Sunday, July 31, 2016

Portlands Farmers Market and Effects


                Sustainable food has been known to be paired with organic food but what really goes into making something sustainable and organic? According to Suzanna Didier of the SF Gate, state that “Although practices vary, farmers who grow food in a sustainable manner typically rotate crops to intercept weed, disease and pest problems, get nitrogen from natural sources like green manure and compost, practice soil conservation, minimize soil erosion and eliminate or limit the contamination of water with agricultural chemicals.” Now, when we take a deeper look into the practices of these farmers and the techniques they use to help protect their crops and users alike, we need to take more seriously the foods we buy and where we buy them from.  According to health officials nationwide, there are several key points that make sustainable food better all-around for everyone from the farmer to consumer. First of all, it contributes to environmental conservation by allowing for certain resources to stay retained for future generations. Secondly, by using sustainable techniques lowers pollution on all levels. Thirdly, it is actually cheaper for us all to produce sustainable food. Fourth, Sustainable agriculture results in biodiversity as the farms produce different kinds of animals and plants. Fifth, All animals living in the farm are facilitated to exhibit their natural behaviors like grazing, pecking or, rooting. This helps them to grow in a natural way. Sixth, when farmers engage themselves into sustainable agriculture they receive a fair wage for their effort. As a result their dependence on government subsidies is reduced, thereby strengthening the rural communities. Seventh, when sustainable agriculture is practiced workers are offered competitive salaries and benefits. They are treated with humanity; provided with safe work environment, food and proper living conditions. And lastly, sustainable agriculture decreases the use of non-renewable environmental resources and is thus quite beneficial for the environment. So as they tell us all, support your local farmers promote locally owned, grown and operated food markets and do your part to be your own urban farmer. For a local listing of local farmer markets around the Portland Area, please take a look on www.oregonfarmersmarkets.org.

Sustainable Summer Foods

Well then, what can I eat
in the summer months?


As we mentioned back in our previous post on what doesn’t qualify as a seasonally sustainable food in the summer months, it only seemed fair to provide a list of fruits and vegetables that can be found in abundance in summertime. Some of these are only available in certain regions, so be sure to check this guide to confirm what's available in your area. Special thanks to Molly Watson at About Food, and also to Eat the Seasons for much of this information.

Vegetables


Corn
Harvested late spring through fall.

Look for cobs with the husk intact. The husk should be green and fresh and conceal fine, silky threads.” - Eat the Seasons

Photo courtesy of Suttons Seeds

Cucumber
Summer and early fall.

Look for cucumbers that are very firm and rounded right to the ends. Avoid any that have withered, shriveled tips.” - Berkeley Wellness


Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Eggplant
Summer and early fall.

Choose eggplants that feel heavy with smooth, taut, unblemished skin and fresh-looking unwithered green stalks.” - Eat the Seasons

Photo courtesy of Bonnie Plants

Peas
Spring and early summer.

Look for pods that are full but not bulging -- overly mature peas are tough and starchy and not nearly as sweet as smaller ones.” - Cookthink


Photo courtesy of Wallpapers Wide

Tomatoes
Early to late summer.

Look for plump, heavy tomatoes with smooth skins. They should be free of bruises, blemishes, or deep cracks, although fine cracks at the stem ends of ripe tomatoes do not affect flavor.” - Berkeley Wellness

Photo courtesy of SiamMandalay

Fruits


Apples
Mid to late summer until fall.

Apples should be firm with taught unbroken skins. Many varieties have naturally freckled or dull matt surfaces - don't shy away from those without the high-sheen finish supermarkets have led us to expect.” - Eat the Seasons

Photo courtesy of Typewriter Monkey Taskforce

Blackberries
End of summer to early fall.

Look for plump, dry, darkly-colored fruit that are neither too firm nor too squishy.” - Eat the Seasons

Photo courtesy of Edible Landscape Guru

Figs
Mid to late summer.

Choose figs that are richly colored, plump and soft but with unbroken skins. At peak ripeness they may be covered with a light, fuzzy bloom.Eat the Seasons


Photo courtesy of Nutritious Life

Peaches
Mid summer.

Choose fruit that yield slightly to pressure: firmish fruit are fine but hard fruit should be avoided.Eat the Seasons

Photo courtesy of Mother Jones

Plums
Late spring through early fall.

 “Plums should be plump, smooth and well colored. Ripe plums yield to gentle pressure and have an inviting aroma.Eat the Seasons

Photo courtesy of Mobile Cuisine

Hungry for more information? You can find it here:

10 Great Summer Vegetables (About Food)

Eat the Seasons

Guide to Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables (About Food)

Summer Fruits and Vegetables (About Food)

Sweet Summer Fruit (About Food)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Locally Grown Vs. Store-Bought

Nutritional Quality of Locally Grown Vs. Store-Bought Produce



As some may already know, the sweetness and juicy flavor of a fresh picked tomato or any produce always tastes a million times better than your store-bought. This is because, whether a produce is locally grown or store-bought there is a vast difference in nutritional content. This is due to four factors that differentiate the two types of produces: the ripeness of the produce, the varieties chosen, the length of time since the harvest, and the harvesting methods.

Ripeness of The Produce:
When produce is shipped to a grocery it has a long commute, typically 1,500 to 2,500 miles travel time. Due to this factor, the produce must be picked prematurely to arrive at the grocery store in sellable and consumable condition. For example, a tomato harvested prematurely will have about 31% less vitamin C, than tomatoes fully ripened. But vitamin C is not the only nutrient depleted, vitamin A, folic acid, lycopene, and other antioxidants are also reduced. Therefore, this method does not allow the fruit or vegetable to naturally ripen; thus, the produce never fully develops it's nutritional content.

The Varieties Chosen:
Produce shipped to grocery stores are not based on which taste the best, or have the most nutritional value; instead, the produce chosen is based on how well it will ship and continue to "look fresh" (so it is sellable). For example, tomatoes are often selected because when picked prematurely they look ripened in color, and their firm body is perfect for shipping and store display. Unfortunately, these characteristics do not formulate the best tasting or nutritional tomato!

Length of Time Since the Harvest:
As previously mentioned, the travel time for store-bought produce is very lengthy. While the produce is stored during the travel it is very difficult to keep optimal temperatures for them. In fact, vitamins deplete the most when stored for too long even if the temperatures are close to optimal. For example, lettuce stored for seven days in cold temperature, loses 46% of key nutrients. This is also true for many other fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Harvesting Methods:
The handling of fruits and vegetables also affects the nutritional quality by the time they arrive at the grocery store. Today, commercial farms use mechanical harvesting methods which cause bruises and damage to the produce. Once damaged, this accelerates the process of losing nutrients as the produce lost the ability to fully ripen properly. For example, if a tomato is bruised it will likely have 15% less vitamin C, than the non-bruised tomato.


As can be seen, local or home grown produce has greater nutritional content, as there are less barriers to fruits and vegetables in reaching their full nutritional potential.

For more information on where to find locally grown food in your area, go to the Local Harvest, and type in your area of residence. Here you will discover where to shop, local events, farmer’s markets, and more!

Or if starting your own home garden appeals to you, go to Better Homes & Garden, and read the 10 steps for beginning a garden.

(http://www.aerogardenblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/White-Paper.pdf)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Seasonally Sustainable Foods

Not many of us know what we are purchasing at our local grocery stores. Although we buy fruits and vegetables that seem to be a healthy choice, is that really what we end up with?

When purchasing foods from the grocery store, what you're actually getting is skewed from what they are probably advertising or what you believe is in these fruits and vegetables. The food system that grocery stores use today works wonders for us who like to have all kinds of fresh foods year round. The downside to this system is that these foods are stripped of natural and delicious flavors. Aside from loss of flavor these foods are also missing important nutrients.

Fixing this issue is quite simple because there are multiple solutions. The first solution is to buy foods such as fruits and vegetables from a local farm. The second solution is to grow your own. These two solutions that are easy for everyone to do and something that can change your health overall.

Information obtained from http://www.aerogardenblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/White-Paper.pdf

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Neighborhood/Community Gardens

Neighborhood Gardens for Sustainability



Neighborhood or community gardens are great as they bring friends and families working together on a sustainable food source for their community. These gardens can be used as a shared garden space for everyone in the community that wishes to participate; or, may have individual garden plots that are owned and maintained by individuals within the community.

How they are sustainable:
  • Reduces energy consumption
  • Reduces transportation and storage costs
  • Saves water and fossil fuels
  • Plants and trees provide shade and oxygen, as well as consume carbon dioxide
Each of these factors are extremely important in reducing pollution and minimizing the carbon footprint left by each individual.


Neighborhood Garden Benefits:
According to the American Community Garden Association (ACGA), neighborhood gardens have many benefits such as:
  • Enhanced social interactions
  • Improved quality of life
  • Good exercise
  • Reduces stress and improves mental health
  • Healthier eating habits
  • Grow your own organic and nutritional produce
  • Neighborhood beautification
  • Reduced crime
  • Lower family food budgets

Interested in starting a local community garden? Click here and learn the basic steps in getting started!

For more information, or to find a community garden near you, visit the American Community Garden Association's website.

Supporting your local food system








Supporting a local food system has many different benefits. It helps the local economy and it helps the small local farming communities. Here are a couple of suggestions for helping your local community out.

Try choosing a restaurant that supports locally grown foods. Many people believe that the only way they can eat locally means they have to cook their own food, but this isn't true! There are some restaurants that get all of their ingredients locally. Another way to support the local food system is to look for local brands in stores. The Eat Well Guide (http://www.eatwellguide.org/?) is a good way to look for local grown produce in stores. On the other hand, you could go directly to a farmers market to buy food there.

Lastly, an important point to remember is that buying local food builds up the community. When you or someone else buys produce from a local farmer it establishes a time honored connection between the consumer and producer. The local farmers put a lot of time and effort into their produce and it builds a strong relationship in the community when people know that others care about what they do.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Not a Summer Dish

Now that we are at about midpoint of the summer season here in the U.S., I thought it might be helpful to point out which foods you should be avoiding to stay within a seasonally sustainable food plan.

Asparagus
A spring crop that when seen at other times of the year will either be low in flavor, sourced from Mexico and Peru, or both.

Photo courtesy of Healthy Rise

Citrus
Citrus typically requires cold weather to mature and ripen, so summer citrus is most likely coming from places like Brazil, which produces 80% of the world’s supply.

Photo courtesy of AgriLife Today

Crab
Winter is the prime season for crab, with the official end occurring right about now. But not to worry, as halibut and abalone seasons are right around the corner, beginning in August.

Photo courtesy of Ping Ming Health

Kale
A winter season crop, and a great substitute for cabbage and spinach.

Photo courtesy of Phileena

Pomegranate
Another winter crop, with off-season imports coming from Chile.

Photo courtesy of Healthline

Sweet Potatoes
Harvested in the fall through spring, and anything you see in summer is sourced from places like China.

Photo courtesy of Cooking Light

Via MSN Lifestyle and Eat the Seasons.

Throw the best summer party: A guide to a summer party menu


Who doesn’t like a good party? Whether you have a couple close friends over, have date night or you are hosting a party for a whole bunch of people, bringing people together over food has become a staple of summer living. So what if you could throw a party that would help your friends live healthier lives by eating healthier? Well allow me to make that possible for you. This is a guide to an easy and healthy summer time menu.
First you need a good appetizer that is fun easy to eat and healthier for you than mozzarella cheese stick. How does shrimp on a stick sound?

                                                                                            Ingredients:

1 cup arugula leaves
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons canola oil
24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 pound), tails on
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

A tip: I use store bought pesto and store bought parsley flakes with lemon juice for the green sauce.



                                                                                         

On to the main course!!!!
Burgers are a wonderful thing but let’s change up the summer menu and throw in some grilled chicken.



2 medium onions, chopped
1 jalapeño, halved and seeded

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 2-inch-long piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 cup orange juice
1 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
16 large chicken drumsticks (about 4 lb.)
 The chicken was amazing so go check out the recipe: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-jamaican-jerked-drumsticks





And for your desert: Use seasonal fruit to make a fun easy to eat desert that looks great and tastes even better.


Sauce:
2 cups richly flavored red wine (such as Bordeaux)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon minute tapioca
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Berries:
1 pound ripe strawberries, hulled
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

A tip: If you want to make it child friendly you can use grape juice with no added sugar. This was a hit at my party: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/bordeaux-style-strawberries





And there you have it, appetizer, main course and desert that are not only tasty and fun but are also healthy can allow you to eat an entire meal with your friends that is seasonally conscientious.

Where to Buy Seasonal Produce in Your Town


Want to know what foods are grown locally in your area, AND where to buy them?

Buying local produce has many benefits for yourself, friends, and family! These main benefits pertain to your health, the sustainability of earth, environmental impacts, and the economy. Below are the major highlights of each benefit:

Health Benefits: Seasonal produce has greater nutritional content and provides your body with many important vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. As well as fulfilling natural cleaning and healing abilities within your body.

Sustainable Benefits: Eating seasonally is better for the planet as the produce is grown by organic farmers who emphasize on quality and nutrition. These farmers grow produce without using pesticides and toxic chemicals which make the produce healthier and protect the planet.

Environmental Benefits: Buying seasonal produce reduces your carbon foot print by the amount the produce has to travel. This is because these foods use less fuel to travel and ultimately reduce pollution compared to foods not purchased locally.  

Economic Benefits: Seasonal produce is less expensive compared to purchasing produce out of season. Not only is it less expensive to purchase, but you are also supporting your local economy and the farmers around you.

Convinced that eating seasonal produce is perfect for you?

Click here for the seasonal food guide and find what produce is available in your area during any specific time of the year! This guide will not only inform you of what is available, you can also source recipes, and read about each produce more specifically.

To find where you can buy these delicious seasonal goods, go to the Local Harvest and type in your area of residence. Here you will discover where to shop, local events, farmer’s markets, and more!



Friday, July 15, 2016

Sustainable Source of Power

A new way of cooking and even pasteurizing your water is through the innovative technology within solar cooking. Moderate cooking temperatures in simple solar cookers help preserve nutrients. Those, who otherwise do not want to worry about fuels, can cook nutritious foods — such as legumes and many whole grains — that require hours of cooking with solar. The three most common types of solar cookers are heat-trap boxes, curved concentration and panel cookers. A transparent heat trap around the dark pot lets in sunlight, but keeps in the heat. This is a clear, heat-resistant plastic bag or large inverted glass bowl (in panel cookers) or an insulated box with a glass or plastic window (in box cookers). Curved concentration cookers typically don’t require a heat trap. It does have to cost much if anything! Items found in your house can easily be made into a solar cooker and can cost less than $5 to make if you needed to purchase the material. Not only is it ecofriendly and has actually been seen around the world, Oregon actually hosts multiple events throughout the year for free cooking classes using this technology, depending on sunshine of course. If you or someone you know would like to be a part of this fun and interactive way to cook sustainable, please contact these people at workshop@sundrinkingwater.com for more information. 

Finding sustainable options, there's an app for that.

We live in a world where information is often just a click away. With the proliferation of smart phones and digital markets, you can find an app for just about anything. Here is a list of ten free apps for those interested in eating more healthful food, wasting less food, finding sustainable sources of food, or buying seasonally.

  1. Locavore
    Locavore helps consumers find out what local foods are in season, and locate the closest farmers markets selling them.
  2. HarvestMark Traceability
    The HarvestMark Traceability app allows users to trace their fresh food back to the farm that it came from–they can by scan any fruit or vegetable with the HarvestMark logo.
  3. Farmstand
    Use the Farmstand app to search for community farmers markets in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
  4. Food Community
    With the Food Community app, consumers can search and discover local vegan, vegetarian, kosher, gluten-free, locally-grown, and organic restaurants.
  5. NRDC Eat Local
    The Eat Local app helps locate nearby farmers markets, and provides seasonal recipes for the ingredients found there. Users can also submit and edit information for their local and favorite farmers markets in the Eat Local database.
  6. Seafood Watch
    The Seafood Watch app makes choosing sustainable seafood easier. It offers recommendations, along with information on optimal farming or fishing practices for sushi and seafood.
  7. ShopNoGMO
    The ShopNoGMO app provides information on the risks and science behind Genetically Modified Organisms, and how to avoid them at the grocery store.
  8. GoPure
    Search local restaurants with the GoPure app to find out about their sustainable practices and the quality of their food. Users can also suggest restaurants, add information, and get the inside scoop on sustainable foods at their favorite establishments.
  9. What’s On My Food?
    Use this app to identify chemicals found on foods commonly sold at the grocery store. Search the database to find out which pesticides are the most dangerous, and for a crash course on pesticides.
  10. Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide
    The Non-GMO Project offers an app that features a list of brands and products enrolled in the Project’s Product Verification Program. The app also includes tips on avoiding GMOs, and a list of GMO ingredients and crops.

Is Eating Locally Eating Sustainably?

Not really… First off, let’s explain what eating sustainable foods really mean. Sustainable Table, a food program by GRACE Communications Foundation defines it as “the production of food, fiber, or other plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare”. So, while eating local can be eating sustainably, the two do not always go hand in hand.

Sustainable farms benefit the environmental preservation because it does not rely on toxic chemical pesticides or fertilizers instead farms trying to grow sustainable food rely on natural soil, and water with the use of crop rotation, conservation tillage, as well as pasture-based livestock (Sustainable Table). Sustainable eating also protect public health because farms do not use hazardous pesticides, farmers protect the humans that consume their crops because they do not expose themselves or crops to pathogens, toxins or pollutants (Sustainable Table). Sustainable eating also helps communities because it provides farmers, farmworkers, food processors, and others in the food system with fair working conditions, wage and safety (Sustainable Table).

So while the term “locally grown” allows consumers to know where their food came from, it does not always mean that their food is local as well as sustainable. Consumers should always look for the terms local and sustainable to ensure the freshness of their food. Because, sustainable food is not only healthier for you, but they taste better, have animals are more likely to live in healthier environments, and are more environmentally friendly. So, eat local, and sustainably!

To find a way to eat more sustainably, follow this link and find farms, stands and growers, near you!


Local Agriculture

Studies have shown that the farther food has to travel before it winds up on your plate, the lower its nutritional value. Moreover, food transport increases carbon dioxide and contributes to climate change. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “produce [often] travels over 1,500 miles from plate to table.” You have to wonder how that sort of distance impacts both your health and the environment.


Fresh produce is genuine. Local and direct markets typically sell their produce within 24 hours of harvesting. Because the food does not have to travel far, it is fresher and lacks some of the additives typically found in industrially marketed produce. There are also probably less people that handle it. Furthermore, local farmers often value diversity when making their selection of variety, and “greater crop diversity from the farmer means greater nutritional diversity for the eater.” Both your body and the earth benefit from that diversity.

Click this link to check your area for local food markets today!

And click HERE for more information on how your food choices affect your health and the environment.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What are you eating when you buy industrial foods?

The majority of processed foods contain substances, such as additives, GMOs and hormones, some of which can affect your body in ways you may not have even realized. The following are descriptions of a few of those added substances.


Additives are essentially preservatives that enhance or maintain the flavor of food or even the appearance. Some additives have been around for centuries, such as vinegar for pickling, but others came to be more recently and are much more enigmatic. Other foods contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms), or at least genetically modified ingredients. According to Grace Communications Foundation, “genetic engineering…is the process of transferring specific traits, or genes, from one organism into a different plant or animal.” It is a purely industrial process. 

Hormones are also often added during the process of food production, including those such as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). Livestock, especially cattle, are injected with hormones to make them grow faster or increase their production of milk in order to increase profits. Concerns have grown about the health ramifications these hormones have on humans, as well as the potential ramifications that pesticides have. Herbicides (chemicals used to kill weeds) are the most commonly used pesticide, and millions of tons are used in America every year. Next time you're at the grocery store, you may find more sustainable foods to be the ideal choice for both your health and the environment!

Click HERE for more information!