Archive for the ‘organic’ Category

Flat Stanley Goes Organic {Cascadian Farms Giveaway}

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Cooped up with the kids on yet another snow day? Here’s a fun way to think ahead to spring and learn a little something, too. Remember Flat Stanley? The world-traveling paper cut-out has gone digital, and through the Flat Stanley mobile app kids can now explore organic farming thanks to a partnership with Cascadian Farm.

Organic Stanley

While on the virtual farm tour, kids can explore where their food comes from, what organic means and why organic farming is important to protect the ecosystem. I didn’t even realize Flat Stanley has a sister now, Flat Stella — the foodie tot dressed her Flat Stella in a t-shirt and sporty skirt and they were off to the farm together.

Organic Stella

Ready to play? Download the free app, create your Flat Stanley or Flat Stella character and look for the Cascadian Farm logo in the far northwest corner of the US. (Cascadian Farm was founded in Washington’s Skagit Valley.)

About Cascadian Farm: Since 1972, Cascadian Farm® has grown from its original farm in the Skagit Valley to be recognized as a leading participant and champion in the organic movement. Since day one, the brand has been dedicated to organic goodness, making all of its products from organic ingredients. All Cascadian Farm products are made without GMOs or reliance on synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Cascadian Farm offers more than 75 delicious, high-quality organic products including cereals, granolas, frozen fruits, vegetables and potatoes, fruit spreads, granola bars, juice concentrates and more.

Here at the Foodie Tots house, we are big fans of their Cinnamon Crunch cereal. I appreciate that their organic cereals don’t have crazy amounts of sugar, contain no artificial colors or preservatives and are GMO-free.

Organic Stanley Cascadian Farm giveaway

GIVEAWAY: To spread the word about Flat Stanley’s new organic adventure, Cascadian Farm is offering a prize package (pictured above) to one FoodieTots reader. The prize includes an indoor gardening kit, Organic Stanley to color, and assortment of Cascadian Farm cereal, granola and granola bars. Enter in the giveaway widget below. Contest will end at 11:59pm EST next Thursday, February 6.

Disclosure: Cascadian Farm provided us with product samples and is sponsoring the prize package for this giveaway. No other compensation was received and all opinions, as always, are our own.

Support Farmer Heinz (and a Sunchoke Soup Recipe)

Friday, January 7th, 2011

A local Maryland farm, Next Step Produce, recently lost their boiler room in a fire. They lost $1600 worth in seeds in the fire and are unable to heat their greenhouses until the boiler room is rebuilt. Read more about the situation here, or go to FreshFarm Markets’ website to make a contribution to the “Help Heinz Fund.” Not only is farmer Heinz a fixture at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm market, but his organic produce is also distributed through our CSA in a crop-sharing arrangement. Below is a favorite recipe from the FoodieTots archives using one of the ingredients I was first introduced to by Heinz, sunchokes. My toddler, then just two-and-a-half, eagerly sampled a sunchoke handed to him by Heinz at the market — and if I remember correctly, sampled this soup as well.

~

Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, look very similar to ginger root, but when you begin to peel them they offer an intensely concentrated artichoke aroma. Raw, they have the texture of a water chestnut, but taste sweeter and nuttier. They are a member of the tuber farm and are packed with iron and potassium. They aid in digestion and store carbs as inulin, not starch, making them an ideal substitute for potatoes. The farmer suggested roasting them or serving raw in a salad, but I’ve had sunchoke soup on the mind since Ramona’s post in the spring. This simple soup lets their flavor shine. I added mushrooms which added to the earthy flavor, but you can omit them.

Recipe: Creamy Sunchoke Soup
Adapted from Thomas Keller

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sunchokes
  • 1 leek, white part and an inch of the green portion, rinsed well
  • 1/2 cup maitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup cream

Instructions: Peel and thinly slice the sunchokes. (They are a little tricky to peel, so go carefully.) Slice the leek cross-wise into thin strips. Coarsely chop the mushrooms. Melt butter in stock pot over medium low heat. Add sunchokes and leeks and cook until they are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook 2 minutes more. Season with white pepper and salt, and stir in chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and puree in blender or with stick blender until smooth.  Stir in cream, warm over low heat for two minutes, then remove from heat and serve. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Farms of Origin: Organic sunchokes and leek, Next Step Produce and maitake from the Mushroom Lady, Dupont Circle Farmers Market. Butter from South Mountain Creamery.

– originally posted 12/09/08

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Order Your Local Turkey Today!

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

@ South Mountain Creamery

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, it’s time to pre-order your local turkey! If you read a lot of food magazines (or blogs) to prepare for your Thanksgiving feast, you’ve probably seen a lot of talk about brining the turkey in recent years. Soaking the bird in a saltwater is supposed to add succulence to the meat. But here’s a secret: turkeys are naturally juicy. Conventional turkeys, like conventional chickens and other animals, are raised in confined quarters where they are stuffed full of grain (often genetically-modified, aka GMO) and antibiotics to grow rapidly. Turkeys who eat a natural diet of bugs, grubs and grasses will naturally produce meat that is juicier and more flavorful. And, birds who roam in fresh air lead happier, healthier lives.

What is a Heritage turkey? Today, 99% of all turkeys raised in the U.S. are the “Broadbreasted White” variety, which have been bred specifically to produce unnaturally large breasts. The breasts are so large, in fact, that these turkeys are unable to reproduce naturally! (Source: Sustainable Table/UN Food and Agriculture Organization)

free-ranging @ Fields of Athenry

free-ranging @ Fields of Athenry

Sustainable turkey farmers raise various traditional species of turkeys, Heritage breeds such as Narrangassett or Bourbon Red, to protect the genetic diversity and provide tastier options for your Thanksgiving table. Heritage birds take longer to reach market size — 24 to 30 weeks compared to 18 for supermarket turkeys — which is one reason why they more expensive. (Source: Heritage Turkey Foundation) The article on Sustainable Table has a more detailed explanation of the difference between heritage, organic and sustainable birds and questions to ask your farmers.

Wondering how to find a local, organic, free-range bird for your holiday meal? Here in the DC Metro area, organic turkeys are harder to find, but several local farmers and butchers provide heritage and/or free-range turkeys. Organic birds will be the most expensive, but they are fed only organic feed, not treated with antibiotics or hormones, and required to have access to the outdoors. Ask your farmer or butcher what their free-range turkeys are fed. Organic grain feed is less important if they are truly free-range, as turkeys prefer to eat bugs and grasses anyway. Where “all-natural” is used below, it means turkeys are not treated or fed with any antibiotics, steroids or hormones.

EcoFriendly Foods (Moneta, VA)
type: all-natural, free-range, Heritage and hybrid breeds, 12-20lbs.
price: n/a
order: order at Arlington Courthouse or Dupont Circle markets, $40 deposit required.

Fields of Athenry (Purcellville, VA)
type: all-natural, free-range, Heritage, 15-35lbs.
price: $7.25/lb.
order: download order form online and send $40 deposit; pick-up at farm only; likely to sell out early.

Let’s Meat on the Avenue (Alexandria, VA)
type: Amish-raised from Pennsylvania and Minnesota; organic from Fauquier County VA; all free-range, all-natural, fresh
price: $3.95/lb. for Amish turkeys
order: call 703-836-6328 or stop by the shop; orders will be accepted until about a week prior to Thanksgiving (or until sold out)

MOM’s Organic Market (VA and MD)
type: all-natural, free-range from Maple Lawn Farm (Fulton, MD) and Eberly’s Organic
price: $1.99/lb. Maple Lawn, $3.49/lb. Eberly Organic
order: call or visit store (locations in Alexandria, College Park, Columbia, Frederick and Rockville)

Smith Meadows Farm (Purcellville, VA)
type: all-natural, free-range turkeys, 10-12lbs. or 13-14lbs., frozen
price: $4.25/lb.
order: Place a $10 deposit at their markets, pick-up on Saturday 11/21 or Sunday 11/22 at the market where you place your order. Orders will be accepted until about mid-November. You can also call 877-955-4389 to place your order by phone.
markets: Arlington Courthouse, Del Ray, Falls Church and Chevy Chase on Saturdays; Takoma Park and Dupont Circle on Sundays

South Mountain Creamery / Hillside Farm (Thurmont, MD)
type: free-range, fresh
price: about $2.50/lb.
order: existing South Mountain delivery customers must reserve a turkey by Saturday, November 7; they will be delivered with your regular delivery the week prior to Thanksgiving.

If you don’t want to cook, The Butcher’s Block in Alexandria will have ready-to-go Thanksgiving meals available; visit the website for details.

To find a local, Heritage turkey in your area, search the listings at Local Harvest — or ask your favorite meat vendor at the farmers market!

Shared with Real Food Wednesday — visit the round-up @ Cheeseslave for more Real Food inspiration.

Bourbon Cherry Cobbler

Friday, July 10th, 2009

old wye mill mdA Southern Cherry Cobbler Recipe: The sour cherries we bought from Toigo last weekend went into a July 4th cobbler. I started with a recipe from 101 Cookbooks, the wonderful blog whose author is also responsible for the “Super Natural Recipe Search” button you may have noticed over on my left sidebar. I made a few additions — bourbon and corn meal — for a Southern twist. And the boy gets the credit for the blueberry polka dots, his contribution to create the requisite red, white and blue color scheme.

The corn meal, which is actual organic, local corn meal grown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and milled once a month at the Historic Wye Mill, is a fairly course grind so I pulsed it in a food processor with a pinch of tapioca starch to make more of a corn flour. I found the bourbon flavor more pronounced the next day, and you can certainly omit the bourbon for a more sober dessert.

Recipe: Bourbon Cherry Cobbler
adapted from 101 Cookbooks

toigo sour cherries

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups sour cherries, pitted
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch (or organic corn starch)
  • 1/3 cup corn meal, finely ground
  • 3/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup raw sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup organic buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon fair-trade bourbon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons organic butter, melted and cooled

Instructions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter a 9-inch pie pan and set aside. Gently toss together cherries, bourbon, starch and sugar in a bowl and set aside. Whisk together remaining dry ingredients. Separately, gently beat egg and combine with vanilla, buttermilk and butter. Stir into dry ingredients until just combined. Pour cherries into pie pan and dot with dollops of batter by the tablespoon, leaving a few gaps in between. (Optional, dot topping with blueberries or additional cherries.) Bake 20-22 minutes, until cherry liquid bubbles up and topping is lightly golden. Enjoy!

foodietot makes cherry cobbler

Farms of Origin: Toigo Orchard, PA (cherries), Westmoreland Berry Farms, VA (blueberries, hand-picked), Wye Mill, MD (organic corn meal), and a local egg from Tom the Cheese Guy, PA.

Dope-Free Dairy

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Part IV in the Sustainable Family Supper series

dairy cow

What’s the matter with rBST? I’ve written before about how my path to natural and organic food began with a look at milk. When I became pregnant with my son, milk took on a renewed significance as I eliminated sodas and caffeinated beverages from my diet. I finally got around to reading up on bovine growth hormones, a.k.a. rBST or rBGH. You probably already know that they are artificial hormones designed to increase estrogen in female cows, thus increasing their milk production. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use in 1993, and like with so many other issues, refused to reexamine its safety despite growing consumer pressure and health concerns. The problem, or problems, are that the unnatural increase in production leads cows to develop infections at much greater rates, requiring them to be more heavily treated with antibiotics, which are passed on to milk consumers and flow out into soil and water with the cows’ waste. Then, there are studies linking rBST with increased breast, prostate and colon cancers in humans. The most galling part of the whole situation, in my opinion, is the ridiculous requirement by the FDA that requires dairy producers who label their milk rBST-free to include a disclaimer stating that “there is no difference between milk from cows treated with rBST and those who are not.” Actually, there are scientific studies showing that rBST is harmful and yet the burden is on the good actors to refrain from impugning the “good” name of the producers who continue to use rBST in the face of such studies.

Consumers Fight Back: The good news is that after repeatedly losing attempts in state legislatures to ban the use of rBST-free labels entirely (hello consumers’ right to know what they’re eating!), in the face of growing consumer pressure against the use of artificial hormones, its creator Monsanto actually sold off the product last year. Meanwhile, consumer campaigns targeting major dairy companies and grocers have successfully forced many companies to voluntarily reject the use of milk from cows treated with rBST. You can sign up to receive alerts from the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to stay apprised of the latest. Food & Water Watch offers downloadable and mobile (iPhone/Blackberry) lists of rBST-free brands by state. Last month, Dannon and Yoplait joined the roster of major yogurt producers rejecting rBST milk (Stoneyfield has never used it). In the cheese world, Tillamook‘s farmer cooperative led the industry in adopting a rBST-free policy back in 2005. Cabot Creamery is the latest to get on the drug-free dairy bandwagon, announcing that they will finally stop accepting rBST-containing milk as of August 1, 2009. Even *some* Kraft cheese products (2% milk line) are rBST-free.

Next Stop, Schools: So if consumers won’t buy it, where’s rBST-treated cows milk going? Some is still in use commercially, and of course much winds up in schools. Food & Water Watch has a campaign underway, coinciding with this year’s reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, urging Congress to give schools the ability to let schools choose to use rBST-free and/or organic milk. According to Food & Water Watch, one out of five pints of the milk served to public schoolchildren may contain rBST. (Visit their School Milk action center to learn more.)

Better Yet, Drink Organic: If you already drink rBST-free milk, you might also want to consider organic. If you have to choose what to buy organic, organic milk and meat may be more beneficial than organic produce because the pesticides on cows’ feed are concentrated in their digestive system – and nonorganic feed includes genetically-modified (GMO) grain. And make sure that you’re choosing a brand that scores well on the Cornucopia Institute organic dairy study, because while organic certification guarantees that cows are fed GMO- and pesticide-free grain, it does not guarantee that the cows were allowed to graze on grass or treated humanely. Certain big-organic producers (Aurora and Horizon, notably) are only slightly better than conventional feedlot operations. (There’s a reason some store-brand “organic” milk is priced significantly lower – avoid Safeway, Giant, Publix and Costco store brands, which are sourced from Aurora Organics, a company found by the USDA to have “willfully” violated 14 criteria of the federal organic standard. Visit the Organic Consumer Association action page to sign a petition asking these company CEOs to boycott green-washing “organic” suppliers.)

We’re lucky to have a local, though not organic-certified, dairy delivery service, but when I have to buy milk between deliveries or on the road, I try to find Organic Valley. They are a co-operative of farms organized regionally, so the milk you buy may actually be fairly locally-produced, and they provide support to their farmers to make their farms more environmentally-friendly, such as helping their member farms obtain grants to place wind turbines on their farms. I attended a presentation by an Organic Valley farmer at last fall’s Green Festival and fell in love with the adorable pictures of his happy little cows and tale of how they prefer listening to rock music over classical. A recent study found that cows who are called by name (typically signifying a higher level of care) produce more milk, naturally. I may be a little idealistic, but shouldn’t every cow live like that?

What About Raw Milk? I haven’t read enough yet to take an informed opinion on the highly controversial issue of raw milk. Its sale is banned here in Maryland and Virginia (unless in a “cow share” program in VA), so I haven’t had the option of trying it. (At least not since I was a kid with cow-owning friends! Its true nothing else tastes like truly fresh milk.) On the one hand, I’m inclined to trust farmers who are praticing time-tested method,s and raw milk proponents insist that there are a wealth of health benefits to drinking raw. On the other hand, cows are naturally dirty animals! (That’s not a scientific argument, just an observation.) All the more reason to get to know your food’s producers, of course, whatever the product. At any rate, if you want to learn more, CheeseSlave has a great post on the reasons she chooses raw milk and links to more resources.