Dec 12th

Organic at the grocery store? No way!

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For us it started with a dozen eggs. ..

My husband brought them home from a colleague at work whose inlaws own a small hobby farm. They were selling off their surplus eggs for $3 a dozen. They were Organic, truly free range and the same price as factory farm eggs from the store. That dozen quickly turned into 3 dozen a week or more  (we are a family of 5), nothing could compare to these beautiful brown treasures with their thick whites and shells so hard you really had to smack.  Then one day we were offered half a cow. This pasture raised meat was beyond delicious and despite the initial upfront cost, worked out to be a steal at $3/lb.

 At this point my thinking about food and the cost of eating organic really started to change and as we transitioned to making the 20min drive to pick up our eggs every 2-3 weeks ourselves I hatched a plan to radicalize our food purchasing.

 We took detours, talked to farmers, followed leads and made connections. My goal was to buy as much of our food, cash up front from local small-time and non commercial sources. It’s true there aren’t fancy labels or stickers, nor did an international expert panel rummage through these farmers gardens and scrutinize them. But I feel comfortable buying from the front lines and eating from the same garden they do.

 Some treasures we have found along the way are organic cornmeal, fresh local roasting chickens,handmade maple syrup, fresh pressed apple cider, produce grown with love, no preservative sausages and unpasteurized local honey .

 We add to this list constantly and while we still shop at our local grocery store, we try to get out to the farms as much as we can. When we can’t we don’t sweat it, because doing the best you can is healthier than worrying all the time. Flexibility and an open mind are the best tools you can bring with you.

We have met some lovely people on this journey, people who have the biggest stake in our land and are direct casualties of government decisions and zoning laws that most of us think are unimportant. They are intelligent, well read and know way more chemistry than most university chemistry majors. My advice is that you get to know them too.

Some tips for getting started:

 Visit farmers markets and get to know the vendors, ask them for leads

  • Take a drive- drive around rural areas, follow signs and visit the actual farms, ask if they know of anyone local who sells other stuff you are looking for.
  • Network with other like minded people and share resources.
  • Look herefarm
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Jul 7nd

My Garden is my Classroom

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Today I took the opportunity to catch up on some much needed gardening with my kids. We usually plant a vegetable garden, but this year has been so busy that we got off to a really late start thus necessitating the catch-up session. In addition to the usual watering and weeding, today’s tasks also included harvesting our first load of compost from our home compost bin. Not having a lot of sun in the back yard makes for an interesting and slow gardening and composting experience but I was hopeful with the rich earthy smell emanating from the black bin as I approached it the garden with some children

Opening in initiated squeals of joy (from me) and gasps of wonder from my youngest both amazed that the pile of peelings and grass clippings had finally transformed itself into rich and fluffy dirt. “How did it happen?”Asked Maya at my side, “the worms made dirt for us” I answered as we both reached in with our recycled jug-buckets and filled them with fresh compost to spread under our growing cherry tomatoes. As we both kneeled to spread mix in the compost we discovered several bits of plastic that had escaped the screening process and made it into the compost bin over the last couple of years. The conversation that ensued provided a great learning opportunity about recycling, composting and the need to reduce the use of plastics in our society.

It dawned on me what a wonderful things gardens are, not only to grow our own produce, but as a classroom about the environment. With all the media hype about composting and recycling it can be easy to neglect the importance of these conversations with our children; but the impact of holding a pile of dirt that was once a peach (except that darn plastic sticker) can do more for a child than any ad campaign about plastic bags. The importance of connecting with nature is vital to becoming global citizens, but by facilitating that connection we strengthen not only our ties with the earth but with its next generation of caretakers as well.kid dirt

“yum yum for the worms. Yum yum for the tomatoes. Yum yum for me!” – says Maya. The cycle of life has never been simpler.

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