Dane County Farmers’ Market & Eating Local

This past weekend we drove down to Madison WI for our first trip this year to the Dane County Farmers’ Market. It’s been awhile. We have had several local farmers’ markets we’ve been doing business with for a couple of years now. This year much to our disappointment one of them is selling produce that looks pretty bad and their corn made me really sick. There’s an older lady that runs the stand who is very friendly and we’ve known her for years and get a kick out of her mainly because she really speaks her mind. I asked her if anyone else had complained about getting sick from the corn and she said “Well you know they use A LOT of chemicals in their fields, more now than they’ve ever used to keep up.” We know we cannot always get organic produce, and unless it is noted at the stand, we know most of what we buy has had some chemicals used. Sadly more and more I am getting sick from chemicals, additives and all the crap that’s in our food supply. So, we stopped patronizing this stand and one other that just stopped selling with no fair warning. The Dane County Farmers’ Market is the largest producers-only market in the United States. We started out for Madison at 6:00 am and got there, after a couple of stops, by 7:30 am. Even at that hour the parking ramps were packed, the streets were lined, and the throng of market goers was strong. What you do once you get there is join the moving queue. The market farmers’ are laid out in a circle that surrounds the state capitol building. So when you join you walk in a circle and when you spot something on a farmers’ table you hop out of the moving line to buy it. Once purchased back into the line you go. This can wear you out. I promise. We used to get here around 11 am–it’s really packed then. But you know, 7:30 am isn’t much better. It’s a popular market filled with lots and lots of locally grown food. We love our farmers’ and I’m such a big believer in locally grown and knowing your farmer well. It looks like we’ll have to go there a few more times so that I have plenty of produce to process for winter. It’s hard to see by the photos, but we purchased almost two weeks of produce. We were able to get 1 # of green beans, 1 head of cauliflower, broccoli, 1 squash, 4 ears of corn, 4 zucchini, 2 bunches of carrots, 1 leek, 2 cucumbers, a bunch of kale, fingerling potatoes, 4 heirloom tomatoes and a beautiful bouquet of local flowers (of course) for $15.75. You absolutely cannot beat that. Once home I set about to clean, trim and repackage the produce. I shredded the zucchini right away for zucchini bread. Our dinner menu reflects 11 days of eating this produce so that we enjoy it when it is at its freshest. Next trip will be to buy some tomatoes in bulk to make sauce with. http://janrd.com/blog/5454/divine-tomatoes

How was your weekend?









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Sacrificing– a way (and means) to better health

Every winter both my husband and I get asked at least a dozen times why we don’t get colds or flu. We just don’t. This past winter was my 11th year of good health–no cold and no flu at all. Do I get sick? Well, I do have days where my allergies kick my butt. Currently, we live near an area filled with ragweed and I am deathly allergic to ragweed. For years I thought it was all the goldenrod growing around here, turns out goldenrod is innocent. In fact, ragweed is the big culprit and I guess purposely grows near goldenrod to confuse allergy sufferers. The plants look distinctly different, but you may not find much on the internet about goldenrod’s innocence. Believe me, if you see goldenrod, ragweed is close by and it’s the one causing you to suffer. I use a lot of cold compresses and drink warm teas to help with them. My husband takes Claritin, but still suffers allergy symptoms. The ragweed is out of control I tell you. There are also a lot of trees around this area and trees (birch & cottonwood) and grass gives me sinus headaches. I was diagnosed with facial migraines in 2004 which can be associated with sinus issues. I’ve probably had these for almost twenty years now.  So yes, I’m not a perfectly healthy person by any means. That said I do everything in my power to increase my odds to live a life of good health.

In 2003 I went through a pretty intense period in my life. I lost a job I really loved that put me on a path that I’m still on to this day. First off I quit drinking for the second time, and I stopped smoking after smoking for almost 25 years. I did both cold turkey within 6 months of one another. I also quit drinking soda pop. My only beverage was water– good water (Evian).

Around 2004 I began to experience some weird symptoms hot feet, urinary problems, sore muscles and extreme fatigue. I had always had back and muscle problems from working in healthcare and injuring both my back, shoulders, and neck numerous times. First I went to my physician who ran a bunch of tests, some for hormones and basically gave me a clean bill of health. Second I was referred to a urologist for my urinary issue. After eating a good amount of strawberries summer of 2004 I noticed I was urinating scant amounts of blood and having to urinate multiple times a day. When I told the urologist this he informed me what I had would go away on its own, not to worry, and dismissed me. Turns out after some investigation what I have is interstitial cystitis–ulcers on my bladder lining. There is no cure. So depending on what I eat and drink, my bladder will act up. Over the years I have had flares that last a week or two at a time but then subside. Everything I eat can affect this issue. There is a special diet to follow, but I do not follow it. I do however drink a lot of water and have found that the flares last fewer and fewer days each time.

As for my muscle problems and extreme fatigue and sore painful points on my body issue– It was finally discovered by a different doctor that I have Fibromyalgia and have had it for quite a long time. Maybe close to 35 years? Fibromyalgia has a whole host of symptoms and I’ve run the gamut on each and every one of them. At the time mine was discovered there weren’t any medications to be prescribed. I was told to rest more and eat a better diet and exercise regularly.  Again I felt modern medicine had dropped the ball.

So instead of just giving up and crawling into a hole, I decided to research and research and find ways to better health. There had to be something more than eating a better diet. My diet had improved, but I could still do more. I researched organic food, homegrown and local and once I’d read everything out there on the interwebs about it (not much out there in 2004) my husband and I started on a path to a changed lifestyle that has included on the way- eating organic, living a more sustainable, chemical free, low in sugar, low to no preservative life. Believe me when I tell you it hasn’t been easy. All throughout my blog, I have posted about how hard it was and still is to source organic food. We’ve spent a fortune, that by the way, we didn’t always have, to ensure once we started we didn’t have to stop just because sourcing it was inconvenient. Back in the day I called stores and had them send product down with their salesperson for me to pickup because the local grocery stores didn’t carry it. We’ve put a ton of miles on our only vehicle to drive to CSA pickups and Farmer’s markets in order to get good homegrown produce. We’ve even gone as far as buying a new refrigerator and freezer so that our produce stays fresher and so that I can preserve some for over winter. Most of the changes in our lifestyle were made when we had only one income, and I was going to school full-time.  Not easy to do. Here are some other things I changed in my life to keep the odds in my favor:

  • I stopped using store bought sanitary items and started purchasing Luna pads in 2004.  This is a great article  recently written that explains my logic. I love Luna pads and using them while still having a period in my 50’s is a blessing.
  • I stopped wearing all make-up in 2004. Even without make-up I’ve gone on interviews, traveled, and worked in upper management positions. I know this may be a step that most women cannot or will not take, but I truly believe no make-up is one of the reasons I have almost no wrinkles. I mean like I have 1-2 wrinkles and I’m almost 53. I use Oil of Olay on my face and wash my face with Dove soap and warm water. That’s it. People look genuinely shocked when I tell them I am in my 50’s. It isn’t genetics I promise you that. I owe it all to no make-up!
  • No eating out in almost 90% of the restaurants out there- I gave up Taco Bell, Taco John’s, Chinese take-out, Indian/Thai take-out, McDonald’s, Burger King, buffets, Applebees, Pizza Hut really everything except two places. We still stop at our favorite high-end place for every special occasion- home grown food, and Panera. We started this ban on no eating out in 2004, but it took until 2010 or so to stop altogether. We don’t miss it or crave it and we’re saving a lot of $.
  • We grocery shop on the outer aisles, for the most part, only entering the inner aisles for cereal and baking products. We don’t buy food kits, mixes or canned or jar sauces. We don’t buy toppings, or canned cheeses, or packaged processed food of any kind. I had to give up Mac and Cheese and Cheez Whiz and Lipton Noodle soup and so much more. My husband’s list is even longer, including most of the food we import from Holland. If the product has more than 5 ingredients we don’t buy it.
  • No chemicals- all of our cleaning supplies are homemade/natural- lemon, vinegar, and essential oils. No sprays or candles or plug-ins are allowed in our house. No laundry soaps that are scented or colored. No fabric softeners or other smelly floral or perfume smelling cleaners or detergents. None. I changed almost everything over to chemical free by 2010. We don’t use body sprays, or smelly lotions or chemical laden soaps. I buy Dove soap and we purchase homemade soaps from local homesteaders or our co-op.
  • Almost all our food comes from our local co-op, Whole Foods, or Woodman’s grocery.  At least 90% of what we buy goes directly into the refrigerator or freezer. We have two big shelving units in our house for baking goods-bulk. Other than that condiments and bulk rice and bulk pasta, peanut butter and honey are the only dry goods we have in our home. Pizza is homemade, cakes and pies are homemade, jam is homemade, sauces are homemade and we freeze a ton of fruits and vegetable for overwintering.
  • Last but never least we eat produce when its in season. When peaches are in season I eat a lot of peaches. Same with strawberries and pears and raspberries and melons. When tomatoes are a plenty I eat 1-2 tomatoes a day for weeks. Same with fresh lettuce, beans, and squash. Sweet corn doesn’t agree with me much anymore, unfortunately, it is hard to find Non-GMO and/or organic corn. I do eat a dozen or so pieces each summer for nostalgia sake. In fall we eat a lot of squash -acorn and zucchini and new potatoes and beets. Spring– kale, spinach, early carrots, and peas. We follow the simple guideline of eating according to the season’s harvest.

In 2008 when the swine flu was knocking everyone out around these parts I sat in a classroom surrounded by students each in a different phase of the swine flu. Even the instructor was sick as were members of his family. Eventually, the school closed for a few days to let people recover. I didn’t get sick.  Nothing. This kind of immunity really remains a mystery to me to this day. As does my ability to continue to hike, walk several miles while out on an excursion with my husband, even bike ride Wisconsin trails without issue. I work, I volunteer and do a lot of outside activities never calling into work, never getting what most people consider sick. My husband has gone almost twenty years at his work with no sick days. I know it’s not because we are genetically healthy people with strong immune systems. I can promise you very little about how healthy we are today is associated with our genetics.

I believe 100% it has to do with our lifestyle and while I know that some of the changes I’ve made or we’ve made are extreme they are worth every year we go without colds and flu, worth the fact we don’t have ER visits or stand in long lines at the pharmacy. We worry about everything going on with insurance — we pay about $1600 a year for the both of us (which is pretty good all things considered), yet we have rarely used our insurance. We have annual preventative care physicals, but short of that my husband saw a doctor for a minor issue 10 years ago and I had surgery on my feet- arthritis, ingrown nails and bone spurs twice after surgery. That’s been almost 3-4 years ago, otherwise for me nothing since 2004. It works for us this I know.   It goes without saying before making any changes to your lifestyle and diet please be sure to talk them over with your trusted family physician first.  Until next time- be well!

“The Greatest Wealth is Health”

Links :

Food preservatives that are bad for your health- article here

Candles and Sprays and clean air- article here

Dangers of eating Fast Food- article here

Hormonal disruptors in make-up- article here

Fall food goodness

The last of the local zucchini is available this week, so I made sure to grate a bunch and freeze for pasta dishes this winter. Local apple orchards are announcing new varieties of apples every week. The first week we tried some new varieties and this week we bought Macintosh, Honey Crisp and Ginger Golds. Pears were plentiful too and ripened nicely next to our apples and bananas on the counter. A tomato plant I bought late at Bauer’s Market in La Crescent Mn. still producing. All total for a $9.00 plant, sold towards the end of planting season, it produced 17 tomatoes for me. To save seeds from tomatoes you cut the tomato in half and squeeze its pulp out into a small dish or container and cover for three days. The pulp ferments, allowing the covering that the seeds are encapsulated in to disintegrate. Each day you must stir the pulp and on day four rinse the pulpy seeds in a sieve careful not to allow seeds to sift through sieve (just the pulp) and then place on a piece of dry paper towel. As the seeds dry on the paper towel remove them from clumps to separate and allow to dry. You should store these dried seeds in a cool dry place, even the refrigerator- do not freeze them.  Coming up in future posts- seed saving, freezing vegetables, pumpkin recipes and pantry staples. Until then be well and always remember to eat good food!

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If I can grow red juicy & delicious tomatoes, why can’t big corporations?

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If I can grow 3 juicy tasty tomatoes on the north face upper level of my home, in a Rubbermaid container with organic potting soil, why can’t big corporations do the same? Until I grew my one pitiful tomato plant this summer, I hadn’t had a good tomato since the last time I harvested which was last summer around this time.

At best my plant got the sun some of the time, and a fair amount of water most days from either rain or condensation from our a/c that we catch in a pail on our deck. With a late summer and a lot of wind to deal with it was surely a surprise to me that it lived at all. I wish I had taken a picture of this sad little plant that tried so hard to produce fruit that its stalks and leaves withered down to nothing, yet, three beautiful tomatoes were produced for its efforts. I nearly cried each day as I watched the wonders of nature at play, right there on my deck in front of me. It should be said that I added absolutely no chemicals or fertilizers, not even miracle gro.

I’d like to say I won’t make attempts this fall or winter to find a good tomato to eat when the urge for a fresh couple of slices hit me. Unfortunately, I never find anything close to as good as the ones I can grow myself.

I long for an opportunity to grow all my own food. I look forward to the day that this will be possible for my husband and me.

The right and the freedom to choose what I eat

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It has never been more apparent than now that we as consumers need to know exactly what we are feeding our families, have a trusting relationship with our supplier, and be made aware of where it is manufactured and by what process (genetically modified food or ?).

http://www.techyville.com/2013/09/news/tests-confirmed-aldi-beef-contained-horse-meat/ which really shouldn’t surprise me or anyone else because this same issue happened earlier this year (same company, same horsemeat issue, same retailer-Aldi’s).

http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/10/world/europe/uk-horsemeat-probe/index.html .  I know my family doesn’t need to worry about eating mystery meat because we don’t shop at Aldi’s. In fact, we don’t eat much meat at all anymore, having given up red meat almost 6 months ago now.

I was required to write a research paper for one of my university courses on ethics. I chose the food industry and have attached my research paper. I spent close to 100 hours researching the subject matter and have devoted the last 10 years of my life to changing my family’s diet and lifestyle-moving away from eating large retail sourced food to local food only.

The food that we the consumers buy should have labels that contain ALL the information about said food on them all ingredients, additives, where they were grown or manufactured and whether or not they are GM (genetically modified ) foods. As consumers of these products, the very least we should be given is enough information to make an informed decision as to whether we want to consume said product at all. Being given limited information or no information at all holds us prisoner to the very people who make claims to have our best interests in mind. It’s time for people to stand up and demand to know everything about the food they are eating and feeding to their children. It is, after all, going into our bodies, the same bodies we need to carry out all manner of tasks in life. It’s too much of a risk to buy from companies that make no effort or very little to ensure their suppliers are really supplying what they say they are. I mean really this problem with horse meat and Aldi’s has been going on for quite a long time.  The only way you ever really know what you are eating is to grow/raise it yourself or purchase your meat and produce from local farmers.

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