Archive for the ‘saving family farms’ Category

An Apple A Day for Healthy Kids and a Healthy World (#BAD09)

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Can one apple make a difference?

One fresh apple instead of a bag of chips in a kid’s school lunch is healthier for the child, obviously, and it’s one small step to fight climate change. Potatoes grown with conventional fertilizers and pesticides require fossil fuels, more are used when they’re processed into greasy chips, and still more used for packaging and shipping those little bags in bulk across the country. It’s easy to see how the carbon footprint of an apple beats that of a bag of chips.

One local apple keeps local orchards from being converted to housing developments. One local apple — or jar of fresh-pressed apple cider — supports local farmers in their efforts to preserve vanishing apple species. Buying fresh apples instead of apple juice — 80% of the world’s apple juice now comes from China — saves American farms. Protecting farmland fights climate change.

One fresh, local apple can save the world. Send your kids to school tomorrow with an extra apple and encourage them to share with a friend. Together, our many small acts will change the world!

This post is my contribution to Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change. It’s also our 2nd anniversary here at Foodie Tots, which was founded in part to help save the world one family’s diet at a time. Read our previous Blog Action Day posts here and here, or click over to the official site for live posts and tweets from around the world.

Virginia Farmland Solstice Supper

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Saturday morning I awoke thinking it must still be night given how little light was coming in through the blinds. No, just yet another rainy morning. My heart sank fearing that our “fork to farm” summer solstice dinner, to be cooked by Vermilion‘s Chef Tony Chittum in the fields of our CSA farm, Potomac Vegetable Farm in Purcellville, would be canceled. Fast forward eight hours — after a damp trip to the farmers market where the farmers were practically giving food away in “rainy day sales” for the dedicated few who braved the storms — and here is the vista that awaited as we strolled from the reception at neighboring Moutoux Orchard to the dinner site.

walking to potomac vegetable farm

We began the evening sipping peach-infused sparkling voignier in the peach orchards, before moving on to a surprisingly intimate feast for 100+ fellow diners, ingredients provided by six Virginia farms and Horton Vineyards, and prepared by Chef Chittum and his crew over a grill and makeshift kitchen in the middle of the field.

virginia farmland solstice supper

The additional farms — Greenstone Fields, Tree and Leaf Farm, Wheatland Vegetable Farms, and New Frontier Bison. An appetizer paired sweet beets with Alberene Ash goat cheese; the salad featured “this morning’s deviled eggs”; heirloom beets accompanied sweet Virginia ham-wrapped scallops and magnificent crab cakes; a mixed grill of beef, rabbit terrine and bison was served family-style with a sheep’s milk yogurt dressed potato salad; and luscious Caromont Farm chevre cheesecake, spiced with strawberry black pepper preserves, and Virginia peanut cookies swept us away at the conclusion of the meal, while fireflies punctuated the fields and the sun settled behind the Blue Ridge Mountains. A truly magical evening!

(full photoset here)

Organic Christmas Trees

Friday, December 5th, 2008

On a seasonal if not food-related note, I wanted to share some tips on finding an eco-friendly Christmas tree. I am a firm believer in real trees – they absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, are replanted and biodegradable, and support green spaces that could otherwise be developed into new subdivisions – but I’m embarrassed to admit I hadn’t really thought of going organic with our holiday tree despite having first-hand experience with Christmas tree pesticides as a child. I grew up in the Christmas tree capital of the US, Oregon. On a mountain, in fact, with Christmas tree farms just across the road. We used to sled down the access road whenever it snowed, and there were beaver ponds at the bottom where we would glide around on the ice when they froze over. (Hope my mom isn’t reading this, I’m pretty sure we weren’t supposed to go on the ponds! They rarely froze that solidly…) Anyway, that’s all well and good but a couple times a year they were sprayed by plane, and my mother would chase us down and confine us to the indoors for a couple days while we waited for the spray to settle. So while your Christmas tree may not have a high level of lingering chemical residue, since it does gradually wash off with rain, choosing organic is still beneficial for the health of those who live near Christmas trees! Not to mention the run off into our water and soil.

I started searching after a Twitter friend mentioned ordering a certified organic tree from North Carolina. This terrific guide notes farms that are certified or low-spray; personally, certification doesn’t matter so much to me, I’m just happy to know that we can get an eco-friendly tree without having to drive too much farther than we normally do. I’ll report back on Monday about our experience at our local natural tree farm.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, no we didn’t get free Christmas trees in exchange for the inconvenience of living next door to a farm. I’m not sure the owners of that farm even lived in the area. We did have a family-owned tree farm up the road (which did their spraying by hand and kindly informed the neighboring parents to warn us not to play there), and it kills me now that we thought their $15 dollar trees were expensive. Let’s just say we pay several times that here on the other, less tree-populated coast. My tree-hugging mom (yes, it runs in the family), objected to cutting down trees for pleasure so we had to choose our scraggly trees from under the path of the power lines, where they were destined to be trimmed anyway. We had a high (30 feet) ceiling in our living room and had some of the biggest, ugliest trees you could imagine. At least we always talked my mom out of her lighted dead branch hanging from the ceiling idea. But I’m sharing it with you as another option, in case you also share an affection for trees remaining in the ground and don’t want to expose your family to toxic lead/petroleum-based artificial trees…

Kitchen Memories Winner!

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

I have to thank everyone who shared their favorite food memories for our contest. From fresh from the field, or off the truck, sweet corn to blackberry picking in Oregon and the apple orchards of Ojai, Michigan and upstate New York; date shakes from Palm Springs and the cheese of Marin County with a family connection – it was fun to read such an array of stories. I’ve made a contribution to Farm Aid’s Family Farm Disaster Fund (tacked on an extra zero to my pledge), and judging from the number of clicks through to their site, I’m guessing a few of you did as well. So thank you for sharing and supporting our family farming friends in the Midwest!

And without further ado, our free cookbook winner – as decreed by the random integer generator – is … Lelo in Nopo! Who shares the following:

Eating local and supporting local farms was inherent to my childhood. In the fertile valleys of Southern California, some of the very best growing conditions for produce existed. I’ve written extensively about my memories on my blog, but last fall I wrote about a recent trip to an apple orchard, and how as a child, we’d visit Ojai, California, to pick apples. Today that area is so different than it was then, but my memories shape who I am, and where I put my money, today, even though I live in a different state. You can read about it here.

Visit the original post to read the other stories. Thanks everyone!

Share Your Food Memories, Give Back to Family Farms

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

A farmer in Johnson County, Iowa, surveys flood devastation.
Photo by Amy Spencer
, used by permission.

As a locavore, it’s easy to take a somewhat myopic view of the world. I admit to seeing the flooding in the Midwest and thinking how fortunate it is that nearly all the produce we buy comes from right here in the mid-Atlantic. I have never seen Iowa except from the air, but I know there are small, family farms struggling to survive even when weather is good. Reports of four million acres of farmland underwater are hard to comprehend. But it is clear that the impact to all farms, commercial or not, will impact already sky-rocketing food prices, which has a disproportionate effect on those least able to afford a locavore diet. I hope you will check out Farm Aid’s Family Farm Disaster Fund, which is supporting local farming organizations in the affected states, and join me in contributing to their relief efforts. After all, locavores need to band together to support farm sources near and far.

You can also show your support by participating in the first-ever FoodieTots give-away. At a Slow Food DC dinner back in May, we received a cookbook titled Kitchen Memories. The book shares personal stories of treasured family recipes from around the world. I’ve already shared my strawberry shortcake memories that turn my thoughts back to my native Oregon every June. So I’d like to hear, what is your favorite local food childhood memory?

I help keep family farmers on their land. Join us at

Please share in the comments. For every comment, FoodieTots will donate $1 to the Farm Aid fund*. You will also be entered to win a copy of Kitchen Memories and a bonus “No Farms No Food” bumper sticker, courtesy of the American Farmland Trust. I will collect entries until midnight July 17 and feature my favorite stories the weekend of July 19.
So share away!

*Fine print: will donate $1 per the first 100 comments, additional donations to be determined by the response!