Category Archives: Know Your Food

A Nation Of Farmers

“~How City Farmers, Backyard Chicken Enthusiasts, Victory Gardeners, Small Family Farms, Kids in Edible School Yards, Cooks in Their Kitchens and Passionate Eaters Everywhere Can Overthrow our Destructive Industrial Agriculture, and Give us Hope for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness in a Changing World”

What do you think? Sound too far out there, too far removed from your reality? Yes? Well, regardless of the pennies in your bank account, you are the greatest at risk.

Sound inspiring? We will say this much, if you are at all interested in how you will feed your kids, and eventually how your kids will feed you as the future of food systems dramatically change our landscape in the coming years, you may want to glean the pages of Sharon Astyk and Aaron Newton’s book, A Nation of Farmers.

Sadly, the pacification that allows for almost all of us to walk sleepily through our weeks is covertly stripping us of one of our basic freedoms; our freedom to choose. Sure, we can choose between Stouffer’s and Healthy Choice, but those companies choose what GM vegetables and CAFO meats fill the box. Do we know the baker who made that loaf of Oroweat bread, with the herbicide infused grains? Do we know the farmer who raised that Rocky Chicken in the confines of a giant hen-house with thousands of other chickens? Probably not. And we trust these strangers with the nutritional health of our families. If this idea concerns you, you may take a closer peek at A Nation of Farmers. You might also consider a couple of simple things:

  1. Read the books and blogs, have the conversations, and in general educate yourself
  2. More importantly, do something in response to it all

Here are a few ideas for us all, as a way to do something:

  • Go to your Farmer’s Market
  • Plant something or join a community garden
  • Get to know a farm/farmer who raises produce and meat products
  • Share what you know and what you do, with others
  • Take responsibility for your life by eating locally and sustainably

If the idea of planting something inspires you, but you don’t have the space or know how, you might consider joining a community garden, or team up with some neighbors to transition a back yard into a garden. We have started a community garden and we would love to share this experience with you. If you are interested, email us and we will bring you into the fold.

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Year Of The Local: A 12 Step Program- Part 1

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.  ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

The reality is that most of us, OFF included, have been bastardizing one of the nicest things about life in our failure to plant, purchase, prepare and eat delicious, natural food. Henry David Thoreau even has 2 cents to add to this idea-“He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise.”

This month Our Family Farm begins an enticing 12 step program to transitioning the way we grow/buy, prepare and eat food. Our goal is to walk gingerly into this process, thoughtfully researching and making choices to discover and support the people working hard in our area who grow happy, healthy food. And if you don’t mind, we would like to share our discoveries with you in the hope that our experience might allow for a more gracious transition for your family, too. Perhaps you will even share what you are learning with us. All in favor? Onward, then!

Here is what we will be researching, learning about and sharing with you and your family as the year unfolds:

  • Januaryish- Local grains; bread
  • Februaryish- 2009’s food of the year; the egg
  • Marchish- Discover the where and why for raw (it’s not a dirty word) milk
  • Aprilish- Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and plant something, anything
  • Mayish- Buy local, natural chicken (we like the birds from Our Family Farm:)
  • Juneish- Visit a farm, and get to know the people who grow the food you eat
  • Julyish- Pick berries, delicious berries. We will share some of your favorite places for those sweet lil’ devils
  • Augustish- Preserve something, anything. Jam, pickles, sauerkraut, make your own marinara
  • Septemberish- Pet food- give the good stuff to the critters that bring so much joy to your family
  • Octoberish- Stock the freezer with a side of beef
  • Novemberish- Where and why to track down a hog for that sausage, bacon, and ham to get you through the winter
  • Decemberish- You will have to stay tuned. It’s the season for wrapped surprises…

A quick snap shot of what we are learning about grains:

  • They have been eaten for centuries, and it is only since the advent of modern culinary technology we have been able to strip nutritional value from something so pure and perfect.
  • They are perfect: Grains contain all of the components required for a body to assimilate the nutrition there within.
  • When we process grains, we strip their inherent offerings, and ability to do what they were designed to do- benefit us!
  • With a little bit of thoughtful attention to “processing” our own grains, we can usurp most of the health issues associated with this life-giving gift.

Here are a few simple steps we have taken to transition how our family takes advantage of this readily available, highly healthy food.

  1. Learn- Our new friend John Rice recommended an awesome book that we recommend to you; Nourishing Traditions- The Cookbook the Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. It is to food what Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States is to American history.
  2. Buy a bread machine- …and make your own bread. That’s right, technology isn’t all bad. We can pick and choose the things that benefit us more that hurt us.
  3. Discover where you can get whole, healthy grains- For those of us in the Southern Willamette Valley we will make it simple for you. There are a few ways to get the good stuff.
    • Get yourself out to the farm, meet the person growing your grain, and build a relationship. Hunton’s Farm is taking land historically used for grass seed, and transitioning it to grow organic food crop like beans, lentils, and grain products.
    • Take advantage of your local wholesaler. We especially like Hummingbird Wholesale for a robust selection of local grains, legumes, nuts, flours, and sweeteners. It’s a wonderland of delights!
    • Find it in the grocery store. Sundance Natural Foods or The Kiva are supporters of the local movement.
    • Start, or join a buying club. Conspire with a group of friends and family to purchase food in bulk, at wholesale prices. If you are interested, ask us about the buying club we are starting.

That’s it. Make it simple, keep it simple. Our Family Farm started with local grain grown at Hunton’s Farm, made into flour and purchased in a 2 pound package at Hummingbird Wholesale (they happen to have retail hours Tuesday-Thursday). We tossed it into a bread machine with a few of the other usual bread suspects, and we have been enjoying delicious, healthy bread all month long. You can do it, too.

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Filed under 12 Step Program, Eugene-Local Eating, Know Your Food, Preparing Food/Recipes

Set Your Table For A Feast Of Feats

FeastIf you are like most of us, the start of a year is a convenient time to consider where the previous 365 days have led you, and reconsider where the coming 365 days might take you. Many of us take a moment to check in with how the year has taken its toll on us physically: What is the scale telling me? What is the mirror showing me? Is my wardrobe cooperating? Am I able to keep up with my kids like I used to? Or we consider how the past 12 months have impacted us intellectually and emotionally: What am I reading? Listening to? Talking about? Have I talked with my brother in the past 6 months? When is the last time I sat with my parents and told them I appreciate them? How do the answers to these questions make me feel?

In these reflective moments, consider how convenient our lives have become. Now, lay this thought over the blueprint-value of your definition of a simple word; relationship. What is your relationship with the food you eat? What is your relationship with your body? What is your relationship like with literature? How are you relating with your kids, or brother, or parents?

However the answers to your own questions might ring, they are likely the catalyst for resolution. And if you are like us, the quintessential ‘New Year’s Resolution’ list is filled with hope: I will exercise. I will start a diet…and stick to it this time. I will play with my kids more. I will read that book. I will call my brother.

We, at Our Family Farm offer a single morsel for you to ruminate, with us, as you ponder the past and set the table for a feast of feats in 2011…

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS IN EACH STEP YOU TAKE.

  • Food, my friendBuild a relationship with your food- Over the next 12 months we will unpack our version of a 12-step process to building a closer relationship with the foods we eat. There is huge potential through this one relationship to influence nearly every aspect of our lives; how we feel, how we spend time with our family, how we can save money, how our clothes fit, etc. Our 12-step process will look at several things including buying local eggs, milk, chicken, beef, and pork, preserving food, growing something, what we feed our pets, and where to find and purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

 

  • Listen to your bodyBuild a relationship with your body- Listen, just listen. Our bodies tell us so much, all the time, but the soft voice that is our body can be hard to hear amidst all of our convenience and thoughtless routines. This relationship is all about timing. The moment we wake up, the moments we get out of bed, the moments our meals settle in, the moments we prepare to leave our homes for whatever work day may lay ahead, the moment we stand up for a break, the moment we exhale after we are done with a day at work, the moments before we fall asleep, are all moments our bodies whisper to us. Listen. Then take care of our bodies.

 

  • Omnivores DilemmaBuild a relationship with literature- Read books, blogs, listen to experts in their field. Talk with friends who are reading books, blogs, or listening to experts in their field. Lets fill our intellects with things that intrigue and inspire, and then let our emotions agree with the things that are right. After that, we can let our actions take us in a direction that leads us to freedom and health.

 

  • Family FarmBuild relationships with people- Know your farmer, know your food! Meet the people growing some of the best stuff we could put past our palette. Take care of the people who will take care of us when we need the most care; our family. Tell the folks why we are thankful for them, and leave it at that if we need to. Tell our siblings we love them, and leave it at that if we need to. (whether they receive it or not, it is a good thing to do, and it will make us feel good…because we are thankful for them, and we do love them). Play with, or read to the kids, because it has been said that our kids are our heart walking around outside of our body.

Relationships are why we are here, in our humble opinion. If you are at all like us at Our Family Farm, the coming year’s table is set for a delicious feast of feats that have the power to escort us out of 2011 much healthier, and happier than when we entered it. Dinner is served, dig into relationships.

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Dan Barber, And Why You Should Listen To Him

Dan Barber

Dan Barber

Thanks to our friend, Gene Skinner who recently reminded us of Dan Barber, the chef at New York’s Blue Hill restaurant, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Westchester, as a man who practices a kind of close-to-the-land cooking married to agriculture and stewardship of the earth. Dan really captured our attention as we sat still, almost without breathing, letting our intellectual palates savor every word of his Foie Gras Parable while he presented at Robert Mondovi’s Taste3 gathering in 2008. His story left such sweet afternotes, we wanted to share it with you. This guy gets it…

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Reinvent Your Holiday Dinners with Local Fare

Our guest post, as seen on www.ahahomeandgarden.com.

Purchasing and eating local, natural, and seasonal foods is a growing reality for many people, perhaps even you. And why shouldn’t it be? It is exciting to provide food for your family this way; perusing colorful displays of root vegetables staring back at you from the local farmer’s market stands, and short drives out of town to visit the farms and meet the farmers raising the meat that will fill your freezer for the year. It is a healthy lifestyle that has potential to be easier on the wallet than one might think. For now, let’s unpack what is exciting about the realization of eating naturally raised, local and seasonal foods.

The cold months have arrived, and that means the excitement of the holidays has arrived as well! In whatever fashion your family gathers and celebrates, food is likely the centerpiece and if your family is lke ours, there is always plenty of it. But before great-grandma’s pumpkin pie recipe, before the hand crushed cranberry salad, before the cornucopia can cover counter tops and tables, tracking down a turkey and the rest of the holiday feast’s usual suspects needs attention.

Add Excitement to Your Family’s Holiday Food Experience

  • Take advantage of the modern map and compass…the Internet. And I don’t mean to research whatever delectable delight you can dazzle your guests with from the Barefooted Contessa’s website. I mean, find the farms in your area that are working hard to raise the ingredients you will need for your menu. You might be excited to find your turkey and cranberries can be found at the farm, just past the other farm where you found your pumpkins and pecans for pies.
  • Reinvent your menu to highlight the delicious abundance in your area. For us in Oregon’s ripe Willamette Valley, ‘delicious abundance’ is an understatement. Cork a host of local wines for before, during, and after the meal. Challenge yourself to find local producers for a cheese and charcuterie platter. Kick the excitement up a notch by moving your stuffing away from a Stovetop version, toward something like a chorizo and cornbread stuffing with that spicy sausage from the farm over the river and through the woods.
  • “Meet your farmer. Meat, your food” was the title of a field day we had at our farm last year. Plumes of people came to visit with the intention of getting to know us, the people who raise the food, and to witness the practices by which we raise our animals. We had a big BBQ featuring our pastured poultry, and we received a ton of turkey preorders because people came, saw, ate, enjoyed, and believed. We believe we eat the food our food eats, so it is important to us to know what our food eats. With this said, take some time to go to the farms in your area and visit with the farmers (call ahead because we can be busy with chores or various farm projects). These are passionate people, experts in their craft who can open up a world of excitement with the placement of a baby chick in the hands of your child, or expose the delicate and brilliant integration of the animals on the farm.
  • Understand that Butterball Turkey is neither fresh nor local. Plan your holiday feats with the understanding that local fair is on a very different timeline than the food in your grocery store. When gathering the ingredients for your holiday menu, it will require connecting with a local farmer earlier than the Friday before the big event. Turkeys are best preordered as early as July. Ask your farmer, “Why?” when you pay them a visit. Other meat products for that charcuterie platter or chorizo stuffing will need time to make as well. The produce you will want may be in high demand. Calling the farm ahead of time will let you know what is in stock and allow you the option to reserve what you will need. In all cases, planning ahead helps your farmers give you the best possible experience with their products. There is nothing like the excitement of knowing you have the items on your menu accounted for, well ahead of time, with the fresh turkey to be picked up from the farmer a day before Thanksgiving.

Gather the troops together this holiday with the deep satisfaction and quiet excitement knowing you walked the path of an American Pilgrim by:

  1. Reinventing your menu to highlight the delicious abundance in your area.
  2. Finding the farms in your area that are working hard to raise the ingredients you will need for your menu.
  3. Take some time to go to the farms in your area and visit with the farmers.
  4. Planning for the ingredients on your holiday menu well in advance.

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Filed under Buying Food, Eugene-Local Eating, Know Your Food, Preparing Food/Recipes

Pork, Delicious Pork

Hobbit Adventures

Hobbit Adventures

If you are like our son Jackson, then the word ‘pork’  evokes visions of Hobbit adventures where sounds of sizzling bacon during second breakfast and Gimli the Dwarf’s affection for salty pork, quick to make the mouth water. If you are like Amanda or I,  ideas of milder adventures like  a drive to the local BBQ joint to enjoy a well sauced, pulled pork sandwich and a cold, tall one are more the standard. In either case, if you are like us, you love pork!

Pastured Pork

Pastured Pork

If you love Pork, then the news that Our Family Farm is ready to offer pork as a pasture raised, meat option for you and your family should excite you. We are working with dear friends Chris Hansen and Erin Bartek of Mosaic Farms in Corvallis, Oregon to glean from their expertise in raising healthy hogs, and to fill the remaining nooks and crannies in your freezer with delicious chops, hams, sausage, and bacon.

Chris and Erin are raising beautiful animals that get to eat customized feed, free of GMOs, and roam grandiose spans of healing pasture. Their custom feed ration consists of 70% local components, like Willamette Valley wheat and flax, as well as organic food scraps (not fit for human consumption) from Gathering Together Farm in Corvallis, Oregon. Chris and Erin work very hard to raise healthy, happy animals…and we can notice the difference! This is why we are working with them to make their pork available to you.

We hope you take advantage of this opportunity, and you enjoy their pork as much as we have.

For pricing information, please email us at ourfamilyfarm.info@gmail.com.

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