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September 26, 2014
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DEFINITION IS THE FIRST STEP TO UNDERSTANDING

We all come to every conversation and discussion with preconceived ideas. The same word can paint widely variant images to every person engaged in conversation. Organic is one of those words.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary Organic means:

  • of food : grown or made without the use of artificial chemicals
  • not using artificial chemicals
  • of, relating to, or obtained from living things

Most people think that the Organic label means that Organic is healthy for you, even if the list of ingredients is a paragraph long and comes in an aluminum can. The word organic is NOT synonymous with healthy, it is a growing methodology that uses natural methods.

According to the USDA, it is a labeling program that farmers and manufacturers can buy into that allows them to put a ‘Certified Organic’ sticker on their product.

“Retail sales of Organic foods was $6 billion in 1999 with about 12,200 organic farmers nationwide, most with small-scale operations. Organic farming encompasses both crop and animal production and is defined as “ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity.”‘Organic’ is a labeling term that denotes products produced under the authority of the U.S. Organic Foods Production Act. “The principal guidelines are to use materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems. Organic agriculture practices do not ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods must be used to minimize contamination.” Organic food handlers, processors and retailers must adhere to standards that maintain the integrity of organic agricultural products. This includes practices such as minimizing or eliminating the use of herbicides in crop production and antibiotics in animal production.”

(http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/ag101/printcrop.html)

Organic at our Farm meant: growing everything (fruits, flowers, herbs, grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, chickens and grasses) within the balance of nature;  without the use of poisons of any kind.

To us it meant: paying attention to our environment, feeding the earthworms as they in turn fed our soil, giving chickens ‘their chickennes’ (thank you Joel Salatin).  Adopting the philosophy of caretaking every living thing to its full and natural state across the entire farm, be it creature or plant. The question was always: How do we grow, harvest and distribute everything to its highest possible potential so that the people eating our food got the best product possible. Each sprout we placed into a bag and every seed we put onto a tray was done with love. We proudly sold only what we ourselves would feed ourselves and our families.

We paid our employees a ‘living wage’ and made sure that their work conditions were comfortable, that the tools were in good shape and their hours reasonable. Our health insurance policy was that everyone could take home all the food they needed. Our hierarchy was: the man who owned the land came first, the folks who lived on site second, the folks who worked there and their families third and our friends who always came to lend a hand or feed us while we worked, none ever left our sphere hungry or left the farm without armloads of free produce.

Respect of resources was very important to us and we chose to expend more physical energy rather than important soil additives from too far away. By bringing in as few outside resources as possible and making all of our own compost we are able to control our soil health. The delivery driver picked up veggie waste, the spent wheatgrass matts, our unsold sprouts, greens, and coffee grounds from the stores we supplied.  As much as possible we strove to imitate natures cycles and be respectful to give all living things in our care their ‘own-ness’.

That is what ORGANIC still means to me, an ethic in how you conduct your business NOT simply a label or a lack of chemicals. Organic is a word that has been maligned, confused and given meanings that were never intended. Maybe we were extremists but we are content to stand alone in our conviction to: charge fair prices, pay fair wages, provide healthy work environment, mimic the patterns of nature, grow to nurture the highest quality, and use no poison.

September 23, 2014
by admin
Comments Off on THREE REASONS TO TRY YUCA

THREE REASONS TO TRY YUCA
~ Yuca is one of the most readily available exotic vegetables around.

~ Yuca is easy to cook and very versatile:

  • Fry as home-fries or chips (cassava)
  • Steam like a potato with garlic sauce added
  • Adds a wonderful texture to soups and stews

~ Yuca is cheap, at 98 cents a pound, for a nutrient dense addition to any meal.

YUCA (you-ka) is a nutritious tuber grown in warm sandy soil around the globe from the Caribbean all the way to the Philippines, making it widely available in many ethnic markets (African, Asian and Latin).

yuca 5

 

yuca root

 

NOT to be confused with the commonly available-landscaping-ornamental-AGAVE  yuk-a .

Common Ornamental Variety

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TWO Favorite Ways to cook it are: YUCA con MOJO (a CUBAN lemon-garlic sauce) and Yuca Friesyuca con mojo 2

yuca fries

 

Yuca is available frozen and fresh in many food market chains, health food stores or markets catering to the Asian, African and Latin communities across America.

Yuca is eaten by over 46% of the world population as a major source of nutrients, minerals, fiber and carbohydrates, (third most widely cultivated world crop) in America many of us know yucca in its dried form of TAPIOCA.

Check out the article FIVE STEPS TO PREPARING FRESH YUCA

 

 

September 21, 2014
by admin
Comments Off on THE FARMERY

As an Organic Permaculture farmer this system excites me with the potential it posits. At the farm we had three containers that we called ‘subs’ (short for submarines) and in them we grew many crops: sunflower, daikon, buckwheat and snow pea greens, wheatgrass and our soil-seedlings. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA An innovative farming idea easily used in urban settings as an excellent medium to teach people how food grows.  I would amend a few of their designs to lower the cost of operating this system. To read more check out their website: http://www.thefarmery.com/

September 20, 2014
by admin
Comments Off on Why The U.S. Chills Its Eggs And Most Of The World Doesn’t

In many countries, eggs aren’t refrigerated and they’re still considered safe to eat. But in the U.S., we have to chill them, because we’ve washed away the cuticle that protects them from bacteria.

Read this story

You have informed yourself now what will you do with your eggs?  Keep these two things in mind as you search out your own choices.

~ ” If you bought them cold keep them cold” This rule also applies to ALL produce, where the inside of your car can get into the 90’s and higher, no produce likes to sweat either.

~ Farm Fresh eggs are usually not washed and therefore still has its protective coating and can stay unrefrigerated. Ask your egg farmer if she washes their eggs. At the farm we never did but if an egg was dirty we would simply wipe away any soiled spots. A good hen-housekeeper will keep the ‘girls’ laying boxes full of clean hay, it makes a huge difference in how clean the eggs are when you collect them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

September 17, 2014
by admin
Comments Off on ARE YOU PREPARED FOR AN EMERGENCY?

When disaster hits are you ready for it? Have you planned where your family will meet in the event of an emergency? A wild fire? A tornado? Or a more isolated situation in your neighborhood like a gas leak?

It need never be another 911 or a Katrina that sets us on our ear, it just needs to stop our daily activities and remove us from the safety of our homes separating us from our loved ones.

Are you ready? Do you want to be? Would you like to belong to a group of committed-civic-minded citizens? Would you like to have the training so that you can help your neighbors and friends when disaster hits your hometown? Would you like to stand beside the most self-less, caring individuals and health professionals?

If you are in Texas check out this website: http://www.texasprepares.org/

From Denton County the latest video:

Almost every county across the country offers this service FREE to the community.

To find the one nearest YOU go here: https://mrc.hhs.gov/HomePage

 

 

September 16, 2014
by admin
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Yuca is one of the most delicious and readily available exotic vegetables.

yucca root

yuca 5

Picking good Yuca means looking for unblemished firm flesh without any soft spots or moldy parts. All fresh Yuca has been waxed so it is essential to peel the root, like you would a potato.

STEP ONE: CUT AND PEEL. I like to first cut off the ends and then I cut the root in half giving me a flat surface from which I can then easily slide the knife from top to bottom thinly removing the waxy-flesh and thin skin.

yuca4

STEP TWO: CHUNK AND REMOVE CENTER STEM. Yuca has a thin vein that runs through the heart and can be easily removed as it is visibly darker in color and thicker in texture. yuca 3STEP THREE: STEAM. Take the chunks and place into your steamer cooking for about 30 minutes till the yucca takes on sheen. yuca 7

STEP FOUR: PREP THE MOJO

Mojo is a Cuban lemon-garlic sauce that is poured over the hot steamed yucca. I like to prep my garlic and keep it in a jar of olive oil so I always have raw, fresh organic garlic in pure olive oil. It’s so much cheaper without water or chemical preservatives.

MOJO WIN_20140908_135512

  • 6 – 8 cloves of garlic peeled
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 small onion very thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon AND lime juice
  • ½ cup virgin Spanish oil

Using a mortar and pestle smash the cloves of garlic then add the salt. You can use a food processor but nothing beats a mortar and pestle for bringing up garlics rich flavor.

Transfer the garlic ‘paste’ to an oven safe bowl (or leave in pestle), add the onion and juices, let sit for 20 minutes, heat the olive oil (in a skillet) until hot but not smoking and add to the garlic mixture. USE CAUTION AS THE OIL WILL SPLASH BACK, stir and pour over still hot yucca so that the yucca soaks up the flavors.

RECIPE: YUCA CON MOJO

  • 4 medium size tubers, peeled, cut in half and then into quarters
  • 1 recipe mojo

In a steamer, cook the yuca until tender, about 30 minutes till a fork inserted in the center comes up soft, like a potato. Drain and place in a shallow platter pouring the hot mojo onto the still hot yuca, serve immediately.

Serves six to eight people as a side dish.

yuca con mojo 2

 

 

 

September 5, 2014
by admin
Comments Off on CHICKENs

Years ago, at the Sprout farm, we decided to start raising chickens. A simple decision we thought, till we started pouring over the catalogues. We decided to get chickens for their eggs and a few for eating.

There were many surprises on this journey but the biggest were with the meat birds. Watch this video and later I’ll share more stories.