or tiller.  We all know the importance taking care of things, so it must be magic, for surely none of us would leave tools just lying around!

Trellising equipment such as poles, wires, and string also seem to end up all around.  In the summer, we trellis our string beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers.  It adds up to a lot of stringing and trellising, and it seems that every week something needs it.  That makes it really tempting to just leave the required items out in the field…we will be getting to it later in the week anyway!  

Barn

The biggest farm-cluttering offender is stuff in general.  We have different places around the farm where we collect things we think we might need later. You know that “drawer of stuff” in your kitchen? Well, we have that same concept, but it’s all over the farm:  stuff we may use some other time for some unknown purpose, so we can’t throw it away. Farming is like that.  You wouldn’t believe how often we need just a little piece of wire, a wooden pole or two, a T-post, an old piece of fencing, a shovel handle, or a piece of PVC pipe.  This is why when grandpa died, everyone walked around the farm and said “Holy cow! What was he doing with all this stuff?”  It seems like we might need it, so we just keep saving these things.  Sometimes we do need it!

Terri2 Straw

So now the secret is out.  The place is usually a mess.  It is a good thing we have a farm dinner once or twice a year, so that we clean everything up!  On those few occasions when it is all mowed, picked up, and put away, I stand in awe of how beautiful everything is.  We truly live and work in the Garden of Eden. 

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“Kitchen Sink Stir Fry” Guest Post by Organic Eater

Hello BBB readers! My name is Dana, and I blog as Organic Eater. I have been a member of Bell’s Best CSA for four years, and have loved (almost) every minute of it. That first year was a huge learning curve! Before I joined, I didn’t even know what kohlrabi or bok choy was, much less what to do with it. I have made a lot of changes in the last four years, with cooking being the biggest change of all. I tell you that to let you know, I’m no chef, so if I can learn to make stir-fry, anyone can!  It’s easy, but takes practice to figure out what YOU like in there. I don’t follow “recipes” (unless I’m baking), because I like the freedom to use whatever I have in season from BBB, so this will be more of a “guide line” than a “recipe”. 

The first thing you will need is a big wok or frying pan. I recommend you throw out that Teflon, and cook with stainless steel instead. This beauty below was only $35 at Target! 

 

IMG_0279

Ingredients needed for this:

  • Sesame Oil, (the light colored sesame oil, for high heat cooking). Other oils like olive oil could work, but refined will have less flavor and (in my opinion) taste better for cooking a stir-fry dish.  Whatever oil you choose, you want it to have subtle flavor and high smoke point.  (I would not recommend corn oil, as it is highly processed and almost always GMO). 
  • Sesame oil, toasted (the brown sesame oil). This is KEY! You will want to add this at the end, just for the flavor. I have no substitution for this, and have found it really is a major key to making great stir-fry!
  • Meats and veggies: this is where we can “clean out the fridge” and use up almost any veggies. Best meats would be chopped chicken breasts, steak, pork, or shrimp. Best veggies: broccoli, mild greens like bok choy or pak choi (basically same green, different spelling), mushrooms, onions, carrots, green peas, zucchini, and mung bean sprouts if you have them. 
  • Aromatics, Flavors and Extras: Ginger, scallions or onion (any kind will work, but scallions/green onions are especially great), garlic (real or powder), cilantro, soy sauce or coconut aminos (my preference, but only found in health food grocery stores), Chinese 5 Spice (found in the spice aisle), cashews and/or sesame seeds on top after cooking takes it to another level of yum!
  • Rice (or Cauliflower Rice if you’re strictly grain free) 

You are going to need to “get over” any fear of fat/oil used in this, and just use as much as you think you need, and with practice, you will figure it out. It will always vary according to how much meat and veg you have in the pan. Besides, the fat scare of the 80s was overrated, and we now know we all need some fat in our diet. And while you’re at it, get over that “brown rice is better for you” thing too. There is a lot of scientific debate as to whether or not more fiber from brown rice is the best benefit for everyone’s gut, so I say choose what tastes better to you and don’t eat so much of it. And here’s an extra bonus: if you cook your white rice, then cool it (fridge), then reheat it for this meal, you are increasing the resistant starch in the rice and it’s healthier! It’s fascinating new information!  Load up on more veggies than anything else, especially the green ones, and you’re all good! 

Cooking Instruction (there is no exact recipe, it just takes practice)

  • depending on what cooking method you’re using for your rice or cauli-rice, you may want to start that before you start your stir-fry. Rice is optional though, this is great without it!
  • start with getting your pan hot (med-high works for my stove/pan), then your sesame oil hot, then add your “aromatics” of ginger, scallions or green onion, and garlic. You can add Chinese 5 Spice here too.  Next you add your meat or veggie that will take longest to cook (like broccoli). This is where practice is important, because it takes time to learn what veggies take longer to cook than others. Greens (and cilantro) can be added at the end since they always cook quickly. As you’re cooking (constantly stirring) these meats and veggies, you may need to add more oil and aromatics, as you’re testing the taste during cooking. 
  • When everything has cooked to your liking, add a splash of toasted sesame oil at the end, while stirring, just before serving. 
  • add cashews or sesame seeds for crunch, and soy sauce or coconut aminos for more flavor, and salt of course, if needed. 

IMG_0283

RECAP/short version: For the dish pictured above, after the oil and aromatics got hot, I started with chopped onions, chicken and broccoli and mushrooms (I like my mushrooms well done), then added chopped zucchini and pak choy, and cilantro (I highly recommend cilantro!). I finished it off with black sesame seeds, the toasted sesame oil, and topped it cashews and coconut aminos. I definitely cleaned out the fridge with this one!

I hope you’ll try this, and then try it a different way next time. Experiment! That is the ONLY way you will learn how to cook. We all have to go through a learning curve to get comfortable in the kitchen, especially if you’re new to veggies/CSA life. Even after four years, I am still learning new tricks all the time! Got any tricks for us on stir-fry? Share them with the rest of us. And if you try some version of this, let us know in the comments. I post most often on Instagram, which goes to Facebook and Twitter as well. I am also on Pinterest and Periscope. I have LOTS more recipes, ideas, and encouragement for you to eat real food there. Many of my posts include our beautiful veggies from Jay and Robin! I hope to meet many of you at the next Farm to Fork Dinner or cooking class Robin has for us! We are extremely blessed to be a part of this very special CSA, and I am extremely grateful for all the hard work Robin and Jay put into making this the best CSA in Charlotte!

Eat more veggies, 

Dana, Organic Eater

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The Hardest Part about Eating Healthy

We all know we need to take care of our bodies and eat healthy food.  Why, then, does there seem to be so much confusion on the topic and so few people actually doing that?  If you ask 20 different people about how to eat healthy, you are likely to get 20 different answers.  It seems to be so confusing or difficult that many people give up and just decide “all things in moderation”. That way they don’t have to decide what foods are good for them, or bad for them, or deny themselves anything.  Other people who have given up on deciding will say “there are no bad foods”.  The reality is that some foods (more accurately described as food-like substances) are bad for us and should not be eaten, we just don’t want to do it!  It can be hard.  Here are the most common reasons that I hear people give for not eating healthy.  See if any of them sound familiar to you!

carrot dinner

a healthy dinner containing roasted veggies a salad and high quality meat

“But —- makes me happy!” To begin with, most of us have deeply held habits and emotional connections with food.  It isn’t just food, it is pleasure, both mental and physical.  The food we eat may make us remember the pleasure of our family as kids, maybe it was given as a treat for good behavior, or maybe food represented happiness or a celebration.  It’s not just food.  It is a deeply ingrained part of our life.  Certain foods make us feel good, for many reasons, and we want those feelings satisfied.

“But I love —– and could never give it up”. Another reason people can’t seem to stay on the healthy eating band wagon is because many of the foods we eat are addictive.  Bread, sugar, and other carbs are especially addictive.  There is a good reason why we seek these types of “comfort” foods when we feel bad.  They make us feel good.  The worst addictive offenders are processed food and fast food.  There are professional food scientists designing these foods to not only taste delicious, but to also ensure that you want to eat more and more.  It’s like food crack!  The average person is way out gunned in the commercial food world.  It is no wonder that we want it.

My sister in law identified a very common reason for not eating healthy foods.  “It can be a lot of work!”  Real food almost always requires some type of preparation.  Most veggies need to be washed, sliced, diced, and cooked.  That is a whole lot harder than just popping something frozen from the store in the microwave, or pouring some cereal out of a box.  My sister in law said it well when she said that she would be thrilled to eat healthy food, if only she had a personal chef to prepare it for her.  Most people can relate.  Life is busy.

“I can’t afford it.” Healthy foods can also be perceived to be expensive.  A box of mac and cheese or a loaf of bread doesn’t cost very much.  Grass fed meats, coconut oil or olive oil, and fresh veggies cost considerably more.  When I get that type of push back to healthy eating, I consider the value of feeling good and being healthy/active/happy.  You can’t be healthy if you don’t eat healthy.   Most of the degenerative diseases facing our society are directly related to the food we eat.  The cost of these diseases and the emotional toll are immense.  Your health and the health of the people you love are priceless.  Healthy food is one of your best investments.

“It’s too confusing; I hear something different all the time!” Some people honestly seem confused about what healthy food is.  The food industry will certainly try to convince you that what they are selling is healthy.  If we rely on the food industry to tell us what is good for us, then we will be eating processed boxes of this and that along with sugar and chemical laden bars of food-like things.  I prefer Michael Pollen’s method, and assume that if your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize something as food, then we probably shouldn’t eat it.  There go the Cheetos!  Things that are good for you are the unprocessed foods around the perimeter of the grocery store.  Even better are the things you grow for yourself, or get from a local grower.  Real food. This would include fresh fruits and veggies, as well as milk, eggs and meats from pasture raised animals.  I know, I know:  these things cost money, take time to prepare, and require cooking and cleaning.  They also might not give you the sugar/carb bang that is so pleasurable.  Now I think we are getting to the heart of the matter.  

Is it possible that most people don’t make a habit of eating healthy food because it is some trouble, costs some money, and requires some work and self-discipline?  Oops.  I said it.  We prioritize what’s important to us. 

Eat Your Veggies,

Robin

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Good Food is a Great Investment

Anyone who has read my blog knows I don’t spend money.  I even had a recent post titled Miss Minimalist.  I’m not always so tight though.  There are some things I think are worth the money.  One of them is food. I don’t hesitate to spend money on high quality local foods that nourish my family.  I buy my grass-fed meat from local farmers.  I either grow or buy fruits, vegetables and eggs from farmers at the local farmers market.  I buy real cream for my coffee and cheeses at the farmers market, from a vendor who sells products from a local dairy.  If I can’t find something from a local grower, then I will head to the grocery store and buy high quality, coffee, oils, avocados, dried beans and wine.  Here’s why:  

I care about how the products I eat and feed my family are produced.  I want to have a relationship with the farmer who grows or sells the food, so I can ask how it was raised.  I want meat products that come from animals raised humanely in their natural environment.  I want vegetables that are grown without pesticides, even if they have a few holes and are not perfect.  I want milk products that are from grass fed cows and goats.  This is important to me, not only from an ethical perspective, but also simply because food produced this way is healthier.  There is no way to speak to the person growing the food for sale in the grocery store.  I make the assumption that most of it is processed or raised in a way that I probably won’t agree with.  It is worth it to me, to spend a little more, to buy food I know really nourishes my family.   

Additionally, all these fresh local products absolutely taste better!  You can’t compare a fresh picked tomato to a cardboard grocery store tomato.  You can’t compare the taste of fresh eggs from happy hens raised on the pasture, to any other type of eggs.  Fresh cream and cheeses are amazing.  I do not understand why anyone would buy sliced fake cheese, when there are so many beautiful cheeses that are unbeatable.  If you care about the quality of your ingredients, then buying local is the way to go, even if it costs a little more.  

Onions Carrots

Rainbow Carrots and Green Onions

One of the best reasons I don’t hesitate to spend money on good food is that it is healthy and fits my nutritional stance.  Good health is priceless, and well worth the investment.  Fruits and vegetables raised by local farmers are the least likely to have pesticides on them.  They also are the freshest, and still contain most of the nutrients they had when they were picked just a day or two before I buy them.  I can also find yummy and healthy colorful vegetables, that are loaded with phytonutrients, and simply are not available in grocery stores, such as rainbow colored carrots, green and orange cauliflower, or purple broccoli.  Not only that, meats and milk from animals raised on pasture have a better fat profile than those from confined animals and are higher in omega 3’s.  All in all, I believe that eating local real food is a much healthier choice than anything I can buy in the grocery store, regardless of how it is labeled.  

Invest in yourself and your family by eating well.  Fresh local foods are a key part of our community, health, and well being.  

Eat your local veggies!

Robin

 

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123 Marinade

Guest post by Angel White

Angel White is a recent graduate of Johnson and Wales University with a degree in Culinary Arts.  After graduation she began working for Bells Best Berries managing the picking and packing of produce for our local chefs as well as our CSA.  She assures that anything we pick, pack and send to customers is beautiful.  She has great creative cooking ideas for the produce we grow and will likely be a frequent contributor to our website.  

1-2-3 Marinade for grilling veggies, meat and fish:

  1. Acid: Start with your favorite acid.  This could be fresh lemon juice, orange juice, lime juice, or vinegar.  The acid allows for bright clean flavors in your marinade.
  2. Oil: Choose oils with great health benefits.  Olive oil is great for your heart.  Coconut oil can increase energy expenditure, helping you burn more fat.  Grapeseed oil is full of vitamin E and has a high smoke point, making it ideal for grilling.  
  3. Lastly, add some great flavors such as herbs, aromatics (garlic and onion), and spices.  Cilantro, smoked paprika, and curry powder are all very different flavors but work beautifully together.  Don’t forget to add salt to taste.  Sea salt adds necessary minerals to your diet and enhances natural flavors of all foods.  

SFC_eggplant_american_labeledYour acid and oil should be in about a 50-50 proportion.  Add as many herbs, onions, and spices as you like.  Make this your own, and the possibilities are endless.  Try slicing squash and eggplant and marinating them overnight, then grill them up for a flavorful side dish.  

 

Keep eating healthy!
Angel

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