So I got an email from the Green Moms Carnival and it was about the holidays and the commercialization of them.  There were some great tips/ideas on how NOT to make it commercialized and plastic and get back to the true meaning of the holidays.  Of course it got my mind working.

I LOVE the holidays, especially now with the kids.  Last year Ryder and I spent the entire month before Christmas singing every Christmas Carole written and baking.  It was the best!  One of my favorite things about the holidays is cooking and baking (which is something I love to do and it is something that Ryder and I like to do together).  No matter if a holiday dinner is going to be just “us” or if others are attending I like to put out a big spread (I guess b/c that’s what I remember about the holidays when I was young and I love food!) 

I do also love to give, but sometimes, in years past, I have felt so overwhelmed with the thought of “buying” just to buy and I just hate that feeling.  I like to give meaningful gifts or something handmade (which I’ve been trying to do for the last couple years).  It just gets so overwhelming with this crazy buying frenzy energy that is in the air.  I live in a smaller town, so there is no mall or major stores around so it’s pretty nice I feel a bit sheltered from the frenzy – until I drive to work (which is in a bigger town).  So I have vowed to buy only handmade or local for the holidays.  I have also made a lot (jams, sauces, kahlua, etc.) so I plan on giving those as presents.  I would like to make a couple more handmade presents. 

But, my point being, I am not going to get caught in a frenzy and I’m going to support the local guy.  I am the local guy, I will be in a craft fair in November and am trying to locate a few more – so hopefully I will be supported by my fellow “locals” and tourists (I’m not picky). 

Etsyis a great place to buy handmade.  You can find anything and everything on there.  I just bought Saige the cutest hat and I feel good that it didn’t come from a retail store.  Even if you don’t buy everything, even just one item, start small, find a local craft fair or local boutique and support someone instead of a large corporation, especially with the what’s going on in the economy.  The big guys are taking off with the money while the rest of us suffer, stop giving to the big guys and help out your small local businesses.

Remember what the season is about, getting together with friends and family, remembering old memories, making new memories and being thankful for each other.  So don’t let the commercialism of the holiday season get you, fight back, don’t give in – it feels good to buck the system! 

Have a great holiday season!

It’s that time of year, the farmer’s markets are back.  For the few lucky ones, there are some that go year round (we have one that is year round in our town).  It’s fun to see how it changes as the seasons change.  In the winter it’s pretty small and not much there, but it feels good to go and buy a couple things from the local farmers.  It’s also a good way to see what’s “in season”. 

So, I just finished a section in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle that was talking about “Organic” food and the mainstream corporations that are now starting to offer Organic.  It’s a bit of a double edged sword.  In one way I think it’s great that you can buy Organic at Safeway or Costco or whatever big store you may have in your town.  It’s getting it out there to the masses, making it available and slightly more affordable to those that maybe wouldn’t buy it normally from a speciality market.  But playing the devils advocate, those big corporations are potentially ruining the term Organic.  These corporations are lobbying to reduce the standards of organic (to make it more profitable for them- of course- it’s all about the bottom line- not doing the right thing for the consumer or the community).  For example, they have lobbied so the Organic, free range eggs you’re buying aren’t really coming from these happy hens running around beautiful acres of fields, foraging for grubs, etc.  They are only required to have a door on the hen house that leads to a small area outside to be certified as “free range”.  Most of those hens never see the light of day.  That’s a far cry from the image they portray or that we perceive in our heads.  I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t want to give my money to those people.  They are lying to us! 

So with that said, I encourage you to buy from your local farmers.  I know some of you aren’t as lucky as I am to have friends who give you fresh eggs from their hens, but I bet you can find a farm in your area, or at least buy from a smaller company at the grocery store.   Check at your local farmer’s market- someone may be there with eggs or maybe one of the other vendors may know of someone who sells eggs.  This goes for all produce.  It’s hard to get certified as an organic farm and it costs money.  Most of your local farmers may be growing organic but just aren’t certified.  The best thing to do is talk to these vendors at your local markets and get to know them.  They are concerned about their communities and have sustainability and community as their number one priority.  “Buying locally grown is a denomination whose meaning is incorruptible.” Barbara Kingsolver 

This is one of our favorite activities to do as a family too.  We usually don’t make it home with some of the fruit we buy.  Ryder likes to go and help pick out the fruits and veggies and it helps him to see us supporting someone rather than a store.  We grow a lot of our own fruits and veggies so he understands the whole concept of growing and tending to the plants and finally picking them- he loves to pick strawberries.  It’s the best to look over and see his red stained face, hands and shirt.  What could be better than picking a warm strawberry from your own garden and eating it.  He is so proud of his plants.  Every morning we open his curtain and look out on the garden and see how much the plants grew!  I hope this will carry on through his life. 

Go to the link at the right for farmer’s markets to locate one near you.

 

I just started the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver- so far it is awesome!  Everyone MUST read this.  It is about a family that spends a year eating “deliberately” – only eating what they grow or can purchase locally ( translates into what is produced locally).  I am only in the 4th chapter but already I am a believer.  I have been trying to live this way for awhile now but this is even more hardcore than what we’ve been doing.  The author talks about how much oil is used to produce the food you eat.  I’m sure not many people even think about that when they are biting into their ginormous, plump, ruby red strawberry in the middle of January.  Guess where that strawberry came from? Not the local farm down the road.  Not even from a farm in the United States.  Most likely that Strawberry came from a some giant agbusiness farm in the southern hemisphere.  So there was oil used to plow the fields,  to run the machines that package the strawberries, the fuel to get the strawberries to the docks to then be shipped to the USA and then the fuel that goes into the trucks that deliver the strawberries to your local market.  WOW!  That’s a lot of fuel.  Now multiply that by all the food in our grocerry stores- that’s huge. 

So this family has decided to buck the system and do it the old fashioned way- eat seasonally and eat what you produce or what is produced in your own community.  I know this is not possible for some or seems like an arduous task but you must think baby steps. 

What we do is …. we start by trying to buy local ( the farmer’s market) , then we try to buy within California, then we try to stay on the west coast and if we really want it or need it for a recipe than we stay in the U.S.A.  Let me tell you, it definitely takes me some time to grocery shop but I feel good when I leave- knowing I have done my part.  I always laugh when I’m buying produce and I see Organic __(insert any veggie or fruit)______ from South America or Mexico or wherever.  It seems like an oxymoron.  

It’s all about eating seasonally.  I have come to realize this after we moved in our new house and stared to get into gardening more (now that we had usable space and decent soil).  After that first year of growing our own heirloom tomatoes I realized the ones at the store are awful( I should say – the ones that are at the store and out of season).  Now, I will not buy tomatos during the off season- it’s just not worth it.   

It’s definitely not “convenient” to do things this way.  But it’s more fun and more rewarding.  It just feels good. 

At one time we had tried to move out of Cali and back to the midwest and the first thing I did when looking at new cities was look for their local farmers markets.  The link below is great for finding farmers markets, farms, CSA’s, etc. in your area.  We are lucky to live where we do and they are everywhere but some people aren’t as lucky and might need to do a bit more research.  Take a look at the link below and go visit your local farmers market or farm and bring home what’s in season.  Some places will even provide recipes for some of those veggies that aren’t the “norm” or what you may find in your grocery store.  It’s fun to try new veggies or fruit.  http://www.localharvest.org/

Try the challenge at the right “Be a Bookworm” and pick up this book for it. 

Happy eating!

I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation.  It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne