goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Passion WITH Thinking

What’s your passion? What gets you fired up enough to get involved?

Me? I have several now. Have had many over my life, but right now there are two that capture my attention.

Awareness of our food and how full of chemicals much of it is and unhealthy results of conventional farming practices can affect health. I learned this only 5 years ago and I am a strong advocate to Know Your Farmer. By eating locally you not only can chose food sourced at places where you support the growing practice, but by supporting a local farmer, you are contributing to a healthier local economy.


But right now, it appears the Presidential campaign season has started and is full swing. Like Christmas advertising that starts the day after Halloween, we Americans are in for lots and lots and lots and lots and lots (ad nauseum) of campaign propaganda. Get ready for the roller coaster for the next 15 months.Donkey_Elephant_Boxing_article

My political leaning is liberal but I read a lot of information from and about all the candidates. I want to know as much as I can about each of them in the hope that any discussion will be intelligent.

I ran into a problem already though. One friend of mine took me to task because he felt I had made a negative comment about Donald Trump and was concerned I was going to get nasty in loading Facebook with negatives. whyattackadswork

The issue I made was that when the two (expletive deleted) guys beat up the homeless Latino man and attributed their actions to Donald Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants being bad, I reported what Trump’s comment was. And I offered one question.

As you probably know, all Trump had to say at the time was “I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that.”

My comment was “No words about this action being wrong. No concern about the victim. Is this the kind of leadership our country needs?” My friend felt this was negative commenting on my part. I do not think so. I hope to make people think, not just have a emotional reaction.   I do not think what I pointed out is bashing Trump. Bashing him would be saying he is an idiot. He’s clearly not an idiot. He just is not a man who considers all he needs to before opening his mouth.

Now I see several days after his comments, Trump has added “Boston incident is terrible. We need energy and passion, but we must treat each other with respect,” and “I would never condone violence.”

So NOW, after he gets backlash, he has changed his statement to one of more concern.  This is the kind of action I have seen from Trump over the last month. He says a lot of things that have to be later amended. I think this is the way he is and I for one do not want him to be our nation’s leader. thinking clearly

But my point is NOT to point out concern about one candidate. Each gets equal treatment. If I see something that is inconsistent with helping the people of this nation, it needs to be considered.

Some people chose their Presidential candidate based on one issue and one issue alone. Women who claim they are Pro-Life thereby support candidates that are anti abortion without any consideration of other issues of health care, education programs, and job opportunities for the people who are not earning a living wage. Very narrowly defining what is right hides a lot of what is wrong.think abotu results

Passion is great but it has to be able to expand to include all the influences to that issue. Just like I believe the problems in the food system relate to environmental concerns and thereby lend my support to movements to educate how fracking ruins our water supply, how coal mining and the toxic residue of its waste affects the land so things can no longer grow so areas like the coal counties in West Virginia need economic redevelopment, how not teaching our children methods of problem solving and how to handle responsibilities leads to increased escape into drugs….all these side issues are fueled because of my passion for healthy food.

So, my passion at this season is for education and clear thinking. Feel your passion but by all means, use your brain.choice-free-learn-paradox-text-Favim.com-405981


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Serendipity

Not once did I consider it an April Fools joke but we have no idea how the photo showed up on Graham’s Facebook feed last night.  Kentucky State University has a mobile fruit and vegetable processing truck that visits farms in season to help them preserve their harvest.KSU mobile fruit and vegetable kitchen

Finding no info to take me specifically to the person in charge, I emailed the head of the agricultural school at KSU, dropping The Wild Ramp market experience to give me local “street” cred (more like farm cred).  And now we are setting up an appointment for me to go look-see!

Why the excitement? Two factors. In case you missed it, I am setting up a business here in Oregon to help small farmers preserve their surplus fruits and vegetables. AND we will be in Kentucky for Graham to do some forensic business in May, less than an hour from where the KSU research farm is located in Frankfurt!!Can-Do Company Logo Final

WOW! Life is good!  Now, who can I get to help me write a grant application?

 


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Is this Creative or just Crazy?

So, remember back when I was working as a farm hand for 3 months this past summer?  There was a LOT of time spent weeding which meant my mind was working, dreaming dreams, solving problems, making others.weeding

Did you know that 30% of the food we have here goes to waste? Think about your own kitchen. How much food gets stashed in the frig, only to turn some dark green color, dripping with slime?  I’m guilty. We cook too much, put the leftovers in containers and usually remember to eat as lunch the next day, but if we are out and about, they tend to migrate to the back of the shelf and then, when I realize I am low on storage containers, I look and there they are…..needing to be sterilized!

Well, on the farm there was waste also. Michelle Burger of Bethel Springs Farms has exacting standards for her customers, and rightly so. When we picked green beans only those that were perfectly straight and of course without blemishes made it into their bags. The rest were trashed! Well, not exactly. As we were picking, the curved beans got left on the ground. In the cleaning process, anything imperfect went into the compost. It all eventually gets returned to the soil as green fertilizer, but it got me thinking that much of it was edible. DSC_0009

I started taking the imperfect produce home. Lots of it. I got paid minimum wage but boy oh boy, I was bringing home tons more in food than I was earning in dinero. And so, I started canning. And canning. And canning. Buying more jars. Canning some more. Some recipes, like the blueberry barbecue sauce, were keepers. Others like the zucchini marmalade, not so much.canning July 14 2014

Meanwhile, back at the farm, I was also thinking about the Bethel Springs business model. When Michelle hired me she took a gamble with a 60-year-old arthritic chubbette, but she saw I could (almost all the time) keep up and what she also gained was all the insights I had learned from years of farm visits.  Seeing the many different ways small farmers tried to make their work as income effective as possible.

So, I suggested to her that I could provide her another income stream. I can take those cast off green beans, not ordered zucchinis, tons and tons of excess tomatoes and can can can can can for her. She’s intrigued. So are a couple of other farmers and one other approached me. 2014-08-22 16.56.32

I have to draw the line there for this coming season. I need to stretch my wings and keep it manageable.

Meanwhile, as the fields are slumbering, I am doing all the groundwork. I went to a wonderfully timed convention this week sponsored by the Northwest Food Processors Association. Walking through the exhibition hall made me realize very quickly just how “small potatoes” this business concept is. When I talked to one vendor about a dehydrator I learned his best option for me costs $100,000.  Graham suggested a Kickstarter; I’ll wait a bit.  The family just pitched in to buy me a $250 Excalibur. That should last a year…maybe two. Next is the Better Processing School, and a whole bunch of legal things like state and federal licenses and certifications, including business filing. Amd Curt Chiarelli, a friend who is a graphic artist, is designing my logo, bless him!

Now, I COULD do all this from home if I was selling it all myself at a farmers’ market. Perfectly legal within a certain dollar amount. But by offering this service  to farmers who have no time to process their product this way and packaging it for their own label means I need to step up one notch to a commercial endeavor.

So, new venture and lots of excitement! If you want to share a scrumptious recipe you use, please do!!!

 


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Eat At Your Own Risk

In a world where few people seem to take personal responsibility, in a world where it appears our government is no longer working in our best interest, in a world where conflict seems to be increasing, we have to change our ways. Each one of us.

The food found in American supermarkets has been full of chemicals for years.  Auto-immune diseases have been increasing. Correlation? You betcha.

So increasingly, shoppers have turned to organic foods but not only is it generally more costly, the group that defines what is organic and what is not has been diluting the value of that label.  So it is no longer the safety zone we first depended on.

Agent Orange being sprayed over VietNam

Agent Orange being sprayed over VietNam

 

 

Today the news came out that despite Congressional voting and despite a majority of the people in the country arguing against the use of 2,4-D for use as an herbicide, it was approved for use and GMO crops will be resistant.  Why fight against it? Well, 2, 4-D is one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange, the chemical that was used extensively to defoliate VietNam during the war.  It has caused cancers and other illnesses and deformities in the Vietnamese population for several generations. And now, in order to deal with weeds that have adjusted to the prior chemicals, this will be sprayed on  OUR food.Vietname defoliated

Food you will eat. And so, 2, 4-D will move inside your body.  With unknown results….but we only need to look at VietNam to see what it can do.

Generations after the war, birth defects are still happening.

Generations after the war, birth defects are still happening in VietNam.

The other recent news is not new but has been shared for several years. The increasing use of antibiotics in the normal feed of most meat animals means our own bodies are getting low doses when we eat supermarket meat.   Remember the little sticker on your pill bottle of antibiotics? It reminds you to take your entire dose. That is because if the bacteria is not killed, it will only weaken and then it adapts. That end result is that the antibiotic is no longer effective against that bacteria. We are quickly moving out of the magic age of antibiotics and back to a time when an infection can kill you.Antibiotic resistance_0The government asked the meat industry to voluntarily reduce the use of antibiotics. Yeah, right. When animals are crowded together in the ways they are in those factories, disease spreads so they feed antibiotics all the time, whether the animals are sick or not.

And you eat that meat. And so, small amounts of antibiotics move inside your body.

FOR YOUR OWN HEALTH IT IS TIME TO MAKE A CHANGE!!

I have often written KNOW YOUR FARMER! What does that really mean? You get to know a farmer in your area who produces food in a way that will not expose you to these chemicals.  You do that because it is better to spend a bit more on healthy food now than to pay for medicine and health care later.know farmer

If you do not know how to find a farmer go to http://www.localharvest.org/ and put in your zip code. No excuses.  There are options to the supermarket near you!!! Value your health.  If not, you eat at your own risk.

 


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Silly Me Smart Me

I did something silly at my age. I took a part time temp job, helping at a farm. The farmer looked at me and asked me if I knew it was hard work. Oh, yes, I assured her, thinking of all the farmers I had met in West Virginia and now here in Oregon. Intellectually I know it is hard work.  She then asked me why I thought I could do it. Well, thinking of several people, I know there are some people my age and older farming. And thinking of a few others, I know there are people my weight farming. I assured her if I did not injure myself, I would be there each and every day until the rains came and her need for an extra pair of hands ended.

The first day we picked beans. The farmer and the other helper kneeled or leaned over, bending at the waist. I knew my arthritic knees and my lower back would never forgive me, so I semi-squatted and soon discovered my quads and my hamstrings were a bit angry at my decision. It definitely was mind over matter to walk anywhere for the next couple of days.  Ibuprofen helped. So did lots of MSM and glucosamine and heat and ice.  And being stubborn.2014-09-17 08.52.38

I2014-10-05 08.03.22 talked to Beth Ann Earl of Noni’s farm in Huntington, West Virginia who told me to sit down and scoot along. Compensate for my age and body. Stretch.  I have two pairs of jeans that may not be wearable out in public after this job, but I can pick beans with the best of them now. LOL  The last of the beans which have been drying on the bush need to be harvested and laid out inside the high tunnel, joining other beans, some popcorn, and the onions.

2014-08-31 13.23.10The farm is organic, which means no herbicide. That also means an amazing crop of pigweed.  Not wanted, but it turns out I’m a pretty darn good weeder. Dubious honor as the garden is 200 feet long and a kazzilion rows wide. I also scooted along much of this process too, carrying the weeds to the ends to load on to the 4-wheel to bring to the compost pile. Fun driving the Kubota!. 2014-08-29 12.20.13I’m pretty proud how wonderful that garden looks now.2014-10-05 11.51.14

I started working a couple of months ago and it was pretty warm.  Recently we had 2 days of light rain, just enough to split the tomatoes. The forecast looks like this may be the last summer weather, as the rain is showing daily for the following week.

At that point we’ll shell the beans inside and then she’ll probably let me go. I will be looking for a desk job next. 2014-10-05 09.56.31

Don’t get me wrong. This was a great experience. After visiting farms in West Virginia and really getting to know many of the farmers supplying The Wild Ramp Market, I had a great respect for the work they do. Now, understanding how it really truly feels, my admiration has soared.

We consumers take the food that appears in the store for granted. We have abundant supply of an amazing selection of food. If you buy from the supermarket, items come from all over the world. If you value the effort and want to support the local economy, you purchase from local farmers and you follow a more seasonal approach in your diet. Either way or a combination, realize this:

Our small farmers are finding it harder and harder to make a living. Industrial farming does not look like the story book version of a farm. Industrial farming typically grows one kind of crop, year in and year out, feeding the soil with chemicals to try to restore the nutrients. Small farms may be conventional, using chemicals, but many make an effort to farm in the time honored way, whether certified or not, organically with a variety of crops and rotation of the land with cover crops helping restore the nutrients to the soil for the next edible crop.2014-09-17 08.52.45

You can tell the way I lean. I love my local farmers. I was happy with all we could find to eat in West Virginia and feel abundantly blessed here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  You can eat well too. Without the sore muscles.


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A Different Kind of Smart

Just about this time of summer 20 years ago my mother-in-law asked me to go on down to the garden to pick some green beans for supper. I was a Yankee living in Nashville, and my in-laws loved me but the gaps in my education confused them. That afternoon one huge gap was apparent. I carried the baby down to the garden and placed him on a blanket. Not a crawler yet, he could enjoy the shade of the warm southern day as I looked at the garden.

NOT a photo of that day, but a trip taken to Memphis within a month...just showing the cutie.

NOT a photo of that day, but a trip taken to Memphis within a couple of months…just showing the cutie.

My father-in-law loved to plant, but he did not care much after that….care in terms of the kind of maintenance needed to get through a hot summer, like weeding and watering. So he planted a LOT and we harvested all we could before the weeds choked the plants and then everything would wither in the heat;. Summer thunderstorms just did not provide adequate amounts.

On that day I felt unsure…..never having seen a bean plant before. I recognized the squash plants. And the peppers were obvious. The tomatoes were  a no-brainer. So, by process of elimination, I headed over to the near row.

To my amazement I did not see any beans. I looked high. I looked low. Lots of green there but beans? Nope.

A_green_beanAbout that time the dear sweet next door neighbor wandered down to play with the baby, and then casually got up, baby on her hip and wander over to the plant next to me, and reached over and picked a very obvious bean. I could have sworn she did some magic and they all appeared at that moment!  She winked at me and gave me hug, and welcomed me to the family in the best way ever. And she never told.

In the garden my dad grew each summer in suburban New Jersey we never grew beans, hence my lack of knowledge.  We did have fresh tomatoes and peppers and more, but no beans. Those came out of cans or, later, freezer bags, all commercially prepared and purchased on a supermarket.  So, I had no connection between the plant that produced it and the food I put in my mouth.

Most people may be surprised to know that the first modern grocery store was a Piggly-Wiggly in Memphis in 1916. Until that time people who needed to purchase items they did not grow or trade with other people they knew went into a shop and presented a list to the man at the counter. He would go into the back area and box up all the requested items. Clarence Saunders’ concept of self-service selection of food items took a while to catch on, and now the supermarket is the primary food source for most people.piggly1

It sure is convenient, no question about it. For many of us we can drive there, park nearby, and purchase food, cleaners, paper goods and toiletries all in one place. But now that we know we have choices, do we go there just because it is our habit?  supermarket-wont-tell-promo-456cs012109

Choices exist, particularly during the local growing season. The popularity of farmers’ markets has exploded, with the USDA listing over 8100 markets in their current National Farmers Market Directory, up from 5000 just  five years ago! Markets can be found in small towns and throughout large cities. The closest one may be held once a week, but there may be several others within a half hour drive  on other days.  Another website, Local Harvest, also lists markets and farms and more!FG farrmers market

In addition, food from local farms can be available through various buying opportunities, ranging from online ordering and delivering to your door like  Yamhill Valley Grown, purchasing a share at the beginning of a season for a weekly box or basket full of produce which is a CSA, or a farm nearby may have a farm-stand where you can purchase their freshly picked produce and maybe some other goods from the area.

My  CSA share, early June

My CSA share, early June

And if you are truly fortunate, you live in a place where some very passionate people worked hard to form a store, an indoor year-round local food market.  I was involved with Huntington, West Virginia’s Wild Ramp Market and have been working with a group of people in Forest Grove, Oregon who are in the midst of the planning phase.

Inside the new Wild Ramp Market,  August 15

Inside the new Wild Ramp Market, August 15

The Wild Ramp recently celebrated its second anniversary and much is made in their public communication how the market is a community endeavor. The community wants it. The community made it happen. The community supports it with their energy, their volunteer effort and their patronage.

The same can be achieved anywhere there are enough people who enjoy freshly picked ripe produce, the taste of which can not be found in a supermarket. People who know that the breed of animal raised and the food it is fed makes a huge difference in the taste and texture of the meat on your plate. People who understand that supporting local farms and a local business means the local economy is stronger.

Are you in a routine…..or passionate?


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Local Food

animal veg mirableWaking up to eating local food as much as possible happened when I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She tells the story of a year in her family’s life when they moved from Arizona to a family farm that had long been abandoned in southern Appalachia.   The family decided they would eat only what they raised or what could be traded with another local farmer, with the exception of only a few things, coffee and French wine among them.

This got me thinking and I asked Graham to read the book also. The idea of eating locally, in season, was a brand new concept compared to the way we grew up with supermarkets stocking all kinds of foods all the year. Yes, we could buy strawberries in time for my sister’s January birthday cake. Yes, we could get a can of pumpkin to make a pie in the summer.  But might they be more appreciated when they came into season right near where we lived?

This book and then continued reading and discussing with others made us realize how our eating habits were adding to increased use of fuel for transporting food from the southern hemisphere to us, and more important, we realized we really had never thought about who was raising the food we were relying on for nutrition.

fried fishFor the same reason we didn’t particularly eat seafood when living in landlocked West Virginia.  We very much enjoyed eating our fill of fresh fish and seafood when we traveled to either coast.  Some food just tastes so much better when it is fresh.  If you think about it, except for freshly caught trout and fresh water fish, almost all seafood served in the center of the country is fried, the better to mask a bit of age.  In fact, most people will swear they prefer fried fish, and again, that is because most of the ocean fish served in the landlocked states is NOT particularly fresh.Albacore_Tuna

So, speaking of loving fresh fish, when we moved here the first thing I learned to can with a pressure canner was tuna and it is that time of year again! My sister lives on the coast and has a friend whose husband fishes for tuna and she was able to get them at a really good price. 2014-08-17 08.37.19Today Graham started early, trimming 40 pounds of tuna.  After sterilizing all the jars we cut the tuna into chunks, packed the half pints2014-08-17 11.13.09 and then topped them off with a bit of salt, a spoon of lemon juice and some olive oil.

We put my sister friend Linda to work too!

We put my sister friend Linda to work too!

100 minutes later at 10 pounds of pressure we had our first 48 jars, and a second round brought us up to 99.  Canned outside thanks to my friend Jana who loaned us her propane stove and her much better pressure canner.2014-08-17 11.46.27My sister and one of her friends each took a quarter, with Graham and I keeping the rest.  We finished about six hours after we had started, but again, we had to process two batches, each taking 100 minutes. It was a full day and one we will enjoy all year long, when we savor our canned tuna.2014-08-17 14.30.18

So, you say, you can buy tuna fish. And so, back at you, I tell you that you would never eat your favorite, Bumble Bee or Chicken of the Sea ever again….not after you taste what fresh tuna canned at home tastes like!

Eat local is AMAZING!!!2014-08-17 11.13.35