Tag Archives: Eating local

Business recomendations

I don’t easily recommend businesses. But we have a section of products, businesses and services that are recommended. New additions; Darby Simpson Consulting, Simpson Family Farm.

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Eating local

This harvest was grown with no chemicals, no man made fertilizers and cost little to nothing to produce. 100% organic, and traveled just feet from my door. How far did your food travel today? What was used on it? Do you know where you food has been? How much are organic apples, tomatoes or organically raised meat, running in the stores these days?

apples

This is from just 1 hour harvesting from some of our apple trees. We have two 55-gal drums full of apples and only started to make a dent in the harvest.  More picking this weekend. Each bin weighs about 150 lbs.

Tomatoes

two plants one harvest. All this came from only two plants in our aquaponics greenhouse in one day. This will go great into the home made v-8. using almost entirely things from our gardens.

Barter meat

So we are not currently producing our own meat, other than eggs. But I was able to barter some meat for apples. Some really nice brats, and package of chicken from a local farmer (Simpson Family Farm). I literally helped raise some of these. I knew exactly how they were raised and where processed. I know the farmer. I have been “interning” learning the ways or organic meat production in return for labor.

So our meal tonight, home made pasta, brats, salad, and baked apples, I know where 90% came from. As I either grew it or had a hand in producing it. The exception is the flour for the pasta, and oils in the dressing. Majority of ingredients in the salad came from our back yard. The cheese, the local farmers market. Hopefully we will be making our own cheese in the near future. Croutons, I made from home made bread. 5 years ago I wouldn’t have thought all this possible. Today, I am thinking what can I produce next?

Herb Blurb – Garlic

Recently I wrote about homemade cold remedy, and homemade chicken broth. Here is the details on another great herb. Garlic.

garlic 2 garlic

Garlic is closely related to onion, shallot, leek, chives and rakkyo and has been used by humans for some 7,000 years. Originally from Asia, it has spread all around the world and is used in both culinary and medical applications.

Garlic today is available in many forms, including fresh, frozen, dried, fermented, (black garlic) freeze dried, and shelf stable products (in tubes or jars). Personally fresh garlic, or home dried is the best option.

Garlic is easy to grow and will grow in most areas of the US. While it can reproduce naturally using pollination from a male and female plant, most grown garlic is used by planting a clove from the bulb. One bulb can plant 10-20 new garlic plants. Garlic is typically planted in fall about six weeks before the first frost and deep enough to not go through many freeze thaw cycles as it will develop mold and rot. It is then harvested in the spring. Garlic doesn’t have too many enemies in the pest world, and is actually great to plant near other plants which are more susceptible. We planted garlic around the roses this year and have noticed a significant decrease in pests. You can also do this around more susceptible plants in your vegetable garden. Garlic can be places fairly close together as long as there is enough room for the bulbs to mature. It likes loose, dry, well drained soils in sunny areas. The best USDA zones for planting are 4-9 but don’t let that stop you from trying if you are outside that zone. If I am close to the zone boundary of a plant I will at least give it a try. There are many techniques using permaculture that can elevate your current zone 2-3 zones higher. Example you can get an extra zone using rocks around the base of a tree to increase 1 zone going from 5 to 6. Or a hoop house can get you as many as 3 zones. From 5 to 8.

You can not only eat the bulbs or cloves, but you can also eat the leaves and flowers. Both have milder flavor than the bulbs, but is still usable in many dishes. Garlic has so many uses in the kitchen they are almost endless. You can eat it raw, sautéed, roasted, infused in oils, toppings and that is just a few. My favorite (although my family hates it when I do this) is to roast it in a terracotta roaster. Take a bulb or elephant garlic, cut the top, and roast it. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, and eat right out of the peels. The reason my family hates it, is I already eat a lot of garlic. From adding to my scrambled eggs, with a little goat cheese and herbs, to minced raw garlic topping on my salad, to garlic herb butter on my steak. Eating roasted puts me over the edge. I start to ooze garlic out my pores. I smell like walking garlic for a few days until it works out of my system. Apparently can smell from a few feet away. I never notice.

As I said in an earlier post garlic is a component in the cold remedy. Garlic has been known to repel parasites, aid in digestion, antimicrobial, antibacterial, improve respiratory problems, and improve low energy. It has been shown to improve cardiovascular and cholesterol related issues. It has shown in some studies to increase good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol. Some studies have shown that regular use of garlic in the diet can reduce high blood pressure and even regulate blood sugar levels. During World War II it was used as an antiseptic. Garlic has been used to treat infections, and administered for treatment of chest colds, digestive disorders, and fungal infections such as thrush. Garlic has also been successful in China in treating AIDS patients with certain types of infections and ailments.

The sticky juice of the garlic has been used to glue glass and porcelain together, and even as an insecticide in organic gardening with diluted and sprayed over plants.

If you are looking to add garlic to your gardens, whether it is vegetable or ornamental gardens, fall is the time to buy. A little bit of garlic can go a long way. 1lb of garlic bulbs can yield 10 lbs of garlic next spring. If not wanting to plant garlic to eat, perhaps just plant as insect and pest control. It is also good against molds, and bacteria and viruses that attack ornamental plants. The less people spray they better off we will all be. While I think of garlic as a wonder plant/herb my family is not so keen on the herb. As my wife says “Everything in moderation, and honey…you over did the garlic again… you are banned until you stop stinking.” Yet I don’t get sick very often, and can eat all kinds of food not good for me (mmm fried foods). My cholesterol is low, and I have really low blood pressure for someone my age, weight, and dietary intake. Now there is an idea. Combine my favorite. Fried garlic in some way? Off to the kitchen to experiment…while the wife is still at work.

Homemade chicken or turkey broth

                I have started making my own chicken and turkey broth for the last several years. It is simple, uses what otherwise was a waste product, and is cheap. You all know I like cheap.

I start by taking a chicken or turkey carcass. This is usually left from when we have Thanksgiving turkey, or roast a whole chicken, or make crock pot chicken.  After all the meat is picked off, I place the carcass in a large pot, or leave in the crock. Add enough water to cover. Then I add the other ingredients.

                You can save your vegetable discards for the stock. Celery tops are great. You cut celery for eating or other recipes. Save the tops of the celery. if you bought the heart from the store, save the bottom too. You can both plant it, and grow your own celery plant (only during warmer months) or toss in the freezer for alter use, like in broth.

                Carrots. Tops and bottoms. Save these and add to broth. If you but the bunches at the store, or of you grow your own don’t throw them away. Use them for broth. You can use and should use the green portions as well.

                Onions are the same as carrots and celery. When you cut the tops and bottoms for other recipes, save them and throw in the freezer. I also use the onion skin.

                Garlic, tops and bottoms. Same thing.

Parsley stems, basil stems, oregano stems, and any other herb which you like, that you use the leaves and toss the stems.

                I will occasionally add broccoli leaves just for something different. You can add any number of veggies to the broth for your own tastes.

                Last I add some black pepper and if I have them some pepper tops and bottoms left over from other recipes. Depending on how the chicken was cooked I will also add some salt or season salt. Not necessary, but I will leave off, because sometimes I do not need salted broth.

                Bring all the ingredients to a boil. The longer the boil the more you get out of the bones from the carcass. I typically let boil 3-4 hours at least. If not covered you may need to add more water or even if covered may need to add more water to keep everything covered by liquid.

                After boiling I allow the broth to cool slightly and strain through a metal strainer. Something like this.

 metal-strainer

I will strain into a large pitcher. This makes it easier to can it later. While still hot I will put the broth into clean, sterile canning jars and pressure can it. You should NOT attempt to water bath can this. I am paranoid about food poisoning, so anything with meat, meat byproducts, or low acid food I pressure can.

Edible landscaping for fall

        Fall is a great way to put out some additional color and harvest more vegetables. While many plants are starting to go dormant or die off there are several varieties you can plant now that can give color and life to your landscape.

ornamental-cabbage-plant-2961292421436aN2 Raw-Kale

Kale – Kale comes in a few varieties and is cold tolerant. We planted a blue green variety and a purple variety in our front yard. This is mixed in with all the “pretty” flowers. While some varieties are listed as an ornamental you can still eat it. Some studies have shown the more color a plant has the better it is for you. I have heard that you can turn kale into a chip for snacking. It is also good for juicing, cooked, raw, in salads and is really good for you. This is my first year growing kale. Someone told me about making them into chips as a healthy snack so I thought I would give it a try. If nothing else it can go into the juice mix.

broc

Broccoli – While some of our lawn conscious neighbors shudder at planting broccoli in their front yards where all can see, I have no problem.  We planted some in the midst of our roses. The bold blue-green leaves I think will be a nice addition to the browns and yellows as other plants pack up for winter. They get about 2-3 feet tall and cover around 2-3 feet in diameter. Bonus we get to eat not only the crowns, but also the leaves AND you can re-harvest over and over. Broccoli is a crop that once you cut will return with another fruit. In this case it is the flowers trying to germinate and spread seeds. Once you harvest additional shoots will come up from the cutting. Cut several inches below the crown, at the leaf junction. The next set of crowns will be smaller but still edible. You can do this three or four times during the season. I recently discovered you can eat the broccoli leaves. I added them to my recent batch of V12. It’s like V8 juice but I added whatever I had handy. The 12 ingredients didn’t even cover any herbs I added.

ornamental-kalecabbage

Cabbage –I am not a big fan of cabbage. The wife wanted it. I think ever since I tried the fad diet of cabbage soup, I may have burnt myself out on it. She loves coleslaw, and having it raw on occasion isn’t too bad. I may even try my hand ad making my own sauerkraut. Fall cabbage can come in several different colors. We chose the purple variety and again a dark blue-green.  We planted this in our front yard as well intermingled between lily’s and roses.

strawberry

Strawberries – Strawberries are a fall crop? Yep, the everbearing variety will give you additional fruit into fall. We planted ours as groundcover in our front yard. They stay green almost the year, and produce fruit. They do well in almost any light condition. When fruiting our youngest ,2, races out each morning to see if any have turned red overnight. Sadly, as a result I only got a handful of strawberries this year. Between 4 kids I am surprised I got that many. Looks like I will be planting more in addition to the 300 plants this year. One of the nice thing about establishing strawberries as ground cover is you can get about 100 plants for $20. Wait until spring to plant. Your first year will not have much fruit. The years after that they will do well. Many varieties will spread on their own. Within a few years you can have a blanket of plants and they will choke out any weed species.

spring-sugar-snap-peas-trellis

Sugar snap peas – We had to put a line around our front garden to keep kids from running through while our strawberries got established. While planting a fall garden we thought, why not use that for sugar snap peas? It will give them something to climb up. So we will have a wall of peas surrounding one garden this year. Edible straight off the vine, super sweet, or we put them in stir-fry, and even cooked alone.

purple

Beans – With the ravenous hoard (our chicken flock) in the back yard we have become creative where to plant things. There is a chicken fence to keep them out of the vegetable garden but we decided to try planting some beans along the front of the house. This was a new experiment and see what would come of it. In between the hostas and the cherry bushes we threw in some bush beans. I chose a variety that yields a purple pod. These should go nice with the purple cabbage and purple kale. It will bring additional nitrogen to the soil at least and hopefully some additional color.

While we have many other edible species of plants in our front yard, which is what the neighbors see, this is about all we have this year for our fall crop up there. People often ask “What do your neighbors think of you doing all this?” The answer is, I don’t know. I have never stopped to ask them if it is OK to plant in my OWN yard. I think it looks nice, it helps reduce the grocery bill, and they usually they get some overage if we have any. But the bottom line is they don’t pay my mortgage, they don’t put food on our table, and we don’t live in a restrictive HOA. You don’t see me complaining to them about spraying their lawn for weeds, or fertilizing their lawn with toxic chemicals. That is their choice, and this is mine.

Backyard Gardening for a Sustainable Lifestyle – Class Scheduled

Summer is dwindling down and fall will soon be upon us. Come find out why this is the perfect time to start planning and even starting your productive gardens. Landscaping and gardening doesn’t just have to be about pretty flower garden or doesn’t just have to be about vegetable gardens. You can combine them. Come learn about aquaponics, back yard chickens, medicinal herb gardens, edible landscapes, water harvesting, permaculture and much, much more. Recent graduate from Geoff Lawtons Permaculture design course and willing to help you turn your space into a productive one. Reduce your grocery bill, turn your hobby into an income generator, reduce your dependency on pharmaceuticals. Live in an apartment, or rent, you can garden too! Come learn how. This talk will be a broad coverage of many topics, and more in-depth class on topics will be scheduled for interested people.

Meeting at the Franklin Township Civic League
8822 Southeastern Ave. Indianapolis IN 46239

Meeting to start 7 pm

Alternative Gardening

Indiana Disaster and Survival Preparedness

Some reasons to support local producers

Many people believe local means the local Wal-Mart or local big box grocery store. Eating and shopping local means shopping from items PRODUCED in your local community. Here are some reasons you should shop and eat local.

Because this originally posted on a weekend holiday I decided to run it again

Once the farms a gone you are a slave to corporate America. If we do not support our local farmers and food producers you will be at the mercy of whatever the big groceries and big companies throw at you. No diversity, no heirloom vegetables, no unique species. You get the same mass produced tomatoes, chicken and they can pump and spray whatever they want on it. You are held to the ONLY thing on the market. Without local support these local food producers cannot continue and you will be left with only a few options.

Know where your food comes from. NO, your groceries do not come from Wal-Mart, or Kroger. They are more than likely shipped from across the country and sometimes the world. Know the farmer who produces your veggies, your meat. Be able to see how it is made, taste the difference. Know that within 30 miles you can have all kinds of products, fresh, not shipped, not frozen, not sprayed to preserve the freshness, not harvested weeks before they it is ready. Not in feed lots fed all kinds of hormones, antibiotics, and GMO grains saturated in chemicals.

Know how your food was raised. Have you ever wanted to know how your protein source was treated while it was growing? Wanted to know what kinds of pesticides, herbicides were used? Want to know more about your food? Ask. Go to a farmers market and ask the source. A good friend and local farmer can tell me what pastures they grazed in, if any of the stock were sick, he even posts pictures of the cows and pigs out in the pasture. Some farmers let you tour their farms and really see how things are done. Why would you ban cameras on farms if you had nothing to hide?

How far did your food have to travel? Was it down the road or across the world. With gas prices rising, food costs will increase. Local farmers drive an average of less than 50 miles to get to market. Sometimes the produce is picked that same day as you get it. How long ago did a head of lettuce from Venezuela have to be picked to get from the farm, to the sorting area, to the transportation area, through customs, into another warehouse, then to the store? My eggs latterly travel 30 feet from our coop to our kitchen. If you have never had farm fresh eggs, you are missing out. SO much better than the crap they put on the shelves at the store. I will NEVER buy a dozen white eggs from big box stores again. There is just no comparison. Sometimes they can be up to 6 month old before you get them. Mine may be 6 hours.

Less money going to the government. The further away your food travels the more money you supply the clowns in the clown house (our governments). Think of the property tax on the land, the gas to harvest on the mega farms, the tax on shipping it here, the tax on customs, the tax on imports, the tax on warehousing, the tax on the utilities on warehousing, the tax on transportation to the store, the tax on the store location, the taxes for the utilities on the store, the taxes to the employees in the transportation activities, the taxes on the employees on the farm, the taxes on the employees in the warehouse and I am sure I am missing some. Yes all of this creates jobs, but it also drive up your costs. For a local farmer, things are much simpler. His land, his utilities, and his gas to get it to you. So why is buying local more expensive? There are no government subsidies, and it is the true cost of food. All the taxes from buying at the big box stores goes to supplement the mega farms. But the difference is, the clowns in the clown house get their cut too.

Flavor and freshness. Picked the same day or fresh to your door. You cannot compare the difference from big box food to local sourced. No additives, preservatives, flavor enhancers. Real food, and real simple.

If you cannot raise your own food, support the local farmers, artesian food crafts. I have not always been of this opinion. It wasn’t until I started going regularly to the farmers markets and meeting my local food producers. I learned how proud they are of their products and they should be. I through parmesan cheese came out of the green tube shaker at the store. I met a man from Italy, who crafted parmesan cheese and the flavor was simply amazing. Eating fresh eggs from my back yard. Being able to walk out my back door and pick anything and eat right off the bush. No washing needed, no worries. My kids can walk out and know they can eat anything in the garden without worries, and they actually fight over the fruits and veggies. Why? Because they are packed FULL of flavor. They have not been picked weeks earlier and then sat on a store shelf.

Last year I bought a ½ side of beef for around $750. We got steaks, ribs, roasts, hamburger, and even got organ meat as a treat for our dog. It averaged around $2 a lb. You cannot even get the cheap burger for that now. Steaks are around $13 a lb. We have been eating on this meat for almost a year and still going. I know the farmer, I know his practices, he talked me through how he raised his cows. Another local farmer invited me out to his farm to see how he raises his pigs, cows and chickens. I know my family is not getting chemical laden meats, and there is nothing “hidden” from the process. My wife met the butcher, as it was an older husband and wife who had been butchering all their lives. She got to custom cut, and process all our meat.

Every time I speak to a local food producer I learn something new. My wife tells me I have what she calls “the gift of gab” aka I can talk to anyone about anything. This is also why she always plans to spend hours at the market even though we only want a few things. I learn about new herbs, that not all grass is the same for livestock, I learn that what one market is out of, another has a surplus. I learn who has the best berries, who makes an amazing sour dough bread. I learn that after speaking to the artisan bread maker, he invited me back to their bakery to see how it is all made, and offered up a sourdough starter for free. I learn about raw milk, the benefits, the benefits of lacto fermenting foods, and that you can go get you kitchen knives professionally sharpened.

If you have never been to a farmers market, go check one out. They are an amazing place to learn. Remember the vendors are there to sell a product. But they are usually more than happy to tell you all you want to know about your purchase or potential purchase. Bring cash, but some do take cards. They must also either pass on the fees of accepting cards or eat the fees. Cash is always easier and better. Markets are usually on the weekends, some are held during the week.

Some reasons to shop and eat local.

Once the farms a gone you are a slave to corporate America. If we do not support our local farmers and food producers you will be at the mercy of whatever the big groceries and big companies throw at you. No diversity, no heirloom vegetables, no unique species. You get the same mass produced tomatoes, chicken and they can pump and spray whatever they want on it. You are held to the ONLY thing on the market. Without local support these local food producers cannot continue and you will be left with only a few options.

Know where your food comes from. NO, your groceries do not come from Wal-Mart, or Kroger. They are more than likely shipped from across the country and sometimes the world. Know the farmer who produces your veggies, your meat. Be able to see how it is made, taste the difference. Know that within 30 miles you can have all kinds of products, fresh, not shipped, not frozen, not sprayed to preserve the freshness, not harvested weeks before they it is ready. Not in feed lots fed all kinds of hormones, antibiotics, and GMO grains saturated in chemicals.

Know how your food was raised. Have you ever wanted to know how your protein source was treated while it was growing? Wanted to know what kinds of pesticides, herbicides were used? Want to know more about your food? Ask. Go to a farmers market and ask the source. A good friend and local farmer can tell me what pastures they grazed in, if any of the stock were sick, he even posts pictures of the cows and pigs out in the pasture. Some farmers let you tour their farms and really see how things are done. Why would you ban cameras on farms if you had nothing to hide?

How far did your food have to travel? Was it down the road or across the world. With gas prices rising, food costs will increase. Local farmers drive an average of less than 50 miles to get to market. Sometimes the produce is picked that same day as you get it. How long ago did a head of lettuce from Venezuela have to be picked to get from the farm, to the sorting area, to the transportation area, through customs, into another warehouse, then to the store? My eggs latterly travel 30 feet from our coop to our kitchen. If you have never had farm fresh eggs, you are missing out. SO much better than the crap they put on the shelves at the store. I will NEVER buy a dozen white eggs from big box stores again. There is just no comparison. Sometimes they can be up to 6 month old before you get them. Mine may be 6 hours.  

Less money going to the government. The further away your food travels the more money you supply the clowns in the clown house (our governments). Think of the property tax on the land, the gas to harvest on the mega farms, the tax on shipping it here, the tax on customs, the tax on imports, the tax on warehousing, the tax on the utilities on warehousing, the tax on transportation to the store, the tax on the store location, the taxes for the utilities on the store, the taxes to the employees in the transportation activities, the taxes on the employees on the farm, the taxes on the employees in the warehouse and I am sure I am missing some. Yes all of this creates jobs, but it also drive up your costs. For a local farmer, things are much simpler. His land, his utilities, and his gas to get it to you. So why is buying local more expensive? There are no government subsidies, and it is the true cost of food. All the taxes from buying at the big box stores goes to supplement the mega farms. But the difference is, the clowns in the clown house get their cut too.

Flavor and freshness. Picked the same day or fresh to your door. You cannot compare the difference from big box food to local sourced. No additives, preservatives, flavor enhancers. Real food, and real simple.  

If you cannot raise your own food, support the local farmers, artesian food crafts. I have not always been of this opinion. It wasn’t until I started going regularly to the farmers markets and meeting my local food producers. I learned how proud they are of their products and they should be. I through parmesan cheese came out of the green tube shaker at the store. I met a man from Italy, who crafted parmesan cheese and the flavor was simply amazing. Eating fresh eggs from my back yard. Being able to walk out my back door and pick anything and eat right off the bush. No washing needed, no worries. My kids can walk out and know they can eat anything in the garden without worries, and they actually fight over the fruits and veggies. Why? Because they are packed FULL of flavor. They have not been picked weeks earlier and then sat on a store shelf.

Last year I bought a ½ side of beef for around $750. We got steaks, ribs, roasts, hamburger, and even got organ meat as a treat for our dog. It averaged around $2 a lb. You cannot even get the cheap burger for that now. Steaks are around $13 a lb. We have been eating on this meat for almost a year and still going. I know the farmer, I know his practices, he talked me through how he raised his cows. Another local farmer invited me out to his farm to see how he raises his pigs, cows and chickens. I know my family is not getting chemical laden meats, and there is nothing “hidden” from the process. My wife met the butcher, as it was an older husband and wife who had been butchering all their lives. She got to custom cut, and process all our meat.

Every time I speak to a local food producer I learn something new. My wife tells me I have what she calls “the gift of gab” aka I can talk to anyone about anything. This is also why she always plans to spend hours at the market even though we only want a few things. I learn about new herbs, that not all grass is the same for livestock, I learn that what one market is out of, another has a surplus. I learn who has the best berries, who makes an amazing sour dough bread. I learn that after speaking to the artisan bread maker, he invited me back to their bakery to see how it is all made, and offered up a sourdough starter for free. I learn about raw milk, the benefits, the benefits of lacto fermenting foods, and that you can go get you kitchen knives professionally sharpened.

If you have never been to a farmers market, go check one out. They are an amazing place to learn. Remember the vendors are there to sell a product. But they are usually more than happy to tell you all you want to know about your purchase or potential purchase. Bring cash, but some do take cards. They must also either pass on the fees of accepting cards or eat the fees. Cash is always easier and better. Markets are usually on the weekends, some are held during the week.