So Confusing…Why We Are Locavores.

 flat_belly_dietEvery day I encounter people who are trying to be healthy, eat right and live responsibly.  It seems that everyone has an opinion about what is the best thing to eat. Every day there is a new thing…8 foods experts won’t eat, foods for a flat belly, no carbs, high protein vs. no meat, high fat vs. no fat, organic vs. non-organic, non-GMO…the list goes on and on. Then there are those who think we should just be drinking green super drinks.
I have recently been hearing a lot of people talk about “Eating Clean” . Clean eating basically says avoid the processed foods and stick to whole foods…that seems simple woman_shoppingenough…BUT I noticed two of the eight foods experts won’t eat on the clean foods list. So what should we do?
At Big Oak Ridge we decided to adopt the Locavore stance. A locavore is a person who only eats what is grown or produced within 100 miles of their home. Granted that leaves us with a few issues since olives do not grow in Northwestern Pennsylvania. So we have devised the Big Oak Ridge Philosophy.
1. We will grow or produce as much food as we can on our farm.
2. We will search for organic and non-GMO products within 100 miles of our home.
3. If a product is not grown in our area, we will look for products: First) in Pennsylvania, Second) on the East Coast and Third) within the United States.PA_BuyLocal
4. If it is impossible to get the product in the US (ei: coffee, coconut oil), we will look for an organic, Fair Trade source.FairTrade
5. We are NOT making a religion of this and will not turn up our noses at parties and in other’s homes…we will be gracious and thankful for the hospitality of others.

This life style has caused us to view food differently. Realizing that growing and preserving food is a huge amount of work, we have come to value food as fuel and not waste this precious resource. We also eat fewer grain products. Grain is very difficult to grow on a small scale and non-GMO sources of grain are  costly. Plus many of the grain products we eat require the addition of fats, sugars and leavening…things we try to avoid because they involve extra processing to produce.

 We have learned to adapt many of our favorite foods to local options and actually find we prefer these new foods to the old, processed, grocery store, versions we previously consumed.

I’m sure everyone has an opinion why their food choices are better, healthier, easier and more tasty…but for us, this is our choice…for sustainability, environmental stewardship and our own food peace of mind.

Putting Your Garden to Bed.

gardenBEDIn the past couple of weeks I have had several newbie gardeners ask me what to do with their garden now that the vegetables are picked and the colder weather is coming. Today I heard that freezing temperatures and snow are expected in our area this week, so I guess it’s time.
Because we grow in raised beds, we do not have to wait until everything is harvested to begin cleaning up our garden; we are able to work up one or two beds at a time, but the basic principles are the same.
1. Clean up the garden.
Pick the last of your late crops or if you plan to overwinter some things…get your cloches or mulch in place. Remove all of the old plants and any rotten produce to prevent any diseases from spreading into next year’s garden. Pull up the weeds and/or till to prevent the weed seeds from sprouting. Now is also a good time to add some fresh manure, leaves or other organic matter-this will compost down over the winter and replenish any nutrients lost this year. Roll up your pea fence, pull up the tomato stakes and put away all of your row markers.
2. Time to tally.
Now is a good time to take stock of how your garden produced and begin to plan for next year. These are the things I make notes on from year to year: How much seed did I use? How many beds did I plant? What did each bed produce? Each spring I make a map of my garden and keep track of how many beds I planted in each particular vegetable/fruit and how many seeds or plants it took to fill each bed. As I harvest my produce, I write on my calendar how many bushels/pounds of produce I picked and how many jars/bags I was able to preserve for the winter. At the end of the season, I tally up the total amount of food in my larder and freezers along with the amounts. This helps me to apportion out the produce for our monthly meals and I don’t end up with only beets and pickles left in March.  🙂  This also helps me to plan for next year when I am ordering seeds, planting my sets and deciding if I need to build more beds.
3. Check your equipment.
Do you need a better fence next year? Did your shovel break while digging those last potatoes? Is the gasket worn out on your pressure canner? This is the time to go over your equipment and decide what you need to repair or replace before next growing season.
Even though we would all like to forget the work of the planting, weeding, watering harvesting, and preserving there are still a few more chores to be done before the first seed catalog arrives in November.

Urban Sustainability

Lets face it – cities aren’t going away any time soon. One of the things we small scale farmers need to learn, is how to “co-exist” with our urban counterparts. This is an initiative that I find interesting.

Secure in your person and property – Joel Salatin


Buy something from a farmer you know!

Know your food, know your Farmer – Joel Salatin

Is there a “Minimum Lethal Dose” of Sugar?

Sugar-300x185I just told Paula last night that I need to just stop eating sugar – it makes me feel weird.

Then I read this article that indicates that, even in “small” doses, sugar may, in fact, be toxic.

Of course, all of us who know anything about nutrition already knew that. But there was an air of “plausible deniability” in me as I ate my cake and cookies. I guess that is gone now.

Processed sugar has been around for over a century. Diabetes and many other common chronic and lethal ailments have been increasing that whole time, while we go on consuming pound after pound of poison – and, what is worse, feeding it to our CHILDREN.

I think we all need to make some serious dietary changes…

Early Harvest Goodness

The garden is ramping up to full production. This week we started canning…thus far we have done 30 pints of peas and 30 pints of green beans. The cucumbers and zucchini are coming on quickly.

Here is a great LOCAL dish for this early garden season:

Zucchini Pie

1 ½ cups of shredded zucchini (leave the skin on)
1 medium onion-chopped
I run both through the food processor and set aside.
2/3 cup of milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. oil
Blend together until eggs are beaten
Add: ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Stir in:
½ cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
pepper to taste
Add: Zucchini and onion and mix.
Pour into a greased pie pan and top with 2 Tbsp. of Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.


Do you have a disaster plan for your rabbits? You may need one.

According to this article in the Washington Post, if you ever let someone see the animals on your farm, you may be an exhibitor. And if you are an exhibitor, you may need a license. And a “disaster recovery plan” – for your animals.

Marty the Magician received this letter from the USDA informing him that he needed a disaster recovery plan for his rabbit.

Anyone tired of mindless bureaucracy yet?

Unlawful Search and Seizure on Michigan Farm

Whatever happened to “secure in your person and property?”

We should all be very concerned about the systematic attempts to make it impossible for us to produce our own food, or eat what we choose to eat. This is a very real, ongoing threat to small farmers and consumers throughout the U.S.