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Some Like It Hot – Peppers That Is!

April 2, 2014

SlowMoneyFarm:

Who loves peppers? This is a crossover post from our farm blog.

Originally posted on Food, Farm, Life Choices:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA For many, a pleasant, peppery taste of sweet peppers in a casserole or salad is enough of a pepper taste. Others like a little more! If this is you, check out our “Hot Stuff” and “Some Like It Hot” perks/rewards on our crowdsourcing project ! With purple and early Jalapeno just a couple of the hot peppers that we have started, we look forward to some spicy treats this summer, fall and beyond.

Peppers offer not just flavor but nutritional benefits and health benefits.

As I was recently planting habanero and Hungarian hot seeds, and getting ready to transplant banana hot pepper starts, these define the idea that a little bit will do. Vitamins and capsaicin – what makes hot peppers hot – have benefits you can get without blistering your lips!

Pepper relish – chopped up peppers in pint jars – take center in the Hot Stuff perk –…

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In Food We Still Trust?

March 1, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt seems like every week a new “food issue” makes the news. The headlines are sensational, the comments more so.

They’re trying to kill us! We should know everything about how our food is produced (even though we don’t want to know until there’s a sensational headline!). We should go back to when there were less chemicals. The “factory food system” is toxic, comment sections insist.

Why is that the case at all? Yesterday on our Facebook page I touched on a quote from a book by Maureen Ogle called “In Meat We Trust“.

“In 1820, only about 7 percent of the nation’s 9 million inhabitants lived in a town or city.But from the 1830s on, the percentage of urbanites soared, and by the 1860s about a quarter of the then 31 million Americans called the city home. But those averages obscure an important fact that would shape the geography and structure of livestock and meat production for the rest of that century and into the next: urbanization was skewed to the eat. In Massachusetts, for example,60 percent of residents lived in towns. Five percent of all Americans lived in just three eastern cities: New York, Brooklyn and Philadelphia.” In Meat We Trust – Maureen Ogle

Even 150 years ago cities were changing the demand for meat (and other food) and where/how it was raised. They wanted meat, but not the raising of it or slaughter near them.

“The standard version of the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act, signed into law in 1906,goes like this: In that year, Upton Sinclair published The Jungle and exposed horrific sanitary conditions in American meatpacking plants. Outraged citizens demanded that Congress do something. Congress complied and passed legislation aimed at safeguarding the nation’s food supply.As is often the case with historical events,however, that account bears little resemblance to the facts.The Pure Food and Drug Act had little to do with meat, and The Jungle was the final straw, not the first blow. By the time Sinclair’s book appeared, Americans had been fretting about food safety and debating food and drug regulation for more than fifty years. Back in the 1880s, for example, when the dressed-beef men first threatened the power of the railroad-stockyard-abattoir stronghold, their enemies lobbed accusations of tainted meat precisely because they knew such charges would resonate with consumers already wary about their food supply system. Opponents accused the meatpackers of processing diseased cattle and dousing their beef with ammonia and other toxins.

This isn’t new folks – but sounds much like today. At this point, as documented in the book, they’d gone from butchering hogs and beef in New York City to raising it ‘out west’, dressing it in Chicago and moving the meat, not the cattle, to the cities. People went from using the entire animal to using the choice cuts, proclaiming the rest for lower class people. So for 150 years Americans have demanded OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAmore, wanted to pay less, doubted more, distrusted the food system and demanded the government do something about it.

They did. It’s been honed to where now issues are found even without people getting sick, or with few people getting sick in comparison to the hundreds of millions of people eating daily. Yet the same things are charged that have been said for 150 years. The same fear based tactics, the same distrust of the food supply.

When is each person going to get tired of being afraid and do something? Or, perhaps, the majority of people aren’t as afraid as we are led to believe. Still, food safety issues are ongoing. Food is not sterile, it can never be sterile.

That said, from farm to processor to consumer, we all must do as much as possible to insure that food is as safe as possible. We have opportunities and food possibilities those in the mid 1800s could only imagine.

Can we do better? Of course. May there come a day when, in an ideal world, no child or elderly person gets sick from food. May listeria never kill another unborn child. May we find a way to minimize risk and strive for perfection, knowing we’ll never attain the elusive zero.

If you’re interested in an in depth look at history and food, check out Ms. Ogle’s book. Definitely worth the read at how we got here, and a lot more in common with our grandmothers and great-grandmothers day than we might think.

Learn about your food supply and make food choices, not fear choices.

Spice Up Your Kitchen

February 11, 2014

Life – and meals – aren’t meant to be bland! Take a few minutes to consider spices for the kitchen. Here’s some ideas on using spices and a five spice mix.

Love Chinese food? Try this five spice mix:

Spices may have health benefits as well as adding a kick to meals. Enjoy!

Recipe Share – Southwest Stuffed Peppers

February 3, 2014

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We love peppers! As we’re preparing to start seeds for our 2014 shares, it’s timely to share a recipe featuring this tasty and nutritious item. Easily grown in containers, with thousands of options in both hot and sweet peppers.

Have kids? Get a rainbow of colors to encourage eating something that’s good and good for them! A little rice, a little onion, some cheese and ground beef or turkey or even rabbit and here’s a tasty meal that’s quick and nutritious.

Stuffed Peppers

4 sweet bell peppers, halved and seeded

1/4 cup water

6 oz box zesty southwestern rice mix, prepared

small onion, diced

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 pound ground beef or turkey, browned and drained

Arrange peppers in 9×13 glass baking dish, cut side down. Pour water in bottom of dish, cover tightly with foil and bake at 425 for 20 minutes. Leave oven on.Drain peppers then place back in dish, cut side up. Stir in 1 1/2 cup cheese mix, diced onion and ground beef into prepared rice mix. Fill peppers with rice mix and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Variation – can also spoon a little salsa on peppers before adding last bit of cheese.

The 3-1-2-1 Diet Review

January 30, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinding solutions to weight issues isn’t always easy. There’s low fat, no fat, raw, and a lot of other diets that, if they worked for everyone, would be the last one ever needed.

In full disclosure, I reviewed my copy on NetGalley. With that, the copying of many of the charts and things wasn’t possible, but several questions echoed as I read through. I first saw Dolvett Quince on the Biggest Loser that a friend was on. I don’t have a desire to go on the show, and don’t have that much to lose. Some, yes, to be honest. Like many Americans, desk jobs, injuries, illnesses and other things add pounds with the combination of lack of exercise and overeating. I’ve read a lot of diet books.The last one you’ll ever need books. I think of something Richard Simmons said decades ago – the first three letters of diet is die and we want to live.

I saw my friend lose an incredible amount of weight and the difference it’s made for him. Personally, I requested a preview partly for that, partly wanting to find a way to accelerate what I’m doing on my own.A few challenges loom- picky palate, some injuries and some personal issues. I think this is more than a diet book. It’s a lifestyle book.

It’s for this reason I’d highly recommend it. Personally I need to find a way to tweak some things,but it’s doable. It focuses on what you can do and have rather than a long list of forbidden never-have-again items. It has common sense things that, yes, perhaps have appeared in other books but – and this is a big but – it’s also implementing mental preparation. Those messages we tell ourselves, old tapes or things we allow to discourage and give up.

I might go so far to include those who look at it for 10 minutes, discount it without trying it and return it. If we buy a book to get advice, it seems like giving an honest chance for it to work or not is fair. Spending $20-30 isn’t going to result in toning up and losing weight. A lot of people have $20-30 but don’t lose the weight because they don’t want it badly enough. If we want something enough we find a way to make it happen, no excuses. I could easily toss it aside to and say well this and this and this won’t work for me. OK – what about the other 250 pages?!

So I’ll get a copy in print and will give it a try. What’s the worst that can happen…it doesn’t work? I spend 30 hours a month getting exercise that has helped others? Well, it seems if that’s the case then I’m no worse off than I  am now. I liked the book and will give it a try.

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Can You Trust Online Reviews?

January 28, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe believe in transparency.  Have a question? Ask! We’ll answer it. We know many people who are the same way. As I’m preparing tonight to host the Twitter #agchat of from field to plate agvocacy, it strikes me that in today’s world, we can’t totally rely on online reviews.

You see, food has become political. Reviews are supposed to be a measure of satisfaction (or not) with the service or product. It’s supposed to come from customers.

Today our friends at John’s Custom Meats – who not only farm but are the small business processors that allow places like us to do what we do and be able to sell to others – have received some negative reviews online from people that were never customers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnimal rights harassment, from vegetarians and vegans who not only don’t eat meat (so couldn’t have been customers)  but don’t want you to eat it either. These are good people. The kind of people that aim for humane care of those animals brought to them and a quick end. They process the meat on a custom basis. Recently, in a means to reach out and serve more than just their local community, they opened an online store.

We’ve eaten meat from their place. We’ve gotten to know Amy and more recently John (online), and will entrust them with our animals to turn them into meat when we get to that level. They aren’t a huge operation, and don’t have the employee help of Tyson’s and Smithfield’s. They just have customers, many who are not online.

Without places like John’s Custom Meats, those wanting direct purchase USDA options have none. Without processors as a link, there’s much less in the world of food choices.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd with people leaving ‘reviews’ who are against the slaughter of animals for any reason, it shows that reviews are no longer an accurate means of whether you should support a place or not. There are people in totally different areas that log onto websites solely to talk trash about a place they don’t support on principle.

That can be misleading for people looking for an honest review when facing dozens of dishonest comments that you don’t know if it’s true or not. Unfortunately, people aren’t always nice. They target farms, processors, stores and people they don’t like. It distorts the view would be customers see, and decreases their income. After a while they close, no longer able to afford the cost of business.

What does that do if you want to purchase from one of the farms they serve? Farmer’s markets, restaurants, direct purchase, CSAs – all of those customers rely on John’s Custom Meats. Other processors across the country are not that different.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOf course, this isn’t the only place targeted with smear campaigns. Activists have vowed to stop everything from hunting to medical research to food to entertainment that uses animals. They have threatened children and teens, directly putting them at risk printing addresses and wishing unspeakable acts of violence which I won’t repeat here.

So when you look at online reviews, consider your own experience. Try a place before looking the way based on an online review that may or may not be true. Talk to them directly. Remember that they can only process what’s brought to them – if it’s not the quality  wanted, that’s on the farm that raised it.

Shopping and making contacts online is a great way to empower your food choices. Those places serving up choices need your support. Don’t withdraw it because of a review that isn’t true.

Preserve food choices for all.

Sadly, not everyone is who they seem to be, or as honest as they appear. Food choices depend on all links of the food chain connecting. Please don’t help cut the links.

Guest Blog: Jenny Dewey – Where Your Steak Comes From

January 23, 2014

SlowMoneyFarm:

Some good info on beef and buying direct. With prices going up, buying direct from the farm may be an option for many.

Originally posted on The Beef Jar:

Chico Locker and Sausage Company in Chico, CA is an icon to foodies, hunters and ranchers alike. The Locker is a family business run by the Dewey family. And let me tell you what, the Deweys know meat, and are renowned for their quality and quantity of meat and meat products. They are very active in the community, especially in the agricultural community. In fact, one of my first memories of Dave Dewey is when he custom exempt slaughtered a beef for us at a 4-H beef meeting. Dave is the processor in the blog that caused me all the drama. Jenny is Dave’s daughter, she very graciously dedicated her talent, knowledge and time into writing one of the most comprehensive blogs I’ve read recently. I hope Jenny will guest blog for me again, I learned so much! Also if you get the chance, stop in and check out…

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