Monday, August 15, 2016

Making it count - Seasonal Foods

The biggest impact that people face when choosing to buy seasonal foods is the cost and convenience factor. With a large number of availability for seasonal foods to be purchased from, the problem lies in the idea that it was cost to much. However, there has been a lost in translation of how affordable it can be for common people to obtain these products. The idea behind this is to look at the benefits that could be gained rather than the price tag on the product.

" Increased geographic availability means a shorter span between harvest and table, which preserves more nutrition since nutrients break down as fruits and vegetables wait for consumption."

This allows for people to have quicker access to these seasonal foods in a timely matter, gather more benefits choosing seasonal foods than foods that are not in season.
Some great ways to make this more economical when the seasonal foods are high in price are as followed:
  • Start with a plan. Make a chart for every day of the week filling in main dish items and other foods you will serve at a meal. Since the main dish is usually the most expensive part of the meal, make your plan around that food.
  • Check newspaper ads for special sales. Planning your meals around specials and seasonal foods can help save money. Compare advertised prices among stores to find where you can save the most on your entire shopping list. Buy only what you can use and compare prices with those found in other ads. Be aware that specials and coupon offers invite you to buy impulsively. And impulsive buying can blow your budget. Even at special prices and with refunds or coupons, some foods may not be within your budget.
  • Clip coupons. You can save money if the item is one you would normally buy and if the item is less expensive than similar brands. Most cents-off coupons offered by stores or manufacturers are for the more expensive, highly processed foods or for foods in abundant supply. But using coupons for coffee, prepared foods, cereals, flour and flour mix products can save about 10 percent in most food budgets. Don’t use a coupon to justify buying a food that your family doesn’t need or that costs more than a store brand, even with the coupon savings.
  • Take advantage of seasonal specials. Foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, are generally less expensive when in great sup-ply.
  • Consider food preferences. When you serve popular foods, you increase eating pleasure. Make a collection of economical, nutritious recipes that your family likes and serve them often.
  • Think appetite appeal. Since we eat with our eyes, plan meals using foods of contrasting colors, textures, flavors, sizes and shapes.
  • Plan the use of leftovers. They can be used in casseroles, soups, for snacks and in lunch boxes.

    These few suggestions can make a huge difference when going to the store a purchasing the desired products without breaking the bank.





Food Economics

With the relationship between the quality of food, specifically seasonal foods, and the economically impact both on the market and in a sustainably means there has developed a connection between the two ideas that has created a interesting study for this environment. The idea being that the question 'what are the connections between the seasonal food subject and the economics behind it?' is being asked.  

"In the last several decades, the economics of the food system have changed dramatically.  Millions of farms have folded as government policy has encouraged larger, more intensive farm operations, such as the factory farm model for producing meat, eggs and dairy."



As more consumers consider the environmental, health and social consequences of industrial food production, demand for sustainably raised foods is growing. According to the USDA, farmers are dedicating more and more land to organic production in response to consumer demand, with total organic acreage increasing at a rate of 15 percent annually. 

This is interesting and relatable to our subject matter because it takes a look at what the cost both finically and economically of choosing a seasonal foods option. 


Local seasonal foods

For this terms group project, the main idea was the focus on what seasonal food do and how it has a connection between the consumer and sustainability. Another interesting aspect that it generates on this topic is the idea of local seasonal foods. There are huge benefits when buying seasonal foods that add to the overall wellness to someones life. Both health expects and chefs recognize that seasonal foods give a variety of benefits to those who enjoy a large range of food. The interesting subject added on to this is that economically, its actually very good for people on a budget to buy locally and seasonally.

"Perhaps the biggest tangible benefit of eating seasonally is that you'll save money on food. When you buy what's in season, you buy food that's at the peak of its supply, and costs less to farmers and distribution companies to harvest and get to your grocery store. It may seem like common sense, but it's one of those things many of us ignore when we're shopping."

The benefits don't just stop at saving a few bucks for shopping local and getting a great quality product that comes around a couple times a year. It actually helps support the local community where the products are being purchased, helps independent farmers and business, and a increase in local products and seasonal foods.

sources: http://lifehacker.com/why-eating-seasonally-and-locally-is-better-for-you-an-1563025065

Sustainable living practices

With our focus on the quality of products and the ties it has with better standards of living and sustainability, its important to note how someone can achieve this by changing behaviors in their lives. Food is just one quality to look at when talking about the subject of sustainable living practices. What are the other factors that people should strive for and what can they change right now to benefit from those results?


Some easy ways to achieve this will benefiting the community:

1. Become a member of your community
2. Practice minimization
3. Walk, bike, or car pool
4. Get more natural sleep
5. Buy with purpose and with information

These are simple ways to start on a path that can allow for people to make healthy change in their lives, which helps the community all together. Something that people can take away from the project and this post on sustainable living practices is that anyone can do it and that it doesn't take much to start. And although the project focused on the idea of seasonal food, its important to see the connections to other aspects of life that can help influence a more sustainable attitude on life.

Source: http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/15-ideas-for-sustainable-living.php

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Being aware of the economics of our food supply

As the project is coming to a close, it is a good idea to refresh ourselves with some key facts about why sustainable food is so important, but we should also be sure that our project has captured the issue from every angle. Something that should be remembered is that like most things, the food industry is part of a business, and the economics of the food system have changed drastically during the last several decades. Millions of farms have ceased to exist as government policies have favored larger farms with factory models for producing meat, eggs and dairy. With just a handful of corporations controlling most of our food supply, they have been given much more power and influence on the food and agriculture regulations than ever before. While this model may be more efficient monetarily, the increased speed of production can create many problems, such as antibiotic resistant bacteria due to the overuse of antibiotics, issues with contamination of water sources, and much more.




This is just the start of the issue, but one thing that we as a society can do is to continue to pay attention to the economics behind our food sources, and give our money to sustainable farmers locally whenever possible. As we begin to make wiser choices, we can make a statement based on where we spend our money, and make a point that we are not okay with the risks of highly manufactured food products.



Source: http://www.sustainabletable.org/491/food-economics

Preserving Food

So far we have been talking about the importance of eating seasonal foods, but the truth is, sometimes we crave peaches in the winter or a citrus fruit in the summer. However, instead of perpetuating the unsustainable production and consumption of unseasonal foods, there is an alternative way to access these foods. Before fresh produce became readily available year round in supermarkets, excess harvest of fruits and vegetables were preserved to enjoy at a later date.

There are many different methods of preservation, including freezing, canning, pickling, and dehydration. Even before these more “modern” techniques, foods could be preserved through being mindful of natural storage techniques, such as using cool, dry places and avoiding bug contamination.

One of the most popular ways to preserve food, is canning. Canning uses either boiling water or steam to kill microorganisms and mold responsible for food spoilage. The food is then able to be stored for a much longer time, even up to years! This method is particularly effective for high acid foods, such as: fruits, jams, and pickles.

Strawberry jam (PC The Pioneer Woman Cooks, 1)
Lacto-fermentation is another popular and easy way to preserve food. Basically, vegetables or fruits are salted, then left alone to ferment, which creates a highly acidic environment not suitable for bacteria. Although the food tastes different, the change also brings a number of nutritional benefits. For example, sauerkraut has 25% more Vitamin C than raw cabbage. This is because fermentation breaks down the food through the conversion of natural sugars to lactic acid. Another famous example of lacto-fermentation is the Korean national dish, kimchi.

Kimchi (PC: The Kitchn, 2)
However, the easiest modern method of preservation is freezing. Instead of killing the microorganisms, the low temperature slows down the growth and spread of these molds and food-spoiling bacteria. Anything can be frozen, but frozen fruits make for a delicious smoothie when the craving hits. Although this is not a very energy efficient method, it is a better than the unsustainable practice of eating unseasonal foods!

For more information check out the sites below.

Sources:

2. Kimchi

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Make the World a Better Place - One Act at a Time

8 Acts to Make the World a Better Place



Our latest topic at hand has been seasonal food sustainability. But as we transition to a new topic I would like to discuss how we can make the world a better place. Eating seasonally is only part of what makes the world a better place for everyone as it is better for the environment, local communities, the economy, and our health. But there are many acts, we as individuals can do to improve everyone’s quality of life.

Below are 8 acts you can do to make the world a better place.


1. Volunteer

Volunteering does not have to consume all your free time to make a difference. Regardless of where, or how long you volunteer, it helps someone in need. Help improve schools, support families, foster a pet, or beautify the community! Go to the 
Volunteer Match website and find a cause to participate in.

2. Donate Blood

Save a life and donate blood! It does not take much time, and it is a great way to support your local hospitals and the community. Visit the American Red Cross website to find where you can donate!

3. Donate Used Clothing

Have clothes you don't wear or need? Visit your local Goodwill or Salvation Army to donate your clothes to families in need. Click
here to see even more organizations to donate your clothes to.

4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Recycling has many important benefits for the environment! It reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators. It conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals. Saves energy and prevents pollution. Most importantly it helps sustain the environment for future generations! For more information, visit the US Environmental Protection Agency's website.

5. Foster or Adopt an Animal

There are so many animals needing homes and families! This is an extremely rewarding and heart filling experience. Visit the Humane Society and find your local animal shelter, and save a life!

6. Participate in a Big Brother or Big Sister Program

Develop a supportive relationship with a little sister or brother, as you be their role model and make lasting impacts on their lives. Visit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America website, and enroll in a program.

7. Eat Locally Produced Food

As we have discussed, eating locally is better for the environment as it takes less transportation and reduces pollution and fossil fuels used. It is also great for the community as it supports local farmers! Visit the Local Harvest to find farmer's markets, local events, and places to shop!

8. Spread Kindness

It can be as simple as saying hi to stranger, making a donation to Toys for Tots, or paying a visit to a local retirement community. Paying it forward goes a long way and brings people together!

8 Easy Ways to Live Sustainably

Full Circle

As we round the corner to the end of our Seasonal Foods project, it's important for us to take a step back and remember why we are doing this. As our mission statement says, we believe a healthy life begins from the ground up. We provide this information to you because being aware of our actions is the first step to living a sustainable life. As our knowledge grows, so too does our ability to adapt these habits into our lifestyle. So, let's review three main points:

What does it mean to be sustainable?
  • to able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed
  • to involve methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources
  • to able to last or continue for a long time
To live sustainably, then, is to implement each of these ideas into our daily lives. We must conserve natural resources, water, and minimize our ecological footprint as best we can. But how else can we do this? By eating local, seasonal foods that have been grown sustainably.


Eating seasonally means taking advantage of farm-fresh foods at their ripest moments. Just as plants, animals, and even humans thrive best during different times of the year, certain foods are only available, or most fresh, during certain seasons. In order to minimize food waste, limit energy consumption and waste from storage and distribution, we should seek to eat foods that are in season at the very moment. It may seem difficult at first, but you might be surprised at how many food seasons you're already aware of. Our next step is to recognize where they've come from.


Now that we know what to eat, we've got to be able to get our hands on it. We recommend looking up your local Farmers' Markets, Food Co-ops, Community Gardens or Agriculture Programs, and perhaps considering starting your own garden! Even beginning your search at a place as simple as your local grocery store is the first step to finding sustainable foods. Simply ask where the food has come from. Was it grown or raised on a sustainable farm? How far did it travel? If the answer is "no," or "very far," don't give up, just check somewhere else. Ask questions at your local Farmer's Markets about where you can conveniently access sustainable foods, or consider signing up for seasonal food delivery. Remember, we are all on this journey together. If we can't get the answers we readily need, it's up to us to initiate changes that allow us to achieve them. 

Sustainable Shopping at Co-ops

Sometimes we want to be absolutely sure that our dollars are being spent toward community investments that truly benefit our environment and our bodies. Be it as simple as purchasing an apple, or enabling others to be part-owner of an ethical, inclusive business, community co-ops do just this! Co-ops share core values that go beyond the standard level of social responsibility. Cooperatives around the world abide by the 7 Cooperative Principles, an original founding of the UK, and adopted by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1995. These principles ensure each co-op works toward the same goal of implementing the safest, healthiest community full of equality.

Below are a list of local Portland Co-op stores, or click here to find a location anywhere in the world.


Portland Neighborhood Co-ops

Why not grow it yourself?

Have you ever wondered if farming at the comfort of your own home is for you?
It is not hard to find out, you just have to give it a try.
Considering all the benefits that come with growing your own food, including the joy of connecting to nature, relaxation and the pleasure of the result. Plus now you will have something to impress your dinner guests.

Small kitchen herb garden (PC Apartment Therapy)


For starters, you can try these easily growing vegetables and herbs, including avocados, mushrooms, carrots and lemons. www.miraclegro.com is a great resource for those who are willing to test their gardening skills. This article will walk you through all necessary steps starting from general growing tips, to how to properly harvest your crop. You will be surprised how little it takes to get started.

Next, if you want to take your gardening skills to a next level, you have 2 options depending on your living situation. If you live in a suburban neighborhood, and have a back yard consider planting some fruit trees, or dedicating some space for a greenhouse or just a planting bed.
Get inspired with posts from Better Homes and Gardens. Follow the link to read all about your first outdoor gardener.

Urban outdoor garden (PC Tower Garden )

If you live in an urban environment, there is a solution for you as well. Anyone can sign in to participate in a community garden. The concept is simple, you are being provided with a small farming space, where you go to work on your garden along with few other urban farmers; then you get to take home and enjoy your harvest.
Use this link to American community gardening association (ACGA) website to find a community garden in your area. 

Come back here and tell us about your new garden! 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Seasonal Foods

Eating Seasonally

While eating locally is a sustainable choice, so is eating seasonally. When the seasons change we are given the ultimate gift of fresh foods. When we choose to eat seasonally we are actually eating healthier. When food is grown in its season there is all natural nutrients. With each season there are certain foods we should look for.

In the months of Winter look to freshen up your food pallet and add color! When buying local and seasonal foods look for squash, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit and beets. The list of seasonal foods goes on, and each brings a vibrant new taste and color to the table.

When Spring has sprung, go to the greener side. Salads are a great way to get the taste of spring. Spinach and other leafy greens are the perfect food of the season.

As Summer begins we see our favorite summer fruits come back into season. Strawberries, plums, peaches, and cherries the list goes on. With all these sweet and healthy treats, you can’t go wrong.

When Fall comes around we are able to indulge in the harvest foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and apples. Fall offers a warm variety of seasonal foods, that are simple yet perfect for this time of year.


Choosing to eat seasonal foods is not only healthy but also enjoyable. It’s important to eat seasonally because it provides us with a healthy diet. When eating seasonal foods we are able to preserve them for a later use. Freezing or canning seasonal foods are simple ways to preserve. This is another easy way to live sustainably.

Make It Yourself


Make it yourself

Do we actually know what kinds of products and ingredients are in the foods we consume? It’s important to know what goes into our bodies so that we can take care good care of our health. Considering the ingredients that grocery store products contain. They may not be dangerous, but they aren’t always the healthiest ingredients. The solution is simple, make your own food!

Making food at home is an easy and fun way to practice sustainable living. Not only is it a healthy choice but it supports local markets and local ingredients. There are so many great reasons to make your own food and there is so many recipes to enjoy. Here are a few reasons why making we should make own food.

1.    When making food at home we know exactly what we are consuming. When purchasing certain store products we can never be sure what we are feeding our families. By making our own foods we are able to feel confident in what we feed ourselves and others.
2.    It’s a healthier choice. When we see the ingredients we put in our homemade foods, we can then see what a healthier choice it is. There is no added preservatives or unneeded ingredients. By making our own food we can control what we eat. 
3.    You’ll taste the difference! Knowing what your eating the food will taste better. All natural products can taste immensely better than store bought. The food will actually taste fresh!

Once we make the decision to make our own food we will see the never ending list of recipes to try. For instance there are recipes for homemade ketchup,  mayonnaise, taco seasoning, yogurt, granola and more…

The first step in living a sustainable life is trying new things. With these recipes there are many places to start.

Next Level Farmers’ Market


Photo courtesy of Global Roots

Deep dive your local Farmers’ Market

One of the easiest and most convenient ways to shop and eat seasonably sustainable foods is to find your nearest local farmers’ market and dive in. There you can discover the many seasonal food options available, plan your next week’s meals around them, and buy exactly what you need.

The items you might expect to find at a farmers’ market run the gamut from raw to processed, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, as well as prepared foods like breads, jams, honeys, and sauces. Expect to find everything that’s farmed in your region to be represented at your local farmers’ market, including eggs, milk, cheese, and meat.

Let’s start with why you should even bother with a farmers’ market instead of hitting the local grocery store, courtesy of Nutriution.gov.

  • The food is freshly picked (often that morning) and is at its peak in flavor and nutrition.
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables are full of antioxidants and phytonutrients (i.e. very good for you). 
  • Supporting your local farmers market strengthens your community. 
  • Farmers often have recommendations for preparing their products. 
  • You can try a new fruit or vegetable!
  • Farmers markets are easy to find, and literally most communities have several running at different days of the week. 
  • By visiting a farmers' market you're supporting your local economy and helping to keep it strong.

Now, some details on how to approach a shopping trip to a farmers’ market, courtesy of Serious Eats and Reader’s Digest.

Talk to the farmers
Who better to discuss the benefits of a particular crop than the people who choose to grow, harvest, and sell it?

Photo courtesy of Pass the Pistil

Be prepared to carry
Be sure to bring enough totebags or a big enough backpack to carry your purchases. A small cooler is also a good idea if you're shopping for fresh dairy or meat.

Photo courtesy of Brit + Co
Timing
Shopping early in the day (within the first hour) gives you the best selection. While coming in late, or when the weather is bad, will get you great deals since farmers tend to hate driving back home with unsold goods.

Photo by J Garbee, courtesy of LA Weekly
Ask to taste
Samples are plentiful, and if not, just ask and most farmers are happy to let you try.

Don’t complain about price
What you pay is a steal compared to what it would cost in a specialty grocer, and you’re putting money directly into the local economy.

Small change
Many booths at the market will be cash-only, so small denominations will be appreciated.

Ugly sometimes cheaper too
Farmers will often give you a deal on mishaped or just-plain-ugly looking fruits.

Buy the box
Grabbing an entire box or crate of an item will help drop the price.

Photo courtesy of Hillsdale Farmers’ Market
Shop around
Similar vendors are within mere feet of each other, so shopping around for a better price is a no-brainer.

Branch out
One of the best advanatages of shopping a farmers’ market is the ability to try new things. Don't hesitate to throw something new into your bag each week, you never know when you might discover a new favorite.


Reference

The Crisper Whisperer: 10 Tips to Take to the Farmers' Market Recipe (Serious Eats)

Top 10 Reasons to Shop at a Farmers' Market (Nutrion.gov)

13 Secrets Farmers’ Markets Won’t Tell You
SaveSave

Don't forget About Your eggs!




When thinking about foods and the season that they are best eaten in, we tend to just think about produce and not so much meat products. What if I told you that buying your meat in season is just as important as fruits and vegetables? When we buy local gown products in season, the cost is less expensive compared to items bought in the off season. For example, when you go to the grocery store and attempt to buy fresh herbs during the winter time, it would be more expensive compared to if you went to your local farmers market during the summer and bought a large amount for half the price simple because the supply is higher for the demand.

Focusing more into meat production, large farms (and small ones too) have had to basically trick chickens to produce eggs year round and other livestock to artificial insemination. Without tricking mother nature, year-round production of eggs and meat would be unimaginable and quite rare in our society. Have you ever gone into a grocery store and have not seen chicken products, steak products, or other egg options? neither have I. Just some food for thought!

Eggs



Too look deeper into seasonal meat consumption, lets look at egg consumption. Grocery stores will usually advertise that eggs are most in demand during the fall and winter months even though studies show that that is not accurate. Most farmers and anyone who has raised chickens will tell you that chickens do not usually lay eggs year-round and if it is too hot, too cold, or they irritated, they will not lay any eggs. In the summer time when chickens are more free range they are more likely to eat grass, veggies, bugs, and other outdoor options gaining weight faster and have a much deeper yolk color and consistency.

Below are two links both focusing on the benefits of eating in season and focus strictly on sustainability. Continue to follow our blog and website to find not only interesting facts regarding sustainable food, but fun and helpful hints as well!

Link 1)Seasonal food is for meat too!

Link 2) Benefits to eating sustainably

Food and Architecture


As a society, we transitioned from an agrarian lifestyle to industrialization, and now, a post-industrial, service-based economy. Today, more people are moving into urban environments, because dense cities offer opportunities for better jobs, infrastructure and access to proper health care.  As a result, we are facing the issues of being disconnected from nature. The first examples of bringing the natural environment back into the cities were urban parks, rooftop gardens, and green roofs. Currently, there is a push for developing architecture integrated with urban agriculture.

Urban agriculture and farming is the concept of cultivating and supplying food with in a city. By rethinking current urban practices, designers and architects are addressing the issues of limited space, food insecurity and lack of resources. Some firms like Architecture and Food are working on a large scale, developing host building that would provide neighborhoods with locally grown seasonal food. To learn more about their project please follow the link http://www.architectureandfood.com/

Ostergro, Copenhagen (PC Ostergro, 1)


However, small changes can be implemented on a much smaller scale. For instance, Torino based architectural firm Studioata designed a table with built-in pots for fresh herbs and flowers. As you are having a meal, you can quickly take advantage of a fresh garnish or herb to season the dish. For example, a fresh aromatic basil leaf can be added to any dish instantly or a sprig of mint can be a refreshing addition to a drink or meal.


Food table design by Studioata (PC Studioata, 2)



Architects, and to a larger extent, all designers, are interested in creating a more functional, but also beautiful integration of our urban lives and nature. The focus is to continue to develop new strategies to explore the possibilities where green areas are not just pleasing to an eye, but are also providing us with essential necessities like food.

Resources