Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I haven't written for ages.....

I began this blog a few years ago as I began my journey as a locavore. Three years later, I am fully entrenched in my local food scene and I am so happy! My 'screen name' is Linna the Locavore and I truly love the rhythm of my town and the food supply of this region.  I also write many other blogs- and am now trying to consolidate my writing onto into one location.... having two kids and a full time job force me to be efficient. 

So here it is, I won't post to this blog very often, but if you want to see my recent articles, please go to http://www.examiner.com/food-gardening-in-washington-dc/linna-ferguson

So please check out my articles or my garden portfolio at http://www.foodscaper.com/

Happy eating and gardening!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

New Film Takes on Organic Food Critics and Kicks Ass - "What's Organic about Organic"

Well I was glad to stumble upon this announcement, a film that really delves into what organic is and isn't. I am so mad at the large bully-like corporations that are seeding the media with claims about organic food not being better for you .... not tasting better etc.  Why can't they just leave well enough alone and stop poisoning us with their food and chemicals..... all for the benefit of a good bottom line.  I can go on and on, but I am thinking I should better use my time by watching this movie!!!

Surely you've heard the arguments: "organic isn't any healthier," "organic food is too expensive," "organic doesn't mean anything," or maybe you've seen Penn and Teller's take-down of the "Organic tastes better argument." During the last 12 months, a slew of anti-organic messages have been promulgated in the media. Good thing filmmaker Shelley Rogers has spent the past five years of her life putting together a movie that not only refutes most of these bogus talking points, but gives us an up-close look at what organic agriculture really is (as well as addressing some of the criticisms brought against it).
Rogers' conclusion, after years of work and research, is that organic isn't just a question of personal health, and that standards really do make a difference. But rather than telling us this, she lets the experts -- farmers, scientists, activists, doctors, and ecopreneurs -- explain from their knowledgeable and frontline perspectives.
This film arrives at a critical time as it doesn't just explain how organic food IS actually a healthier choice for the individual, but delves into how "organic farming can be used as a soil and air protection system, a healthy solution to toxic pollution and an innovative means to combat global warming."
There are a number of upcoming screenings happening in New York City, with panels hosted by luminaries from the locavore and foodie movements, including nutrition expert Marion Nestle, NYC restaurateurs Jimmy Carbone (Jimmy's 44), Carlos Suarez (Bobo) and others. If you're not in the NY Metro area, check out the website for screenings or to host one in your community.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

How cool is this?!

Thanks to my friend Sarah who sent this to me..... Check out this article about people who have converted candy vending machines to now sell 'seed bombs' which are mixtures of clay, compost and seeds that can be thrown anonymously into derelict urban sites to (temporarily) reclaim and transform them.  Wow.  I love it. 

Now we just need vegetable 'seed bombs' to get food accessible to all!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Loving Greens.....

With the spring making its entrance, days are warm and nights are cool, GREENS are thriving in most of the country that enjoys 4 seasons.  Things like spinach, collards, kale, tatsoi, and lettuce and enjoying the prime growing season.  If you are trying to eat locally, then greens a big part of your diet last night.  Thanks to Tara at http://www.nourishingyourfamily.com/, here are some creative ways of using those greens!

10 Creative Ways to Use those Greens!
Here are quick 10 ways to use those greens:

10) Use in juicer or smoothies. No one has to know.
9) Wash, steam lightly, drizzles farm butter or olive oil & lemon over it and enjoy.
8) Puree or finely chop and add to brownies or homemade chicken finger egg mixture
7) Chop finely, add to taco meat (see recipe below)
6) Chop finely and add to soup about 10 minutes before serving. Adds a last shot of wonderful nutrients and enzymes.
5) Chop finely and add to spaghetti sauce, Chili, any entree.
4) Chop and add to scrambled eggs or quiche
3) Finely chop and add to your pets food. Our bearded dragons love Dandelion Greens best.
2) Blanch and freeze if you are in danger of them spoiling before you can use them.
1) Saute' with coconut oil and fresh garlic
Creative Ways to Use those Greens!

Tara's Tacos

(gluten-free, casein-free)
Here is a fairly quick, very easy recipe from our kitchen:

- 1 1/2 - 2 lbs of ground meat (grass fed beef, buffalo, turkey, etc.)
- 1 cup pureed squash (great to keep on hand)
- 1-2 cups finely chopped greens (dandelion, chard, kale, whatever shows up in your CSA basket)
- 1 large yellow onion
- Spices: tumeric, garlic, cumin, chili pepper, a dash of cayenne pepper, salt
- Freshly chopped Garlic clove
- Rice Chips, Sprouted crackers, Organic Tortilla Chips or serve over salad.
- coconut oil, or other stable fat for cooking such as farm lard or fresh butter

Heat skillet and a then add cooking fat. After oil gets hot, add garlic and onions and saute until golden. Add ground meat and squash puree. Add spices and let cook. Add chopped greens. Greens such as collards can be added with meat, and softer greens added later. Spice to your taste. ***Note: some greens may have a spicy taste to them. Dial that into your recipe.

FIXINS' on the side: chop more greens and lettuces to serve cold. Chop Tomatoes, salsa, raw cheese or grated carrots, farm fresh yogurts or coconut yogurt, beans, quinoa, brown rice, etc.

Serve Hot and Enjoy! Other variations include serving as a salad, deleting the "chip"/Starch thing all together, or using rice or whole grain soft tortillas.

***Note: some greens like collards are tougher, and hence tougher to digest. Cooking them with steam unlocks various nutrients is often times easier to digest and assimilate nutrients.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Relating Michael Pollan's Food Rules to Being a LOCAVORE

So I typically post articles that relate to local eating, or just talk about my journey as a locavore, but I am going to take a new angle for the next 64 posts!  Michael Pollan, the real food advocate, wrote a book with 64 simple rules on how to eat well.  I am going to post an entry based on each food rule and talk about how eating locally, being a locavore, relates to the food rule.  OK- not sure if this will even work, but here goes!

Pollan talks about how many 'foodlike' items exist on the market today. They all have crazy ingredients that we can't pronounce or know how and where they came from.  They keep for centuries on our shelves and are lucky to receive their own marketing campaigns to help make us 'want them'.  Well gees, this is an easy one!  When you eat food raised/grown/ or prepared locally, you don't have this issue.  Note when I say eat locally -I don't mean visiting McDonald's in your home town -I mean eating food either raised by you, or by people locally.  Typically you can find this food at either farmer's markets or through CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture programs).  I guarantee, that even the 'junk food' at the farmer's markets (a sweet cookie or homemade pie) are definately still real and wonderful food! 

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Closing the Local Food Gap

So I wanted to talk about one of the biggest road-blocks to being a LOCAVORE if you live in a 4 season area- WINTER!  Even if you preserve alot of your summer harvest, the winter time lacks the fresh vegetables that we all love.  One winter I tried not to eat veggies that weren't local and spinach and hydroponic lettuce were my only options.  This year two local farmers are attempting to break this trend by offering some interesting food options:
  • Second Spring Farm (http://www.secondspringfarm.com/)  is growing cold weather veggies and offering weekly pickups. The Pok Choi , Kale, and Tatsoi have been so delicious .... My hat goes off to David for attempting this feat! (pic is of some Hakurai turnips and Pok Choi that I purchased from SSF)
  • Moutoux Orchards (http://www.moutouxorchards.com/) has organized a CSA from December to March in which Rob has coordinated with local farmers for a monthly pickup of: 4 dozen eggs, mixed beef, chicken, and lamb assortment, 1 peck apples, 16 lbs vegetables, and unlimited freshly ground whole wheat flower or wheat berries.  I have had two pickups and it is so awesome to see so many people coming to get healthy local food.
This year I am attempting to be abit more local in my eating habits by growing some veggies in my own coldframe.  Thus far it is pretty awesome -- even though Virginia is having one of its coldest and snowiest winters ever! (below is a pic of my newly built coldframe)  So being local in the winter means to me:
  • Not eating as much fruit or a variety of fresh vegetables
  • Enjoying the produce I have preserved which is mostly fruit and tomaotes
  • Enjoying local meat from the cow and hog I purchased in the warm months
  • Figuring out how I can have a root cellar so I can preserve MORE!
So be CREATIVE, ask around, see what others are doing- and you may find that your local food gap is shrinking too!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Simple Food Rules

So today I read a great article by Michael Pollan on his new book, "Food Rules".  It is so simple yet so powerful, to heal our bodies we need to live by a few basic food rules. Give your body good building blocks and fuel- and it will in turn reward you with youth and vigor and health.  Since it is winter and cold I have more time to reflect on what my vegetable garden means to me.  It is not only an outlet for creativity and solace, but also a vehicle to provide nutrition and health to my family. This doesn't come from a bottle or get prescribed --- just good quality food.  So check out the full article and book!  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-pollan/food-rules-a-completely-d_b_410173.html
An excerpt:
#19 If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.
#36 Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.
This should go without saying. Such cereals are highly processed and full of refined carbohydrates as well as chemical additives.
#39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
There is nothing wrong with eating sweets, fried foods, pastries, even drinking soda every now and then, but food manufacturers have made eating these formerly expensive and hard-to-make treats so cheap and easy that we're eating them every day. The french fry did not become America's most popular vegetable until industry took over the jobs of washing, peeling, cutting, and frying the potatoes -- and cleaning up the mess. If you made all the french fries you ate, you would eat them much less often, if only because they're so much work. The same holds true for fried chicken, chips, cakes, pies, and ice cream. Enjoy these treats as often as you're willing to prepare them -- chances are good it won't be every day.
#47 Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.
For many of us, eating has surprisingly little to do with hunger. We eat out of boredom, for entertainment, to comfort or reward ourselves. Try to be aware of why you're eating, and ask yourself if you're really hungry -- before you eat and then again along the way. (One old wive's test: If you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you're not hungry.) Food is a costly antidepressant.
#58 Do all your eating at a table.
No, a desk is not a table. If we eat while we're working, or while watching TV or driving, we eat mindlessly -- and as a result eat a lot more than we would if we were eating at a table, paying attention to what we're doing. This phenomenon can be tested (and put to good use): Place a child in front of a television set and place a bowl of fresh vegetables in front of him or her. The child will eat everything in the bowl, often even vegetables that he or she doesn't ordinarily touch, without noticing what's going on. Which suggests an exception to the rule: When eating somewhere other than at a table, stick to fruits and vegetables.

Huh.....pretty simple!  I think that is the point, KEEP IT SIMPLE!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Moving in the right direction - local food support from the top!

Thought this was a great artilce....moving in the right direction!

USDA launches new local food initiative (09/15/2009) http://www.eenews.net/eenewspm/print/2009/09/15/7
Allison Winter, E&E reporter

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack launched a sweeping new federal initiative today aimed at breaking down some of the bureaucratic barriers to regional food systems and supporting local food.

The "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" campaign will employ existing USDA programs -- many of which have been solely focused on large-scale production agriculture -- to support local and regional food systems. For example, the administration announced plans today to alter its requirements for meat processing plants to allow small state-certified plants to ship across state lines for the first time. The new rules will alter previous requirements for a federal certification that kept some small ranchers near state borders from being able to ship their product to the nearest town.

The agency also released $4.8 million in grants for universities and programs across the country that focus on local agricultural jobs. And the agency also kicked off a new program that will look for ways to incorporate more local foods in school lunches. USDA plans to alter some food procurement rules for schools to allow them to buy minimally processed foods locally and invest at least $50 million per year in the program.

Today's announcements are the beginning of what Vilsack says will be a larger effort to direct an array of programs to help support local food systems. A task force will look for more opportunities to support local food systems in the coming year.

"By reconnecting consumers with local producers, we will create income opportunities for farmers, we can promote sustainable agricultural practices, and we can help generate wealth that will stay in rural communities," Vilsack said in an online video posted to launch the campaign. "And we can decrease the amount of energy used to ship food all over the world."

The new initiative has the potential to put significant resources and heft into a local foods movement that has grown in popularity over the past three years in citizen groups, restaurants and farmers markets across the United States but has previously not significantly touched federal policy. Advocates for local foods have criticized the federal government for investing billions of dollars each year in agriculture programs that do little to help very small farmers who grow fruit or vegetables or raise animals for consumption.

"This reflects a new attitude within USDA to recognize and serve the broad spectrum on American agriculture," said Aimee Witteman, executive director of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, who praised the new initiative.

Vilsack's No. 2 at the agency, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, is helping to lead the effort. Merrigan has long been an advocate for local and organic foods. Prior to joining the Obama administration, she researched sustainable agriculture and led the agriculture, food and environment program at Tufts University. Merrigan said in her confirmation hearings earlier this year that her "goal and passion" would be to make sure the Child Nutrition Act improves access to fresh food, especially fruits and vegetables in school lunch programs.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Invest in yourself- Grow your own fruit and berries!

So last year I invested in my family and I bought 4 fruit trees (2 apple, 1 nectarine, 1 pear) and 18 berry plants.  I knew that the payback would take some time, but I felt it was worth the wait.  Well now it has been one year since I planted these jewels, and I already got payback!  The heritage raspberries came as living 'sticks'- but are now branching and growing and I got two harvests from them.  It was such a surprise to see so much fruit on these plants that were literally sticks when they arrived.  My son who is three LOVES going out to pick berries and it is such a rewarding feeling to have fresh fruit right outside my door. 

The message: Consider investing in some fruit and berry plants this year.  Even if you don't have alot of room, there are new dwarf varieties that either grow in pots or only grow 6 feet in height. They also have disease resistent varieties that will assist in process of having 'organic' fruit free of pesticides.  NOTE: planting in the fall or early spring are the ideal times to plant....so do it NOW or wait until February/March depending on where you live (the operators at Stark Bros are VERY helpful)

I like ordering from Stark Brothers- they have a great variety and the plants are very healthy.  I even got a pear tree that has two varieties growing in one tree (they are grafted).  This means I don't need to buy two trees to pollinate one another, I have two varieties growing on one tree that pollinate one another! (note the catalog tells you if you need another tree to pollinate so you get fruit). http://www.starkbros.com/

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Intersting Food Numbers....WE CAN DO BETTER!

So I read this article on Kitchen Garden International, and I thought it was very interesting!  Full article available here: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/10/15-8 Check out these numbers. In the full article they actually have their sources for these numbers so that apparently they didn't just make them up. 
      • 1: number of new kitchen gardens planted at the White House this year
      • 1943: the last time food was grown at the White House White House
      • 20 million: the number of new gardens planted in 1943
      • 40%: percentage of nation's produce coming from gardens in 1943
      • 7 million: estimated number of new food gardens planted in the US in 2009
      • $2000: amount of savings possible per year from a 40' x 40' garden
      • 90%: percentage of fruit/vegetable varieties lost in the US the last 100 years
      • 3500: number of vegetable varieties owned by Monsanto Monsanto
      • 18,467: number of new small farms counted in the last agricultural census USDA
      • 4,685: number of farmers markets nationwide USDA
      • 4,100: number of Wal-mart stores and clubs in the US
      • (see article for full listing of figures)
      • 1: number of people needed to make a positive difference in any of the above: you!
So the very basic point in all of this is, wouldn't it be nice if everyone did abit of growing their own food?!  Our bodies health, and the planet's health are all tied together and if we pay attention to one we in turn impact the other.  So go ahead and grow some herbs, toss some lettuce seeds in those containers or turn that lawn into a food factory - you will be happy that you did.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Silence is going to end....

So my silence is ending and I am back in the saddle.....  Lots has been hapening in my life and I have had to direct my attention elsewhere :)

So I wanted to share a new site that is very interesting, it is called VEGGIE TRADER.com, the concept is to join people in local areas to swap/trade/buy excess veggie and fruit that they have.  Here is what they write about themselves:
"A very juicy lemon tree in our neighborhood that rarely got picked. The lonely lemons inspired us: how could we keep all the excess food people grow from going to waste?

Veggie Trader is our pilot effort to see if we can help more families eat well, make the most of the environment, and put more backyards to work for the benefit of neighbors, community and country.

We think knowing where your food comes from and supporting your local economy are more important these days than ever. And saving money (or making a little extra) doesn't hurt either"

Great concept.... I will have to see if anyone wants any of my Swiss Chard!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another good explanation of 'What is Organic'

So although I am always touting the benefits of buying and eating local, eating 'certified organic' is an option. In my opinion, I first look for local, and then buy organic if that is not available. I have written a previous post about the differences between the two, but found this nice article that helped sum it up. Enjoy!

"Excerpt from Weight Watchers.com http://www.weightwatchers.com/util/art/index_art.aspx?tabnum=1&art_id=38381&sc=3022#Story

With organic foods showing up everywhere, it pays to know what you're buying. As if there weren't enough to choose from at the grocery store, now foods labeled "organic" are showing up in every aisle-from bagged and loose produce to cereals, beverages, eggs, milk, poultry, meat, even cheese puffs and chips. Read the article below

Sporting the green and white organic label from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), these foods often have a price tag that's pennies more or sometimes double that of food without the label. But what are you buying? And when is organic food worth the extra cost?
To help decide what's best for you, here's what to keep in mind when considering buying organic.
What does organic mean? The USDA is in charge of making sure that foods with the organic label follow specific guidelines. To be labeled "organic" foods must meet the following conditions:
  • Produce must be grown without man-made pesticides, fertilizers, sewage sludge or irradiation.
  • Produce cannot be grown from seeds that have been genetically modified.
  • Animals that are raised organically, including milking cows and egg-laying chickens, must eat organic feed, must not receive antibiotics and must have access to the out-of-doors.
  • Grains must be grown without use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers and without artificial preservatives, irradiation or genetic engineering.
  • Processed/packaged foods labeled "100% organic" must contain all organically produced ingredients, including no artificial sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup, or trans fats.
  • Processed/packaged foods labeled "organic" must contain at lease 95 percent organic ingredients; remaining ingredients are approved for use in organic products.
  • Processed/packaged foods labeled "made with organic ingredients" must contain 70 percent organic ingredients.

While the USDA makes no claims that organic foods are safer, more nutritious or better in any way than conventional foods, some differences do exist. Studies show that some organic foods are higher in antioxidants than their conventional counterparts. "On average, when you look at foods that have been tested, organic foods are about 30 percent higher in antioxidants than conventional foods grown in the same area and picked on the same day," says Alan Greene, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford University's Lucille Packard Children's Hospital.

For example, USDA researchers found that the three brands of organic ketchup they tested had 55 percent more of the antioxidant lycopene than the non-organic brands they bought. One had double the amounts. At the University of Washington, ongoing studies show that organic strawberries have more vitamin C and antioxidants—and are sweeter—than conventional.
Another benefit of eating a diet of organic foods is that it may result in lower amounts of pesticides in your body. "Reducing exposure to pesticide and herbicide residues is always a desirable feature when choosing foods," says Jamie Stang, PhD, MPH, RD, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota. According to a University of Washington study, when a group of school kids switched to a diet of organically grown foods, the amount of pesticide residues in their urine dropped to undetectable levels. Then they went back on their regular diets. "The levels of pesticides shot right up above EPA safety levels," says Greene.
When is it worth it to buy organic?If you choose to buy organic, you'll want to know how to get the most for your grocery dollar. It will pay most to buy organic if you choose:

Foods that, when produced conventionally, contain a lot of pesticides.The USDA tests fruits and vegetables, analyzing the number of pesticides on each sample. The 12 with the most pesticides, according to an Environmental Working Group analysis, are: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes.

Foods that you eat most frequently or in great quantities.If your favorite fruits or vegetables contain a lot of pesticides when produced conventionally, and you eat them often, consider seeking out organic versions when possible.

Foods eaten by pregnant women and children under age three."During pregnancy and the first three years of life when the brain and organs are developing, kids are more susceptible to carcinogens, neurotoxins and hormonal disrupters," says Greene.

It doesn't pay to buy organic when:You're buying foods already low in pesticides.USDA tests show that the 12 fruits and vegetables with the fewest pesticide residues are: onions, avocados, frozen sweet corn, pineapples, mangos, asparagus, frozen sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli and papaya.

It's a food you don't eat often.Foods you consume only on rare occasions may be of less concern than those you have frequently or in large quantities.

You know where the food comes from and how it's grown.If you buy food at a farmer's market, ask how they raise their crops. Foods grown locally and consumed in season (peaches in summer, apples in the fall, for example) also tend to have fewer pesticides, Greene says.

You're buying fish.There are currently no USDA standards for fish. So if a fish is labeled "organic" there's no guarantee that it actually is.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How much can growing your own food REALLY save you?

So here is an excellent article from the Wall Street Journal on the economics of growing your own food:

"Michelle Obama has put a vegetable garden on the grounds of the White House. Sales of seeds and plants are soaring. And pro-garden groups are churning out studies that show huge paybacks on investing in a home garden. The nonprofit National Gardening Association just produced a study -- sponsored by ScottsMiracle-Gro Co. -- that found the average family with a vegetable garden spends just $70 a year on it and grows an estimated $600 worth of vegetables. George Ball, chairman and CEO of seed giant Burpee, can rattle off the savings for dozens of homegrown crops. Green beans will generate $75 worth of crops for each $1 you spend on seeds, Mr. Ball calculates. Even the lowly potato will generate $5 of spuds for each $1 you invest in seeds.

Does it all sound too good to be true? Depending on your situation, it may be. Neither Mr. Ball nor the National Garden Association study focus on how much you may have to sink into your garden before you can grow anything. TO READ FULL ARTICLE GO TO: http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB123983924976823051-lMyQjAxMDI5MzE5NjgxMzY5Wj.html"

NOTE: Garden start-up costs CAN BE SIGNIFICANT, but you can use local resources to keep those costs down. I recommend using the Lasagna Gardening Method of building soil, which is essentially sheet composting. This way you don't have to buy soil, but can build it with local materials. Remember Craig's List and Freecycle are excellent resources for finding free garden 'stuff'.

Keeping DEER OUT of the garden- Deer Resistent Plantings

Here is an interesting article from MARTHA STEWART online that talks about using Deer Resistent plantings to keep them away from your veggies and flowers. Many people have asked me for recommendations for how to keep deer out. Note I really recommend deer fencing as the best way to control them, but using plantings can help. Full article is here: http://www.marthastewart.com/article/deer-resistant-garden?xsc=stf_MSLO-ARTICLE They provide a very long list of plants - so check it out!

"Deer-Resistant Garden: The need to ward off unwelcome wildlife is a common problem for gardeners. For many that means deer, and if they live in your area,
chances are they will find their way into your garden sooner or later. By planting wisely with deer-resistant plants, you can decrease the chances of deer stopping by.Deer-resistant plants have pungent aromatic oils in their leaves that deter deer from munching on their leaves. Also, if leaves are hairy, such as lamb's ears, deer are likely to leave them alone. Plants such as hellebores are poisonous to deer. Plants with thorns on their leaves or stems are also likely to be left alone by deer, though they are not resistant against squirrels and other small animals. These plants should be used as fillers throughout your garden to spread the scent of aromatic leaves to deter deer. With proper planning, there is hope for planting in deer country."

Deer-Resistant Hardy Perennials
Agastache 'Golden Jubilee' ('Golden Jubilee' anise hyssop)
Ajuga reptans 'Black Scallop' ('Black Scallop' ajuga)
Conavllaria majalis (lily-of-the-valley)
Corydalis 'Berry Exciting' ('Berry Exciting' corydalis)
Corydalis cheilanthifolia (ferny corydalis)
Crambe cordifolia (giant seakale)
Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Craigieburn' ('Craigieburn' wood spurge)
Euphorbia cyparissias 'Fen's Ruby' ('Fen's Ruby' euphorbia)
Geranium wlassovianum (Wlassov's geranium)
Geum coccineum 'Borrisii' ('Borrissii' geum)
Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' (variegated Japanese wind grass)
Hedera helix (variegated English ivy)
Helleborus foetidus (bearsfoot hellebore)
Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)
Iris 'Gerald Darby' ('Gerald Darby' iris)
Lithodora diffusa 'Grace Ward' ('Grace Ward' lithodora)
Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea' (golden creeping Jenny)
Milium effusum 'Flashlights' ('Flashlights' wood millet)
Muscari botyrioides (grape hyacinth)
Narcissus 'Cheerfulness' ('Cheerfulness' daffodil)
Narcissus 'Tete a Tete' ('Tete a Tete' daffodil)
Origanum vulgare 'Aureum' (golden oregano)
Peucedanum officinale (giant fennel)
Polemonium 'Bressingham Purple' ('Bressingham Purple' Jacob's ladder)
Polygonatum falcatum 'Variegatum' (variegated Solomon's seal)
Rheum palmatum var. tanguticum (Chinese rhubarb)
Sagina subulata 'Aurea' (Scotch moss)
Symphytum x uplandicum 'Axminster Gold' ('Axminster Gold' comfrey)
Thymus praecox 'Highland Cream' ('Highland Cream' thyme)
Veronica peduncularis 'Georgia Blue' ('Georgia Blue' veronica)

Deer-Resistant Tender Perennials
Alternanthera "variegated" (variegated alternanthera)
Angelonia (angelonia)
Calibrachoa 'MiniFamous Blue' ('MiniFamous Blue' trailing petunia)
Clerodendron ugandense (blue butterfly flower)
Coprosma repens 'Taupata Gold' ('Taupata Gold' coprosma)
Coprosma 'Tequila Sunrise' ('Tequila Sunrise' coprosma)
Euphorbia 'Helena's Blush' ('Helena's Blush' euporbia)
Euphorbia martinii (wood spurge)
Helichrysum 'Icicles' ('Icicles' helichrysum)
Helichrysum petiolare 'Limelight' ('Limelight' licorice plant)
Heliotropium arborescens (heliotrope)
Ipomoea batatas 'Sidekick Lime' ('Sidekick Lime' sweet potato vine)
Nephrolepis exaltata 'Rita's Gold' (golden Boston fern)
Pelargonium 'Crystal Palace Gem' ('Crystal Palace Gem' geranium)
Pelargonium 'Vancouver Centennial' ('Vancouver Centennial' geranium)
Pelargonium 'Variegated Lemon' (variegated lemon geranium)
Salvia chamaedryoides (germander sage)
Salvia elegans 'Golden Delicious' ('Golden Delicious' pineapple sage)
Salvia greggii 'Purple' (purple Gregg's sage)
Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' ('Black and Blue' blue anise sage)
Salvia officinalis 'Icterina' (variegated culinary sage)
Salvia patens (gentian sage)
Sedum 'Lemon Ball' ('Lemon Ball' sedum)
Soleirolia soleirolii 'Aurea' (golden baby's tears)
Solenostemon cvs. (coleus)
Strobilanthes dyerianus (Persian shield)
Tradescantia pallida (purple heart)
Verbena 'Homestead Purple' ('Homestead Purple' verbena)

Deer-Resistant Shrubs
Acanthopanax sieboldianus 'Variegatus' (variegated fiveleaf aralia)
Buxus sempervirens (boxwood)
Buxus Sinica insularis (Justin Brouwers)
Buxus X (Green Mountain)
Corylopsis pauciflora (buttercup winterhazel)
Corylopsis spicata (spike winterhazel)
Cryptomeria japonica 'Sekkan Sugi' ('Sekkan Sugi' Japanese cryptomeria)
Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko' ('Nikko' slender deutzia)
Lonicera nitida 'Baggesen's Gold' ('Baggesen's Gold' boxleaf honeysuckle)
Physocarpus opulifolius 'Dart's Gold' ('Dart's Gold' ninebark)
Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon' ('Flying Dragon' hardy orange)
Spiraea 'Golden Elf' ('Golden Elf' spirea)
Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon' (Mellow Yellow spirea)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Food Grower TIPS

With the extreme interest in people starting food gardens, here are some tips for people just getting started. NOTE planning is very important!

1. Location- Ensure this location has at least 6 hours of good sunlight

2. Soil- It would be best to get a soil test done (you can do this through the local extension service). Next best is to test the pH of the soil (you can get a home test at the store) 6.5 is optimal for most plants. If all else fails, just all lots of organic materials such as manure, grass clippings (not fresh), old leaves, compost etc. This organic matter will help improve the texture of your soil and will pay you back ten fold.

3. Determine your garden objective- this year it may be to have a small successful garden that you enjoy to tend. Be realistic so at the end of the season you can feel proud. Note you may just want to teach your children, or eat fresh lettuce....

4. Determine what to plant - List out what you like to eat, and then determine what you can do in the space you have. One of the greatest mistakes of first time planters is to over plant, since seeds are so small and plants at first don't take alot of room it is easy to over do it. So be realistic. Look under FILES on the Loudoun Locavore site and there is a .pdf suggesting what you should buy from seed or as plants. Honestly if I was starting out, I would buy as much as I could in the plant form, and then next year take on the challenge of dealing with seeds and keeping them moist, and battling insects and birds.....

5. Plan out what will work best with your space- Kind of like a puzzle, take what you want to plant, and draw out what and where you will plant things. I think this is critical to being successful. So for example, you could plant sunflowers in the southern most facing area, then plant pole beans at the base (so they use the sunflowers as support). You could then plant some more cool shade plants (spinach) close to this, and then based on space, plant your other items. I really recommend VERTICAL gardening for small spaces. Basically you grow things UP instead of out. So things like tomatoes, pole beans, squash, watermelons, gourds, cantelopes etc. I will also be providing bamboo to make the supports. You can read up on this technique in the Square Food Garden literature

6. Plant your plants/seeds at the right time!!! Note you have cool weather and heat loving plants. This year I am starting with peas and spinach and lettuce NOW during the colder times, then I will pull these and plant my warm weather crops once frost danger has passed.

Phew--- so that may seem like alot, but if you plan properly -- then you can just let mother nature do the rest!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Getting that Garden Going!

On my other blog, Linna's Garden Journal (www.linnasgarden.blogspot.com), I am outlining, month by month, basic check-list of garden to do items. The weather is getting warmer, and so is our hunger for fresh vegetables.... check them out!

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Without getting into politics....this is very cool.

Good news for our food!

February 25, 2009 (pulled from an online announcement from The Organic Center)

The Organic Center would like to congratulate Kathleen Merrigan on President Obama's intention to nominate her to serve as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, the number two post in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Kathleen has served as a distinguished board member of The Organic Center over the past few years, giving generously of her time, ideas and energy. As chair of the Center's Science and Technical Advisory Council, Kathleen has helped direct The Organic Center's work with universities and research labs across the country and experts in agriculture, health and nutrition. As a result, Kathleen has assisted The Organic Center in furthering its mission to advance credible scientific research behind the health and environmental benefits of organic agriculture and products.
Kathleen's thorough knowledge of the science behind the organic benefit as well as her involvement at such a high level at USDA is sure to bode well for organic agriculture and sustainable food systems.

And it couldn't come at a better time. Research shows that organic farming can have a beneficial impact in helping to mitigate global climate change by tying up more carbon in healthy organic soils; that organic fruits and vegetables are higher in nutrients and antioxidants compared to their conventional counterparts; that the U.N. determined that organic farming can help fight world hunger and contribute to increased food security in Africa; and that dietary pesticide exposure can have significant adverse effects on children's health.

The Organic Center wishes Kathleen well in her nomination as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. She is sure to help build awareness of and interest in organic food and farming on a national level.

Steven Hoffman, Managing Director

About The Organic Center
The Organic Center, based in Boulder, CO, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2002 to generate and advance credible, peer-reviewed scientific research and information on the health and environmental benefits of organic food and farming – and to communicate those benefits to the public through education, resources and information. By doing so, it helps promote the conversion of farmland to organic methods, improve public health, and work to restore our natural world through more sustainable and ecological practices. All of The Organic Center's research reports and publications are available for free download at http://www.magnetmail1.net/ls.cfm?r=101723513&sid=5983605&m=673953&u=ORGANIC&s=http://www.organic-center.org/. Individuals can also sign up for our free monthly e-newsletter, The Scoop. Additionally, consumers can download a free pocket guide, Organic Essentials, and access our educational video on our home page. For information about The Organic Center, its current programs and scientific reports please visit http://www.magnetmail1.net/ls.cfm?r=101723513&sid=5983606&m=673953&u=ORGANIC&s=http://www.organic-center.org/ or call 303.499.1840.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Musings about winter.....

So just as my garden went to rest, so did my Locavore musings..... I guess I got caught up in enjoying all of my work from the growing season and just resting (and eating!)! But of course, being a locavore doesn't end just because the growing season does. So for this winter, here are the ways I tried to be local. Note it is VERY hard to be 100%, but we all do what we can:

  • Local free range eggs- this is one thing I really can't do without. Now that I am in love with those dark yolks, it is hard for me to like the store eggs. There are a few local vendors, and a small market that has many local eggs sellers.
  • Winter's Farmers Market- my town just started this. I have been really impressed with the selection - ostrich, beef, pastries, apples, and yummy German sausage's from Lothar! He is an artisan butcher and his brats are the best! The market is operated by http://www.smartmarkets.org/ Thus far I am very impressed!
  • Beef- I purchased 1/2 a cow earlier this season and I am barely denting my stash!
  • Veggies- Honestly I love my canned tomatoes, but my frozen veggies aren't impressing me much. Maybe I just hit a bag batch- but my beans just weren't the same blanched and frozen. I have been impressed with my dehydrated supply-- lots of yummy things to be done with dehydrated carrots, beets, squash etc. I do love the local hydroponic lettuce from endless harvest- sometimes you just need something fresh and green!
  • More veggies- So beyond what I saved from my garden, I tried and was successful with 1) growing my own Shitake mushrooms, they make the best omlets! 2) sprouting greens, great for using in green smoothies 3) my winter greens which lasted a good long time. My Kale is still holding on, even with the temp in the teens 4) my indoor garden....slow...but providig greens for smoothies and soups.

So overall - still lots of good thing local. I think the hardest thing is fruit. Sometimes you just want to feast on fruit and if you want to be local -- it isn't really feasible. Around here we have a good source of apples- but I must admit I have purchased some oranges, grapefruit, and pineapple from the store.

So the point- do the best you can! Be vocal, eat, think, and buy local!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Greens, Greens, EVERYWHERE!

I love greens. They come in a all shapes, sizes, tastes, and colors. We typically recognize them as romaine lettuce, spinach, tatsoi , curly greens, and swiss chard. What is amazing about these greens is that they possess more valuable nutrients than any other food group, and they can grow in a wide range of temperatures, including our Purcellville winters. Currently, in my outside winter garden I am growing kale, tatsoi greens, swiss chard, seven top turnips, and southern curly greens. I planted these in September and they were ready to start harvesting in a few weeks. Once the cold really set in I mulched them with some leaves from my yard and I am happy to say that just yesterday I harvested some kale and added it to some soup I was cooking. Although I may not be able to grow tomatoes in December, it is nice to have a fresh tatsoi salad (very similar to spinach) or some sautéed swiss chard when the wind is howling outside. When growing your own greens, it is important to know that each green prefers a certain temperature, so make sure you read the planting instructions before you plant them. In the spring when the nights are still cold I will plant lettuce, spinach, tatsoi, and some kale. As the weather warms up I will switch to some ‘faux’ spinach varieties that do well in heat and some heat tolerant varieties of lettuce. You will know when you need to make the switch to other varieties because lettuce ‘bolts’ (grows quickly and sets its seed head) when the temperatures get warm and the leaves get a bitter taste.

Eating greens is always such an adventure. From soups, to stir frys, they have many uses. They are also nutritionally supreme, provide an excellent source of protein, and are the one group of foods that most completely match human nutritional needs. I never met a green I didn’t like, so be creative! One way I love to take in greens in by drinking green smoothies. By blending the greens with other fruits and vegetables, you break them down so your body can better absorb all the nutrients. Now the color may put some people off, but the flavor is clean and crisp and delicious. My favorite combination is spinach, granny apple, peaches and strawberries. Add abit of juice and water and blend away!

If you like your greens cooked, here is great recipe that I like to call Glorious Greens Lasagna: Preheat oven to 375. Melt 3 TBSP of butter in a small pot and sprinkle 4 TBSP of flour and mix. Cook until combined and whisk in 3 CUPS of milk. Season with salt, pepper, and add 1 cup of cheese (parmesan or whatever your favorite) and set the sauce aside. In another large pan, heat some about 2 TBSP olive oil, and add 2 cloves of chopped garlic and cook until light brown. Chop up 3 bunches of greens (spinach and/or swiss chard) and toss into the oil and garlic and sauté until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Take 1 box of no-boil lasagna noodles and break into large pieces and mix into the greens until incorporated. Pour the sauce from the small pan into the larger pan with the greens and pasta and mix. Pour this whole mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle 1 cup of cheese over the top. Put the casserole into the oven and cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and let it finish cooking uncovered for about 15 more minutes or until the top is brown.

Looking for greens locally, even during the dead of winter? Right here in Purcellville there is a very unique operation that grows greens hydroponically. This means that they don’t use soil, but suspend the plants in water with nutrients to grow. They are called Endless Summer Harvest and if you haven’t tried them, you should! Getting a bag of mixed salad greens never tasted so good! For more information go to http://www.esharvest.com/. Happy Eating!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Indoor Gardening!

Here is a copy of the column that I write for the Blue Ridge Leader, in Purcellville, VA:

Many people think that the winter is a time for your garden to sleep, but it is also a time for my indoor garden to flourish. I went from ripping out my tomatoes and saying goodbye to my summer vegetables to planting garlic and a variety of greens on a card table in my bathroom. My mantra for this season is, "when the weather outside is frightful, garden inside.” I am not talking about growing food in a greenhouse, or anything high-tech. You can grow healthy vegetables and greens all winter by investing in a grow light, selecting a variety seeds that grow well inside, and learning techniques for sprouting seeds (sprouting seeds is different than growing the seeds, there is no soil and you eat the sprouts). You can start your indoor garden anytime you get the craving for some fresh vegetables. This year I began mine in November and am anxiously awaiting my first harvest. This small garden won’t fully sustain my family this winter, but it will add some fresh and tasty greens to my dinner routine. It also provides me an outlet to get my hands dirty, enjoy the smell of soil, and savor the taste of a fresh garden harvest. Who wouldn’t love some fresh lettuce or garlic greens mid-January?

It is important to know that not all vegetables will grow inside, and the ones that do won’t grow to the size that they do outside. With that said, you can still have a great variety of vegetables. This year I am growing: Bibb and Boston lettuce, radishes (which take about 6 weeks to develop and are milder than those grown outside), carrots (the short variety), Chinese cabbage (which grows tender, crisp and delicious under lights), beets (which won't grow to the outside garden size but a small bunch in February will do), spinach, parsley, chives, and dill. In addition, I plan to grow some container greens, also called micro greens, which are a mix of vegetables which you do not grow to maturity and you start taking cuttings after the third set of leaves develop . These are a great and nutritious addition to salads, soups, and sandwiches. I am growing a mix of lettuces, chards, onions, and herbs. Another interesting mix combines cress, basil, arugula, endive, escarole, radicchio, chicory, and mustard. I order my seeds from the Pinetree catalog (http://www.superseeds.com/) and they provide an impressive variety of vegetables, micro greens, and sprouting seeds. Both the micro greens and vegetables grow best in soil (best combination is 1/3 potting soil, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 compost) in 4-5 inch pots or flats. The grow lights should be suspended 6 inches above the plants. Remember, plants under lights need to be left on longer than the sun normally shines. A good rule of thumb is 18 hours on, 6 hours off. So turn your grow lights on in the morning, and shut off before you go to bed. Plants need sleep too.
Sprouting seeds is different because you do not use soil, you do not need sunlight, and your objective is to sprout the seed and then eat it. I use either a glass mason jar with a mesh lid or a sprouting bag (made with natural fibers that provides good air circulation and drainage). The general process is to soak the seeds overnight, and then to rinse them twice daily for about 3-4 days depending on the type of seeds you are sprouting. They can be used in salads, stir frys, and green smoothies. This year I am trying mung beans (crisp taste similar to raw peas), lentil , barley, wheat, and alfalfa (high in nutrients with a delicate flavor and crisp texture). For an interesting variety, go to the Natural Mercantile in Hamilton where you can buy both the sprouting container and the organic seeds in bulk.
So no matter the season, there are always interesting ways to grow your own food. Let your imagination go and be creative! Happy eating.

Send any comments or questions to vafoodscaper@gmail.com.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"When the weather outside is frightful" FOOD GARDEN inside!

Ok- I keep delaying this post because I want to reflect on this year's growing season....but literally I don't have ANY TIME to do that! I went from ripping out my tomatoes and saying goodbye to my summer veggies, to hauling manure, gathering leaves, digging new beds, picking my fall garden bounty, planting garlic and planning my winter garden!

So my new mantra for this season is, "when the weather outside is frightful", just garden INSIDE! OK, I know many are wondering what this really means- and I am not talking about growing food in a greenhouse, or anything hightech like hydroponic. It is quite simple - I can grow healthy veggies and greens ALL WINTER by:
  1. investing in a grow light and growing a few select veggies
  2. growing micro greens
  3. sprouting greens

So exciting! I already invested in grow lights last year to help with sprouting seeds in the spring, but now I will put them to better use. I think I am so excited about trying these indoor gardening techniques because I am trying to go all winter without buying any veggies from the store. I diligently canned and froze and dehydrated my garden just so I could enjoy them in the deep of the winter. Supplementing these veggies with some fresh greens will keep my spirits high until the spring comes again. My inspiration comes from two sources, The Adventurous Gardener by Nancy Wilkes Bubel and the Pinetree Garden Seeds Catalog (http://www.superseeds.com/). They have dictated that this winter I will be growing (drum roll please..)

  • Lettuce (bibb and boston lettuce)
  • Radishes- take about 6 weeks to develop and are abit milder than those grown outside
  • Carrots- the short variety
  • Chinese Cabbage- grows tender, crisp and delicious under lights
  • Beets- won't grow to the outside garden size but a small bunch in February will do!
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Chives
  • Dill

I plan to also grow some container greens. As stated in the Pinetree catalog, "micro greens have recenlty become the rage in trendy restaurants. They can easily be grown in a window box or under lights. After the third set of leaves begin to develop, begin to take cuttings with scissors. You can continue cutting every few days for several weeks." Note this is different than sprouting greens...well at least I think so! The micro greens I got are:

  • Healthy Blend Mix- includes broccoli, spinach, a number of lettuces, and kale
  • Pinetrees Kitchen Sink Mix- huge blend includes many greens, lettuces, chards, onions, and herbs.
  • Bok Choy-Ching Chang- basically baby bok choy. Can start cutting within 45 days and continue to harvest the delicious leaves for another 40 or so days.
  • Seedling Pea- restuarants hav begun using these tasy pea leaves in salads and they are very easy to grow. Start cutting leaves after a month, 10 days later blossoms will appear, and 20 days later some of the cutting will include small pea pods. This is a branching variety so you can continue to cut over a long period.

So there you go! I will keep updates of my progress and hopefully I will be eating well this winter!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Another Great Post by LocalHarvest

So each month I just love the newsletters posted by LocalHarvest (http://www.localharvest.org/) I always find them insightful, timely and interesting. This month they talk about many things, the Food Declaration initiative and then dairies, and organic dairies to be specific. Seems there are many loopholes that allow dairies to say they are organic, but not what you might expect. I am not expert- so see her reference to the Cornucopia Institute report.

Note that in our effort to all be healthier and eat local food, we all can't find a local dairy that uses sustainable methods, so organic is/could be the next best option. Unfortanately not all Organic milk was created equal so WE ALL MUST BE VIGILANT in making good decisions. So here is a resource to help you make that decision! Here is the article and link to the milk report http://www.cornucopia.org/dairysurvey/index.html

LocalHarvest Newsletter, October 30, 2008
Welcome back to the LocalHarvest

Last night as my husband was going through the mail, he held up a dozen political mailers from both parties and asked, "What if they just weren't allowed to out and out lie? It would be so much better if what they said was at least true." Indeed. In these final days before the election, we at LocalHarvest have ears for only two kinds of words: those that give shape to the hope we carry for the future, and those that shine a bright light on dark corners.

In this issue of the LocalHarvest newsletter, we offer you one example of each. First, the hope. Good, honest food is making a comeback. Hallelujah. Beyond the table, we are seeing that food is central to many social ills. Pesticide abuse, food safety, obesity, immigration issues, climate change, gene patents, water quality – these issues and more are rooted in part in our collective approach to food. We know we can do better. The time has come to give voice to what a healthy food system would look like. Some of the finest minds in modern agriculture have carefully crafted a manifesto declaring just this. They call it the Food Declaration. It's meant to be used as a foundation for future agricultural policy, and a point of common agreement among food activists across the nation. The authors are looking to get a million individuals and organizations to endorse it. We think it's an excellent effort and well worth signing.
Now for the bright light on dark shadows. I have been wanting to write about dairy for a while now, but it keeps getting bumped down the list. Truth be told, one of the reasons for this desire was my discovery of Dexter dairy cows. They're miniature cows. Aren't they adorable? I want one for Christmas.

Anyway, back to the bright light. We know that all organic food is not the same, right? If it's grown on a vast scale, it carries many of the same problems as mega-scale conventional food. This goes double for dairy products. You've heard that despite organic rules, a few organic dairies milk thousands of cows held in confinement. So how are you supposed to know if the organic milk you're buying is really something you want to support? Thankfully, the Cornucopia Institute has made it easy. Their recently updated Organic Dairy Scorecard lists all the organic dairies in the country and gives each a rating, from one to five stars. The ratings criteria is described in their milk integrity report. Check it out, and stick to the good stuff if you can. Read on for an update on our pricing survey, health info about the brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and their cousins) and a recipe. As always, take good care, eat well and remember to vote!

Erin BarnettDirector,

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Check out my new LOGO!

Friday, October 24, 2008

When you have Green Tomatoes.....Make Jam!

So an unusual post that not all will like...but here is an interesting approach to using all of those green tomatoes that we saved from the frost!

First you take green tomatoes:

Then you grate them, add sugar, add a packet of rasberry jello, boil for 15 minutes, pour into jars and cool ..... and

It is REALLY good. Now I know it isn't real jam, but it is a VERY good mock jam that even looks like the real thing! Full recipe is: 3 cups grated green tomatoes, 1-1.5 cups sugar, 1 packet of jello. Boil for 15 minutes, pour into jars, cool, then refridgerate or freeze! Talk about really being local and using IN SEASON PRODUCE!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ode' to the First Frost....

Well here I am, sitting in my warm house reflecting this year's garden.....tonight the first killing frost is predicted and I must say goodbye to this year's core growing season. Now don't get me wrong, things are still growing, my kale, tatsoi greens, garbanzo beans, lettuce, and turnips - but the bulk of my garden will look droopy and will destined for the compost pile.....

So my real adventure begins now. My objective for this year's garden was to grow and preserve enough food to feed my family (for veggies only) for the entire winter. I have diligently canned and dehydrated and frozen and NOW is my time to break into my stash. Wow - during the height of the season this day couldn't come quick enough, and now- it seems it came too quick. Here is a snapshot of all of the canned and dehydrated treats that are waiting to be cooked!

So in one last stance, I blanketed up my tomatoes in hopes it would protect them from the cold. I know, a futile attempt, but the attempt at least made me feel better, and provides a very funny picture!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Establishing a New Network...

In an attempt to carve out a more national niche for locavore information sharing, I have started a new network, a social locavore network, on something called Ning. It allows discussions, blogs, and all sorts of communication. I just set it up, so not much information now- but I have several forum's set up on topics of different gardening styles, kid's gardens, Food in the News etc. I also have a recipe of the week based on local and in-season produce (and I am basing it on VA seasonal produce).

So if you can check it out - share with friends - and get engaged!

You are one link away: http://locavoreliving.ning.com/

Happy eating and Living!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Is it more expensive to eat local food?"

So everyone seems to ask me this question as well... and I really don't know the answer. I then read the most recent newsletter from LOCAL HARVEST (http://www.localharvest.com/) and here they addressed it head on. They don't have any answers, but are looking to do some collective research on the topic.

"What I have in mind is a kind of collective research project. This newsletter will go out to about 50,000 people. Certainly a few dozen of you might be interested in doing a little comparative shopping over the next couple of months and maybe again in the spring? I have a spreadsheet that I will send to anyone who is interested. You can fill out the portions of it that apply to the foods that are in season where you live, and send it back to me. We’ll compile all the data and report the findings back to the group. If you are interested in learning more about participating in this grassroots research, please contact me. "

I plan on getting this spreadsheet and will post to my LOUDOUN LOCAVORES group. You can join this group by going to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Loudoun_Locavores/

So wouldn't you like to know the answer?? Let's see what we find out!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Making the paper -- spreading awareness.

So they wrote an article about me and used the word LOCAVORE in the story! The title is: Linna Ferguson: Fearless Fighter for Fit Food. How funny is that?! Anyhow it is all about awareness and getting people to think about their food more. If you want to read the whole article, shoot me an email at vafoodscaper@gmail.com. The word is spreading!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Food Prayer

"Here is a food Prayer that Rudolf Steiner created. This prayer addresses the soul which sprouts within as do the plants outside which provide our nourishment. It points to the relationship of the germinating, sprouting, ripening of this earth food with the soul-spiritual sprouting and ripening process.

In the darkness of the earth the seed is awakened.

In the power of the air the leaves are quickened.

In the might of the sun the fruit is ripened.

Thus in the shrine of the heart the soul is awakened.

In the light of the world the spirit is quickened.

In the glory of God man's power is ripened.

Rudolf Steiner allegedly said once that through these words, if spoke in the propoer manner, a health-giving element will affect man down into his digestive processes" (Gerhard Schmidt, Dynamics of Nutrition)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

LIFE is wonderful and wonderful is LIFE!

Most of my posts have been about 'locavorian' issues, but today I want to be abit more personal and to sing the praises of gardening! So in my earlier posts you saw me preparing my garden for this year -- well now we are late in July and my garden is providing me all of its glorious bounty! If you want to read about the specifics, go to my garden blog: http://www.linnasgarden.blogspot.com/

So this morning I went out to the garden to do some picking and pruning and I was just overwhelmed with energy as my garden literally hummed around me! LIFE IS WONDERFUL AND WONDERFUL IS LIFE! Gosh, the sun was streaming in - the bees were whizzing about- my plants are bursting with fruit - and I paused to just soak it in..... What a wonderful balance I have here. I fed my soil and my plants are reacting in kind. The rains of the season have treated us well and daily I have new surprises to harvest. I have no idea what to do with it all! Each day I collect fruit, and think of new ways to eat or preserve my pieces of sunshine. They are all my babies and I realized that I will miss my garden family come winter. Each day my garden gives me something new: a new rush, a new fruit, a new bug, a new challenge, a new flavor, a new sensation ... I LOVE THEM ALL! It is also so fun to watch the different plants and how they interact together. They all have characters like:
  • my 'bully' birdhouse gourds, they just keep creeping on top of all of the other plants! At first I was hesitant to cut back anything, but now I am cutting back at will!
  • my 'simple' minded cucumbers, they are fine climbing my trellis support, but unless I tie them up, they forget and fall to the side
  • my 'calm' pole beans, they just keep climbing and climbing, even where there isn't anymore supports! They have been losing out to the birdhouse gourds.....but I am helping them take back some territory!
  • my 'crazy' tomatoes that need a good haircut
  • my 'bold' butternut squash that spreads like a wildfire and gets into everything!
  • my 'flamboyant' squash that has gorgeous leaves and shelters her tender fruits
  • my 'steadfast' Swiss chard that consistently produces week by week!
  • my 'sneaky' sweet potato that is stealthy in its vines
Can't you see, it is like I have a soap opera happening in my back-yard! So here is to being caught in the food web and loving it. I am now planning my fall garden to make sure I can keep this feeling going as long as I can -- it is keeping me mentally, physically and spiritually fit!

Monday, June 23, 2008

I want to be FEARLESS....change, here I come!

So this article really, really inspired me. It really sums up well my feelings for what we/I are going through. Since it so well written, here it is (with my fave parts bolded!)

"LocalHarvest Newsletter, June 23, 2008 Things are different. You feel it too, right? With gas prices soaring, Iowa flooding, salmonella striking tomatoes, and a global food crisis threatening, it seems to us that America is finally, slowly waking up. The world is not what it seemed to be. Change feels inevitable in ways it didn't even a few months ago. The question now is not so much whether the collective we is going to change, but how - with what frame of mind. As we alter our consumption patterns, food and otherwise, we must be aware of how we approach change. We can be anxious or relaxed, defensive or curious, fearful or joyful. The differences are vast and vital.

Many of us live lives that are overly determined by convenience. Day to day decisions are made as if expediency and ease were our highest values. So habituated are we to these conveniences, so dependent on our luxuries (chocolate, coffee, bananas), that the idea of going without them actually makes us feel afraid. But fear - of scarcity, of change - is a terrible master. It makes us forget our own creativity and adaptability. We mistake the way it is for the way it has to be. In that mindset, there is no way to discover something that might be better.

Last month LocalHarvest was featured on a radio program out of Sacramento. The host started with the usual questions about how to define 'local' and how the website works. Once the conversation turned to actually buying local food, though, it became personal and he was stumped. Northern California offers astounding agricultural abundance, but this fellow could not see his way to buying this extraordinary produce directly from a farmer. He was used to shopping at Safeway, and the idea of deviating from the safe way (ironic, isn’t it?) made him tense. Shopping at a farmers market requires too much trust, he said, plus it's an extra trip and the veggies would sit in the frig drawer and rot anyway. Hmmm...

That interview stands out as an example of the kind of thinking we as a nation need to leave behind. If we greet every new idea with excuses that aim to defend our old ways, we will be lost. The future belongs to those who can walk lightly, willing to shift as needed, alert for the next ingenuity. If we let ourselves be afraid of this rapidly changing economy, it would be easy to lose site of the great beauty and new opportunities that surround us. If we keep ourselves relaxed and open, we will find ourselves reveling in the great gifts of this life: the beauty of nature, the comforting joy of friendship, the spark of creativity, and the civility of true community.

And then we will be fearless. "

Friday, June 20, 2008

Farmer's Markets 101

As the season progresses and farmer's markets are swinging into full gear, I thought it would be interesting to describe some of the dynamics that make them a truly unique shopping experience. I got some inspiration from the Cincinatti Locavore blog -- and I added my own commentary. So here goes- Farmer's Markets 101:

  1. Devote some time - There are so many things that can touch your senses at these markets, that you should really devote some time to walking, talking, looking, and trying food. It isn't like shopping at your local market - all of your senses will be engaged, so let them explore.
  2. Ask questions, don't be shy- Take the opportunity to talk the farmers about the food you are buying. Ask them about their farming practices, how they deal with insects/pests, when was this food harvested etc. There truly is not stupid question - so ask away. You might even meet some like minded folks and get lost in chatter.
  3. Price of real food - If you are new to farmer's markets, you will notice the prices may be higher than your typical supermarket- but you will be happy to know that you are truly paying the price for raising real food and that these farmers are an integral part of your local economy. In this venue, sale in aisle 5 is completely foreign. You can buy knowing that the quality, taste, and freshness cannot be matched by those chain stores.
  4. When its gone, its gone. Since smaller farmers only grow a certain amount of certain produce, make sure to show up early is there is something you particularly want. It isn't uncommon for eggs and roaster chickens to sell out at my farmer's market.
  5. Season dictates the selection- Don't be surprised if there are no tomatoes in June..... a farmer's market truly depicts the produce that is in season for the area. So although 'tomato looking' things are sold year round in the supermarket - take a leap of faith and try to cook with what is in season- and you might find that making dinner decisions is alot simpler.
  6. Try something new- If there are some foods you are unfamiliar with, take a chance, talk to the farmer and try something new. Often helps to have the vendor suggest ways to prepare the food.
  7. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder- Not all food looks uniform and 'perfect'. Industrial food producers have often shaped the way we perceive food and have framed 'perfect looking food' as something we equate to quality. Well toss that idea out and know that food that is raised consciously and does not overuse pesticides and fertilizer create a new look of perfection.
  8. (I am copying this one verbatum as I thought it stated the point perfectly)

Become part of the process. When you shop at a supermarket, you're simply an eater. You have a very limited part in the process of bringing food to your table. When you shop at a farmers' market, you have an opportunity to become part of the process, but only if you take advantage of that opportunity. If you treat the farmers' market like shopping at Safeway, you'll probably be disappointed.

So there you have it - some tips and tricks and highlights on how you can create a true SHOPPING EXPERIENCE! Most of all - have fun!

For a full list of Loudoun County, VA farmer's markets- see the links section.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

SKANIAUS= good eating.

So check this out, a real FRESH and local meal. Peas from my garden, sauteed in butter and fresh Queso Blanco sauteed in butter and garlic. YUM! I literally made everything in this meal and it was such a reward to savor it. Now it wasn't the butter that made this meal so good - it was that rewarding feeling of eating what I made. Now as I ate this meal - it made me think about the love of food and GOOD EATING (i.e. skaniaus, a lithuanian word I use to start each meal).

Food is such a part of our lives, yet our culture has moved away from spending the required time to prepare our meals. With this, I think we have also lost some of the sensation of enjoying food, enjoying the experience, and allowing our bodies to enjoy its nourishment. There are so many things competing for our time, that eating sometimes loses out to other activities. Now I am a mom and have a full time job, so I understand the pressures of time- but 'breaking for food' may not only be good for our bodies, but our souls and minds. The point is, whatever you eat, take the time to enjoy the flavor, the taste, the act of eating. Once we start savoring our food - the rest of life's experiences follow :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Getting tangled in the Food Web (it's a good thing)

So I know I haven't written in awhile, been more of a work-a-vore than a locavore these days. My most recent pondering on LOCAVORIAN issues was WHY I am making such an effort for my food. It is certainly plentiful in the chain supermarkets, but WHY do I go to great lengths to know WHERE my food comes from, WHO grew it, HOW they handled/processed it, and WHAT their gardening principles are. I have stressed before how buying local is great for your physical health and the health of your local economy- but there is much more to it. It is then I realized the importance of BEING TANGLED IN THE FOOD WEB... Read on (from Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food):

"Health is, among other things, the product of being in these sorts of relationships in a food chain - a great many such relationships in the case of an omnivorous creature like man. It follows that when the health of one part of the food chain is disturbed, it can affect all the other creatures in it. If the soil is sick or in some way deficient, so will be the grasses that grow in that soil and the cattle that eat the grasses and the people who drink the milk from them. Our personal health cannot be divorced from the health of the entire food web"
I stress over my food because I understand how we (all living things) are all connected and I want to make my web strong. I acknowledge my impact on this earth, and its impact on me - and because of that I am choosing to respect the quality of my food.

I am proud to be a LOCAVORE, hear me roar!