Monthly Archives: May 2013

Omnivore’s Dilemma: Food education

Once again I am merging the two concepts upon which this blog was designed- my love of food and my teaching career. I already posted awhile back about incorporating my love of food into my classroom. To end the year, my students are completing a research project centered around an amazing book I just finished, which was life changing to say the least.

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In his book, Pollan strives to uncover secrets of industrial, processed, industrial organic, and sustainable meals. It really goes to the heart of how what you eat affects not only you, but the environment, the economy, the government, and society as a whole. As bloggers, we may put a lot of thought into what we eat. But have you REALLY thought of the political, social, environmental and economical implications of eating your morning cereal? Who grew, processed, packaged and shipped that product? Did it take more energy to make it than you can actually get from it? The answers will surprise you, and most likely make you NOT want to eat a lot of the things you currently eat. I know I’ve changed my eating habits immensely since reading this book.

So I was reading this book and come to find out…..it’s on the common core for 8th grade! Who would have thought?!?! My initial reaction was excitement. Then it turned immediately to panic. They want 8th graders to read this?!?!? One of the chapters was labeled “corn sex” !!! There were words I couldn’t pronounce. I was freaking out. Then I discovered this:

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The young adult version! Essentially the same book only at a lower, much easier to understand reading level (I was struggling to follow the adult version myself!). And no sex, even of the corn nature.

I picked out about 5 chapters for students to read to get an overall picture in order to answer this question:

essential question

Students did various activities examining food labels, watching videos provided by Nourish, and studied industrial faming VS local farming.

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It just really surprised me how little my students knew about the secrets behind the food they eat. That soda is mostly 100% HFCS. That they put ammonia in meat to kill bacteria. The environmental implications of drinking hot chocolate that was shipped from Switzerland.

There’s so much to talk about when it comes to this topic (I already covered eating local). At some times I was feeling weird about teaching students this, thinking they were going to go home and rant to their parents about how they need to start eating grass-fed beef. But if you really think about it, if we don’t teach our kids about this damaging, corrupt, and disgusting thing that is the food industry, when will the ignorance end?

SO when we were done studying the topic, students picked their own individual topics to research further. Choices included:

*Organic vs conventional food

*Food poisoning

*grass fed vs industrial meat

*processed food

*fast food secrets (a popular one)

*hunting for food

*Hidden ingredients

Students will do research (we’re wrapping up day 3 of research) and then complete a presentation (no paper- aren’t I nice?) using the Ipad app Haiku Deck. This presentation software is really easy to use, student friendly, and eye catching! It’s similar to power point but much more simple. Perfect for our shortened time frame.

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Can’t wait to post some examples!

You should really get your hands on the adult (or young adult!) version of the book. It changed the way I look at food forever. I obviously ate pretty healthy before this book, but some of the things you think to believe are “healthy” have some compromising implications you’d be surprised about. Check it out!!!

Have you read the book? Do you think we should teach our kids to care about where our food comes from?

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Why you shouldn’t drink soda

Excuse me for a minute while I go on a rant.

 

Every time I go to the grocery store, I tally in my mind the amount of people with carts full of soda. Not one pack. I mean cart overflowing with soda. So much soda that they have to add it on to the edges of their carts. And mostly nothing else in the cart. Maybe some microwave pizzas.  And if you’re that person, I’m judging you.

I’m not a rude person, but this completely baffles me. Are you throwing a party? Why do you need 100 20 oz bottles of mountain dew? It amazes me that people are even still drinking soda. It’s disgusting. It’s sugar and empty calories in a bottle.

 

WHY?????

 

Not saying I’ve never had one. But I can honestly say I have not willingly consumed a soft drink in over two years (unless there was alcohol in it). I think I’ve mentioned my view on this. If a beverage has calories and no alcohol in it…..why???

Since the 1950’s the average size coke bottle has gone from 8 oz to now giant 20 oz bottles. Soda is purely 100% high fructose corn syrup from GMO corn in most cases. They are the biggest source of added sugar in the U.S diet. Studies have found that people who drink soda weigh more, and you tend to eat more during the day if you drink soft drinks. Soda can even predispose some people to gaining weight.

(information from the book Omnivore’s Dilemma and http://www.kickthecan.info/soda-facts)

People must be seriously addicted to this crap. When everyone is equally as stumped as to why people in America are so fat, unhealthy, and spending so much on healthcare. Grass fed meat and organic vegetables are TOO EXPENSIVE….but let’s find room in the budget for some diet coke. When this is the food people chose to spend their money on (which I don’t know how anyone can justify), it’s no mystery why there are so many health problems.

Sorry about the rant. I’m really not rude. If you have a soda once in awhile, you’re not a terrible person. But I’ve consistently seen roughly 3-5 people with CARTS FULL OF IT for the past three weeks at the grocery store and it’s infuriating. Had to get that out.

Do you drink soda????? WHY????? STOP IT!

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Working out in the A.M- Pros and Cons

This week I’ve tried something new…working out BEFORE work in the morning. There are things I like about it and things I don’t like. I decided to compile a list of pros and cons to more or less help myself out…..and if you’re one of those people who contemplating working out in the morning hopefully my take on it helps you too!

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Let’s start with the CONS

1. Wake up time. Obviously. I have to be at work at 7:30 am and I live an hour away from work. So it’s brutal. In order for me to go to the gym in the morning I have to wake up at 4:30. Aaaaand it’s early.

2. Limited breakfast options. Because of my time crunch I have to grab breakfast on the go if I’m working out in the morning. This takes away from my usually cherished sit down breakfast. I love breakfast and everything about it…so this is a major con for me. This week I have been doing fast things like protein bars, protein shakes, hard boiled eggs and home made egg sandwiches…but it just isn’t the same!! Also, I have to gulp down my coffee then bring more to warm up at work later on because it gets cold sitting in the car. Sitting down to a hardy breakfast and taking my time sipping my coffee is something I look forward to.

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Eggs, kale and sweet potato…I will miss breakfasts like this! There’s always the weekend.

3. Showering at the gym. This is kind of gross. I’m sorry. It’s annoying to have to lug all my clothes for the day with me and do my hair/make up at the gym. The showers kind of smell. Ick.

PROS

1. Puts me in a good mood for the rest of the day. Working out makes me feel good. When I have started my day doing something that makes me feel good, it puts me in a MUCH more positive mind set. Positive thinking is something I’ve been struggling with, so I think this is a big deal. I also don’t have to dread going all day and it’s over and done with.

2. Less annoying people. Anyone at the gym at 5 AM is serious about fitness. No soccer moms trying out Zumba…or teenagers gallivanting around the cardio machines getting in my way. I like this. One of the main reasons I started not liking the gym was because people were starting to annoy me there.

3. More time in the afternoon. With the weather getting nicer, it was really hard to truck myself to the gym in the afternoon knowing I’d rather be enjoying the beautiful weather. I can’t run yet because of my back injury, and it was making me seriously depressed not being able to exercise outside. With my workout out of the way in the morning, I can spend the afternoon reading in the sun (as I did today) or doing wedding crafts in the garage (as I did yesterday!).  I get so stressed coming home from the gym in the afternoon to a mountain of dishes that I have to clean, then make dinner, then do more dishes, then shower, then it’s time for bed already!

 

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Well there are an equal amount of pros and cons……I think though that I have enough time to leave and go shower at home and grab breakfast. And I think the enormous effect this has on my mindset and happiness is worth getting up in the morning and having a sit down breakfast. I am going to try to stick to doing this for at least a couple of weeks. Once I get in the habit…getting up will be second nature. And oh yeah, I have less than a month until it’s SUMMER (boo yah) so I won’t have to worry about 4:30 am for too much longer….20 more mornings to be exact…but who’s counting?

Thoughts?? Do you work out in the morning or afternoon? Why???

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Acorn Squash Hamburger ‘Rolls’

I love squash!!

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All kinds…there are so many types and it’s so versatile. This is an understatement and I’m so glad summer is here so I can enjoy zucchini and summer squash at a low price again!!! On sale the other day I picked up two acorn squash. I had never had it before so I was anxious to try. Originally I was going to roast it and stuff it, but a couple of nights we were having burgers and I thought it would make a great substitute for a hamburger roll since I don’t usually eat bread.

These were based off a recipe I saw in Practical Paleo. <<<awesome book!

Acorn Squash Hamburger Rolls
Serves 2/ Cook/prep time: 30 mins

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1 acorn squash
1 egg
1 tbsp coconut flour
1tsp cinnamon ( or more depending on taste)
A dash of salt
Pepper
Coconut and olive oil

1. Cut your squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
2. Drizzle some olive oil over the squash and salt and pepper it.
3. Put the squash face down on a sprayed baking sheet and bake at 350 for 25 minutes ( depending on the size of your squash- cook until you can pierce the skin with a fork).
4. After squash has cooled (or before, because you’re starving and don’t want to wait and end up burning your fingertips like me), scoop out flesh into a large bowl and add egg, coconut flour, cinnamon and a dash of salt.
5. Heat up some coconut oil or fat of choice on a skillet or griddle and place it on medium heat.
6. Scoop out the squash mixture into a patty about 3″ in diameter. Pan fry them in oil until you can see one side is cooking through. Then flip them and cook in the other side. They take about 4 min per side.
7. Eat with a burger, avocado, toppings in the middle!

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These are also delicious on their own…….acorn squash has a sweet taste that complemented my delicious grass fed burger! I love the cinnamon taste..if you’re a savory person you can always sub garlic and onion powder instead.

What substitutes for bread do you eat? If any…my favs are squash and cauliflower!

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For Guests of Our Wedding

The big day is getting closer! If you’re going to our wedding and want to know more about the area or where to stay the night of the rehearsal and reception look no further. Invitations will be out soon however some people want to start booking rooms now.

Rehearsal Dinner- Thursday August 1st at ????

Time is TBD. Rehearsal will be at Bayshore Grove in Oswego and dinner will be at Vona’s Italian Restaurant.

 

Vonas Restaurant

Things to do in the area

If you’re staying Thursday night, the wedding is not until 5 P.M the next day. Oswego is a really beautiful place, especially in the summer. There are a number of local bars and restaurants in the area. Don’t miss Rudy’s if you’re looking for a great place to have lunch!

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It’s right on the lake!

Greene’s is a great place to grab a drink or lunch if you like a bar scene.

Old City is my favorite Oswego Bar, right on the water as well.

If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy the beautiful weather (because it WILL BE NICE OUT), you can check out Breitbeck Park.

Breitbeck Park

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Accommodations for Thursday and Friday:

We booked rooms in two hotels in the city of Oswego for Thursday August 1st and Friday August 2nd.

1. Quality Inn and Suites

This hotel had a lower rate. This is the one we’re staying in. They have a bar, Steamer’s, downstairs so we can come back for the after party! Rooms are pretty standard, nothing fancy.

Hotel restaurant

Taken from Hotel Website, sourced above

 

Hotel Room | Quality Inn and Suites Riverfront Oswego, NY

Taken from Hotel Website, sourced above

2. Best Western Captain’s Quarters

This hotel had a little bit higher rate. It is a little nicer and has a pool.

Exterior

Taken from Hotel Website

Just ask for the Burgwin/Haskins wedding. These hotels are in the city of Oswego. Our actual wedding and reception is a few miles outside of Oswego, on the lake near the Nine Mile nuclear plant (romantic, I know).

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Distance between wedding and reception

Our wedding will be at 5 PM and the cocktail hour will start immediately after in the same area.

We will have a shuttle bus for guests starting about an hour before the reception and running after the reception to get you back to your hotel safely. If you drive to the reception you can leave your car there and pick it up in the morning.

Of course after the reception we plan on continuing the party in the city! So get ready!!! I am more than ready for this day to be here! Hope you are as excited as I am! If you have any questions please feel free to leave me a comment even if you don’t have a WordPress account.

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Intuitive Eating, Intermittent Fasting, and Wine

Did I lure you in with the title? I’ll start with the wine.

Sunday on the way home I finally got Austin to stop at many of the wineries in the Finger Lakes of NY that we pass by every time we drive through yet never stop. It makes me sad. So I changed that Sunday.

First stop: Fox Run Winery in Geneva, NY.

It was beautiful- but looks can be deceiving. It was a mere 45 degrees that day…..the flowers were beautiful though.

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That’s Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes of NY. Here’s a map if you’re unsure where that is:

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(Taken from Wikipedia)

There are over 100 wineries in this region. Riesling, my favorite white wine, is becoming a specialty of this region.

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We tasted five wines there and ended up going with a Dry Riesling, which had a peachy, citrus-y zing at the end. Can’t wait to break into it.

fox run

Then we went to a winery  on Keuka Lake. I personally haven’t been to any on that lake so I was excited. It was called Keuka Springs.

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Beautiful Views of Keuka Lake.

Again, we tasted about fine wines. I went with a Riesling/Vidal blend called Celebrate. When it comes to wines, I generally enjoy white wine that is JUST in the middle- not too sweet and not too dry. I’ve tried to dapple in reds but I haven’t really found one I like. It’s funny because I used to like really really sweet wines and I think my taste buds evolved because now I can’t have more than a couple sips of the sweet stuff.

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Well that’s all for wine. I wanted to get some bloggers’ opinions on two topics I’ve been looking at on other blogs and researching. One being this thing called intuitive eating. In a nutshell- it’s eating when/what you feel like. Not according to some schedule, not according to what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’- just eating. Sounds easy. Not for me. Over the past year and a half I have developed what I call ‘abnormal eating’. For awhile I had a strict schedule where I ate every three hours…etc. I’m not concerned about what I eat so much as my constant worrying and obsessing over what I eat. I don’t want to be this way. I want to JUST EAT! To eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. WHY is it so hard?? It’s something I’m struggling with and trying to research if trying intuitive eating is right for me. On the other hand I don’t want to go crazy and just eat whatever I want all the time because I want to maintain my weight…but is that already too much thinking??? See???!??! Ugh!

sweet potato burgers

I generally eat healthy dinners like this- green beans and burgers with acorn squash patties.

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Sometimes I have one of these if I feel like it…..

I want my body to recognize when it is hungry and when it is full. So I can stop obsessing and then eating too much on ‘cheat’ days and feeling guilty about it. I was looking up different ways to reset hunger cues and I came across intermittent fasting. This is basically when you fast for a long period of time and then have an ‘eating window’ in which you eat the same number of calories as you would if you ate all day. Not sure the logistics behind it but it came up as a way to reset our bodies’ natural hunger cues. For example many follow the 16/8 rule. Fast for 16 hours then have an 8 hour eating period. So if the last thing you ate was at 8 PM, you wouldn’t eat again until 12 pm the next day.

For me, all this means is skipping breakfast. Sounds easy enough….

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Lettuce cups for dinner!!

Except when I skip breakfast I turn in to an angry beast and shove my face when I get home. So it might not be the best solution for me long term. I don’t know how people do it. Besides- I love breakfast!

Anyway, all this research isn’t doing much for my goal of putting less of an emphasis on food and not over thinking it. For now I’m just going with the flow and trying to eat clean. I’ll have to read more into it to figure out what to do, I was just hoping for your thoughts on either topic and wanted to get other blogger advice?

Do you constantly stress and worry about food?

Have you heard of either Intuitive Eating or Intermittent Fasting? What are your thoughts?

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Bridal Shower #1

I just got back from a quick and exciting weekend which included my bridal shower #1. I wasn’t planning on having more than one but my mother in law wanted to throw me one in Austin’s hometown for his family. His aunt was nice enough to take the beautiful pictures and put them all on a disk for me!! I was so excited that I had to sit down to blog about it it ASAP!

First of all my I loved the decorations and the mint green color of all the goodies. There were lemon cupcakes and key lime sugar cookies with frosting which were my favorite. 

Lemon Cupcakes

 

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In additionn to all the yummy treats I got some great gifts!

 

IMG_4097IMG_4141  Coffee Grinder….yay!!!

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Tons of great kitchen and bake ware like cup cake/muffin tins, mixing bowls, a casserole dish, a small cutting board….much more! I am so thankful!

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I was excited about this one- the tent that was on our registry. I will be using that in two weeks during Memorial Day weekend!

It was such a fun day and I am already sad it’s over. That’s okay though because I have another one at my mom’s in a couple of weeks! Lucky me!!! Thanks for everyone who came!

 

My sisters and I

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Me and my cousin (MOH)

 

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bridesmaids –2 girls!

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Me and my future MIL!

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{Finding} a Balance

I don’t usually get to personal here but since I started my blog focusing on health and fitness I feel obligated to talk about this issue I’ve been having. I talked a little bit about my back injury and how I’ve had little success correcting it. It’s affecting me physically but also mentally.

Last year I got in the best shape of my life by attending work out classes 4 times a week. I never worried about what I ate on the weekends because it was my cheat day. I busted my ass the four days at workout so it never stressed me out. When I started having problems with my back, I started having anxiety about not working out and gaining back weight I had lost,losing all my hard work that I did last year. Since December I haven’t been able to work out like I’ve wanted to. And I definitely can’t do any running. I’ve been attempting to ride my bike but it’s painful.

Last year I based my happiness around working out and feeling good about myself and eating healthy. Now it’s like all that has been taken away from me and I have no way to let out stress and feel good about myself. I am constantly critical of what I eat now that I feel like I can’t control it with workouts. I’ve been trying different styles of eating like Paleo and Whole 30 and even though I eat mostly good stuff I beat myself up when I cheat. Sometimes I’ll push myself too far with trying to be active, and it hurts my back even more. It’s a vicious cycle that is making me extremely unhappy.

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Me before all this happened.

I really need to snap out of it and find ways to make myself happy and not think about food or exercise.  I just need a different mindset to look at life everyday, in terms of not what I can’t do, but what I can do. I need to find other things to keep my occupied in the evening besides workout and cooking dinner, because it’s becoming depressing to constantly think about food and exercise that I can’t do. I decided to plan something non-food related and non-traditional exercise related to do every night of this week. Something to look forward to besides my usual “gym and dinner” routine. It’s hard. This was what made me happy for the past six months. But I’m really trying to look past it and change. The more I stress out about this, the more I won’t be able to maintain my weight because it’s too much stress. I figure as long as I’m happy and still relatively active I have nothing to worry about.

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Need to be happier- like this!!

 

Monday- I went to the park and wrote before swimming.

Tuesday- Do a wedding craft with Austin, and this- blogging

Wednesday- Swimming and finishing the book I’m reading

Thursday- Pilates and a walk if I feel up to it

Friday- Going home!

Sat- Bridal Shower

 

Most of the things are still fitness related because I feel like I need to get SOME movement. I have a really hard time not working out on a weekday. I feel incredible guilt but I know it’s stupid. That’s why I should prob cut down on reading so many blogs of girls who run and do cross fit, but I enjoy reading blogs! I try not to compare myself because everyone’s different.

Wow this was pretty personal but it feels good to write about it. The more I write about strategies to make myself happy the better I feel.

Tell me I’m not alone in this…do any of you feel guilt after not working out for a day?

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How to eat local

I’ve really been lacking on the blog front these days…..every time I tell myself I will do a post tonight I find some excuse not to….

I wanted to write about something I’ve been trying to make an effort to do lately- buy and eat local food. I’ve been reading this book by Michael Pollan called Omnivore’s Dilemma and it’s basically changed my life. I will do a more in depth book review when I’m finished, but the book is already changing to way I eat and look at food and I haven’t even completed it.

“Don’t you find it odd that people will put more work into choosing their mechanic or house contractor than they will into choosing the person who grows their food?”

Do you think organic is best? Do you think about the impact of the environment on the boxed lettuce from California that “contains 80 calories…[but takes] more than 4,600 calories of fossil fuel energy to make” and ship all over the country. I’m telling you, this book will make you never look at food the same again!

The biggest thing it delves into is the disgusting way that industrial meat is produced. I won’t go into detail here but I’ve read Paleo books and blogs before that harp on the requirement of ‘grass fed beef’ and ‘organic chicken’  however I would always say that was stupid and I could never afford it. Now I know the importance of KNOWING where my food comes from. Buying local is a way to do that. I know exactly what the animals are getting fed (and if antibiotics are used), how they are raised, and where my money goes. But how do you eat straight from the source, especially if you live in a big city?  Here are some ideas I’ve already put into action.

1. Join a CSA

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CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Basically you own a ‘share’ of a farm and they give you some of their crop weekly. I signed up for what is called an ‘individual share’. I paid $180 dollars and I get to go pick up my veggies every Tuesday. I’m supporting my community and I know exactly how my food is grown and where it comes from. And just because a farm isn’t USDA Certified Organic doesn’t mean it’s not. A lot of farms don’t want to bother with the paperwork and regulations to get certified.

Here’s a website where you can find a CSA farm near you:

CSA 

2. Go to the farmer’s market

This one is easy in every city! I always try to buy produce during the summer from the farmer’s market, again supporting my community instead of workers in Mexico. I can’t wait for my town’s to start- should be coming soon!

3. Eat seasonal

If you are part of the CSA or shopping at the farmer’s market this one’s easy. Food has a bigger environmental impact when you have to ship it across the country. Try as much as you can to eat stuff in season- berries in the spring, zucchini in the summer, squash in the fall, etc. Obviously you can’t do it all the time, but try to do what you can. Here is a more comprehensive list:

http://whole9life.com/2012/01/seasonal/

4.  Find a farmer near you!

This one was easy for me since I live in the boonies and there are farms everywhere. There was actually one down the street from my house. The farmer was super nice and willing to explain everything to us about how the animals are raised. I contacted him through email and drove down the road to pick up some chickens and eggs. I also made an appointment to pick up more chicken on an upcoming slaughter date.

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My eggs and chicken! Yum!

You can use this website to find a farmer near you:

http://www.eatwild.com/

This farm didn’t have beef so I had to search out another one. It was hard to get beef this time of year because slaughters are usually in the fall, but I finally found a farm that had some leftover from last year. The meat is the best quality  meat I have ever tasted and since it’s grass fed, it’s naturally lean.

 

And yes, this type of meat and shopping is more expensive. But really- do you spend more on your cable bill a month than you do on the food you put into your body to keep you alive? What are you priorities? I know this type of eating is expensive, but you really have to think about if it’s worth it. I think it is. It’s worth it on the money I may be spending on health care later on in my life. It’s worth it for the lesser impact to the environment, and it’s worth it to benefit my community instead of some huge factory that sends work out of the country.

What’s your take on this way of eating? Worth it or not? Do you buy locally raised meats and produce?

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