Category Archives: sustainability

Yes Farms, Yes Food.

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This is today’s haul from three of the farm stands in my neighborhood.
1 eggplant
2 yellow squash
2 zucchini
6 cucumbers
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
1 huge bunch of basil
14 ears of corn.
Want to guess on the price? Or consider the grocery store equivalent?

Updated to say – I did the math.  So this stash of veg that would cost you $18.76 if bought through peapod (I didn’t add in delivery), cost me just $13.00.  Corn was the only thing that costs more at the farm-stand. Basil was a considerable savings by over half.  But since it’s the best corn on the planet, I’m okay with that.  In addition, all of this food was bought within a mile of my house, making it’s carbon footprint tiny.

Want to check my math, take a look at the quick spreadsheet I did up.

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devastatingly lovely

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I live in Massachusetts in the Connecticut River Valley.  Word is our dirt, it’s good.   So good, we produce the best asparagus in the world – asparagus so bountiful, one of the teachers at the school I teach at, brings it in bagged up and ready for sale to our staff. You know you live in a small town when you can pick up  your dinner veggies on your coffee break at lunch.

The landscape around here will take your breath away. That is, if you’re given to that sort of thing. You know, the rolling hills on the edge of the valley, and the tree-lined river, and the fields, ready to be plowed in March.  Even the land getting ready for winter, the trees shedding their leaves, it is all devastatingly beautiful.

This week to celebrate this place and this land I’m participating in Loving Local’s blog-a-thon to mark Farmer’s Market Week.  Every day this week I’m going to talk about a different farmer’s market in the area.  I’m going to visit two I’ve never been to before, and talk about three of my old favorites.  On top of that, I’m going to tell you where to get the best corn in Western Mass as I explore the farm stands near my house.  It will be a busy week of food exploration, but I’m looking forward to sharing a little bit of this Valley I call home.

If you have a moment and some spare change this week, please think about donating to Loving Local

If you have several moments please stop by Our Grandmother’s Kitchens to see all the posts from folks participating in the blog-a-thon

Strawberry Night

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Thursday night, and I have quarts of strawberries in front of me.  My fingers are stained red with berry juice. The smell of June wafts through the house.  I was ruthless tonight. I went late in search of berries, and when I finally got to the last farm stand on the river way – there was just one flat left. One flat, and two quarts – and they were looking like jam berries, and not dip in chocolate berries. I told the farmer, I’m going to take your last quarts here – and he looked at the display, and told me  take them all for the price of a flat.

A woman behind me looked crestfallen, she had come for berries too.  The farmer told her she could pick still.  But as I was checking out, the girl at the register said the fields were done, they hadn’t let people pick in a couple of days.  The woman asked me what I was doing with them – “jam and crumble, and pie” I said, “and freezing”.  And then, I turned on my heel with my stash, as if I had burgled the deliciousness in the flat.

Some other day I might have shared the bounty, but tonight I was a woman who needed pie.

I have an addiction . .

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. . .and its name is produce.

Lame right? Yeah, well I’m making my 2nd batch of rhubarb bars in just two days. Tonight I ate asparagus, fresh from the  field’s of Hadley, with enthusiasm that lions don’t even know as they’re felling zebras.

The goal for the rest of the summer is local, and in season.  And if not super local, at least East Coast.  It’s hard habit to break, having grown up with the world’s produce at my beck and call – but it’s just insane to eat bananas that had to burn jet fuel to get here, when I can eat strawberries that grow around the corner.

We planted peas last weekend, and I think they are nearly as cute as the kiddo I let help plant them.

how long till snow pea stir fry?

loving the garden

Okay, that’s pushing it.

paper plates – 33 of 365

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sunny enough for the groundhog to see his shadow.
temperature at 9:41 pm 23°

So. Often, more than not, I try to buy local and sustainable.   It makes sense to me in terms of economy and ethics – among other things.  There is though my one weakness. Dollar Tree.  I know – junk from China. I can’t help it, and I’m not going to apologize for it.  This – I’ll admit is a new thing – and I only indulge  on rare occasion, but- I have a lot of fun when I do.

Today we went in search of just one thing – party supplies.  Again, I aim to use things that recyle and compost – but uh, when it comes to cleaning up after a three year old’s birthday – I surrender to the wax coated pretty paper plates that must get tossed. What was that? You heard the Earth cry a little. . . it’s okay – I’ll probably feel guilty about it till Kai’s next birthday.

I filled two bags with with streamers, goody bags, decorations, paper goods, and loot for the kids treasure hunt for under twenty bucks.  Oh yes. Love me some disposable goods.   Whatever – they’re cute disposable goods.

summer lovin’ – 30 of 365

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It’s the kind of cold out that causes New Englanders to have a reputation of cantankerous and unfriendly, and all I can think of is watermelon.  We got our catalog from Seed Savers Exchange today – and we thumbed through the pages dreaming of caprese salad and the sweet smell of lemon balm.  This is the varietal of watermelon I want to plant.

It’s called moon and stars, and it makes me think of warm nights at picnic tables and babies covered in red bits of sweet sticky.   These are the kind of warm thoughts I need to get me through the coldest nights.

Eat the View – 3 of 365

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cloudy.  snowing sideways at times, another coating. temperature at 11:34pm  21°

So much done today, and I didn’t even leave my house.  Christmas got put away.  Bread got made. Fried rice got made. Sort. of.

Iron Chef was on.  White House Chef and Flay vs. Batali and Lagase.  The challenge, produce from the White House gardens.  Call me a romantic, but the White House garden is my absolute favorite thing that the administration has done so far. Okay well I like Lilly Ledbetter, oh and SCHIP, oh and Cash for Caulkers makes me laugh b/c lots of news men try to say caulk without laughing.  Yah go ahead and try.  But I love that garden. I love that it’s organic, I love that they donate mass amount of food to the soup kitchen in the neighborhood. I love that Croplife wrote a letter after it was planted saying it was a shame that it was organic, and chemical fertilizers are good too.   Kitchen Gardeners International was instrumental in talking up how great that garden could be – and I’m so pleased that Mrs. Obama has taken up this as one of her projects.

Now I’m going to go laugh a bit while I think of Cindy McCain in the garden instead.

Local is Good – 2 of 365

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cloudy.  snow- left about an inch more on top of the ice pack.  29° at 2pm.

Sustainability – There’s something about the Valley.  There is a road on both sides of the river north of my house.  When we’re in the mood to take a ride, we go “up the river, down the river”  – And every time we do,  I’m awe-struck at the straight up gorgeousness of the ride.  Though the mountains to the north-west make a nice background, it’s the miles of neatly tilled fields that get me all achy.   And the farm stands – this time of year when the ground is solid, and the trees bare, I dream of berries and tomatoes and sweet corn – I dream of them in bags and cartons piled high on the passenger seat – I dream of little boys covered in blueberry goo, as I pull them out of the car seats – I dream of dinners with more sides than meat.

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