Locally grown microgreens

Author: Loralie

Repurpose Concrete Splash Guards

Repurpose Concrete Splash Guards

It seems that no matter where you end a path or a step the lawn or area just beyond it become a trampled soggy mess during rainy periods.  It also seems that over time we have replace all of our old concrete down spout diverters […]

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sweet Potato Biscuits

I’ve wanted to try making sweet potato biscuits since I tasted one at a farmer’s market.  This is a great way to use extra sweet potatoes.  I’ve been growing sweet potatoes for the last 3 years.  The yield gets better every year but I supplement our […]

What I Learned About the Farmer’s Market by Being a Vendor

What I Learned About the Farmer’s Market by Being a Vendor

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This summer my husband and I started a new adventure by becoming a vendor at our local farmer’s market.  This is a very large, well attended market with space for 72 vendors.  Most Saturdays every space is filled with a few less vendors on Wednesdays.  I’ve learned a lot about the farmer’s market by being a vendor.  I love the farmer’s market!  I would shop the market first before a super market any day for fresh, quality produce, but there are some blanket assumptions I made about the farmer’s market that turned out to be wrong:

All food from the farmers market is local food (false)

The market where we sell requires labeling of all products as either homegrown (grown or produced by the vendor on their property) local (vendor purchased produce from a farmer who produced it within 150 mile radius of our city), regional (vendor purchased from a farmer or auction house within 250 mile radius of our city) or warehouse (vendor purchased produce from a wholesale supplier or farm more than 250 miles from the city)  There is actually no limit as to how far away food could be produced and still show up at this farmer’s market as far as I know.    If a vendor is willing to make the drive to the market (and there is one vendor who travels 169 miles) they can still label their products as “homegrown” if they produce the meat or produce on land they own.  I guess there isn’t a universal definition of “local”  I kind of think of local food as something produce close enough to me that I’d be willing or able to drive to the producer’s farm or ranch and pick it up.  By their labeling definition, the market considers local food to be food produced within 150 mile radius of the city.  Since Regional and Warehouse produce is allowed at this market, not all the food at the market is “local”.

All food sold at the farmer’s market is grown or produced by the vendor selling it (false)

It is a natural assumption that the farmer you buy from at a farmer’s market is the one that produced the food. Okay, sometimes there is a family member or friend who helps do the selling.  As I explained in the paragraph above, famers can also sell food they buy from another farmer, auction house, or wholesale producer.  On the one hand I want to buy from the person that produced it.  They can tell you how it is produced and answer your questions confidently.  On the other hand, being able to buy produce and resell it can help a farmer make a living or increase their income.  Buying from a third party also allows vendors to bring in seasonal produce earlier. Produce 100 miles to the south can be 2 to 3 weeks ahead of our produce.

Food sold at the farmer’s market is non-GMO (false)

Produce at the farmer’s market enjoys a healthy image and I’d like to think that on the independent farm, food is non-GMO and produced without a lot of chemicals.  I would be wrong.  One Saturday our booth was next to a vendor who sold heirloom tomatoes, corn and other vegetables.  I asked if his corn was non-GMO.  He said it was GMO and proceeded to tell me how GMOs are fine and the media has just scared people about GMOs and research shows GMO’s are safe….  He also said that he preferred the GMO corn because he only has to spray it 4 times.  Farmers with smaller farms can buy Round-up too. At least he was honest.  He still sold out all of his corn.  You’ll have to ask if products are non-GMO.

If food sold at the market is organic, it will be labeled “organic” (false)

At our market, we cannot even use the term organic on a sign or in a conversation about our food unless it is USDA certified organic.  On the one hand, this avoids confusion.  On the other hand, a lot of growers do produce their crops using organic methods but don’t want to go to the expense and trouble of organic certification (and have to pass on the costs to the consumer because farming is a business).  Certified Naturally Grown is a lower cost alternative to USDA certification and that is a good label or sign to look for.   It’s always good to talk to the seller and ask questions.

I am confident that the produce at the farmer’s market is fresher than anything in the super market.  Most farmers harvest the day before the market and rarely carry over produce to the next market.  Many of the vendors grow without pesticides. These are great reasons to shop the farmer’s market.

If you want to know about what markets allow and what rules the vendors have to follow, a great place to look is at the vendor application.  Most of the larger markets have applications and rules online for anyone to read.  Our market restricts some regional and warehouse foods during times when that produce is available locally.   Our market also inspects every farm or vendor and posts pictures on their Facebook page and that gives me more confidence to buy.

The bottom line for buying at a farmer’s market is to research the market online if possible before you go and ask a lot of questions before you buy.

Greenhouse and Hog Farm Tour-Know Your Farmer Part 1

Greenhouse and Hog Farm Tour-Know Your Farmer Part 1

In the interest of connecting consumers with farmers the Farm Bureau hosts bloggers on a farm tour once or twice a year. At our first stop we toured a greenhouse and pig barn.  The greenhouse is a fairly new addition to the farm. One of […]

Microgreens: How to Use Them

Microgreens: How to Use Them

Microgreens have a higher nutrient density compared with mature greens.  To learn more about microgreens in general click here. That’s all well and good but how do you get all the green goodness into your diet?  Adding microgreens to your diet is less about recipes and more […]

Microgreens: How to Harvest and Wash

Microgreens: How to Harvest and Wash

broccoli micros

If you are wondering what microgreens are you can get some general information in this post.  You have your micro greens that you’ve either grown or perhaps purchased.  I think the best way to purchase microgreens is as living plants.  As soon as you cut or harvest the greens the clock starts ticking.  Microgreens sold as living plants may hang out happily on a sunny window sill for an additional week or so with an occasional drink of water.  You can also cut and use just what you need so they will always be super fresh.

Honestly, I’ve read multiple sources on microgreens and some say they don’t need to be washed at all or just minimally if you have bottom watered and they are clean. I recommend washing or rinsing your greens.  They really aren’t different from any other greens that you would buy at the grocery store and wash before consuming.  Since so many things are prewashed now when you buy them, let’s just go through the process as a refresher.

I like to take the greens out of the grow tray.  Since they are grown in just a little bit of medium the roots and medium have usually formed a mat and it is easy to remove the greens, mat and all from the tray.

micros out of tray

Next take clean scissors and cut the greens above the soil line.

cutting micros

The idea is to cut and not pull the greens so that the soil or medium stays behind.

Place your greens in a colander or sieve and rinse with running water. Immerse the colander or sieve with the greens in another bowl filled with fresh water.   Any seeds that may still be attached to the greens should detach and float and can be removed.  Lift out the colander with the greens and rinse again.

washing micros

Let the water drain a little, then place the greens on clean kitchen towels or paper towels to dry.

drying micros

Once cut and washed, greens should be stored in the refrigerator in a loosely closed bag or loosely covered dish.

Next step…how to eat microgreens.

New Genetic Engineering Tool Needs no USDA Approval

New Genetic Engineering Tool Needs no USDA Approval

There is a new genetic engineering technology called CRISPR that will create foods that do not need to be approved by the USDA.  Here is a sciency article about the technology.  The CRISPR technique deletes or edits gene sequences and since there is no foreign DNA introduced, the […]

Get to Know Micro-greens

Get to Know Micro-greens

What are micro-greens?  You aren’t alone if you are asking that question.  Micro-greens are really small versions of plants you already know and love (well even if you don’t love some of their grown up counterparts, you may still love micros).  They are somewhere between a […]

Organic Food-Cheap, Just Ask!

Organic Food-Cheap, Just Ask!

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I got 4 dozen of these extra large, organic, brown eggs for .25 a dozen this week!  One of our local grocery stores is very proactive about discounting eggs and dairy that are about to expire.  Expiration dates are really more like suggestions than hard and fast rules.  “Use by”, “Sell by”, “Best by” are dates suggested by manufacturers for best quality, not safety and that could be a subject of an entire post.  For now, let me say that most products are good beyond those dates.  Even USDA guidelines say that eggs properly refrigerated should be used with 3 to5 weeks after the sell by date! Plus, you can always extend the life by doing things like hard boiling the eggs, or making yogurt from milk.

Gosh, how did we ever know if we could eat the food in the refrigerator or the canned goods before they started dating everything? I guess we have lost the ability to tell when food is bad.   That’s going to get even more difficult as new genetic engineering techniques are applied to our food.  Another rabbit trail, sorry.

So, I’ve learned that when regular (CAFO) eggs are on sale, the more expensive organic or omega 3, cage free eggs get sold at a discount soon afterwards.  I guess some consumers (like me) who would normally buy the more expensive, organic or cage free eggs might buy the really cheap sale eggs, thus freeing up money for other organic purchases (and to make whole wheat angel food cake ’cause you need a dozen egg whites and toss the yolks).  Now, I’ve learned to wait for the mark downs and frequently get organic, brown eggs for .50 a dozen. Usually the sell by date is that day or the next day. Husband eats 3 eggs a day so we go through them pretty quickly.

Last time I was in the store they had regular white eggs on sale for .88 a dozen.  I looked through the organic brown eggs thinking that if I found any that were close to the sell by date, I’d come back in a few days and possibly find a bargain.  I found at least 4 dozen in the cooler that were 4 days past the sell by date.  I tracked down the deli manager and let him know I would be interested in buying the past date eggs at a discount.  He offered .25 a dozen.

This week I also spotted organic chicken at Walmart that was marked down.  This was still 3 days before the sell by date.  One of the packages of boneless, skinless breast was not marked down but the sign said that this product was 7.84 and now priced at $5.85.  I asked one of the meat people about the package not being marked and he said he would mark it down for me.  When he handed me the package he had marked it at $4 a pound since I had to wait.  Really, I didn’t have to wait very long. They also had organic chicken legs for $2.10 lb.

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I have figured out that one store regularly marks down their meat items on Thursday afternoons so I can usually find bargains late Thursday or Friday.

A few weeks ago I was at Trader Joe’s and didn’t see any 1% organic milk in the gallon size.  The employee went back to check and found out that they were out so he gave me 2 half gallons for free.  I thought he was just going to mark the half gallons so that I’d be paying the same total as a gallon and was really pleased when I found out they were free.  I love Trader Joe’s!

Organic bargains are waiting for you.  Most stores want to earn or keep your business.  Organic food can be more expensive so don’t be afraid to talk to store employees and look for the deals.

Have you gotten any great deals on organic food lately?  I’d love to hear about it.

 

 

DIY Step-Cheap

DIY Step-Cheap

We needed a step between the garage door and the patio so we repurposed some things we had on had to make step.  We used a scrap 2×4 to build a box, filled it with dirt, placed 3 stepping stones on top (they don’t show up very well […]