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Locavore's Shopping Tour – Local Farms, Local Food

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As all good supporters of local agriculture should, I have relationships with a number of great local farmers whom I trust and believe are using sound farming practices.

The backbone of our sustainable food system is local, sustainable farms, so I wanted to showcase some of the great food growers and farms around my local area – Boise, ID.

The picture at the left is of Patti Matthews from Matthews All-Natural Meats. Patti has been selling me eggs and chickens for the last few months.

Nearly every week I make a trip with my family to the Capital City Public Market located in downtown Boise. We are fortunate to live only about two miles away from the market, so we usually ride our bikes or walk.

We also buy food not sold at the market from two other local farms – our meat and raw milk share from Saint John’s Organic Farm (in Emmett, ID), and duck eggs, various produce, and tomato plants from Morning Owl Farm in Boise.

Here are my picks for some of the best produce, meat, poultry, pork, lamb, and eggs available in the Treasure Valley:

Saint John’s Organic Farm – located in Emmett, this 160 acre farm, located about 25 miles northwest of Boise, Saint John’s offers 100 percent grass-fed, organic beef and raw milk. A family-owned farm for 70 years, the cattle raised there live their entire lives on the premises, receiving natural health care and enjoying open fields, clover, sunshine, and fresh air from birth until death.  The farm also offers a raw-milk co-op and annual beef share programs. Check the pricing page on their site for more information. Their milk is the best tasting I’ve ever had! Their meat is flavorful, healthy, and versatile.

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Wilsey Ranch (Ed and Debbie Wilsey, right, with their grand-daughter on their ranch) owned and operated for over 30 years by The Wilseys. They are committed to raising 100 percent grass-fed beef and hogs on pasture, without hormones, antibiotics, animal by-products, or genetically-modified feed.

You can find the Wilsey’s at the Capital City Public Market weekly at the Homestead Natural Foods booth,  a conglomerate of local meat farmers where they offer information about this buying food service and offer samples of their meats. Their beef is outstanding in flavor and are from healthy cattle raised on higher-elevation pastures.

Matthew’s All Natural Meats – owned by Seth and Patti Matthews in Parma, ID, this small family farm raises beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, and eggs and specializes in producing their own non-genetically-modified grain produced at a mill on their premises. Their animals and birds are raised on pasture. So far we have been buying their whole chickens and eggs. Their chickens have amazing flavor, and their chicken eggs are ungraded and contain yolks that are almost bright orange in color – indicating the beta carotene from being outside on pasture.

Rice Family Farms – You can find their booth at the Capital City Public Market (farmer’s market) in downtown Boise on the southeast corner of 8th and Idaho Streets. You can also find their produce in various other locations and markets throughout the Treasure Valley including the Boise Co-op, Idaho’s Bounty, Brown Box Organics, and Morning Owl Farm. Specializing in certified organic produce, the Rice family have a great variety of vegetables available during the farmer market months including several varieties of greens (leafy vegetables) and tomatoes, peppers, carrots, onions, green onions, potatoes, green beans, cucumbers, and others.  Please read the Rice Family farm’s 10 Reasons to Eat Local.

Morning Owl Farm - owned by Mary Rohlfing (my former college professor) in Boise, ID, this amazing little farm produces vegetables, duck eggs, herbs, and plants of many varieties. Using sustainable and certified organic practices in their methods, they offer their own foods and also have collaborated with various other local food growers to bring a service called The Next Level, providing natural, organic and sustainable-raised foods including vegetables, fruits, cheeses, eggs, poultry, and various kinds of meat. MOF holds a weekly market on their premises Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 – 7 p.m. which is open to the public through the growing season. You can also buy MOF duck eggs at The Boise-Co-op.

Peaceful Belly Farm – certified organic farm nestled in the foothills of Dry Creek (just on the outskirts of Boise), Peaceful Belly was founded in 2002 by Josie and Clay Erskine.  Grown on their 70 acre parcel are approximately 180 varieties of vegetables, most of which are heirloom, flowers, and fruit. Pasture-raised chickens are also available for sale weekly at the Capital City Public Market (farmer’s market) in downtown Boise at the Peaceful Belly booth as well as other locations including the Boise Co-op. The farm also offers a 35-week garden class series annually. For information about joining their CSA, click here.

Meadowlark Farm – located in Nampa, Idaho, Meadowlark Farm specializes in grass-fed lamb and pastured poultry  for over 20 years. You can find Janie Burns, the farmer, down at Capital City Public Market most weekends. She also has farm-fresh eggs from her pastured chickens. Meadowlark Farm is one of the few Idaho farms that is Animal Welfare Approved. This organization audits and certifies family farms that raise their animals with the highest welfare standards, outdoors, on pasture or range.

Of course, there are other fine local food growers, farmers, and ranchers. I just wanted to cover some of the main businesses I support and use on a regular basis. And, I plan to write about some of the others in the future as time goes on.

There are some very important things in this life – treating our fellow human beings right, being honest, ethical, showing kindness, love, and compassion to those who are less fortunate than we are and helping someone in need, taking care of Creation as God intended us to do so, and showing up to do our best whenever we can – even though sometimes our best will vary from day to day, week to week, depending on the circumstances. And interestingly enough, (in my humble opinion) supporting local and sustainable agriculture fits into all these categories in one way or another quite nicely.

So do your part…support your local, sustainable food growers and farmers!

Want more reasons to support local and sustainable agriculture?

I can’t believe it’s not food! And other atrocities

The egg recall and why local isn’t necessarily better

Food recalls – Why they could mean the end of food as we know it

Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden costs of industrial food

Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food

Eating Healthy In A Time Of Recession

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The name of the game in tough economic times is to save money. But don’t throw your money in the trash and spend it on processed foods with no nutritional value.

Consider just how expensive some of that cheaper food really is. On the surface, a six-pack of soda or juice can run anywhere from 2 to 3 dollars (and if you buy name brand, it could be higher). And what are you getting for your money? Sugar, chemicals, and toxins.  Does it satisfy your thirst? Do you have to keep drinking more to feel satiated? If so, chances are you’ll buy more.

Soda healthy?

Many people become addicted to sodas, juices, and other sugary drinks, so they buy more to feed their addiction. And in the process, they are harming their health by continuing to consume these beverages which contribute to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, Diabetes, and cancer. Is this really a good definition of saving money?

Bottled water

Water may or may not be cheaper, but it depends on what type of water you are buying. Most bottled waters are of questionable quality, and can leach BPA and other toxic chemicals from the plastic bottle. Find a good source of water at your local health food store that you can buy in your own refillable bottles or invest in a good filtration system for your sink or home. This will ensure you are getting better quality water and you are saving money from continually purchasing expensive bottled water that may or may not be good quality.

Your tap water is dangerous to drink and should be avoided. According to the Ralph Nader Research Institute, tap water contains over 2100 toxic chemicals.  Some of those are heavy metals like cadmium, iron, mercury, and lead. It also contains arsenic, fluoride and chlorine, proven in studies to be harmful to the human body. Finally, tap water that is filtered out by water reclamation sites does not get filtered for all the other substances that go down the drain – prescription medications that people take, pesticides, and many other toxic chemicals.

Boxed cereal

What about a box of processed cereal? A box of Cheerios will probably cost around $3, less if you buy the generic. If you buy whole, organic grains from the bulk section of your store, you will spend anywhere from around .75 to just over $2.00 a pound. But the whole grain cereal will last you longer because it is a real food and will deliver nutritional value to your body that the boxed doesn’t. Processed cereals contain extruded grains that the human body cannot absorb, and the nutrients are all stripped away during processing and then synthetic nutrients are added back in. Because this is not a real food, it is not useful to your body.

Commercial meat

The cost of buying commercial, industrial meat may be less on the package, but what are you getting for your money? Meat that is loaded with hormones, antibiotics, too many Omega 6s from the animals eating the wrong types of feed (corn, soy, grain), high in calories, fat, and carbohydrates, and low in protein. Nutritional content in this type of meat is not only poor, but the chemicals contained in the meat help deplete your body of nutrients as well. Locally-raised, grass-fed meat, on the other hand, is high in protein, low in fat, calories, and carbohydrates, and is an excellent source of Omega 3 EFAs and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is extremely beneficial to the human body. Grass-fed meats generally cost more, but they are nutritionally good for your body and can help prevent heart disease, Diabetes, and cancer.

What’s the cost of eating processed foods?

Then there’s the long-term effects and deferred costs of eating nutritionally-bankrupt foods. Weakened immune system. Frequent colds and flus. Headaches. Sore throats. Allergies. Asthma. Chronic fatigue. Depression. Insomnia. Anxiety attacks. Fluctuating blood sugar which leads to insulin resistance and Diabetes. Weight gain. Irritability. Heart disease. High blood pressure. Cancer. The list goes on.

So then: if you are buying cheaper foods, but they are not delivering nutritional quality to your body, is that a waste of money, or do you still persist in thinking you are saving yourself money by eating this way? Investing in your health and well-being doesn’t have to go beyond your budget, it just has to be planned out and managed well.

Here are some ideas for saving money on healthy food during a recession:

  1. Eat all or most of your meals at home. Food costs less and tastes better when you make it at home, and you have control over every single ingredient you use.
  2. Take small steps: if you can’t do it all at once, do one thing at a time. For example, eliminating vegetable oils from your pantry is a great first start. Replace those with real butter, olive oil, and coconut oil. Here’s a great guest post by Marilyn Moll from The Urban Homemaker about how to replace unhealthy ingredients for healthy ones.
  3. If you do shop at the store, buy the most minimally processed and whole foods only. Avoid purchasing foods in packages, cans, and boxes.
  4. Eat some meals meatless and/or spread your meat out amongst several meals. Use foods like cheese, milk, eggs, butter, broth, lard and tallow from healthy animals on pasture as your main source of fat in some meals.
  5. Learn to make food from scratch rather than buying convenience foods: salad dressings, marinades, beans, soups, etc. A great place to start is Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, which has a huge variety of recipes for preparing foods traditionally and healthfully, as many of our ancestors did.
  6. Buy from farmer’s markets and local food growers. You will be supporting your local economy and you can often get foods for reasonable prices because you are not paying for packaging, marketing, processing, and transportation of your food.
  7. Become interested in and learn to grow, can, jar, cook, freeze, and sprout, soak, culture and prepare foods at home. The more you do these types of things, the further your food will stretch. You will save money and your health.
  8. Be willing to do without extras and make healthy eating a priority. Instead of going to the movies, invite friends over to watch something at your house and make home-made organic popcorn with butter or ghee and coconut oil.  Instead of going out to dinner, prepare a special meal at home for a loved one or friend.
  9. Use up all your food at home before buying more. If you plan meals and ingredients, you can make food last longer.
  10. Plan shopping and pick-up trips. Make a list before you go, and stick to it.  If you are buying foods from the store, use your trips wisely. If you are buying from farmers, see if you can find others who also want to buy food from the same source such as a CSA (community supported agriculture share) and take turns delivering/picking up food.
  11. Use networking in your area to find new resources for healthy food. Talk to neighbors and folks at the farmer’s markets and local health food stores. Attend events where local, sustainable food is being served. Look in your local paper and also do an Internet search for a list of resources and activities centered around local food and food growers. Check this list to find a local Weston A. Price chapter in your area – WAPF is dedicated to helping people learn about sustainable farming and food, and the value of nutrient-dense diets.
  12. Take time out to grow food in your own yard or space. Be sure to use organic fertilizers when you plant so that the nutritional content and disease resistance of the food you plant is higher.

Want more information on eating healthy for less?

Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden costs of cheap food

1 in 4 meat packages tainted with pathogenic bacteria

Proof that real food doesn’t have to cost a bundle, is nourishing, and satisfies!

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please visit this site and read the other real food posts there.