Posts Tagged ‘health’

???????????????????????????????My dad called yesterday evening to tell me that there are six brand-new piglets in this world that will eventually find a home at Stone’s Throw Farm! It’s not as many as we’d hoped from this litter, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. They’re cute as can be, based on a couple photos my mom sent of the piglets napping under their heat lamp.

The piglets will have a good life — they’ll eat nutritious food (with no antibiotics added) and enjoy a low-stress environment outdoors with each other for company and plenty of shelter, fresh water to drink, and things to do (i.e., rooting in the soil, of course).

There’s no such thing as health insurance for pigs, but if there was, these pigs would surely get credit for their healthy lifestyle. You get credit for going to the gym, right? Now, you could also get credit for being a member of a CSA farm.

Stone’s Throw Farm has been approved for a new Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association program called the CSA Wellness Initiative, and HealthShare is the first company to participate in our area. It’s an exciting new development spearheaded by Jamie Harvey of ISF, and I hope you’ll check out HealthShare and/or encourage your own health insurance company to join in.

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goodfoodnetworkFriday & Saturday, March 8 & 9:  Good Food Transforming our Region Summit

About the keynote:

Dr. [David] Wallinga applies a systems lens to think about health impacts of food and how it is produced, processed, packaged and distributed in today’s global, industrialized food system.”

About the workshops:

Through the lens of food, workshops will include topics such as economic development and jobs, farmer and producer networking, food access, policy advocacy, healthy food, research and infrastructure, food hubs, and farm to school.”

CSA_OpenHouse03-14-13Thursday, March 14: FREE  CSA Open House

Stop by the Zeitgeist Arts Lobby between 5-7 pm to:

  • Meet local farmers (including ME!)
  • Learn about your share options
  • Choose the right CSA for your family

Friday, March 22:  Farmers Take the Stage

Everyone is welcome at this much-anticipated annual event. In addition to great music by great farmers, there will be a silent auction, stories, humor and more.”

This event is a benefit for the non-profit Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association.


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I really enjoyed the session on selling local food to institutional buyers at the Lake Superior Farming Conference last weekend. Rick Beckler, Director of Hospitality Services at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, WI, is a very good speaker, and his enthusiasm for local food was heartening. Co-presenter Pam Herdrich, RC&D Coordinator for River Country Resource Conservation and Development Council, was charming as well.

The two talked about the Producers and Buyers Cooperative of Western Wisconsin, which formed in 2008. It’s kind of like CSA, but on an institutional level. Sacred Heart was the first institution to sign on, and Rick had some pretty amusing stories about working out the kinks in the system. For example, the day the hospital staff were cooking the first local chickens, they called Rick down to the kitchen, saying there was a problem. They told him the chicken tasted excellent, but the pieces were too big to fit on the patient and cafeteria trays!

Rick applauded Sacred Heart CEO Steve Ronstrom’s committment to local food, which comes from the simple belief, “Local food is good medicine.” It makes sense, right — for a hospital to feed its patients the freshest, healthiest food available? Steve wrote a letter to the editor to that effect in July 0f 2008 and continues to be a driving force behind Sacred Heart’s committment to local food.

Institutions in the Twin Ports are getting on board, too. One example is Duluth’s St. Luke’s Hospital, which was recognized by the governor along with the Institute for a Sustainable Future for their Healthy Food in Healthcare Project.

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The Rodale Institute has a new campaign, “Demand Organic,” that includes a great Q&A section called “All About Organic.” Among other questions, it covers “Why does organic cost more?” and “What’s better, organic or local?”  In case you’re wondering, Stone’s Throw Farm veggies will be raised using organic methods, though not certified organic — at least not this year. Organic certification is a topic that deserves its own post … some other day!

Not to sound like a Rodale commercial, but they also have a pretty good article on how to eat organic on a budget. My only beef with it is that not a lot of people on a tight budget have a chest freezer (or even room for a chest freezer, if they’re apartment dwellers), and if you’re trying to freeze enough fruits and veggies (when they’re in season) to last the winter, you need quite a bit of space, depending on household size. But every little bit counts, so it’s a good idea to freeze what you can. And you can always put a little chest freezer in the dining room and cover it with a tablecloth, right, Mom?

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In this interview published today in The Washington Post, Michelle Obama talks more about exercise than eating well, but the article does mention her garden — so cool. I hope there are plenty of kids eating Stone’s Throw Farm veggies this summer and visiting the farm, too! 

A couple other things popped into my head while reading the article.  Obama talks about the barriers to getting kids playing outside, such as unsafe neighborhoods. How about 40 below windchills and six months of winter? Around here, a lot of people seem to limit their outside time to dashes from cars to buildings. I once heard a Wintergreen employee say, “There’s no bad weather; only bad gear.” Their stuff is expensive (I’m sure it’s worth every penny), but … a cheap pair of good old-fashioned long underwear also can do wonders.

The other evocative part of the interview for me was Obama talking about exercise being family time with her dad. On my 10th birthday, my dad poured a concrete slab for my sister and me to use as a basketball court. It was just a little bigger than the free throw lane and key, and I spent a ton of time there. I know Dad loved seeing us out there while he went about his work, and he’d stop and play a game of horse sometimes or shoot a few with me on his way by. Unfortunately, the practice time didn’t seem to do too much for my shot, but at least it kept me moving.

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It’s the time of year when farmers everywhere get together and exchange notes. Many of my farmer friends attended the MN SFA conference on Saturday , and many are heading to the MOSES conference this coming weekend. I’m holding out for the Lake Superior SFA’s conference in Superior on March 5-6 (you’re invited, too!).

It sounds like Vermont farmers had an interesting discussion with community organizer LaDonna Redmond from Chicago at the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) of Vermont’s annual winter conference. She raised a question that has been on my mind quite a bit these past few weeks while marketing Stone’s Throw Farm’s summer shares — Who has access to local, organic food?

Most of us in the Twin Ports are lucky enough to be able to develop a connection to the land and our food if we want — there are quite a few small farms located just outside of town. I’m very aware that there are plenty of people in the Twin Ports who don’t have a car and therefore can’t visit Stone’s Throw Farm on their own, however. There are plenty of people here who can’t afford to buy a summer share, either. That’s one reason why I love that the Duluth Farmer’s Market and the Whole Foods Co-op are located in the Hillside, where not everyone has a car.

Other CSA farms have invited their members to contribute more than the standard price of a share if they are able, to help pay for a share for someone who couldn’t otherwise afford to buy one. I really like that idea — how about you? Any other ideas about how to make sure everyone in our community has access to healthy, whole foods?

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You know your doctor, but you might only visit him/her once a year. You eat every day. Do you know your farmer?

Knowing your farmer is just one of the many benefits of CSA. The Wild Things CSA website has a great summary of the benefits for both farmers and consumers:

Advantages for farmers: 

  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

Advantages for consumers:

  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
  • Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

I hope to meet all of the Stone’s Throw Farm members in person at some point during the season. All members will be welcome to visit the farm, and I’ll probably see many of you at the drop-off site(s) on the day you pick up your share. We might host some events for members at the farm, too — it will depend on the amount of interest from farm members.

Yesterday I sauteed these veggies for Vegetable Chowder, a Moosewood Cookbook recipe. Everything was fresh from the Food Farm root cellar or frozen last summer by yours truly!

Will you really be “exposed to new vegetables?” Many of the vegetables I plan to grow at Stone’s Throw Farm will be very familiar to you:  carrots, potatoes, brocolli, beans, peas, tomatoes, squash, etc. But there may be a few you haven’t used before, such as celeriac, collards, fennel, parsnips … sound familiar? If not, don’t worry! I’ve collected dozens of great recipes, and I’ll share many of those recipes with Stone’s Throw Farm members throughout the season. I’ll invite members to submit their favorite recipes as well.

What about new ways of cooking? Besides trying new recipes, you might find yourself planning your meals a little differently after joining a CSA — I know I did when I started working at a farm. Instead of deciding what you want to cook and then shopping for the ingredients, what seems to work well for many people is to wait and see what’s in your share box that week, then plan your meals around those items. If you decide you don’t like something or can’t use it all, there’s no shame in composting. I might even figure out a way for you to send your compost to the farm!

CSA isn’t for everyone, but if you eat a lot of vegetables (or want to eat a lot!), are concerned about how your food is grown, and want very fresh produce without having to do the gardening yourself, consider signing up for a CSA share.

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