Hopeful Eating

I find myself sometimes getting lost in online conversations on internet forums or Facebook. There are so many controversial subjects these days, particularly among the parenting set–vaccinations, the breast vs. bottle debate, the safety of cosleeping, modes of discipline (or lack thereof), etc, etc, etc–and it is enough to drive me mad. I find myself often becoming so depressed by the fighting over what is right and what is wrong, and yet, I admit that there’s a part of my nature that gets sucked into these conversations and watching others argue. I watch, I become frustrated or angry, and then I find myself disheartened for the rest of the day.

Perhaps the most heated discussion I find is about what we’re eating, or not eating. There are so many hot button subtopics. Are GMOs safe for consumption? Are organic foods really the best? How can we stop the decimation of our environment created by these monocrop farms of corn and soy that are grown and maintained via the use of chemicals? How can we end the cruelty that occurs in overcrowded, unhealthy factory farms that are filled to the brim with thousands upon thousands of animals suffering together in such a small space? There’s rampant hunger due to the faltering economy. There are arguments over food stamps. There is wariness toward corn syrup, processed foods, additives, dyes, refined sugars. We worry about obesity and food related illnesses; we see malnutrition in American children. We worry about the origins of our food, the fact it is being trucked to us over thousands of miles, and sometimes, across continents. We have more and more people using the resources of food pantries. Our children are constantly bombarded by clever advertising that tries to encourage them to eat all of the wrong things.

It’s enough to just make you sad. It seems hopeless and futile. Where do we even begin to fix things? Where do we find honest answers? And will we find the answers in time to save our children and our future, our earth?

You can see why the discussions get so hostile. Sometimes, though, I feel like the anger ends up making things worse. We get enraged, fight with each other, just to win an argument on Facebook, and in the meantime, what is actually being accomplished? Is anything getting better? Are changes being made? Instead, we fight just to fight because we are upset, and we want changes, and we don’t know where to begin. We engross ourselves so much in the negative that we become blind to what reality actually is.

After a trip to a local organic farm, one where we receive our CSA, in fact, it dawned on me. At times, things do seem hopeless when it comes to the Standard American Diet (with the apt acronym of “SAD”). But, if we stopped fighting for a minute, stopped relishing our anger, stopped insisting that WE, and only WE, have the answers, we might truly see the good that is happening around us.

Change is happening. It is slow, it will take work, but it is happening. As I stood overlooking acres of organic farmland, I thought, how can we not see it?

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Organic foods are becoming more accessible to the masses. I can find them in discount stores, in the supermarket, at the farmers markets. More and more people are voting with their forks and wallets by demanding organic foods, and you can see this in the grocery store as the natural and organic sections grow bigger and bigger. Organic foods are the fastest growing subset in the food industry right now.

We might not have all of the answers regarding GMOs, but there are more and more people asking questions. Many are demanding that their foods be labeled. They are asking companies about whether or not they use genetically modified ingredients in their products. We want to know what is IN our food.

Along those lines, more and more are wanting foods made with simpler, and known, ingredients. We are looking at the labels before we buy a product. And when natural or unprocessed foods are hard to obtain, we are learning to make foods from scratch–mill our own flour, make our own bread, canning and preserving fresh produce ourselves.

We are becoming locavores. We want to know where our food comes from–we go to farmers markets, we join CSAs, we buy food directly from farms ourselves. We are buying our food in such a way that we can personally ask our farmers how they care for their livestock and how they grow their crops. Schools and businesses are adopting farm to table methods.

We are growing our OWN food. We are becoming gardeners, caretakers of backyard chickens and goats. We are learning to reap our own harvest from our own land.

I think we can become so fixated on the arguments, the worries, the problems, that we don’t see what is around us, and that change is happening. Change doesn’t happen by yelling at someone behind a computer screen. It occurs when we take action, take charge of our diets.

I have a lot of hope in what I see.

Thank You, Farmers

Dear local farmers,

I wanted to say thank you at the close of this season’s farmers market and the CSA year.

Thank you for waking up before the sun each and every Thursday so my little family could enjoy the simple abundance that can only be found at a community farmers market. Thank you for keeping your costs low so that we were able to bring home bright, fresh produce each week. Thank you for answering my inane questions (“What IS that?”), for dealing with rude customers, the “bargainers,” the line-cutters, the unpredictable weather, and the unruly children (sorry), and also for helping my little ones learn that the market is a place of wisdom, perseverance, and kindness.

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My daughter with a sunflower, given to her by our CSA share farmer at the market.

Thank you for reminding me to appreciate the little things–a late summer bouquet of flowers, the glory of autumn’s pumpkins, the sweet newness of a baby goat exploring its big, wide world.

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Sugar

Sugar

Thank you for teaching me the value of leaving my comfort zone by enabling me to accomplish things I never believed I could do. Thank you for the encouragement to learn traditional arts and the homesteader’s way. Thank you for the strawberries to dehydrate, the apples to can and preserve, the flour to bake with, the lessons on soapmaking.

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applesauce

Thank you for teaching my family about community. Thank you for showing me the importance, and value, of community supported agriculture (our CSA). Thank you for the festivals, the hayrides, the walks along your fields for no good reason, the gatherings, the classes. Thank you for giving my family the joy that comes in knowing where our food comes from and allowing us to participate in it.

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Farm festivities.

Farm festivities.

Above all, thank you for providing my family REAL food, nourishment, sustenance, that we cannot find in equal anywhere else.

Thank you for the inspiration you have given me to do better, live better, FEEL better.

CSA Updates

Sorry for the delay in postings…between sickness, our oldest son starting kindergarten, and my picking up a part time job, I’ve been neglecting the blog a lot. I haven’t even been taking pics of our CSA shares, either. I’m as tired of stock footage as anyone. My apologies. There will be lots of posts coming in the next few days, including a giveaway, so stay tuned for those.

For the last few weeks, our CSA shares have been exceptionally good–we’ve had lots and lots of squash (several varieties), zucchini, tomatoes and tomatillos, watermelon, organic whole wheat flour, heaps of sunflowers, peppers, apples, and beans. I’m sure I’m forgetting some items…that is the down side for not updating like I should. I’ve never been much of a fan of squash, but now I am OBSESSED with spaghetti squash…I feel like I am making up for years of lost time!!

So, for you foodies who are reading this…any good ideas for using tomatillos?

Tomatillo

Tomatillo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Catching Up on CSA Happenings, and a Bit About My Choice to Use Advertising

I forgot to post about last week’s CSA share, and I’ll post about this week’s, too.

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Isn’t this a gorgeous share this week? Last week, we had peppers, squash, zucchini and cucumbers, plus some peppers and onions and basic, and for two weeks now–sunflowers! This week added whole wheat flour, pattypan squash, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, cabbage, and nectarines and apples! So excited to use them!

If you have noticed, on the right hand side of my blog, I have started working with advertisers. I have had many blogs, and I fought this before because I couldn’t find a program that fit my desire to stay true to myself–I in NO way wanted random companies on my blog. I mean, what if they were dishonest or shady? I refused to post anything that I didn’t get to have a say in. I found a marketing center that has allowed me to apply for and then choose who I want to work with, so every advertiser has been a company I love and enjoy buying from or using. For example, we are Honest Company subscribers, Merrell makes my FAVORITE SHOES, Emergency Essentials is where we go to for our food storage, etc. You know that if I post it, I use it or know it. So, check them out!

CSA Share for July 18th, Plus Farmers Market Haul

We received a bountiful CSA share today, and plus, I snagged some summer goodies at the market while I was there. The CSA share included bags of yellow and green beans, broccoli and cauliflower, leeks, zucchini and cucumbers, fresh basil, kale, and–get this–wheat berries! We have a new wheat grinder, and I can’t wait to make some of my own flour! (Perhaps I should blog the adventure?)

In addition, the bright, juicy peaches were hard to pass up, as peach season is now upon us, and on impulse, I purchased a vibrant summer bouquet.

I encourage you to find a farmers market near you! There are some wonderful summery treats waiting for you!

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Slow Cooker Squash Casserole

(Original source: http://crockingirls.com/recipes/squash-casserole/)

Time to use up that squash from my CSA and the farmers market. Yay!

Take some prepared cornbread and crumble it into pieces, two cups’ worth. (As you can see, I had to make mine this morning. I greatly prefer cornbread from scratch, but for mornings like this one, a mix works–I recommend Jiffy or Krusteaz.)

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In a mixing bowl, combine cornbread crumbles; 2 cups chopped, yellow summer squash;

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1 small yellow onion, diced; 1/3 stick butter or margarine; pepper, to taste, and a can of cream of chicken soup (the original recipe says that vegetable broth can be used as well). Mix. (I did slice my squash, to make it easier…it’s just fine, too.)

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Grease your slow cooker pot.

Pour the mixture into your slow cooker.

Cover the pot, and cook on high for three hours.

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