Quinoa Stuffed Chicken!

Quinoa

Ok, thank you for sharing this Karen Rizzo!!!  We really love it when our customers feel like they are part of the team we are building here.  One of the biggest hurdles we have to overcome is the perception that Tyner Pond food is hard to cook.  

 

Its really helpful when you all share with us (and then our other fans) how you prepare our food.   This one is great because it's beautiful, delicious and really pretty easy.   You might not whip it up after getting home from work on a Tuesday...but for the weekend...?

 

The Tyner Pond Farm pasture raised chicken has olive oil and your favorite herbs rubbed into the skin. 

 

The stuffing is

  • 1/2c. Quinoa cooked
  • a can of white kidney beans rinsed
  • 1/2 c chopped almonds
  • 1c quartered grape tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 3/4 cup parm cheese and 2T Olive oil.

Mix it all together and stuff away!  Rub your olive oil herb mixture all over & Roast the Chicken at about 350 degrees.  Figure maybe an hour and a half.  Check your temp and anything over 145 degrees internal temperature will be good.

Order your Tyner Pond Farm Free Range Chicken Here

 

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Look for Grass Fed Poultry to Know You're Getting the Real Deal

grass fed poultry at Tyner Pond FarmSo you're standing in your local grocery store in the meat section, looking at your chicken choices in the cooler, debating between drumsticks and thighs and breasts. And you're wondering, What's really under all that shrink wrap anyway, hmmmmmm?? Chicken yes, but what kind of chicken and raised how?

 

There's really only one way to know: If you want chicken that's better for your family and raised in a humane way, make sure you are seeking out grass fed poultry. 

 

"Free range" has become a misnomer, as companies have started slapping that label on their chicken packaging, to dupe consumers into thinking they are buying meat from chickens that led natural lives, when they in fact didn't. Free range can still mean cooped up by the thousands in a building, walking all over each other without room to spread wings even, without grass or bugs or sunshine. Unless those companies start throwing their grass clippings from lawn mowing into the chicken houses, we should be pretty safe with the grass fed poultry label. :-) 

 

Because so far, at least, the companies that put more emphasis on profits than ethics have yet to usurp the term grass fed poultry! So look for that instead of free range. Or you can look for pasture raised on the label, if you don't see grass fed. 

 

At Tyner Pond Farm, they used to call their chickens free range, because those birds do free range to their heart's content at the farm (as you can see in the picture above). But then the reality of the label's misuse and abuse became known, and the farmers opted for labels like grass fed and pasture raised instead. 

 

To buy grass fed poultry from Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield, IN, just go to their website and place your order! If you live within 50 miles of the farm, you can get your chicken delivered for free, or you can go to the farm and buy it directly from them there. 

                                                             

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Loose Foods: Skip the Food Packaging for the Sake of Sustainability

plumsIf you're already buying local food or considering it at least, there's a plus side to your decision you might not have realized: less packaging. And the way I see it, foregoing that food packaging helps sustainability. 

 

I hadn't really considered it before myself, until I just read this article on stores selling food that's not packaged. (I would say unpackaged food, but that sounds weird, for some reason.) You bring your own reusable containers when shopping there. There's an incredible amount of waste generated by food packaging, even if you're only buying meat. These stores aim to cut down on that packaging but also change your buying habits because there are things they simply can't offer, like pre-chopped up mangoes and pre-peeled bananas (yes, apparently there are such things!). Shopping there means buying foods closer to their original state too. 

 

When you're buying local foods from local producers, you're already making that move toward less packaging and more sustainability. At the farmers market, most of us bring our own reusable bags, and I only ask for plastic bags for certain kinds of vegetables. (On my short list is figuring out or making reusable bags for leafy greens and loose fruits and vegetables so I don't have to use a plastic bag at all.) And even if you're buying pastured meats from a local farmer, you're probably not getting the same degree of packaging that you would if buying from the grocery store. At our farmers market, the chickens come in plastic bags, not shrinkwrapped with styrofoam. Ditto for the hamburger. Even buying from the local butcher means less packaging compared to the conventional grocery store. 

 

In my opinion, this all helps with sustainability because not having to create the packaging in the first place cuts down on resources used. Curious as to just how many resources are used, I found this math done by a PhD candidate at Stanford

 

According to the EPA, the equivalent of nine barrels of oil is saved when we recycle one ton of plastic bags. By my calculations, that means one barrel saved for every 10,000 grocery bags recycled. Put another way, one shot glass full of oil is saved every time three grocery bags are recycled. That may not seem like much, but Americans use some 100 billion plastic bags each year. Recycling all of them would annually save 10 million barrels of oil—or more than 100 shot glasses per person.

That's just the plastic grocery bags we're talking about there. That doesn't include all of the other packaging that comes home with you after a trip to the grocery store, like the cardboard cereal box and the waxed bag inside of that box that holds the cereal. That packaging really adds up! 

Buying locally and foregoing the packaging means not using those resources in the first place then, right? If I can not use three grocery bags worth of plastic because I've purchased food from a local farmer, I've just reserved one shot glass full of oil for another use. 

Now that's sustainability! 

How about you? Are you able to forego packaging by buying locally or in some other way? Would you even shop at a store that didn't have packaged foods??

And that's just a picture of plums from my tree. I didn't have a picture of unpackaged food, but then I thought, "Nature doesn't package her food, so how about a picture of that?" :-)

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Recipe Review: One Dish Grass-Fed Chicken with Potatoes and Green Beans

Here’s another Pinterest recipe we’ve just tried, this one pinned by me: I'm calling it one-dish chicken, potatoes and green beans. It looked too easy to be true, but I was tempted to try it because it seemed to be a one-dish dinner that could work as a Sunday Supper, and it used grass fed chicken with ease.

 

Essentially all you do is put your vegetables (green beans) along one side of your casserole dish, and your potatoes along the other side, then put your grass fed chicken meat up the middle, cover with butter and spices, wrap with foil, and bake in the oven for an hour.

 

When it was all done, all I added to our plates were some boiled baby beets from the garden. 

 

And it worked! It was in the 90s yesterday so HOT, I had somehow tweaked my neck the day before and I was in serious pain all day and trying to function with limited movement. I had to can 20 pounds of tomatoes that would not wait another day, plus I had stuff I had to get done outside. And it was the first day of the Hubby's weekend, so I knew I had to make a somewhat nice dinner.  As an added incentive to try this recipe, I had green beans and potatoes ready to harvest in the garden! And when all was said and done, this one dish wonder pulled it off for me. 

 

My only comments are few: The recipe called for 1 lb of chicken but I used two chicken breasts which added up to about 1.5 lbs. Only 1 lb didn't seem like near enough, and it only fed two of us for dinner with just a little in the way of leftovers. (It would have fed three people, I think, but that's all.) Also, I cut that grass fed chicken into chunks. The recipe didn't say to do that, but that was the only way to evenly spread everything out like in the photo (and the photo is from the original recipe). Yes, the stick of butter called for is a LOT, and probably too much (as even the picture makes clear!). If I make this again, I will likely use half butter and half olive oil. There was a LOT of melted butter left in the pan after I dished us up, so I'm not sure that a half cup is necessary, and I'd likely use less fat. Rather than use the "Italian dressing" called for, I sprinkled garlic powder, basil, oregano, salt and pepper over everything, and didn't mix it in, and the flavor was great. I also had my doubts about the green beans going in raw, but they cooked up just fine, as did the potatoes. 

 

Although you can buy boneless and skinless grass-fed chicken breasts from Tyner Pond Farm, I think this recipe could work with a mix of chicken meat too. I imagine it with chicken thighs, drumsticks and wings, because to be honest, the chicken breasts were dry. Maybe it would work better with chicken breasts that were still skin on and bone in, however? 

 

All that said, this would make an EASY one-dish meal on a busy weeknight, because you could prep everything ahead of time then simply throw it in the dish and into the oven upon getting home. I wouldn't pass it off as a Sunday Supper again, however, as it lacked the niceties like gravy that one expects from a Sunday Supper and the chicken was dried out. But then it was a hot and tiring Sunday, and it was just the Hubby and I for dinner, so it worked fine. :-)

 

If you're near Greenfield, IN, buy your grass fed chickens from Tyner Pond Farm and give this one-dish wonder a try! 

                                                                 grass fed chickens from Tyner Pond Farm

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Impromptu Dinner: Grass Fed Chicken with Vegetables, Pasta and a Secret Ingredient that Made It Work

grass fed chicken with corn green beans tomatoes and pastaHow did I live without a gas grill?? I have no idea. Ever since we splurged on a cheap one at Home Depot a few weeks ago, I've been ever so happy to have it! For one thing, it has been very useful when canning, with the stove top all taken up by pots and the kitchen hot. I've cooked a few dinners on that gas grill recently. But the main thing I like about it is how quickly it can give wonderful BBQ flavor to a meal, so that even an impromptu one tastes delicious. 

 

That's what happened yesterday. It was a Monday, and I just am not in the swing of things yet now that school is back in session. I think it's because the one child still at home, Miss Picky Eater, is only on a part time schedule until next week. Or maybe it's because the Hubby STILL isn't on a regular work schedule since his promotion five months ago. I don't know, but I seem to be lacking in a schedule, which means I didn't yet have the week's menu created nor did I do the week's food shopping yet. (In my defense as far as the day went yesterday, we did buy Miss Picky Eater's car, and that took up the better part of the morning, plus had me a little weepy, that she is so grown up now.) 

 

So it was me juggling taking a day off with the Hubby (because he had the day off), getting the daughter to the dentist, buying the daughter's car which involved juggling around her school schedule, still trying to get some work in, being near the phone for a call with a client at a particular time, getting the groundwork in with one horse that HAD to happen, and more busy-ness that meant I didn't plan a menu or grocery shop. 

 

And that led to this impromptu dinner that was quite good! There are three reasons why it was so tasty: 1) fresh in season, local food ingredients (corn, green beans and tomatoes), 2) a gas grill and 3) the real deal grass fed chicken. OK, there was a 4th reason and it's a secret that I hate to admit but... I had some cheap Italian salad dressing in the fridge that I bought early in the summer as part of the groceries we took on vacation. I think that dressing had a lot to do with the deliciousness of the dinner, but it would be really easy to make a marinade too. I was just taking the easy way out and wanting to use up what was left in the fridge. :-) 

 

Our Impromptu Chicken and Pasta Dinner
2 boneless, skinless grass fed chicken breasts marinated one hour in Italian salad dressing (or equivalent)
2 ears corn, husks on
1 1/2 c penne pasta
1 c green beans, snapped
2 peeled and diced roma tomatoes
1-2 T additional Italian salad dressing (or equivalent)
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan cheese

 

All I did was marinate the chicken in the salad dressing for an hour, then I cooked it on the gas grill. I also cooked two ears of corn (still in their husks) on the grill. I boiled the water for the penne pasta, then added the green beans part way through the cooking of the pasta. I cut up the chicken, husked the corn and cut the corn off of the cobs, drained the green beans and pasta, and mixed that all together. I had about two diced tomatoes left over from canning the day before, so I stirred those in. I added the remaining tablespoon of cheap Italian dressing, tossed it all together, then topped with about 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan. 

 

The chicken tasted wonderful! It's amazing what the gas grill does for flavor! And I love cooking corn that way. You have to husk it outside because the husk does get sooty, but it's nice not to have to bring a big huge pot of water to a boil to cook the corn, and it gets a little roasted flavor cooked that way. I will admit that Miss Picky Eater wasn't keen on the pasta. She thought the chicken tasted so good, she just wanted that plain. But then she's just hard to please anyway. :-) 

 

If you live in or near Greenfield, Indiana, you can buy grass fed chicken from Tyner Pond Farm, plus pick up some local Husk corn and some green beans and tomatoes, and make this before fall gets here and grilling is no longer an option! 

                                                               

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If You Want to Buy Rare Breed Pork, Here's Some Advice for Finding a Farmer

buy rare breed pork like these pastured pigsIt can get a little confusing, this learning about heritage breeds and grass fed meats. I mean, even if you learn enough to know you want to buy rare breed pork, that doesn't mean you hop into your car, drive to your nearest grocery store, and buy it. No, if you want to find someone selling the unusual so you can buy rare breed pork, you have to do a little digging. 

 

First, you have to know what a rare breed is. You might want to go to a website to familiarize yourself with heritage breeds. You'd be surprised how many people who raise pigs do NOT know about heritage breeds. (Which also makes it hard to get advice from them, we've learned, because they only know what works for their fast growing modern breeds...and that's not what work for our slower-growing heritage breeds.) They might end up telling you something is a rare breed that isn't, only because they just don't know. 

 

Second, start looking. You can ask around, or do a search on the Internet, but be forewarned that--like I said--not everyone is familiar with rare breeds. You might even want to ask a restaurant you know and trust, one that's serving rare breed pork. Ask who they are buying from. It could be that the farmer supplying them won't sell to you because their whole supply goes to the restaurant (this just happened to a local chicken farm around here, a restaurant is now buying ALL of their chickens!), but that farmer might know another farmer who will. Also ask other farmers, someone who doesn't raise pigs. Farmers tend to buy food from each other, so if one is a vegetable farmer, they might know a farmer raising pork because that's where they get theirs. Remember, it's always "no" until you ask. :-) 

 

Once you find that place to buy rare breed pork, remember too that farmers only survive when we buy from them. Just like everyone else, they need to make an income. If the pork is to your liking, keep buying it and be sure to tell your friends about it too! 

 

When you buy rare breed pork, you support sustainable farming
You probably want to buy rare breed pork because you've heard the flavor is better, and it is! But there's another benefit to buying this kind of pork: You're more likely to get pasture raised pork. That's because the kinds of farmers who want to raise rare breeds of pork are more interested in raising quality meat in a sustainable, time-honored way, one that honors the animal and the eater. Since they're not focused on getting to market as fast as possible, they are content to let the pigs be out to pasture eating normal diets and acting like, well, pigs! So thank you for wanting to make that buying choice, supporting the smaller farmer who is more interested in doing things right than right away, and for helping to keep rare breed pork an option for our dinner tables. And who knows? Maybe if enough of us do it, "rare" won't be so rare any more, and Large Blacks, Berkshires and Tamworths will be as commonplace as the commodity hogs--and someday replace them. :-) 

 

Until that day comes, however, those of you who live in Hancock County, Indiana, have it easy!! You can buy rare breed pork from Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield. Those are Tyner Pond Farm pastured piggies in the picture above, out eating grass and soaking up the sun...which all leads to even better tasting meat. :-) 

                                                         

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Sustainable Farming Practices: How Can You Be Sure a Farmer Does What a Farmer Says?

sustainable farming methods include raising chickens on pastureIt's easy to throw around labels these days, especially when talking about food. Foods are labeled "natural" or "local" when they're not, and even free range has lost its meaning when it comes to chickens. So what are we to believe when someone talks about sustainable farming practices? 

 

Unlike organic which has a legal definition, "sustainable" does not. Like natural, local and free range, nothing dictates how that term can be or will be used. But we as consumers can know enough to know if sustainable farming practices are being used. 

 

I guess first off, however, we should talk about why sustainable farming practices even matter, right? In my mind, sustainable means in a way that it holistic and for the long-term benefit of the land and livestock. That's in opposition to our modern-day industrial agriculture approach that emphasizes profit, so that chickens are bred to be ready for market in just 7 weeks, and pigs in just 5 months, and corn is grown to feed animals instead of people so those animals will fatten faster. Sustainable is the opposite of the farming methods that rely on petrol chemicals to fertilize depleted fields, herbicides to kill weeds, and GMO seeds to speed up production.

 

I guess you could say sustainable is old fashioned. When I look at "sustainable," that's what I see, an older, slower, more common-sense way of doing things. What does sustainable look like? Well, sustainable farming methods....

 

...mean animals are allowed to grow at a natural pace, eating the grass nature intended, not grain.
...allow for a slower approach to food production. 
...do well with heritage breeds that were adapted to living outside, unlike today's modern livestock pig and chicken breeds.
...mean antibiotics aren't necessary because animals aren't crowded together, but free to roam around. 
...rely on nature's ways, like rotational grazing to spread manure and encourage grazing. 

 

For me, sustainable matters most, and I don't get too hung up on whether or not things are organic. The way I see it, I should be able to trust the farmer to make the right call on his or her property. If that farmer is using sustainable farming methods, then I know the use of chemicals will only happen when absolutely necessary. Like at our place on our hay field, we sadly had to break down and use a chemical because the fields were so neglected for so long, and even with our efforts to manage the fields in a sustainable way, the Canadian thistle was rapidly spreading across the whole 10 acres. The Hubby and I were both sick to our stomachs about using the herbicide, but we had researched our options and that was our only one because letting the thistle take over our hay field was NOT an option. Our hope is wiping most of it out will enable us to use sustainable and organic methods from now on to keep the thistle (and tansy) at bay. And those are the kinds of decisions I trust for a farmer to make when raising food too, to know there's a time when drastic action is necessary but to be striving for the natural approach whenever possible. 

 

Another way to know if a farmer is really using sustainable farming methods is by visiting that farm. If you visit Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield, Indiana, for example, you'll see first hand how the pastured meats are raised, outside and on grass, whether it's cattle, pigs or poultry. If you don't live near Greenfield, you can still find and visit local farms to see how things are done, so you can feel good about the food you're feeding your family and the farmer you're supporting by spending your food dollars on local. 

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3 Reasons Why I Think You Should Stay at a Farm

stay at a farm and enjoy wide open skiesI'm going to come clean here: Most evenings and mornings when I'm doing chores at our farm, I feel both a sense of peace and a sense of pity. I feel at peace because I so love the quiet and clean of our valley at dawn and dusk. And I feel a sense of pity for everyone who doesn't get to start or end their days that way at least every once in a while. That's why I think everyone should stay at a farm at least once, as a vacation. 

 

At 1,300 square feet with both bedrooms occupied by those of us who live here, our place is too small for me to extend an open invitation to all of our friends and family to come visit and see what it's like to stay at a farm, so I am grateful that the option exists to do so elsewhere, like Tyner Pond Farm, in Greenfield, Indiana, where they've built a brand new home just for guests who want to stay at a farm. 

 

So even though I can't offer you a farm of my own to visit, I can encourage you to visit another one, with some very big reasons, my top three in fact: 

 

1. So much sky... That sky in the photo was my view one June evening looking south. Almost every night brings a pretty sky because if it isn't full of picturesque clouds, it's full of brightly twinkling stars. Even though I've been looking up at this bountiful sky for over two years now, just the last few evenings when I've been out working our green horse as it's getting dark (because that's how busy the days are), I've looked up and thought how much I love that sky. Stay at a farm. See the sky. Watch it change from morning to day to evening to night. Go out in the dark and find constellations. Watch for shooting stars. Enjoy the sky. 

 

2. So much quiet... I'm not saying farms don't have noise. Our chickens make quite a ruckus if they think they've been locked in too late in the morning, and we have a pet turkey who spends most of her time squawking about I don't know what. But come evening, the sounds are soft ones. Horses munching hay, pigs snoring, chickens purring, crickets chirping...there's the river softly flowing and the leaves in the trees rustling. If you're lucky, there's an owl hooting. 

 

3. So much air... Despite two years at our place, I still can't get over how clean and fresh it smells, even though all the hay fields around us right now (and ours) smell like the chicken manure that just got spread. OK, that smell has been wretched, I admit it, but when we are NOT smelling chicken manure, the air is just so clean, like it got washed and hung outside to dry. It's not as if it even smells like anything. It's such a fresh smell that it's, well, kind of empty but in a good way. It's like nothing "filled the air up" and you're only smelling good, fresh, clean air. Honestly, you'll have to stay at a farm to know what I'm really talking about I think. :-) 

 

There you have it: my top three reasons to stay at a farm. Will you do it? Will you go experience the sky, the quiet, the air? I hope so! And if you live anywhere near Greenfield, Indiana, you can do so at Tyner Pond Farm, where the house is new, the farming methods old, and the livestock only too happy to see you. :-) 

 

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Berkshire Meats: What Can You Expect? Fabulous Flavor, and a Juicier, Darker Meat...Yum!

Berkshire meats what to expectIf you're new to pastured pork, and to Berkshire meats, are you a little unsure what to expect? Well, you're right to suspect it will be different. Just as grass fed beef tastes different from grain fed beef, Berkshire meats from pigs raised on pasture won't taste anything like what you've had from your grocery store. 

 

For one thing, Berkshire meats produce a darker pork. Forget "the other white meat." Pork isn't supposed to be white. Chickens make white meat only where they don't use their muscles (the breast meat) because they don't fly (as opposed to goose meat which is all dark because they DO fly and use those muscles). So if pork is white meat, you have to seriously question how it was raised--confined to an inhumanely small area? Not able to move around? Never going outside? Yes to all. Pork isn't supposed to be white meat. And Berkshire pork is even darker. In fact, it's called kurobuta in Japan, because it's so dark. 

 

Berkshire meats also produce a juicier, more tender pork. This is partly due to breeding. Berkshire pigs are the Kobe beef of the pork world. They produce the best-tasting pork in the world, period. This is also due to the marbling, which is also due to the breeding. 

 

Berkshire pork also has actual flavor, unlike the tasteless stuff sold at the grocery store. Chefs say it has a "depth" of flavor unlike the white meat of the cheap pork you find at the grocery store. 

 

But don't take my word for it! If you live near Greenfield, IN, you can easily find out what Berkshire meats really taste like by ordering some Berkshire meats from Tyner Pond Farm. You can have it delivered to your house, by it at the farmers market, or go to the farm and buy it there, which gives you not just great tasting Berkshire meats but a scenic drive to a lovely working farm too, where you can see the pastured pigs doing their piggie thing. :-) 

                                                         

 

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Why We Need Local, Sustainable Farms and Farmers

save seed vintage posterI randomly came across this article on Facebook the other day talking about a seed exchange at a local library being shut down by the state for fear of agri-terrorism. When I think about the government encouraging the saving of seeds just 100 years ago, like in this poster, I am saddened by how far we've moved away from the virtue of self-sufficiency and into a mindset of dependency. 

 

Over the past century, food production in the U.S. ended up in the hands of conglomerates and cooperations, which led to things like Monsanto suing farmers for using patented seed--even when the seed ended up in their fields by accident. 

 

It used to be, farmers saved seeds and gardeners exchanged them. This meant we had a nation of diverse crops, as everyone grew what worked best in their area, and it meant an independence from seed companies. We're no longer independent, but dependent, in meat production too. 

 

Which is yet another reason why we absolutely must support local, sustainable farms. It's not easy for these farms. Being sustainable means farming in a holistic, long-term manner which is not the cheapest way of doing things. It is cheaper in the long run, because soil health is retained, and animals are healthier which leads to more nutritious meat for you and me. (As they say, you can pay your farmer today or your doctor tomorrow!) Yet we need these farms in order to have an alternative to a fragile meat production system. Why do I say it's fragile? Because it's simply not sustainable. We can't keep raising corn to feed cattle when that corn could feed people instead. The crowded conditions of factory farming mean diseases can whip right through a facility and kill thousands of animals (like the virus that has wiped out 10% of the hogs in the U.S. recently). The way we raise cattle on feedlots makes E. coli a continuous threat. The antibiotics we feed these animals to keep them from getting sick despite the horrid conditions mean resistant bacteria are becoming more and more common. 

 

The way we are raising meat can't continue. But the reality is, the government isn't going to be the one to save us from the factory farming system. If it was, it would not shut down a small town library's seed exchange. It would not side with Monsanto against farmers. It would not place so many restrictions on food production that many small, sustainable farms just give up and go out of business.  

 

No, the government isn't going to save us, but the local, sustainable farms can. That is, if we buy from them and help them to succeed. They can't work for free any more than you or I can. I realize this isn't an easy lifestyle change to make. Is it more work to buy local food? Yes. You can't just go to your local grocery store, and sometimes it takes more than one stop, like one for vegetables, one for meat, one for milk. Is it more expensive to buy local food? Usually, yes. But is it worth the extra time and money? YES! If we don't keep these small, sustainable farms in business by spending our food dollars with them, not the conglomerates, we will only have ourselves to blame when the big factory farms fail. 

 

As the poster says, good seed wins. So does good food. 

 

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Home Cooking Is Tyranny??!! My Reaction to This Outlandish Claim

in praise of home cooked meals with local foodsOh, boy. Where to start with my reaction to this article... How do I even get past the crazy statements like home-cooked meals are tyranny? We need to stop idealizing the home-cooked family dinner? Home-cooked family dinners are a major burden for the working mom? 

 

Because that's what this article declares.  Based on a "study" by three sociologists, the author argues that we should stop pressuring women to cook for their families. The sociologists argue that "while home-cooked meals are typically healthier than restaurant food...the stress that cooking puts on people, particularly women, may not be worth the trade-off."

 

Wow. Our health is not worth the stress of cooking, they claim. My getting stressed out about getting dinner on the table simply isn't worth the trade-off of knowing my family had a healthful meal. Waaaaiiit... you mean getting sick with heart disease or diabetes isn't stressful?!

 

The author also misses another point: Home-cooked meals aren't just about nutrition. They are about bonding time too (which, ironically, can lower stress when families are more connected). When I shared this article on Facebook, fellow moms chimed in talking about not only the importance of family meal times, but the conversations and togetherness they experience during meal prep. Plus how else will our kids learn to cook if we don't teach them? How will our kids even know the importance of a nutritious meal if we don't teach them? 

 

Plus I don't understand where this notion of "idealizing" the home-cooked meal comes from. I don't see it being idealized. I see the home-cooked meal as something we should be returning to, for the sake of our families, our health, and our local food systems--not for the sake of some "Leave It to Beaver" ideal. If anything, we've been idealizing the fast-food nation approach to living, on the go and eating 25% of our meals in cars! That go go go, be busy busy busy lifestyle, THAT is what we have really been idealizing! The home-cooked meal is the reality check, the grounding in the face of societal pressure to do more, be more, make more, buy more. 

 

Picky eaters, both young and old, were cited as additional burdens for women trying to cook: "The women interviewed faced not just children but grown adults who are whiny, picky, and ungrateful for their efforts.... The saddest part is that picky husbands and boyfriends were just as much, if not more, of a problem than fussy children." You know what you have here? Parenting issues and relationship issues! These aren't problems with home-cooked meals. These are discipline problems (with the kids) and communication problems (with the men). 

 

Then there's the repeated argument that cooking is expensive. That idea has been proved wrong repeatedly, but I'll let Joel Salatin make that case in his eloquent reply to this "tyranny of home cooking" article. 

 
Cooking is also the only way we can bring back local food systems. We have to be willing to cook from scratch and buy from local farms like Tyner Pond Farm in order to ensure we'll be able to feed ourselves as a nation 50 years from now. 
 
 
I won't argue that cooking is a chore, but I don't mean chore as in a hassle. I mean chore as in something that has to get done for the good of the family, just like washing the sheets and getting the kids to school on time. And cooking takes planning, just like anything else. We can't get kids to school on time if we don't plan and prepare accordingly. Nor can we sit down and pay our bills without planning ahead, making sure the paycheck isn't frittered away on a bunch of new clothes or horse tack. If we did that, we'd have nothing in the account to pay the bills with when they came due! Cooking is the same. I can't walk into the kitchen and expect to pull off a well-balanced tasty meal at a certain hour without planning ahead, both for the time and the ingredients. Like this morning, I was boiling potatoes at 7 a.m. in preparation for the fritters I am making for dinner tonight, because The Hubby is working graves which means we eat early before he leaves. 

 

Getting home-cooked meals on the table on a regular basis is a challenge, I admit it. But so is balancing the household budget, raising children, juggling all of the demands of modern life.... Heck, even finding quiet time for prayer is a challenge for some of us! But do we quit balancing the checkbook, parenting the kids, keeping up with the demands placed on us? Do we quit praying? No! So why should we quit cooking? Why is cooking the ONE household task we are so willing to relinquish to others (i.e. the corporations making the processed foods and the fast food places dishing it up)? Why do we keep up with toilet scrubbing but consider potato peeling beneath us? 

 

And here's irony: The photo used for the article has the sarcastic caption "Fun." Um, yeah, actually! This mom is rocking that meal prep! She's holding the baby who is obviously content and has her toddler engaged in helping to prepare the meal! Yes, fun! They are TOGETHER and the toddler is learning to cook while the baby is feeling loved. What is not fun about this photo? It's awesome!!

 

You know what I think this woman really needs? Someone to cook for her. I think maybe she has forgotten the love, caring and togetherness that are part of cooking. I wish I could bake her a big pan of lasagna, prepping the meal while she sat in the kitchen keeping me company as I cooked. I'd hand her a glass of wine and ask about her life, and try to figure out why she's so bitter. We'd chat and laugh and I'd sympathize as I stirred and chopped. I'd put her to work tearing lettuce leaves at the kitchen table. Then I'd serve a steaming hot plate of lasagna with a nice salad and some freshly baked bread on the side. And I'd follow it up with brownies, warm and gooey from the oven. At the end of the evening, I'd send her home with leftovers, and say good-bye with a big, warm bear hug. 

 

I think she might look at home cooking differently after that. 

 

(Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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"Food Forward"--Definitely a TV Show Worth Watching if You Care About Local Foods!

I'm not much of a TV watcher. In fact, the Hubby was using the weed whacker and accidentally cut the cord from the satellite dish that goes to the house so we can watch TV, and a month went by before we got that fixed. I watch so little TV that I really only need the service on Sunday nights in January and February to watch Downton Abbey, and Miss Picky Eater and the Hubby don't watch much of it either. If you find an episode of "Chopped" for me, I'll watch that for a while, but hey, that's about cooking... 

 

So imagine my surprise when I should discover a TV show I want to watch that's not catering to anglophiles or inspiring me in the kitchen. It's a show about food, yes, but one about how we're growing our food in the U.S. and how we are going to do so in the future. 

 

Called "Food Forward," the show airs this week on PBS although you can watch the first half hour episode online right here:

 

This is not supposed to be another Food Inc. or other doomsday documentary about the sorry plight of the American diet and the demise of local food systems. Rather, it is supposed to be about what is happening to make things right. The producers tried to make sure the show would spend 80% of its time talking about solutions. And maybe that's what we're ready for right now: hope. We've had so much bad news, and all of it good in its own way, if it got us thinking about how we eat, how livestock are raised in the country, the power of Monsanto, the overwhelming appeal of cheap meat, the future of our food supply...all of that. But to see that "food rebels" (as the show calls them) are actively bringing about change, well, that's a positive message and maybe one that will encourage more people to turn to local food rather than just throw their hands up in the air declaring, "What's the use?"

 

The episodes will be about 13 different topics: fishing, meat, seeds, soil, milk, school lunches, the future of food, food justice, water, waste, wild food, and "the U.S. of Agriculture." As a local food advocate, I am hopeful that local food systems will be a big part of the conversation during this TV show, but I'm still excited to see something positive come about, something to give us hope rather than another case of indigestion. Documentaries such as Food Inc. are incredibly important, but sometimes one does need to see there's the possibility of a solution! 

 

And you gotta love the tagline: Food Foward. Let's eat. Right. Now. :-)

 

Let me know if you watch it and what you think! 

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Pig Breeds for Meat: Bucking the Tide With Berkshires

pig breeds for meat our three Berkshire pigsAlthough we've lived in a small town for four years now, having escaped city life to follow a dream of country living, it has taken Miss Picky Eater a while to decide she wants anything to do with the county fair. The first year, she took a horse and had a blast, but she's simply not that interested in riding so didn't want to put in the work to keep that up. I tried to talk her into showing chickens or her dog, since we already had chickens and her dog. And I tried to talk her into raising a steer as a market animal (one of the animals that gets auctioned off during the fair, with the money going to the kids). Nope, nope and nope. Then I tried sheep, because we knew two girls at our church who showed sheep. Still nope. Miss Picky Eater loves the fair, and she loves that living in a small town means she can just hang out there and be sure to see people she knows, but nope, not sheep either. 

 

Then we got pigs. And what happened this year at fair? She decided she misses being there all week, like when she did horses, and she wants to show pigs the next two years (after which she will be too old). 

 

Yes!!! That makes my heart so happy! The only drawback is this: The pig breeds for meat that the judges like to see at the fair are most decidedly not the pig breeds for meat that interest the Hubby and me. Yes, sigh, as with so many other things we're trying to do on our small farm, we'll be bucking the tide with Berkshires!

 

The judges, it turns out, look for all of the qualities that a modern breed of pig will have, qualities that arose out of a demand for cheap pork that grows fast. We're not interested in raising those kinds of pigs, and we invested in Berkshire pigs last winter when we took the plunge. (Those are our three Berkshire pigs in the picture.) Miss Picky Eater doesn't mind that she won't be able to show and win. She'll be happy to take a pig to the fair as a market animal only. So that's good. (Whew!)

 

But it will be interesting to see people's reactions. We looked at every single pig this year at the fair, and there wasn't a single Berkshire pig to be found, nor any other heritage breed. We saw crosses of heritage breeds with modern breeds, but for the most part the pig breeds for meat were all "new fangled" ones. 

 

IF we're able to successfully breed our sow this fall and IF we are able to construct a decent pig house to get her through the winter and IF we don't mess up this whole husbandry thing, Miss Picky Eater will be taking Berkshire pigs to fair next year, and I'll be quite curious to see how people react. Will they have heard of the Berkshire even? What will they think of it's smaller size? Will they know it is THE best pork in the world? Or will they be so caught up in a narrow way of thinking about pig breeds for meat that our pigs will be scoffed at? 

 

The farmers at Tyner Pond Farm raise Berkshire pigs because they are hardy enough to withstand Indiana winters, and because they produce the best tasting pork. That's one reason we went with Berkshire pigs for our tiny homestead. But sadly, it won't be the Tyner Pond Farm farmers judging the pig breeds for meat next August! :-) 

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Why Is the Price of Grass Fed Beef Higher?

price of grass fed beefAs a local food advocate, I often see or hear of people complaining about the price of grass fed beef and other kinds of pastured meats too. I think as a nation, we've been conditioned to expect food to be cheap. For whatever reason, we won't balk at paying $3.50 for a latte at the local espresso stand, but we want to walk into the grocery store and pick out the cheapest beef or chicken we can find. The irony here is we're drinking the latte for pleasure but the meat is our sustenance, the thing we're deriving nutrients from to nourish our bodies and our families' bodies. Which one should we be willing to spend more money on?

 

In my opinion, it should be the latte that we bargain shop for, and the real food and meat that we are willing to pay more for. And admittedly, the price of grass fed beef tends to be higher.

 

There are several reasons for that, and there are several reasons why you should be willing to pay the higher price. First, why the price of grass fed beef is higher...

 

Grass fed beef tends to be more expensive than grain fed because it's the smaller producers who are raising cattle that way. (I recently read only 3% of the beef raised in the U.S. is grass fed...only 3%!) The big mega producers with thousands of head of cattle on a feedlot eating corn are making money on sheer volume. The smaller farm, like Tyner Pond Farm, can't compete with the volume, no way no how. Without the volume, the farmer or rancher has to charge a higher price. 

 

If you think grass fed beef should be cheaper because there's no cost of grain, remember that it takes longer to fatten cattle on a grass fed diet than on a grain fed one. And the longer the cow is around and being cared for, the more time and money is invested by the farmer...time and money that farmer would like to be compensated for in the price of the beef. And grass ain't free! Pasture has to be managed, the cattle rotated, the water supplied, and sheltered offered when necessary. It's not as if the farmer simply kicks the cow out into a field then goes and gets it 18 months later at slaughter time! Raising beef cattle requires daily involvement, and constant monitoring of fences too!

 

Then there are the processing costs. The mega operations process thousands of cattle per day, sometimes on site. The small farm has to either take the cattle to a slaughterhouse, or have a mobile unit come out to their farm. It simply costs more money this way. 

 

For the most part, it comes down to volume, which leads to my next argument: why you should not balk at the higher price of grass fed beef. 

 

Let's consider volume first: Cattle raised on grain are typically raised in what are called confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). This is your volume on steroids. There's not a blade of grass in sight, just thousands of cattle with nothing to do all day but eat corn. The lots are often dusty, dry, dirty and full of feces. The cattle are crowded together in unhealthy conditions meaning they're more likely to get sick so they are given antibiotics as a preventative measure. The crowded conditions also stress the cattle which can affect the taste of the beef, and it definitely affects their quality of life. Volume might lead to a lower price at the grocery store, but for heaven's sake, at what actual cost? So let's say the cow is the first reason you should be willing to pay more. 

 

The second reason why you should be willing to pay the higher price of grass fed beef is the farmer. Farming is expensive and hard, and with the "I want it cheap" mentality of our nation, it's hard to get paid what it actually costs to raise an animal let alone make a profit. But I know you want to see these small farms make it, so we aren't raising thousands of head of cattle at a time on CAFOs, but rather we have thousands of head of cattle out eating grass on thousands of small farms...right? That only happens when we as customers pay our dollars that way, buying from our local food producers and convincing friends to do the same. 

 

The third reason you should be okay with the higher price of grass fed beef is health. Grass fed beef is simply better for you than grain fed, and multiple studies prove it to be so. Antibiotics aside, there are more nutrients and health benefits from beef raised on grass because the grass itself is contributing to that nutrition. 

 

If you live near Greenfield, Indiana, you can find grass fed beef at a reasonable price at Tyner Pond Farm. (You can even order it online and have it delivered to you if you're within 50 miles of the farm!) And if I haven't convinced you that the higher price of grass fed beef is worth the difference, simply use less meat. If your stew recipe calls for 1 pound of beef, use 3/4 pound, for example. Or follow the lead of Meatless Mondays or forgo meat some other day of the week. You, your family, the farmers and the animals are all much better off if you pay a big more for the grass fed beef and then make it go farther. Trust me on this one. 

                                                 

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Catching Grass Fed Chickens--and Teaching Kids About Food

catching grass fed chickensWho's up for chicken catching? I love that Tyner Pond Farm does this! On the days they need to gather up hundreds of their grass fed chickens for slaughter time, they post it on Facebook and people just show up to help catch them. This week, they caught 400 chickens in 16 minutes, a task they say used to take hours. 

 

This is so neat on so many levels. First off, these are grass fed chickens, meaning they are raised in a MUCH healthier way than the ones crowded together by the thousands in the mass-produced chicken raising operations. Those chickens (the cheap ones at your supermarket) never see a blade of grass, never eat a bug, never feel the sunshine on their backs. And because they are all crowded together--so crowded, some die--they have to be given antibiotics. 

 

Grass fed chickens, on the other hand, live normal, natural lives, eating grass and bugs and soaking up sunshine. All of that healthy living leads to better tasting and healthier chicken meat! And it means antibiotics aren't necessary. 

 

This is what leads to the need for chicken catching too! Chickens raised in the inhumane, mass production way are scooped up with machines as if they were clumps of dirt. Can you imagine? Living creatures treated as if they were inanimate objects. :-(

 

Secondly, what a wonderful way to teach kids (and grownups too!) about food, where it comes from, how it's raised, and what it really IS. You've probably heard about the numbers of children that don't realize chickens have bones because they've only ever eaten chicken nuggets? Well, the kids helping to gather grass fed chicken at Tyner Pond Farm know chickens have bones...and feathers, feet, wings and beaks too! When all we see is a sterile, shrink-wrapped package of boneless, skinless chicken breast sitting in the cooler at the grocery store, it's easy to forget that meat came from a living creature, and it's even easier to forget that the way that chicken was raised matters. 

 

Third, what a neat sense of community! Folks might not be there at Tyner Pond Farm day in and day out, helping to feed and water the livestock, mend fences, and take care of all the other daily tasks. But here's an easy way for them to participate in the raising of their food and have some sense of ownership. 

 

And obviously, it's kind of fun, judging by the huge smile on this little girl's face. :-) 

 

Kudos to Tyner Pond Farm for not only raising fabulous tasting grass fed chickens for the Greenfield, Indiana community, but for making it possible for that community to play a part in the raising of their local food! 

 

You don't have to catch a chicken to buy a chicken, however! If you live in the Hancock County area, you can buy grass fed chickens from Tyner Pond Farm any time, either online, at the farm, or at the local farmers market! 

                                                           

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I'm trying to give Farm Bureau The Benefit Of The Doubt.....

I'm honestly not trying to be a skeptic or a conspiracy theorist.  I listen and nod politely when I hear the Farm Bureau talk about the 'Big Tent' and "All Agriculture".   And of course wThe Meat Racket e all tear up when they wax on about the struggling small family farmer.....
 

But then, when it comes to policy and where they throw their lobbying efforts, it always seems to be in favor of Big Corporate Ag?
 

Case in Point.   I saw the following press today:
 

"The American Farm Bureau Federation hailed the strong bi-partisan effort by members of Congress as they urged Senate and House leadership to preserve the cash accounting system farmers and ranchers rely on. In letters to both House and Senate leadership, members from all 50 states called the cash accounting system fundamental to the success of small businesses across rural America. The letters were signed by 46 senators and 233 representatives.  Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman on Friday said “we are pleased to see members of Congress reach across party lines and stand together for farmers and ranchers who are working to build their businesses and communities.” Cash accounting gives farmers and ranchers an important tool to expand their businesses and boost local economies, according to AFBF. A recent proposal by the Senate Finance Committee would require all businesses with annual receipts totaling $10 million to switch to the accrual method. Under an accrual accounting system, small businesses would be taxed on non-existent income, thereby reducing their cash flow for operating costs and limiting opportunities for expansion. The added financial burden would require many to take out loans to cover the liquidity problems they would face."


Hmmm..... $10,000,000.00 is a small family farm?   According to the U.S.Department of Agriculture:  "Average net cash farm income (NCFI) is forecast at $106,700 for all farm businesses* in 2014, a decline of 6.4  percent from 2013"   


Farm Income ranked by size of farm


So if the average farm does $100,000-ish a year....What farms have incomes over $10 million?   According to USDA data 3.5% of all farms do over One Million Dollars a year. There is actually no data that reports the number of farms over $10 million.   However if we extrapolate other industries wouldn't it be safe to assume that the vast majority of these farms are under $10mm.   Lets be generous and say that 20% are over $10mm.

 

That means that .07% of farms are over $10mm.   Most of the benefit of this exemption flows to large agribusiness at the expense of all other taxpayers.

 

Here is a relevant passage from the great book "The Meat Racket" which is about Tyson:


"Haskell Jackson (Tyson accountant) had just barely gotten Tyson Feed and Hatchery’s books under control when he was told he had a second big task: convince the Internal Revenue Service that Tyson should pay taxes as if it were a family farm. Harry Erwin, Tyson’s auditor in Little Rock, broke the news. It wasn’t going to be enough for Jackson to get Tyson’s books in order. He was also going to have to keep two sets of them. One set of numbers would be the figures that Tyson gave to its bankers and investors, showing how profitable the company had become. The second set of books was for the IRS, and these would show the federal tax agents how much money Tyson was losing. 
 

The task was possible because Erwin had discovered a profitable loophole in the U.S. tax code. Unlike most U.S. businesses, family farms were allowed to use an outdated form of bookkeeping called "cash basis" accounting.  Virtually every other company had to use a different kind, called "accrual" accounting, which better reflected the true profitability of complex corporations."

 

 

In fairness to Tyson, they have since switched to accrual accounting like every other multi-billion dollar corporation in America.  But it seems to me that given the reality of farm incomes it seems reasonable to have Farm Businesses over $10mm have to comply with accounting procedures that better reflect every other business in america of this size.


 

As for the Farm Bureau....I guess I'd just like to see some efforts going toward real farms and real farm families.   Somebody show me one initiative designed to help the average farm more than the large corporations.




 


 

 

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Buy Fresh Meat Online from Tyner Pond Farm

buy fresh meats online from Tyner Pond FarmIf you want to buy fresh meat online and you live near Greenfield, Indiana in Hancock County, you're in luck: Not only can you buy fresh meat online, but you can do so knowing it's raised as humanely and naturally as possible, and you can even visit the farm to see for yourself! 

 

Tyner Pond Farm is that farm, and they're raising pastured beef, chicken and pork for Indiana families just like yours. If you care about the quality of the meat you feed your family and the welfare of the livestock, visit the farm and see for yourself how these farmers are going about their stewardship, with cattle, pigs and chickens all out eating grass and soaking up sunshine the way nature intended. Compare that to the cooped up conditions that most farmers use to raise meat, and it's pretty obvious that the Tyner Pond Farm way is a better way, for the animal and for you. They don't have to pump their animals full of antibiotics, for one thing, and those animals are much healthier and happier for another...which leads to better tasting meat! 

 

If you're buying fresh meat online and not being particular about whom you're buying from, you could very well be buying meat that has been shot full of antibiotics and raised in crowded, inhumane conditions. Without seeing the farm for yourself, or at least knowing about the farm that raised that cow, pig or chicken, you simply can't know the quality of the meat. Plus, grass fed meat is much healthier for you and your family, and that's the only kind of meat Tyner Pond Farm raises. 

 

Sadly, Indiana residents import 90% of the food they eat from outside the state. Tyner Pond Farm wants to reverse that trend, by raising pastured meats and selling directly to local residents. To do so, they have to raise awareness too, and that's why they are so welcoming of visitors to the farm. (Just check out their Facebook page to see photos of the many visitors...and happy animals!)

 

As an added bonus, you can buy fresh meats online from Tyner Pond Farm and get those meats delivered for free if you live within 50 miles of the farm! So order your meat today, and taste the difference pastured meats make! 

                                                    

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Recipe Review: Grass Fed Beef and Broccoli Makes for a Quick Meal of Asian-Inspired Comfort Food!

grass fed beef and broccoli recipe from Kimmys Bake ShopOK, I have to admit it: I was a doubter when it came to this recipe. And I was proved wrong, much to the delight of my taste buds! 

 

This grass fed beef and broccoli recipe is one of the recipes Miss Picky Eater pinned to our Dinner Ideas Pinterest board. She was supposed to cook last night, and this was the recipe she had chosen. I had the ingredients ready for her, broccoli from the farmers market and some local grass fed beef. But then she had a swim meet in a far away town (one of the consequences of living in a rural area: the swim meets are ALWAYS in a faraway town unless they are home meets!), and she didn't get home until almost 8:30 p.m. 

 

That morning I had thought, "I should offer to make dinner because I know she's going to have a long day." But on the other hand, I had scheduled a trainer to come help with one of the horses in the evening so I wasn't free to cook, and on the other hand, I reasoned, real life is that sometimes you have to cook a meal after a long, hard day and it's good for her to learn that. So, I left it up to her to make dinner. 

 

When she sent me a text to let me know how late she'd be home, I was just starting evening chores. It was getting dark and I was already rushing through the chores as fast as I could, but I went even faster as I realized I'd be the one cooking. 

 

I could have just skipped to Thursday's dinner and made that, but I stuck with the Wednesday plan and made Miss Picky Eater's meal choice, which was this grass fed beef and broccoli recipe. I found the recipe on Pinterest and was just starting it when she got home. I told her I wasn't sure about it, it seemed so, well...blah! It didn't call for garlic or salt or anything fancy, just garlic powder, soy sauce, ginger and brown sugar. How tasty could THAT be, I wondered?? 

 

Well, it was delicious!! We ate at 9:00 p.m., each of us with noses buried in books, I confess, but we'd both of us had long days and neither had the energy to talk (and the Hubby was at work). Although when she first got home she said she was too tired to eat (and really, I felt too rushed to cook), we both ended up glad to be eating this. It was like Asian inspired comfort food, and our tired taste buds and tummies welcomed it. 

 

My only comments on the recipe, as a recipe review, have to do with me, not the recipe. I could have cut the grass fed beef into thinner strips, but I was in a hurry. And I don't currently have a wok, having given mine up when I made my big "city-to-country" move a few years ago, and cut my possessions in half. That meant the cornstarch coating the grass fed beef stuck to the pan I did use. I think even with a wok, you'd have that, but not as bad. Also, I'm not sure you'd need to use boneless round steak, necessarily. Probably any grass fed beef that cooks fast and is easy to cut into strips would work. Oh, and we had it with Jasmine rice. I don't like brown rice, for one thing, and I didn't have time to cook it up for another. The Jasmine rice is my favorite and only takes 20 minutes. 

 

We were also a tad short on the soy sauce (because who thinks to check your quantity of soy sauce when making the shopping list??) so I added a little water to make up the difference and it was fine. It would have been nice to have soy sauce to offer at the table, but it actually tasted just wonderful without it. 

 

This recipe gets a thumbs up for being tasty, filling, and made of local foods like broccoli and grass fed beef. A definite winner! 

 

And if you live in Hancock County, you can buy your grass fed beef directly from Tyner Pond Farm and get the best of locally grown pastured meats and free delivery too...if you live within 50 miles of the farm!)

                                                          

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Locally Grown as Food Label Lie

locally grown as food label lie on jar of red peppersWell. This just takes food label lies to a new level. And frankly, I am dismayed. I didn't even notice it when I bought this jar of red peppers at the grocery store. It wasn't until this morning when I pulled the jar out of the fridge that I saw the lie. 

 

Locally grown, it says. 

 

Hello? I live in Washington state, but I could live in Minnesota, eh, for all these people know..or Alaska or Florida. So how can a label that touts it's from Napa Valley also claim to be locally grown at the same time?? 

 

This is disheartening. It is one thing to mis-use the word "natural" on food labels, since there's no actual definition for natural like there is for organic. But locally grown should be a label one can trust because local is local! Local foods are NOT peppers grown in California and being shipped to Washington or Minnesota or Alaska. 

 

What upsets me more than this food label lie, however, is the idea that customers might very well pick up this jar with a "I'm buying local" feel good feeling, when they are doing nothing of the sort (unless they live around Napa Valley, California, that is). 

 

All Mezzetta is doing with this food label lie is making it even harder for those of us who DO care about local foods to change things. When they go slapping a lie like this on their label--KNOWING it is a lie--they are misleading people, causing them to think of a red pepper as a locally grown product when it probably is not. 

 

The only way to avoid these kinds of lies is to stop buying products from Mezzetta, of course, but also to buy from your local farmers and ranchers. When more of our food comes from farmers and farmers markets and less from grocery stores, we'll be buying locally grown local foods without needing a label to reassure us we are. 

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How to Use Pinterest to Get Your Family Involved in the Meal Planning

local foods dinner menu planning on PinterestAs I've been writing about local foods and pastured meats on behalf of Tyner Pond Farm, I've been doing a lot of soul searching and researching on one question: Why don't people cook?

 

I have cooked from a young age, since junior high school, in fact, when living in a single parent home with a working mother required that I help to get dinner on the table as I was the oldest and my mom was at work. And I haven't ever questioned cooking or getting home-cooked meals on the table for my family most nights, even as my "family" has changed through divorce, through remarriage, through kids growing up and leaving. But in doing the soul searching and researching, I realized there were things I didn't like about doing so much cooking, namely the isolation I feel as the one in the kitchen for hours at a time. It didn't stop me from cooking, but it meant that maybe I didn't always have the best attitude about it. 

 

Realizing that, I brainstormed solutions so I'd feel less alone as the family cook. There are two things that really worked: 1) We started having Miss Picky Eater do her homework in the kitchen while dinner is prepped so that I have some company (and I can make sure she's focused on homework, not her iPhone). 2) I started listening to audio books while cooking (and what a delight that has been! Now that it's canning season, I actually look forward to getting into the kitchen for hours at a time!). 

 

But the latest idea has been perhaps the most brilliant: Using Pinterest to get help. It wasn't my idea, rather it was Miss Picky Eater's, but what a great idea! 

 

All we did was start a dinner ideas board. OK, all SHE did was start a dinner ideas board. Because she cooks dinner once a week for the family, she gets on Pinterest to look for ideas. Then she realized she could make a board for us to share and pin the tasty-looking recipes there, meaning not just things that she wanted to cook (the simpler recipes), but the things she wanted me to try too (the complicated recipes). 

 

So this week when I sat down to make our weekly dinner menu, I first went through a mental "what's ripe in the garden" checklist and jotted down some dinner ideas. Then I went to the Pinterest board and filled in the blanks. And that is ALL I had to do: Go to the Pinterest board and scroll through. (That's a screen shot of our board above. You probably can't tell, but there are a LOT of recipes that use chicken, so we're lucky we've got a good supply of pastured chickens LOL!)

 

We are on our second week of this and I LOVE it! I will start getting into the habit of pinning recipe ideas there too. I have a feeling this will cut my menu planning time in half, plus make sure I'm making things that interest Miss Picky Eater as an eater. :-) 

 

If you give this a try, let me know how it works for you! And remember, you can get all of your pastured meats delivered for free if you live within 50 miles of Tyner Pond Farm

                                                      buy pastured meats from Tyner Pond Farm

 

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How did I live without a gas grill?? I have no idea. Ever since we splurged on a cheap one at Home...read more
by Sharon Ernst on
It can get a little confusing, this learning about heritage breeds and grass fed meats. I mean, even...read more
by Sharon Ernst on
It's easy to throw around labels these days, especially when talking about food. Foods are labeled...read more
by Sharon Ernst on
I'm going to come clean here: Most evenings and mornings when I'm doing chores at our farm, I feel...read more
by Sharon Ernst on
If you're new to pastured pork, and to Berkshire meats, are you a little unsure what to expect?...read more
by Sharon Ernst on
I randomly came across this article on Facebook the other day talking about a seed exchange at a...read more