Thursday, June 1, 2017

Now What?

Excuse the following ramble. I think I am still processing.

When I made the decision to start growing food, it was without question that I'd grow it in a responsible, sustainable, non-polluting way. After all, I grew up with the mindset of not polluting the air, soil or water. It was something of which I have always been conscience. Putting the earth first.

While I can't afford an electric truck and tractor, now that I grow commercially, I do what I can to combine stops to reduce overall trips; use solar energy and rain to irrigate the gardens, into whose soil I am constantly working to sequester organic materials (aka carbon), so they'll retain moisture longer, leach less and become more fertile than when I began - thereby reducing the amount I need to use the tractor. When it was nearby, I used bio-diesel. I'd love to learn how to make my own some day. 

It's a habit, leaving things in better condition than you found it, that I adopted decades ago as a young Girl Scout. Living in Chicago and cherishing the camping trips in forested areas,we never left our trash laying around and we always respected Nature.

I grew up in awe of Nature. There was always something to see in the woods camping that I'd never see on the paved back yard on which I grew up. Our closest green space was an empty lot on which, before I was out of grade school, a fast food restaurant went up.  Parks were not grass, they were wood chips and playground equipment. You rode your bike not across fields to get there, but down paved streets filled with houses, concrete and useless lawns that no one was supposed to step foot upon.

My mom grew as much as she could in a very small space in that back yard, and while gardening wasn't my thing  until much later in life, I intuitively appreciated the out-of-doors. The rain and the sun and the changing of seasons were on my mind.We were taught to turn off the lights when we exited a room. We turned down the thermostat in the winter and used a blanket and opened the windows and appreciated the fresh air in the warm weather. I still prefer a warm breeze to synthetic air conditioning most of the time. We didn't toss trash out of our windows and we began recycling. That is after they decided to replace deposits on glass bottles and cardboard cartons with plastic.... well, everything.

I remember when they told us of a coming ice age of sorts when I was a young girl. I was scared half to death because winter was not my favorite season and I couldn't imagine it never being summer. I don't remember when they back-tracked on that idea. But it didn't seem to last too long because before we knew it, we were looking at "global warming". No more aerosol hair spray so we could help close up the hole in the ozone. From what I remember, anyway.

While I'm glad that the deep freeze event didn't end up happening, perhaps it's the missed marks of predictions in science such as this, that have caused some people to question the validity of what is now being called climate change. But it seems to me, that we have many more incidents and data backing up the warming of the world's oceans, and all of the damage that this is doing, than we ever had for an ice age. Even many US cities are being affected. Just ask the mayor of Miami about the ever increasing rising tide and what they're going through to protect the city's ocean-front properties. Made me re-think about retiring to some beach front property some day.

Yet, there are many people who cling to the idea that we, "mere humans", could never do anything, even collectively, to affect something as massive as the Earth's atmosphere.

This line of thinking is pretty interesting to me, considering some of the same people are saying how great they are and how responsible they are for other things that would require a much different posture than that of a mere humble human. Either we are capable of doing great things or not.

Well, let me just say; we are capable of doing great things; we have already affected this beautiful planet.

We have stripped its forests,

polluted its waters and air,  

caused earthquakes,

longer lasting and more severe and violent storms - which have cost lives.

We've ruined soils by trying to do more, too fast,

and in the process, pushed a lot of species of life - to the point of extinction. 

How can anyone say "we" couldn't affect the climate, when we've already done so much damage in so many ways and in so many places around the world, just in my lifetime?

I don't know how old the earth is. I don't know for sure that if my old Ford truck were put out of commission and replaced with an electric one tomorrow, it would make a big difference in the big picture or not.

But I do know that nearly every time I drive or take the train into the city of Dallas from the south east, there is a haze of smog hanging over downtown as I draw near, that I don't remember seeing 25 years ago. 

I do know that when the neighbor fires up his old diesel rig and idles it for 15 minutes, it fills the air and my house with a suffocating cloud that lasts long after he's gone. And that can't be good for anyone to inhale. And the post oak tree he parks underneath, is dying.

I do know that when the wind blows from the south, the air is noisier with I20's traffic and it's not getting quieter. And surely the exhaust from all of those vehicles is being filtered by fewer and fewer trees as we cut them down in lieu of more places to shop and eat - for things that do nothing to clean the planet. Urban sprawl is coming to my side of town. Quickly. And I'm not excited about it.

And I don't know that what I, as one person does, alone, affects things or not; but what we do as a nation, collectively as millions of individuals, until very recently, has caused more pollution to this big, blue, beautiful planet than any other country on it. And it made perfect sense that it should be up to us to bite the biggest bullet to help fix things. But that, apparently, wasn't fair. Over two decades of negotiating and 200 countries later say otherwise.

Farmers all over the world are among the first to feel the imbalances in the seasons. And in turn, those who eat food feel it soon thereafter.

The longer rainy seasons. The longer dry spells. Higher low average temperatures. Higher highs.

California just recently came out of what I believe was its worst decade of drought in generations - only to be followed by floods.  

Generations that occupy the same land now experiencing fewer chilling hours each winter; forcing them to move orchards to higher elevations in order to produce food and make a living. To yield less, means to charge higher prices.

The push is on to develop strategies for drought tolerant species of vegetables, using season extending and soil protecting structures to grow food where it used to grow more abundantly - before climate changes began affecting yields.

Farming organically actual helps sequester carbon, BACK into the soil. It conserves energy and water. Organic farming slows runoff and erosion of topsoil by rebuilding it.

Farming without the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides reduces pollution because the products we may use, break down in the sunlight, with water or quickly with exposure to air. And, a small, organic farm, refuels itself in a closed loop system when combined with livestock whose manures are used for fertilizer and sometimes, fuel.

Organic farmers are on the front line - and in a place to help where others refuse. But we can't do it alone. 

I realize we can't turn back the clocks. And no, I don't want to have to light a candle to see at night or have to build a fire to make myself and friends a meal, or not be able to communicate with you all via this blog, a computer or a cell phone. Or live totally off-grid all of the time. I like running water and heat just like anyone else. 

But I want to do it in a way that does not leave a trail of smog and pollution behind me. And I want my government to lead the way with matching or better funding for safe, alternative and renewable energy sources as fossil fuel gets. I don't want to say, "me first and too bad about the rest of the world." And I really do think most of us agree.

What comes around, (the planet), goes around.

I want to embrace every eco-friendly option I can afford to embrace and save up to afford more.

I want to conserve as much energy as I can and leave the little slice of Texas that I am fortunate enough to own, in a better way than which I found it; stripped down to nothing but sand burs and Bermuda grass where it wasn't bare sand. Not a grain of top soil to be found unless you went to the back 3 acres of unspoiled prairie.

I want to be an example for conservation and living responsibly.

I want to encourage more people to learn to grow a small back yard garden of popular foods. Organically.

One of my goals for Eden's has always been to be green. As green as I can be. Solar power and rainwater collection for at least some of the irrigation and animal's drinking water.

Solar panels for the walk in cooler and hopefully some day for the yurt and my house and one day I hope my main automobile will be green, too.

My thinking was that the lower my overhead, the less I'd have to mark up the food I grew to pay the bills and make a living - so more people could afford to eat well. I have been green out of frugality, if nothing else.
I believe, we all can be examples of conservation. 

We have become a society of disposable phones, packaging of packaging - of food that can and should be coming out of our own back yards as much as possible, raw and local otherwise. And we are a society of convenience over conscience with profit over people and the environment. Or safety.

None of us is perfect. No one is asking us to be perfect. But if my shopping or living habits contribute to the pollution of my land, soil or water, I will certainly do whatever I can to change that. Maybe now more than ever.

We don't own this planet. We are simply borrowing it from future generations of people, of children, of those who haven't even had a chance to see it yet. 

Once again, look for organic farmers and like-minded citizens to lead the way, in spite of the profit seekers and those who choose to stay in the old ways of increased fossil fuels use, at the expense of small islands and countries on the other side of the world, our own shorelines, and the very air we breathe and water we drink.  By the time some people notice the effects of the warming of our oceans, because they don't have one nearby, it may be too late.

It's time we think of others and err on the side of caution. At least, that's what I think.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!


 Click for some tips on how you can do your part, and some links/sites to follow;

Food and Water Watch
DownWinders at Risk - local organization dedicated to cleaner air for North Texas.
A plethora of 100 sites. One for everyone's fancy.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Coming Together to Eat

The one thing that brings us all to the same level playing field, is food. The need to obtain it and consume it.

And when we can all gather around one big table, be it a long fancily decorated one, a round one with a porcelain top or a picnic table with ants running across it, barriers are lowered and we can all come together and enjoy one of life’s most simple acts. Eating.

My decision to move to Balch Springs to open a garden shop had more to do with the piece of property I found appealing than anything else. Moving my home there a couple years later, was just a two mile jaunt from where I’d been living, and honestly, it’s felt a bit like moving back to where I grew up in IL; On a pretty busy road, a block off of a noisy freeway, (instead of a busy commuter rail station), in an old house of a smallish, mostly blue-collar community. The main difference being this community is more diverse and markedly more rural. 

People of my community, whenever they’ve come here to the shop or Market Day, have always been warm, welcoming and friendly.

They come seeking nourishment, flavor, quality and often find the experience of an old childhood memory of their grandparents’ farm, or make a new one.

They’re often surprised to see chickens running amok, huge, old oak trees shading the area, historical buildings, and if on a tour, the land opening up to what often feels like to some, a never ending expanse of land full of native wildflowers, indigenous trees, shrubs, insects and other wildlife.

I’ve made my home and stay in this community because of my love for this land, and the people who live here. I’ve watched a lot of changes I don't necessarily like in the past 12 years; too many new fast food restaurants, beer stores and national brand cheap merchandise outlets, and don't see enough simple quality of life improvements or focus on existing mom and pop establishments.

But none the less, the people seem to come together for the fall fest parade, 4th of July celebration, the repair or building of a playground for its children or to pick up litter city-wide; showing me that there are a lot of people who, too, feel a sense of community here.  And as I've hoped, the community garden here continues to grow into a place where neighbors gather more often, too.

The longer I live here, the more comfortable I feel and the more determined I am to keep this farm here, in Balch Springs, rather than move it further out. Demographics have been evolving and development has been exploding here just as in the rest of the state. And as a rural property owner and lover of things left undisturbed, I’m not too excited about some of the development or the pace of it.

However, knowing that my little farm can still provide a relatively quiet space for someone seeking solace from their busy life or a tragic event; a safe home for wildlife; a bit of a preservation for what the native prairie lands here looked like before “Zip City”, before it was called Balch Springs, and produce nourishing organic food for local families who want it, really makes me smile.

Won't you gather together with others this weekend, wherever you are, and sit down at a table, long or short, and share at least one meal? Not in the car. No phones. No computers. No TV’s. Just food and people and conversation. And if you’re around the farm, join me Saturday after Market Day for a picnic. Potluck style.

I’ll provide the garden salad and a few crazy chickens running amok. 

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Friday, December 30, 2016

New Year Resolutions

Some mornings as I go through the motions of what I refer to as “chores”, I’m reminded of some event or some person’s story that gives more meaning to what I’m doing than the wagging tails or happy clucks I get as I go along feeding, watering and turning out animals for the day.

It’s no secret that when I started out here it wasn’t to save the world, my neighborhood or anything really heroic. It was actually to make it easier for me to get clean food and save my little farmer’s market, and my home. It was a survival tactic.

Over the years, however, it has become a bit of a mission you could say. Some say, an obsession. Others still, an addiction. Call it what you want – I still call it, survival.

It’s a type of survival that I really didn’t know I needed back when I began.

I thought what I was doing was simply going to pay the bills and allow me to be a productive member of society, while not having to trek 20 miles for organic groceries. Maybe allow me to have a little more free time than the corporate grind had provided. And I suppose it does – even if that free time doesn’t always come when I’d choose it. And those little pink disconnection notices are sometimes narrowly avoided because there’s not a weekly paycheck like with a “job”.  It’s a seasonal check and you learn to budget, both money and your time, in very creative ways.

But the kind of survival it provides other than usually keeping the bill collectors at bay, is that of what many others don’t survive; poor health.

Maybe some of it is my genes. Granted I have an American Indian and Italian/Sicilian or Mediterranean heritage, so perhaps a bit of the best of 2 worlds when it comes to the benefits of age-old diets ingrained into my DNA.

But there are plenty of people with what should be good genes getting sick and feeling poorly, and vice versa. And I may have been on that same path myself, if over 15 years ago I’d not started doing things a bit differently. And had my mother not been the homemaker she was, providing us 3 square meals a day, every day, for the first 13 years of my life. Something I do not take for granted or lightly. And lessons I still fall back on today. Thank you, Mom.  

I tell folks I was an organic gardener before being organic was “cool”. And I was. Some of it was out of benign neglect and some out of frugality. (I prefer that word over “cheap” because it makes me sound smart instead of stingy.) And now I definitely do it out of wisdom and not stinginess – or lack of funds – as it were at the time. Gardening wasn’t something my ex-husband saw much merit in and so golf clubs took priority in the limited budget. I used what I had and could get on the cheap – shovels, soil and seeds.

What is it then, that separates some people into categories of healthy or sickly? Certainly I am not going to speak in terms of absolutes, because we all can find or even know of an exception to them. The 90 year old 2 pack a day smoker who ate greasy fast food daily and the 35 year old health-food nut who never touched tobacco, never lived with a smoker and yet suffered from emphysema and heart disease to their early grave.

I will, however, make the argument that sometimes a person can throw themselves out into traffic and survive while others may not. I don’t honestly think fate controls everything. We have, and make, choices. How much risk do you want to leave up to odds when it comes to your life or your health?  Or that of your family and loved ones?

I take that same equation and apply it to my customers. I don’t know what tips the scale for other people, so I’ll err on the side of caution when it comes to what I sell them. That’s why I have an all organic farmer’s market and garden shop.

We’ll not split hairs on the “rules” that the USDA has created, bent and adjusted to “regulate” (i.e. allow) large corporate food factories the ability to make more profit by being “certified organic”.

Let’s just suffice it to say that organic gardening, to most reasonable people, means not using synthetic chemicals or those which we know will subsist in the soil and/or on the food or flowers we grow – in the ground.

I felt I needed to add those last three words because the ever growing popular method of growing food in soil-less environments is, in the opinion of many dirt farmers, not really organic growing.

"After all, if it’s not a drug, it can’t make you well – according to the FDA."

It may be synthetic chemical free, but without the soil, and its countless un-duplicable benefits, it’s just not the same. The flavor isn’t the same. The nutrient density isn’t the same. And while it may be safer to eat than its conventionally grown, toxic pesticide doused counterparts, grown without carbon-based soil is not, in my opinion and that of many others, truly organic. But that’s perhaps another conversation. I’d rather, of course, you ate that, than conventional – if it were your only 2 choices.

But it’s not our only two choices. Here in Dallas and across the country in most well populated areas, there is a plethora of choices for obtaining organically grown whole, wholesome foods, even grown in local soil, in some cases. And when I say whole-foods, I mean unadulterated, unprocessed, untainted and in its original form. Not necessarily what you find in any particular store by a similar name. Or any store for that matter.

Supermarkets have to meet budgets to pay employees and stockholders. They’re going to sell a lot of stuff. Some of it may not be as wholesome as you think. And that’s all I’m going to say on that subject. 

And when I say well populated, I really guess I mean, well-to-do, because we all are becoming familiar with the phrase food desert, and it rarely applies to neighborhoods with the demographics of upper incomes. That's why, in large part, markets and shops that pop up in these food desert neighborhoods so desperately need to be supported. In some cases, they're the only source of healthful, organic and local food to which the community has access.

There are increasingly more locations where actual farmers gather to bring consumers directly what they may not find in even most independent stores. Likely, what they’ll never find in supermarkets. And it takes a little work to find some of them or make their schedule jive with yours. I will grant you that. But if it were a matter of survival, what steps would you take to make it happen?

Well, without getting myself into trouble with the FDA, I will just say that we know for a fact that there is a direct correlation to eating well and good health. Saying any more than that could probably get me into trouble. 

After all, if it’s not a drug, it can’t make you well – according to the FDA. And food, clearly, is not a drug. Even though many years ago it was said to let food be thy medicine, someone forgot to tell the FDA – or they just decided that it wasn’t going to be profitable enough for their allies and friends in high places, so they decided it wasn’t true. (Who said that if you tell a lie 3 times people will believe it? [cough, cough] )

But without me making any claims, I can assure you that if you spoke to enough co-workers, neighbors, relatives or Facebook friends, you will find someone who has an experience that will rival that of the FDA’s claims.

Yet organized or commercialized telling of the truth about how people get over illnesses, fought off diseases, and even just had more energy or felt better – truth of experiences – is not allowed. At least not without a disclaimer basically saying it may not be true because the federal government says so.

I can, however, tell you of the woman who sought me out at one of my Market Days to thank me for helping teach her how to garden at home. And that her family has never felt healthier since eating so much home-grown food. And I think I can get away with telling you that I’ve had customers tell me that nothing they buy at the grocery store compares to what they buy at my market when it comes to flavor or freshness.  Or that a woman previously diagnosed as lactose intolerant was able to miraculously drink unpasteurized milk without suffering any symptoms. But it’s probably not safe to say any more than that.

I was reminded recently of a speech given by raw milk dairyman Mark McAfee several years ago at a conference of producers. He was encouraging them to “break the law” by verbally sharing these kinds of stories, like those told to him from customers who’d been plagued with asthma, IBS, Crohn’s, pasteurized milk intolerance, etc., and found relief – gasp, a cure? – after including dairy products from him into their diets.

Against all federal government wisdom, CA allows people to sell and buy real milk products at the store, so long as the dairy passes inspections. Of course, retailers had to learn how to properly display the product as well as educate consumers on proper storage. I tell fellow members of a raw milk co-op what a dairyman told me – keep it at the very back of the fridge so it stays super cold and it will last a long time. And it does. I often get 2 weeks out of a gallon. That is if I don’t drink it all first.

"One good thing out of the USDA since Mr. Vilsack took over, is the slogan Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food."

Mark is right though. Farmers and ranchers and dairymen/women have a big part of the good health key of survival in their hands. All consumers need to do in order to get a copy of that key, is rearrange their schedule a little bit, change up their priorities and think of it as a key to what it really is - actual survival.

Slowly but surely news of the spikes in preventable, chronic illnesses are making more headlines. Usually, though, it’s not on the nightly news or in mainstream media. Instead it’s tucked away in various indie owned publications often thought of as “fringe” or liberal.

Is it liberal or fringe to want to feel well? To have your family feel well? To operate at their best potential?

But surely you see on the news the one in 3 million people of the city who had something dramatic or awful happen to them overnight. Or some obscure story that really doesn’t affect us or our daily existence. Rarely do we hear of the odds gaining on childhood obesity rates, childhood type 2 diabetic cases climbing, or increases in other various lifestyle/nutrition related chronic illness and diseases. No, those wouldn’t compliment the paid commercials that keep the news on the air. But, perhaps if we did have it in our faces as much as we do pop culture or other “news”, we’d pay more attention. And respond accordingly.

The key to your best chance at surviving these things isn’t all that hard to obtain, really. But there are lots of duplicate and even some counterfeit keys out there so buyer beware.

One good thing out of the USDA since Mr. Vilsack took over, is the slogan Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.

Who is your farmer? Rancher? Dairyman? Fisherman? Beekeeper? Who makes your sausage? Your jelly or jam, pickles, bread and cheese? Can you say you know how many pairs of hands your “fresh” produce passed through before it was slipped into that cellophane covered Styrofoam container and put on a shelf? Much less how long it's been since it saw soil? Harvested prematurely for shipping quality is common even in large scale organic production. How much would anyone pay for a pound of smashed heirloom tomatoes?

We’re all being brainwashed into thinking that bacteria are evil causes of death when in fact, as Mr. McAfee so pointedly covers in his speech, they are the givers of life.  And the food on the shelves offered for sale in the supermarket, are generally devoid of bacteria. It is dead.

Lifeless, “food-like substances”, a phrase coined by author and writer Michael Pollan, can do little but provide empty calories to give us some energy to make it through to the next empty calorie meal.

Just because something can sit on a shelf for 5 years and still be edible, doesn’t make it good for you. By removing all of the bacteria, the very life, from something and adding salt, sugar, fat and preservatives to it, we haven’t created some new good thing. We’ve destroyed one. Food spoils for a reason. It’s lost its value. Mold and fungi beat you to the punch and started to consume it first.

We, by design, need nutrients and whole foods to be sustained. To survive. There’s that word again. And I’m not using it to be an alarmist. Just a realist.

It’s no secret that the (bad) joke is that 2016 has taken away so many pop-culture icons from the 80’s and that many, far too many, were at quite a younger age than what we normally think of people exiting this planet. I can’t help but wonder what some of the differences in the diets of some of them may have been. Apparently, no amount of fame or fortune can fix what years of abuse or neglect can do to a body once it reaches a certain point.

"In some cases it’s like not realizing they should have had life preservers and a radio on the boat until after it springs a leak and starts to sink. In the middle of shark infested waters."

Our bodies are pretty resilient. Made to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’, as the old watch commercial claimed. But they’re not designed to take a kicking – meal after meal, week in and week out and year after year; especially if we’re not providing it the means to filter out toxins, repair damage and build immunity by eating healthful foods.

How much of this behavior can our bodies take before they break down? How much before a developing brain is inhibited? An immune system retarded or never fully developed to protect the body decades down the road?

Food, Inc. made millions aware of the questionable trail their food takes before they eat it
I hear from some of you, stories of people driving cross-town to save .50 on a lb of bananas, elated at the deal on close-out CAFO meats about to spoil, “cheap” eggs, concoctions in a box that are super easy to make and on sale 10 for $10, etc.

And yet, we see expensive vacations, smart phones all around for everyone, new cars and big houses requiring double incomes of extensive hour jobs and more. But our health’s first line of defense, food, is sought at bargain basement prices.

It’s no wonder people say they "can’t afford organic food". They can't hardly afford any kind of food that's not so subsidized by the government that it's sold in its raw form for less than the farmer's production costs. America has spent a lot of their money on “stuff” that won’t really make much difference in the long run. In fact, much of what they buy will break after just a few years and need to be replaced.

Well friends, we only get one body to live in. And the best the FDA can do when it starts to break, in most cases, is mask the ailments and the aches and pains with RX’s that, even when correctly prescribed, cause many side affects and even deaths. How many people have died as a result of eating a salad? Organic ingredient home-made meals?

The number of people lost to bacterial outbreaks caused by food, not only pales in comparison to those lost by RX’s, but is generally the result of previously wholesome foods being over-handled and processed into something compromising, not food in its original, raw, whole state.

I have been growing some food for myself for many years. Decades. I only decided to make a living at growing for others a few years ago. But in that amount of time I’ve met so many people who are like-minded, but only becoming so out of duress.

And that makes me very sad.  In some cases it’s like not realizing they should have had life preservers and a radio on the boat until after it springs a leak and starts to sink. In the middle of shark infested waters.

No one eats “clean” every bite. At least no one I know of. And certainly not me. I’ve confessed to not liking maple syrup and using instead processed, flavored corn syrup. And I can’t sit through a movie without a bucket of popcorn and something to wash it down.

However, fast food to me means Chipotle, and the stench of sitting at a light outside of a traditional fast-food chain is sickening to me. I typically eat vegetables that I or someone I know grew – in season. When I eat animal products, be it dairy, honey or meat, it’s again, conscious of the steward and the manner in which it was brought to market.   

Hedging your bets by adding more clean food to your diet, even gradually, seems like a smart thing to do. I generally don’t eat pancakes and “syrup” but a few times a month. And perhaps if they were across the street and I had the extra money, I’d treat myself to a movie or a steak burrito more frequently than a few times a year.

But because, in large part, most people don’t see the value in paying more for groceries that provide my living, I’m limited. And maybe that’s a good thing. Because I, too, grew up in the era of up and coming convenience foods, and I can see it become a temptation to skip making dinner for eating out more frequently than I do, had I the access and means to do so.

 "Fill in the blanks of your grocery list where you need to. But your local organic farmer is your best, first line of defense in the game of survival."

How much would you pay for survival?

What’s the value of an airbag? A parachute? A life preserver?

The lack of these things when needed, produce most certain instant negative results. If only we could make ourselves see at the time we begin our eating habits, that the lack of eating a more wholesome, unadulterated diet was going to result, most likely, in slow, often painful, and certainly expensive, series’ of consequences – often with an unhappy and uncomfortable, ultimate early ending.

Watching the life of someone we know come to a premature end is sometimes the only warning needed. For others, it’s an alarm when pain of their own body comes. Sadly for some, for too many, convenience or lack of self care, wins over awareness of the long term damage being done and the outcome is rarely pleasant.

Know your farmers. Know your food. Fill in the blanks of your grocery list where you need to. But your local organic farmer is your best, first line of defense in the game of survival.

And most of us, don’t take that responsibility lightly. We live and breathe our work. We’re agtivists asking you to sign petitions, write letters to Congress and vote both with your dollars at the store and your rights each election day. We ask you to be pro-active.

Farming or even growing a big family garden can be long, arduous work. And it doesn’t always pay as well for the skill set the farmer could demand under other circumstances. Most farmers wear many hats including plumber, electrician, handyman, accountant, marketing executive, CEO, veterinarian, chef and more. 

But I can honestly say that becoming a farmer, even on the small scale that I do it, is the most consuming, disappointing, educational, interesting, monotonous, satisfying, uplifting and worthwhile occupation at which I have ever tried my hand.

Oliver adoring baby chicks
 One big smile from a youngster as a chicken huddles over her new chicks, or has a rooster eat cracked corn from their hand,the excitement when they suddenly realize they're planting future French fries,
Clark w/his carrot
or they're experiencing livestock for the first time, the delight on their face when picking or savoring their favorite veggie – can cancel out the rough mornings of broken frozen water pipes, foundation and plumbing issues on an old farmhouse, another lost crop and loud neighbors that come with owning an urban farm on a commercial strip of street. Sometimes all on the same day. 

Knowing that perhaps just one person will benefit from my nagging about eating better, makes potentially alienating others worth the risk of doing so.

I know we do it from a place of compassion and love and I hope others know that is our motivation as well. In the end, for me, it’s about helping people in my community achieve access and want to have access to, healthy, safe, wildly nutritious food – at affordable prices - without being broke myself.

Julianna tending chickens on vacation
But if it were solely to make a living, with the living I’ve made thus far, it could be had doing something much less worrisome, time-consuming and uncomfortable. Even so, it still wouldn’t be nearly as fulfilling.
You know these are French fries in the making right?
I hope you’ll go into 2017 resolving to scale back things that keep you from being able to afford to pay a few bucks more a week on groceries, a few hours more a month at the farm and for meal planning and gain the benefits of preparing, from scratch, more, much more, of the food you and your family consume - and consume it together around the kitchen table. 

Let 2017 be a year of re-prioritizing for the sake of good health. Happy New Year everyone!


Eat Your Food - Naturally!