One of the biggest challenges in creating a sustainable lifestyle is reducing the amount of plastic we use daily. According to a report cited in this Scientific American article, plastic manufacturing has increased exponentially in this century. Because food storage is a big part of this increase, a sustainable kitchen is a great place to start.
Why worry about using plastic for food storage?
Substances from plastics can leach out and impact human health. It’s known that chemicals in plastics make their way into our food by coming into contact with it. The substances known as Xenoestrogens and Phthalates are easily transferred into our food from storage containers. Consumers might already be aware of the dangers of bisphenol A, or BPA in plastic. Manufacturers are now marketing BPA-free products, yet consumers should be aware that this does not mean these products are safe or sustainable. BPA is only one of perhaps hundreds of chemicals in plastic that we encounter daily.
Xenoestrogens And Phthalates Can Affect Weight Control, Fertility And Hormone Balance
Research has shown xenoestrogens to affect the body in the following ways:
- It can impair development of reproductive organs
- Correlated with infertility and decreased semen quality
- Promotes early puberty onset in boys and girls.
- Promotes weight gain in women and men.
- Accelerates hair loss in women and men.
- Glandular (hormonal) dysfunction.
Other harmful substances hiding in plastic food storage are known as Phthalates. These are chemical compounds that are commonly added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity. These chemicals are associated with many health problems including obesity, infertility, birth defects and even certain cancers.
Tips For Reducing Plastic To Create A More Sustainable Kitchen
- Don’t use plastic bags to bring produce home or to store it. Take your own cloth produce bags shopping with you.
- Use clean dish towels to wrap things like leafy greens when storing in the hydrator. They will keep the produce dry and allow it to breathe.
- Skip the plastic wrap and use sustainable beeswax wraps instead.
- Get rid of all plastic food storage containers and switch out for glass. There are several brands to choose from on Amazon but most have airlock lids. Simax and Anchor Hocking have small baking dishes with glass lids that we use for storage.
- Use Mason jars for storage of bulk items.
- You can also use Mason jars in the freezer. Just fill it up to about ⅔ full to allow for expansion.
- Make your own condiments! Check out this super easy Mayonnaise recipe.
- Skip the plastic jug and buy your milk in glass! Most natural food markets sell brands in glass bottles that you can return for a deposit.
- When you buy meat and cheese, avoid grabbing the shrink wrapped kind off the shelf and go to the counter to have it custom cut. Ask for it to be wrapped in paper instead of plastic.
- Gradually begin cutting back on products that only come in plastic. Begin with things that seem less essential, such as chips, cookies, and most snack items. This might seem drastic at first because it includes so many things. You’ll find, however, that it not only cuts down on plastic use, but you’ll be eating more fresh, real food! You will also be saving money, which will make more room in your budget for better nutrition.
Remember that shifting towards a more sustainable lifestyle is a gradual process. It will take time and adjustment in many areas of your life. Taking steps to create a sustainable kitchen by reducing harmful plastics is a good beginning!
There’s a lot of talk about eating local these days, but as with anything else, it’s not for everybody. Here’s a list of reasons why you might be one of those who’ll want to think twice about this. You should not eat local if;
1) You like your food well traveled.
Let’s face it. Food from far away must be more interesting, or else why would anybody buy it? Those strawberries from Chile have come 5,000 miles! Granted, they don’t have much taste but wow, they’re big! And all of those little lettuce leaves from California, flying 3,000 miles across the country–every single one of them. Do you think they might be sprayed with something to keep them looking perky all those days?
2) You want to support Big Ag
Industrialized farming has taken over our food supply and left us with a shortage of farmers. That means the food supply of our entire country and beyond is in the hands of a very few. So we should definitely support it because it’s just about all we’ve got! Everyone takes it for granted, without even thinking about the fact that a worker shortage or fuel crises or airline strike could throw the whole thing off any day. If something should happen to disrupt this giant system that controls how everything we eat is grown, harvested, processed, packaged, distributed and sold–where would we be? Then we might have to eat local–or starve.
3) The oil industry needs your support!
Eating local does not do enough to support the use of fossil fuels. For starters, the food doesn’t have to fly long distances on airplanes or be transported by giant trucks. And if it’s organic, it isn’t grown with all of those petroleum based chemical fertilizers. If you’re buying your food from your local farm or a farmer’s market, the produce doesn’t have to be encased in plastic wrap or boxes, which are mostly made of—you guessed it–fossil fuels. So when you support Big Ag, you also support Big Oil. Two for one!
4) Eating local costs more.
That’s right! It seems backwards, but food from far away is usually much cheaper than what you get from close by. Much of the food from the mainstream distribution system in our country is genetically modified to be grown and shipped in mass quantities while still remaining edible, or at least sort of looking like it might be, so it costs way less to produce than real food with more nutrition in it that’s grown by a local farmer. But lots of people in this country can’t afford that. They need to buy the cheap stuff which makes them fat and sick and miserable, which most people seem to assume is okay because it costs less. Others who possibly could afford it still often choose the industrial foods because our economy thrives on everyone thinking more/cheaper/better. Because a bargain is a bargain. Right?
5) You don’t really mind eating a lot of chemicals
Those chemicals are necessary to giant companies producing such enormous quantities of food. After all, they’re trying to feed millions of people across thousands of miles. So they just keep using all of these different substances to grow and process the food (many of which are illegal in other countries) and to make it last a long time so it can be shipped long distances and sit for weeks on the grocery shelves until we buy it. It’s the only way to do it on such a large scale. Besides, the government says all of those things are safe, so if you’re one of those people who doesn’t care to eat local, then you’re okay with that!
6) You’d much rather see farmland used for recreation instead of growing food
You’ve heard it said that no one can make a living farming anymore. Old Macdonald is so old school. You might think that farmlands are better used as weekend entertainment. Don’t we need more open space for athletic fields? Let’s not waste all of that land growing expensive food that no one is going to buy. You can get whatever you need at the grocery. City people need a place to get away from the rat race and kids need a place to run around. Right? And they should know where their food comes from.
Oh wait…where does their food come from?
Anyway, if you decide you’re NOT one of these folks and you DO want to eat real food that supports not only the farmers but your food quality and your food security, find the nearest the nearest CSA and sign up today!
Healthy, hearty winter meal preparation is simple with these “real food” staples on hand.
What is “real food”?
Real food is organic, seasonal, fresh, non-processed ingredients. Local is best, of course, but getting things fresh from closer-to-home is more of a challenge in winter, so when our neighboring farms are in low supply we do okay at small organic markets.
Here’s a shopping list* of things we try to keep in stock for a week of deeply nourishing soups, stews and suppers that keep us going through the cold months.
Real Food Shopping List
- Whole pastured chicken
- Beef Stew cubes (grass-fed)
- Soup Bones (grass-fed beef, foraged pork, pastured chicken feet)
- Pastured Eggs
- Fresh root vegetables–carrots (purple or red for more nutrient density), parsnips, turnips, beets, rutabagas
- Other seasonal vegetables-sweet potatoes, orange and purple varieties, white potatoes, cabbage (red and green)
- Greens (kale, chard, dandelion, spinach, lettuce)
*Some Real Food Shopping Tips
- Look for “pastured” eggs and chicken, if possible, as opposed to organic, free range, or cage free, all of which are misleading labels.
- Choose the loose vegetables over the ones in plastic bags, boxes or containers.
- Choose the carrots with the tops still attached. This usually indicates they are more fresh.
- Resist the urge to place all of your produce into separate plastic bags. Just put it all directly into your shopping bag and you’ll love not having to deal with the annoyance of all that plastic when you get home.
- Check out this blog for a lot more information on real food shopping, and optimizing nutrition when buying from the supermarket!
Below are meal suggestions for the week using these ingredients. You may of course want to supplement with bread, rice, pasta, cheeses, etc. as desired.
Real Food Daily Menu Suggestions
Roast the chicken (basic recipe here) with carrots, potatoes, garlic and onion. Add beets, turnips or other root vegetables tossed in olive oil if desired. Serve a fresh green salad with your meal. Remove all meat from the bone and whatever is left over from your meal refrigerate for later use. Place the chicken carcass (and the chicken feet, if you have them) in a slow cooker, cover with water, add with a quartered onion and two celery sticks cut in half, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 12-18 hours.
When cooled, strain the broth removing the bones and vegetable matter for the compost. Cut up onion, celery, garlic, carrots and chopped cabbage, cook in the bottom of a soup pot in plenty of grass-fed butter until tender. Add the broth and let it cook on low for 2-4 hours. Enjoy your soup dinner and store leftovers in the refrigerator to eat later.
Start your beef broth by placing the bones in the slow cooker just covered with water and adding onion, salt, celery and any other vegetable scraps. (Here’s the authoritative book on broth!) Set on low and let it cook for 24 — 36 hours.
Chop up mixed greens and add the leftover chicken for a light supper.
Strain your beef broth early in the day and let it chill. Save the bones in the refrigerator. 2-3 hours before your meal, brown the beef stew cubes in butter with onion, garlic and a little flour. Stir in chopped celery, cabbage and any root vegetables such as parsnips, rutabagas or potatoes and allow to cook for a few minutes. Remove the beef broth from the refrigerator and take off the fat that has formed on top .When vegetables are softened add the skimmed broth to the pot. Cook it all together slowly on a low temperature a couple of hours or until meat is tender.
Serve leftover beef stew or chicken soup with a chopped slaw using the red cabbage, what’s left of the green cabbage, chopped celery, onion and a grated carrot. Mix together and dress with olive oil, apple cider vinegar and salt to taste.
Early in the day, start another batch of beef broth with the bones you used earlier in the week. For your evening meal, saute several cups of fresh spinach, kale or chard with some chopped onion in a skillet on the stovetop and whisk 4 eggs in a separate bowl. When the spinach is nearly cooked down, add the eggs to the skillet and stir until they are cooked and blended with the spinach. Season as desired, sprinkle fresh cheese on top and serve.
Cool and strain your beef broth. You’ve already removed the fat so you don’t need to chill it this time. Start your dinner by using any leftover vegetables you desire and slow cook them in the broth. When the vegetables are tender, take an immersion blender and partially puree the soup so that it’s thick and chunky. Serve with green salad if you still have greens left from the week or any leftover slaw.
So there you have it, a full week (or more!) of fresh, nourishing meals made from simple ingredients straight from the earth! Whenever you’ve eaten through all of this you can go shopping and repeat the menus, mixing them up or varying them in any way you want, or of course adapting your own favorite recipes to real food ingredients.
You get the idea. No plastic, cardboard, cellophane, preservatives, additives required–no factories involved and ideally, minimal distances traveled from ground to table. In our way of looking at it, eating locally and simply is an important aspect of slow living because it’s supporting better health, less waste and a more sustainable food supply.
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What are microgreens?
Microgreens are essentially young, edible leafy greens such as lettuce, beets, sunflowers, radishes, spinach, kale and many more, harvested at 1-3 inches between 2-21 days after planting. Different from sprouts, which are grown in water, microgreens are grown in soil and only the leaves and stems are eaten. Microgreens are an easy and delicious way to get highly concentrated nutrients, up to 40 times more potent than the mature plants.
Where do I get microgreens?
Having gained popularity in restaurants over the last few years for use in soups, salads, sandwiches and garnishes, savvy consumers are now becoming interested in having them at home. You can find them in grocery stores, but this is not ideal because 1) they are expensive 2) they are most probably in a plastic container (boo!) and 3) who knows how far they’ve traveled to get there. But you don’t need to buy them because it’s so easy and inexpensive to grow them at home. Here’s how you can have these tiny nutrition-packed meal boosters in your kitchen all year round!
A Complete Guide To Growing Microgreens
- Obtain your seeds. There are many sources and many to choose from. Just make sure you get untreated, organic and non-GMO. You can get them from our store (use the drop-down menu to select the Microgreens Sampler Pack). It’s a good idea to soak the larger seeds such as peas, beans or sunflower seeds for a few hours before planting.
- Fill a shallow container or tray with an organic seed planting mix. Sprinkle your seeds evenly over the surface and then lightly cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and press down lightly.
- Use a spray bottle to gently moisten the soil. You may cover the container loosely with plastic (make sure there are a few air holes in the top) but this is not necessary.
- Place in a sunny window inside or a partially shaded location outside (if it’s warm) and wait, keeping the soil moistened with the mister daily. Don’t let it dry out.
- When the plants are 1-3 inches tall (anywhere from 1-3 weeks, depending on the plant), harvest by cutting the stems at soil level, rinse and eat!
- Start another tray right away to keep yourself supplied in these marvelous little superfoods!
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Fermented vegetables are not only an easy way to get your probiotics, but a quick way to preserve fresh produce with minimal fuss. Although the foods need refrigeration once they are prepared and last several months as opposed to the year or more with canned goods, the simplicity of this process has us hooked!
The only equipment you need other than the vegetables, a chopping board and a good knife are salt, water and jars with lids.
Almost any vegetable or combination of several can be cultured. Basically you just cut it up and put it in a jar with a brine (salt water), leave it for a few days until it ferments to your taste. One of my favorite go-to sites for fermenting is Cultured Food Life by Donna Schwenk. She has an entire section on fermenting vegetables here. Another great resource is Sandor Katz’s classic book Wild Fermentation. Check these out and try a few of these recipes. Once you get the idea, you can start experimenting and come up with your own favorite combinations of vegetables and flavorings.
If you’ve never done this before, I recommend starting with carrots because in my experience they’re the most foolproof.
- Salt to taste (starting with 2 tsp)
- 1 qt water
- Carrot sticks (about 4-6 carrots) Herbs, if you’re inclined
Make a brine by mixing the salt and water until the flavor is a little bit too salty to taste. (It has to have enough salt for the fermentation and the flavor will mellow). Pack the carrot sticks into the quart jar and add the brine until they are covered by liquid. Add the herbs.
Leave the jar on the counter for about three days to ferment. They should taste bright and crisp. Then keep them in the fridge.
Try adding a slice of fresh ginger or a garlic clove for more kick.
*You will also find this recipe in the new, up and coming “Bread and Beauty,” cookbook, a project celebrating and supporting Maryland’s beautiful Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve, over ninety thousand acres of land dedicated to growing food! Follow this link to get your own copy. Also a terrific gift idea for the foodies in your life.
Here are a couple of tips for fermenting vegetables:
- Some vegetables tend to get mushy, especially if there is not enough salt. Place an oak or a grape leaf over the top of the vegetables before closing up the jar, making sure the water is still covering the leaf. The tannic acid helps keep them crisp.
- Cut off the blossom end of cucumbers before adding to the brine, which removes an enzyme that might keep out the crunch.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment, and if something doesn’t turn out to your taste, don’t throw it out too quickly. Lots of times it can work perfectly mixed up in a salad or soup.
- Fermented vegetables can last several weeks or even months in the fridge. There’s no danger of “bad bacteria” because the fermentation cultures the probiotics, or “good bacteria.” Obviously if something tastes or smells bad, however, don’t eat it.
This simple, homemade mayonnaise recipe changes everything!
Eating store-bought mayonnaise is like eating chemical goo.
Mayonnaise is one of America’s favorite condiments. It’s at the heart of so many of our favorite things. I’m thinking about potato and egg salad, tuna salad and creamy dressings. And what’s that leftover turkey sandwich without (a lot of) it?
There was a time, though, when it was a guilty pleasure, especially back in the days when we were all terrified to eat any fats. Then we found out about Sally Fallon and Nourishing Traditions and realized that fats weren’t only okay, but we really need them! So we could have all the mayo we wanted. Right? But no, because every single one of the brands available in the supermarket were made from tons of creepy ingredients like those industrial vegetable oils and so many other things you couldn’t even pronounce.
So then we’ll just make it ourselves.
Right? Well, that sounds good, but every recipe I ever tried requires three hands. You hold the mixer in one, the bowl in the other and then you drop the oil in very slowly, one drop at a time. And if you put the oil in too fast (because it’s hard to manage all of this at once) your homemade mayo ends up being a nasty mess that you have to throw out. Eating mayonnaise as part of a real food diet was a problem.
That is, until I found THIS RECIPE, which is quick, delicious and never fails!
It’s truly like magic.
In fact, the recipe is called “Magic Mayonnaise” and it’s in a wonderful book called The Hands-On Home: A Seasonal Guide to Cooking, Preserving & Natural Homekeeping by Erica Strauss.
(NOTE: For this recipe, you need an immersion blender. I have this one. If you don’t already have one of these, I promise you it is worth the small investment. I use mine every single day and consider it my number one kitchen tool.)
Homemade Mayo Recipe
In a wide mouth pint mason jar, combine
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup neutral flavored oil (I use a light olive or avocado for mild flavor and to get healthy fats.
Let the egg settle to the bottom of the jar, then insert the immersion blender all the way down and turn it on at medium speed. Keep it at the bottom so that it will pull the oil down and form an emulsion. When you see that it has become mostly mayonnaise, slowly pull the immersion blender up and out of the jar, pulsing as you go. Put a lid on the jar and it will keep for up to a week.
And that’s it.
Quick, easy mayonnaise you can make yourself in five minutes or less, with all healthy, delicious ingredients. So now go have that turkey sandwich with plenty of mayo. Life is good!
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Just last week, I was on my way home from a meeting and knew I had limited time there before moving onto the next thing. I was STARVING, my lack of meal planning on both the breakfast and lunch ends had me kicking my low-blood-sugar self. Worst part was – this wasn’t a particularly isolated event. It happens more often than I’m proud of. Am I the only one?
For some reason – I don’t think so.
It seems to me that our go-go-go lives/mentality make it easy for us to skip meals left and right, depend on snacks (usually in single-use packaging) and eat out more often necessary, leading to inefficiencies all around as we waste time, money, and nutrition due to lack of planning. I don’t mean to generalize. I’m a single, freelancing/entrepreneur-ing, social, busy millennial who can “get away” with this lack of planning since no one else is depending on me, but for those with circumstances that match my own I’d say the meals prepped & prepared are few and far between.
I’ll also take this opportunity to say that I am in this buzzy way trying to promote my own brand that celebrates *slowing down*. The irony never escapes me, particularly since I have to face my lack of planning with my aversion to plastic and other waste-full conveniences like single use packaging. It’s a journey – a constant learning in being aware of our habits and how they affect what/how we buy. I’m grateful to Lady Farmer and our mission for forcing me to think about these things and change (even if ever so slowly)!
So – back to my low blood sugar car ride home. I remembered a sweet neighborhood grocery and prepared foods store where I could get something relatively healthy and also quick…I could pick it up then eat it at home in my limited time. I even had my reusable steel to-go container in the car with me! I was winning. I pulled into the lot and proudly grabbed my tote with my zero-waste supplies, and entered the store excited to blow everyone’s minds with how resourceful I was. The display of plastic to-go containers and tops waiting to be filled made me feel especially pleased with myself.
When I asked the nice woman behind the counter if she could please put the seared salmon in my container along with some roasted veggies, she looked back at me wide-eyed and worried, not sure if she could do such a thing. I internally eye-rolled as she got her manager, who (somewhat abrasively) told me that it was against policy but she would be nice about it just this once. She said something about it being against health code which I immediately wrote off as untrue, because how could it be? I did not understand why everyone was so upset, I expressed my gratitude, and merrily went on my way, kind of confused about why it had been such an issue but also – again – feeling very pleased and proud of myself.
As I thought about in on the rest of my drive home, however, it dawned on me why it could be a health code violation. Thinking about it from the producer’s standpoint, it occurred to me that they’re liable for all kinds of things from food temperature to food container contamination…and upon speaking about it with a few folks I know in the food industry, I realize that is, in fact, the main reason why it is ILLEGAL (at least in our state) to fill your own zero-waste container at a prepared foods carry-out counter. Isn’t that infuriating? Like – it makes sense – I’m sure something happened once that was awful and I’m sure the rule does keep a lot of us from getting sick. So not only do we have to fight with our own organizational challenges and reliance on the plethora of single-use conveniences around us at all times, but it’s actually AGAINST THE LAW to do what we’re trying to do (in this case, avoid plastic) because it’s deemed unsafe!
Jeepers. It sure bugs me. Especially since I completely understand both sides of the issue.
All I can conclude from this experience, my friends, is that there is serious work to be done. And perhaps the issue runs deeper – that maybe the entire industry of convenience, of prepared foods, of single-use experiences and items, of things that take little time and thought on our part, are actually causing the world harm and costing us more money than we can even be aware of.
So does this mean I must become expert meal-planner and packer extraordinaire? Ugh. OR – we could all just move to France where “convenience” and “to-go” are not words that you see often grouped with food. They plan, prepare, sit, and enjoy food there with one another, above most other things including buzzing about for the sake of busy-ness.
The likelihood of a French move or overhaul of our gastro-culture makes me realize I should probably just face the facts and look to change some of my own habits.
I’ll be sure to keep you updated here 🙂
This image as well as the featured image on this post are from @lifemadelight, a great zero-waste instagram account! The container I use is the exact same as the one pictured here.
PS – Please comment with your thoughts & observations! This is one of my fav conversation topics right now. I’d love to hear what the internet has to say.
Folk tradition has it that you should plant potatoes by St. Patrick’s Day. I’m always excited for this early spring task. It’s like opening day for the garden season! It’s easy and fun, too. There’s nothing like sticking a few pieces of potato in the ground and then weeks later, pulling up a big, luscious clump of whole fresh spuds.
Americans love potatoes! According to the USDA, they comprise about a third of all the vegetables we eat, and most of those are in the form of french fries and chips. As far as veggies go, though, these aren’t really the ones we need to be piling on our plates. The most popular varieties are high glycemic and cause a rapid spike in blood sugar when eaten, which has been a huge contributing factor to diabetes and obesity in our country.
Are potatoes bad for you?
Given a few tips about potatoes, however, there are ways we can enjoy them freely as a nutritious and delicious part of a healthy diet. These suggestions come from Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson. (see this blog post for more from this book)
- Select the smaller “new” potatoes for a lower rise in blood sugar or the more colorful varieties for more abundant nutrients. Purple potatoes are especially nutritious. A variety called “Purple Majesty” has been shown to lower blood pressure!
- To lower the glycemic factor, cook your potatoes and chill them in the refrigerator for 24 hours before eating. This converts the starch so that it’s broken down more slowly and moderates the effect on blood glucose.
- Add fat to your potatoes (butter!) or cook them in fat (preferably lard) to slow down the digestion.
- Sprinkle potatoes with vinegar to lower the glycemic effect.
- Always buy organic because potatoes tend to be one of the heavier chemically supported crops in our food supply. If you can’t buy organic then always peel them before eating.
Here’s another new take on the good old potato. Because they contain a unique component called “resistant starch,” which is rich in prebiotics (basically food for all the wonderful probiotics you’re eating) potatoes are excellent for restoring the damaged gut health in those who suffer from intestinal disorders. Here’s more about that from one of our favorite integrative health experts, Dr. Mark Hyman. Also, have you heard the buzz about The Potato Hack (by Tim Steele) for losing weight and improving digestion? You have to be willing to eat only potatoes for a few days, however. I can’t really recommend something I haven’t personally tried, but given the information, I can say it sounds interesting.
With so many uses for potatoes, wouldn’t it be great to grow your own? Whether you have a garden plot or a couple of pots on the porch, here’s what you do.
- Get a few seed potatoes (these are merely potatoes or pieces of potatoes with sprouts–or eyes–you know, like when they’ve been in the pantry too long). You can get them at the garden store, or if you want to use potatoes from the grocery, get organic ones. (Non -organic ones are sometimes treated so they won’t propagate). They should already have eyes or keep them in a cool, dark place until they sprout.
- Plant about 4-6’ inches deep in loosened fertile soil with the eyes up. In the garden, leave about 8-12 inches in between the seeds or if you’re planting in pots, use one seed in an 8 or 12-inch planter.
- Watch the plants come up over the next several weeks. As the new potatoes grow up towards the surface, gradually add soil to create a “mound” that keeps them covered. If you want the smaller “new” potatoes you can harvest soon after the flowers start blooming. They’ll continue to get bigger up until the plant dies completely back when you’ll get the fully mature ones. You can leave them in the ground for a little while but not too long after the plant is gone or they could rot.
- To harvest, if possible dig the dirt out from around the plant with your hands until you start to unearth the potatoes. You can use a trowel or garden fork to loosen the clump but proceed carefully because it’s easy to damage the ones you can’t see. You will likely be surprised and delighted with how many there are. Hopefully you’ll have several beautiful potatoes everywhere you put a seed. It’s soooo much fun!
- In case you get get a bumper crop, here’s some information on curing and storing for later use.
We Have So Much More On Sustainable Gardening & Slow Living...
...and this is how you get it.
If you read Part 1 of this blog about Eating Wild at the Supermarket, then you know that:
Not all fruits and vegetables are created equal.
Most of the fruits and vegetables available today are grown, harvested and distributed by large-scale industrial systems. This means that our modern produce is largely grown in depleted, nutrient deficient soil, cultivated for long distance transportation and extended shelf life–not for optimal nutrition. The dramatic rise in health issues such as cancer, obesity, adult and childhood diabetes, metabolic diseases, immunity and neurological disorders in the last half-century appear as evidence of this phenomenon.
It would be great if we could all just pick up our gathering basket and forage through the woods like our ancestors, but obviously that’s not a real solution for this widespread problem. The good news is, we have options! As Jo Robinson explains in her book, Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health, we can maximize nutritional content by simply shopping smarter at the grocery store and following these tips once we get home with the produce.
5 Easy Tips for Optimal Nutrition/ How to Prep and Store
- Tearing Romaine and Iceberg lettuce the day before you eat it quadruples its antioxidant content.
- The healing properties of garlic can be maximized by slicing, chopping, mashing, or pressing it and then letting it rest for a full 10 minutes before cooking.
- Cooking potatoes and then chilling them for about 24 hours before you eat them (even if you reheat them) turns a high-glycemic vegetable into a low- or moderate-glycemic vegetable. This means it causes less of a blood sugar spike. You might be surprised to hear that combining potatoes with oil (French fry alert!) helps keep them from disrupting your metabolism.
- Storing broccoli wrapped in a plastic bag with tiny pinpricks in it will give you up to 125 percent more antioxidants than if you had stored the broccoli loosely wrapped or in a tightly sealed bag.
- Thawing frozen berries in the microwave preserves twice as many antioxidants and more vitamin C than thawing them on the counter or inside your refrigerator.
Read more in Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health, by Jo Robinson.
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(photo via Eumarrah)
Not all fruits and vegetables are created equal. Some have had most of the nutrients cultivated right out of them and others are so full of sugar you’d might as well eat a candy bar.
Everybody agrees it’s a good idea to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Eat as many as possible and you’ll be getting great nutrition. Right? The answer to that is…well maybe, but certainly not always.
In her wonderful book called Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health, author Jo Robinson explains how the super-nutritious plants gathered and consumed by our ancestors began to change with the introduction of agriculture. The human preference for sweet and starchy inspired even the earliest farmers to cultivate certain crops over others for taste, leaving astringent, sour and bitter flavored plants in the wild. The problem is that in cultivating for their palates they left many of the more powerful nutrients behind. Over time these powerful components have evolved further and further out of the typical human diet.
Much of the produce currently available in our country’s food supply is nutritionally compromised.
Most of the fruits and vegetables available today are grown, harvested and distributed by large-scale industrial systems. Not only is our modern produce largely grown in depleted, nutrient deficient soil, but it is cultivated for long distance transportation and extended shelf life– not for optimal nutrition. The dramatic rise in health issues such as cancer, obesity, adult and childhood diabetes, metabolic diseases, immunity and neurological disorders in the last half-century appear as evidence of this phenomenon.
In her book, Robinson does not merely rail against the current state of things, thankfully, but provides practical knowledge and simple tips for navigating through these issues.
It’s not about striking out into the woods with your gathering basket.
- learning what you can easily grow for yourself or find in the supermarket
- what varieties to look for, how to shop for freshness
- how to prepare and store all of the best produce that is widely available so you can get the most bang for your buck (and bite!)
Here are our favorite tips from Jo for
Getting The Most Out Of Your Veggies at the Supermarket!
from Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson
- The yellowest corn in the store has 35 times more beta-carotene than white corn.
- Carrots are more nutritious cooked than raw. When cooked whole, they have 25 percent more falcarinol, a cancer-fighting compound, than carrots that have been sectioned before cooking.
- Beet greens are more nutritious than the beets themselves.
- The smaller the tomato, the more nutrients it contains. Deep red tomatoes have more antioxidants than yellow, gold, or green tomatoes. The most nutritious tomatoes in the supermarket are not in the produce aisles— they are in the canned goods section! Processed tomatoes, whether canned or cooked into a paste or sauce, are the richest known source of lycopene. They also have the most flavor.
- Ounce per ounce, there is more fiber in raspberries than bran cereals.
- Canned or jarred artichokes are just as nutritious as fresh artichokes .
For Part 2 check out 5 Tips for Optimum Nutrition (It’s How You Prep and Store It!)
Read more in Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health, by Jo Robinson.
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