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Archive for June, 2011

Last weekend, I didn’t make it to the green market. I went to yoga instead. Last week I blogged about how the overabundance of veggies is overwhelming. This week, I admit it, all my life is overwhelming. It’s true a lot in my life has changed and is changing and I’m having a harder time that usual getting more than the basics done. I’ve written this blog three times this week (on paper)and never managed to type it up.I haven’t baked bread in over two weeks. And I even got take out twice and threw out the plastic containers. I admit it, I’ve slipped a little bit.

The point of this post was that the point of eating local, healthy food is to be healthy and keep the planet healthy. But keeping up with everything I need to do had really kicked my butt, not to mention added a few pounds to my thighs. (Have I mentioned in this post how delicious local, home-made chocolate chip cookies are!) So getting exercise back into my life is a new priority.  So if finding balance — and yoga is not just about exercise, it’s about both.

Luckily, biking is also green. So on saturday, after yoga the kids and I biked down the west side bike path to the 72nd street pier. We played a pop up piano on the pier and had a drink with a friend. Then we biked over to Central Park. The whole time B kept saying, “This is great! Can we do it again next week?”

In the words of our illustrious prez, I told him, “Yes, we can.” But the cost of not doing my sustainable chores on the weekend was that during the week, our meals have been thrown together with whatever we could find in the fridge. Even with the CSA, the larder was a bit bare and we ran out of a lot of the basics because I didn’t go shopping on Saturday. But truthfully, we ended up with a few pretty delicious dishes. Sure, the mushroom and barley stew was ok but my favorite creation was spelt with oven roasted cauliflower, goat cheese, basil and mint. I’ll probably even make it again and even post it when I’m more up on my game.

Figuring out the right choices is a task in itself. Keeping up with it all is even more exhausting. So this week’s post barely happened. There are no pictures. Not even a real recipe. But in this case being ok with what I had and could manage was actually delicious and when I think about B and Z biking down to Central Park, totally worth it.

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My eyes are bigger than my refrigerator. Right now it’s packed with greens and other fresh from the farm goodies. It was pretty stuffed for starters and then the first delivery of the CSA came. There seems to be a green market on every corner. It’s strawberry and rhubarb time. And the spinach is sweet and in season. If I truly want to eat local next winter shouldn’t I be starting to package and freeze some of that abundance. But I don’t feel like I have the time.

Everything in my life is shifting right now. My job. My kid’s school. My health insurance. My childcare solutions.  I feel like I’m walking on a rubber raft in the middle of the ocean, I have to work so hard to hold myself steady, otherwise I’m going to fall down flat and drown. No wonder I’m exhausted. I’m too tired to even write a proper blog. So instead here are a few random pieces of good new. Enjoy!

Random good news:

  •  They’re taking out the Styrofoam take out containers in CA! California Senate  has voted to ban Styrofoam containers  “Restaurants and other vendors will no longer be able to package food or drink in the material starting January 1, 2014.”  Hopefully this will be a trend the rest of the country will follow. via ecogeek http://www.ecogeek.org/preventing-pollution/3523
  • Paper straws! Today at Whole Foods I got an Agua Fresca and they gave me a paper straw. It was definitely a one slurp item. It got soggy by the time I was finished. But it wasn’t plastic, so who cares!
  • I’m getting my meat delivered!  I finally started to use the CSA extra section. I’ve been running around like a pastured chicken with it’s head cut off. And for some reason I didn’t realize I could get grass-fed beef right from my CSA via Lewis Wait  Farm. http://www.csalewiswaitefarm.com/default.aspx.  Next Tuesday, they will literally deliver my roast, steak and a dozen eggs practically to my doorstep. Ok, it’s across the street from my house. (Sorry Fleishers) I think I eliminated this option because the first time I investigated it felt expensive. But in reality, it’s very affordable. In fact, using London Broil as an example,  it’s cheaper than the Inwood Greenmarket by a few dollars a lb.

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I need to make another confession. I love potato chips. No, I mean I really love potato chips.  No offense to ramps and spinach and delicious spring strawberries, but super processed potato chips kick ass. Unfortunately, I’m not going to make a case for how potato chips are healthy or particularly sustainable. (They are not!) I’m just going to point out that sometimes (albeit very occasionally) I buy them — and other foods that come in industrial grade plastic bags.

When I first started to look at the garbage my food was making I cut out a lot of processed convenience products. I cut out cereal barsin  their shiny mylar wrappers. I cut out boxed macaroni and cheese. I cut out all frozen fruits and veggies. I cut out packaged cereals. I cut out packaged snack foods like pretzels and tortilla chips. Then life kicked in and I had to bring some of it back. So now, we have packaged snack foods about once a month – mostly pretzels or corn chips, and occasionally we even have potato chips.  And, after a few disasters with granola, we brought back cereal.

I flip between organic packaged cereals that have boxes and non-organic bagged cereal that claim to be greener and the super sugary EnviroKids brand, which if you buy in a bag is both.

Ironically, we have been taught to toss the plastic bags that come from industrially packed food. But in reality, those bags are tough. They are way more reliable that Ziploc bags. And with the help of a simple office clip, they are just as reusable.

I reuse the milky plastic bags from cereal, frozen vegetable bags, Ziploc bags other people give my kids snacks in. Basically, if it’s not greasy or been used for raw chicken, I use it again.

The beauty of those industrial bags is that they are strong. The cereal bags in particular are great. They are durable, clean to start and very versatile. I use them to the freezer and they are particularly great to use to pack for picnics.

One day I will wean the kiddies off the boxed cereal (today B ate my homemade Muesli!) but until that happens, the least I can do is keep the garbage out of the landfill for as long as possible.

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It started with a quest for an egg. Not just any egg, a Knoll Crest Farms egg.

Knoll Crest Farms has been my go-to egg farmer since I went local. In a world where everything is confusing and difficult –it’s local, it’s organic, will it make garbage, when can I get it — the Knoll Crest Farm eggs are my simple solution. They are pastured and local and I can get them every week in Inwood.

Probably my first case of sustainable sticker shock was around the cost of pastured eggs. When you think about how often places like Target give eggs away for free, $4.50 a dozen seems pretty exorbitant. My friend Cathy, also a Knoll Crest Farms enthusiast always said that she got her eggs upstate for less  – I thought she had meant at the farm. So when she invited us upstate for a Memorial Day barbecue I knew I had to make a visit to the actual Knoll Crest Farm .

On Saturday, when we went to the farmers market I stopped by the Knoll Crest stand.

“We’re going upstate tomorrow,” I told the man who gives me eggs every week.

“Oh good,” he said

They were out of eggs but I didn’t care, I knew I would get them tomorrow. He told me that the farm upstate had a store. And we smiled a lot, feeling all warm and fuzzy about my visit to his farm.

Sunday morning, we were packing to go upstate. I forgot to check the egg carton for the address. No worries, I thought, we’ll google the address from the car. It sounded like a pretty good plan but it turns out when we googled them two locations showed up.

One of the farms was very close to Cathy’s house. We called, but no one answered. Since it was on the way, we figured we’d stop by. We turned off a country road and drove up a sloping road winding around the bend til we saw a sign that said “Chicken Crossing.” It was kitsch and cute but clearly faded hanging on by a proud thread  on to a  weathered and locked down farm red building. Across the overgrown road, a line of broken down chicken coups but no chickens. We drove to the end of the road, and turned the car around in a dead-end between a graceful sweeping country house and a swamp.

“Maybe that’s where the egg farmer’s live?” one of the kids said.

Maybe. But I figured we must have gone to the wrong address. But as we drove back toward the main road, we stopped to ask a man washing his car about Knoll Crest Farm.

“Oh yes,”  he said, “that’s a working farm up there. Just up the road.”

“It looked closed,” I said.

“No,” he said, “it’s a real working farm.”

We turned the car around and drove back to the chicken crossing sign. This time we got out of the car.

The kids were anxious as John and I started down the overgrown road.

“I don’t think we should do  this,” B said, “his is like that movie Spirited Away.”

“Don’t eat anything,” Z cried, “I don’t want you to turn into pigs.”

As we rounded the bend we approached a large structure with a big garden in the back. Chicken were moving freely between the building and the fenced in yard with a garden. It was not super pretty but it was clearly working.

The not-prettiness of it sort of got to me.

“What did you think mom, the chickens were going to live in some fairytale.”

“Like Mother Goose?” John added.

I didn’t say anything, but I thought, shit yes. But happy chickens don’t necessarily have to look like storybook chickens.

We walked back up the hill and the dirt road led us back to the main road. We got in the car next to the “Chicken Crossing” sign and drove off the Memorial Day Barbecue.

Monday morning, we ate breakfast at the Schultzville General Store. Turns out that’s where Cathy gets her eggs. At $2.85 a dozen, they were a bargain. As I put my score of three dozen eggs into my cooler to drive them back to the city, I thought about those scruffy chickens. They were clearly happy. And that morning, so was I.

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