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Fall Favorites: Apple picking!

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This past weekend, I did one of my favorite things – apple picking! Instead of going to Tougas Farm, where we’ve gone in the past, we opted for a less-crowded and smaller venue – Clearview Farm in Sterling, MA. While the parking situation was less chaotic and the farm wasn’t overrun with small children (pluses), I was disappointed to see that Clearview only had 4 varieties of apples (whereas Tougas has 15-20). And, their apple cider donuts weren’t hot from the oven…although that did not stop me from eating several.

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In the past 5 days I have eaten: apple cider donuts, apple crisp, apple pie, AND apple dumplings. All delicious, but not exactly nutritious. While I’m certainly meeting my apple-a-day quota, I’m on the lookout for some healthy apple recipes.

Since it’s been such a warm Fall thus far, there are still a couple more weeks of apple picking – go to Mass Pick-Your-Own to find an orchard near you.

Strawberry Fields

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Encouraged by the gorgeous weather today in Boston, two friends and I hopped in the car in search of pick-your-own berries. First, we headed to Brooksby Farm in Peabody, MA (just a short drive out of the city) only to find that everyone else had the same idea – the fields had been picked clean! Whipping out our phones, we quickly located another farm just 20 minutes further.

Connors Farm in Danvers, MA had not only pick-your-own strawberries but a shack full of food (I spied fresh donuts, plenty of jams, pie…), hayrides, duck races, and a live band. It was a family-friendly place…if you’re into that sort of thing. It also had this:

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we did it

To find a pick-your-own farm in your area, visit this handy website. Strawberries have a short season so head out soon if you want some. Raspberries are in season late June-late July and blueberries are mid-July-mid-August.

Now, what to make with my strawberry haul?

Chickens at the White House?

chicken-flock-close-upNow that the Obamas have a vegetable garden, why not throw a flock of chickens into the mix? Sure, they would have tasty, fresh chicken and all the eggs their hearts desire – but, having grown up with chickens, I know it takes a lot of work. Personally, I’d like to see the Obamas spending their time doing better things than tending to chickens. Can you really see Sasha and Malia, in their J.Crew frocks, picking up chicken poop on the South Lawn? I don’t think so. Let’s see how they do with the garden first.

“How about a White House Chicken Flock?” [The Atlantic]

“Many Paths to Food Revolution” [Serious Eats]

Photo courtesy of Colorado State University.

Obama White House to have a garden

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Well, it looks like all the environmentalists, locavorians, and food enthusiasts that have been clucking* for months about the potential for a garden at the White House have finally gotten what they asked for – the Obamas started digging their garden today on the South Lawn. While the Obamas and their guests will certainly benefit from the fresh organic produce, will the rest of America follow their example?

The question had taken on political and environmental symbolism, with the Obamas lobbied for months by advocates who believe that growing more food locally, and organically, can lead to more healthful eating and reduce reliance on huge industrial farms that use more oil for transportation and chemicals for fertilizer.

There’s something to be said for the Obamas setting an example – but, in reality, how much impact will this truly have on the rest of the country? I hate to be pessimistic but…not much, especially during a recession – organic foods sales are down right now and, if you don’t live in California, local produce can be hard to come by throughout the year. I doubt that the majority of Americans are going to suddenly be inspired to drop their Big Macs and plant some veggies, just because the Obamas are doing it. I am hopeful though that, over time (oh, say, 8 years?), the Obamas will be able to make enough changes in our food policy and agriculture industry that buying local, organic foods will become more feasible for most Americans, if cost is the main barrier. However, if mentality and culture are, at least partially, to blame for the soaring prevalence of obesity and diabetes  – after all, we’re not being force-fed cheap, greasy fast food – then we’ve got our work cut out for us. Hopefully, that’s where the Obamas come in – helping promote the consumption of local, organic produce (and humanely-raised animals, I hope!) will trickle down to the masses, showing that we are responsible for our food choices and, in turn, that we have the power to improve our health and the environment if we make the right choices about what we eat.

michelle

And the best part of the garden? No beets! Sorry, Dwight Schrute, but beets are not for me – or the prez.

*More on this topic:

“An Open Letter to the Next Farmer in Chief” by Michael Pollan

The White House Organic Farm Project

Eat the View: The White House Organic Garden Campaign

Top photo courtesy of http://www.eattheview.orh; bottom photo courtesy of The New York Times.

Another thing for you to check out!

Sustainable Table
is an organization dedicated to promoting the sustainable foods movement and helping consumers understand the problems with our food supply that industrial agriculture has created, and offers solutions and advice on what you can do.

In addition to providing alot of information regarding both sustainable and industrial agriculture, they also run the Eat Well Guide, which allows you to search by zipcode for farms, stores, and restaurants that have meat and dairy products from sustainable farms. They also have their own blog on the main website.

Also, take a look at The Meatrix, a spoof on the Matrix which has educational cartoons about the dangers of factory farming. Very informative, a little disturbing though- even if the characters are cute.

In the News…

“Greenmarket at 30, Searching for Itself” With the addition of several smaller versions of Union Square’s Greenmarket in Harlem, Brooklyn, etc- has NYC’s Greenmarket lost its sense of direction? Is it about providing the freshest produce, or encouraging New Yorkers to eat healthier?

“Schools Go on Health Kick as Federal Law Takes Hold”
“The nation’s public schools are under orders to adopt nutrition and exercise goals before classes resume in the fall. The written wellness policies are required by a federal law that took effect July 1.”- YAY! Good for us.

Allandale Farm in Brookline, MA is the only working farm in the Brookline-Boston area. Check it out for fruits and veggies in season, then stop in their store to pick up a strawberry-rhubarb pie or a jar of homemade preserves.


Ok, well that’s all the news I have for now. Due to this awful heat wave we’re having in Massachusetts, using the oven, stove, or even grill is not the most appealing idea. I’ve been on the lookout for recipes that require little or no heat, and when I find some good ones, I’ll let you know!

Hopefully I’m going to the downtown Farmer’s Market later today!

Strawberries up the wazoo!


Yesterday I went strawberry picking! We went to Tougas Farm in Northboro, MA. I don’t know about where you live, but the NE has tons of pick-your-own fruit in the summer and fall- it’s great! Right now, it’s the end of the strawberry season (sad!) but blueberry picking starts next week, and then peaches after that. It was hot, but we went in the morning to avoid crowds and mid-day sun. Basically, if you’ve never been, they give you a box and assign you to a row of strawberry plants in a huge field. And the whole field smells like fresh strawberries …mmm.

So, of course, when we got home, we had a buttload of strawberries to deal with. Like, 8 pounds of berries- which may not seem like alot, but then you realize you have to eat them all quickly before they go bad or freeze them. Luckily, the farm gave out recipe booklets so we at least had a vague plan of how we were going to get rid of all those berries.

What I made:
Oatmeal Strawberry Muffins (so quickly devoured that I had to make another batch)
Strawberry Nut Bread (gone in 2 seconds)
“Berry Special” Muffins (which I made with blueberries, because we had alot of those too)

And then this morning, there were Strawberry and Blueberry pancakes galore!

It was a berry tasty weekend 🙂 I love summer…

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