Cascadian Farm Organic Goodness

WELCOME TO OUR ALMANAC! READ ABOUT ALL THINGS ECO FROM ORGANIC VEGGIE
GARDEN TIPS TO GREEN FAMILY ACTIVITIES.

Cascadian Farm fans,

We would like to share an announcement of a voluntary recall for a limited number of Cascadian Farm Granola Bars containing peanuts. While we have no evidence of a safety issue with these products, we have made the decision to issue a voluntarily recall as a precaution.  Please read the details below for full information. If you have a box that has been impacted by the voluntary recall, we would be happy to replace it.

Your Friends at Cascadian Farm

 MINNEAPOLIS (October 9, 2012) – Cascadian Farm today announced a voluntary recall of a limited number of Cascadian Farm Granola Bars containing peanuts. This action is being taken as a precaution because peanut pieces in the products may have been sourced from Sunland, Inc., a peanut supplier that recently expanded its recall of peanut ingredients.

This voluntary recall includes 6-count boxes of Cascadian Farm Peanut Butter Chip Chewy Granola Bars with “Better if Used By” dates printed on the top of the box:

 01NOV2012
02NOV2012

Because this product was produced in February, it may no longer be on store shelves. 

Consumers are urged to check their pantries for these two “Better if Used By” dates.  Consumers are also urged to dispose of any Cascadian Farm Granola Bar products containing peanuts that are past the “Better if Used By Date” printed on the box.  These products include:

  • Cascadian Farm Sweet & Salty Peanut Pretzel Bars
  • Cascadian Farm Sweet & Salty Mixed Nut Granola Bars
  • Cascadian Farm Peanut Butter Chip Chewy Granola Bars
  • Cascadian Farm Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bars
  • Cascadian Farm Trail Mix Dark Chocolate Cranberry Chewy Granola Bars

 

No illnesses have been reported in connection with Cascadian Farm products.  No other varieties or production dates of Cascadian Farm products are affected by this recall. 

Consumers who have products covered by this recall may contact Cascadian Farm Consumer Services at 1-800-624-4123 for a replacement.

Lately it seems like everywhere I go I hear the term “gluten-free”. Many restaurants and most grocery stores carry gluten-free meals or products of some sort. I just assumed it was only  for those with Celiac disease, a serious gluten intolerance, and moved on. It wasn’t until my mother-in-law discovered that her dog had a gluten allergy that I realized what a big issue this is. In fact, she found that while she does not have Celiac disease, she is sensitive to gluten as well. She has changed her diet and started a blog chronically her journey, My Gluten Free Canine and Me.

So I had to ask, what is gluten anyway? I thought it was wheat, so why is there a need for gluten-free ice cream?! Well, gluten refers to the protein in some grains (wheat, barley, rye) that gives dough its elasticity and creates structure and texture in bread. Gluten also gives bread its absorbent property. These characteristics are desired in vegetarian imitation meats (“mock chicken”, etc.) in which wheat gluten is often a primary ingredient. In other unlikely items, such as sauces, condiments, and even ice cream, gluten can be used as a stabilizer. The FDA considers gluten to be “generally recognized as safe” as a food additive, but some disagree.

What do you think? Are you concerned about gluten as a food additive?

Photo by Whatshername?

We all know the important role that fruits and vegetables play in our overall health. But is your family consuming the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables? Are you unsure of how many cups you should be consuming? If so, you can find out how many you need based on your age, sex, and level of physical activity here. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, remembering to include them in our busy schedules can sometimes be a challenge. This is where superfoods can come to the rescue.

Superfoods are real, unprocessed foods that are packed with nutrients our bodies need. Pomegranates, for instance, are low in fat and sodium, and cholesterol free. They are also a good source of dietary fiber and folate, and an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium. Quinoa is cholesterol free, very low in sodium, and is a good source of magnesium and phosphorus. It is also a great source of manganese.

Superfoods can be consumed in their whole form; as a juice, shot, or shake.

Although there are many more than 10 superfoods, here are my top 10 favorite superfoods to get you started:

1. Pomegranate
2. Blueberries
3. Quinoa
4. Sprouts
5. Hemp Seeds
6. Acai
7. Leafy Greens
8. Yogurt
9. Nuts and Seeds
10. Beans and Lentils

What is your favorite superfood?
How do you incorporate them into your daily lifestyle?

Sources: MyPyramid.gov, FruitandVeggiesMatter.gov, CBS news, Center for Disease Control, SELF Nutrition Data

Photo Credits: Blueberries, Pomegranate

* You should always consult with your health care provider before starting any type of program.

This weekend at the Farmer’s Market I came across the most stunning vegetable, the “Romanesco Cauliflower”. This broccoli/cauliflower hybrid with its pale chartreuse color is hard to overlook.

Apparently it’s been grown in Italy since the 16th century, but it’s new to me. The mesmerizing spires called out to me. I can’t help but think what a beautiful still life painting they would make. I had to take a picture - maybe the next time I have a day without the baby I’ll actually paint it!

Being a fan of broccoli and cauliflower I knew I would love it so I purchased a few heads to try with our roasted vegetable dinner. Great raw, I think it tastes like both veggies, with its texture slightly more like cauliflower. We dipped it in a creamy mint yogurt dip we picked up at the market as well. I then quickly tossed the rest on baking sheet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, before we ate it all! I’m so glad I did. Roasting it brought out a slightly buttery delicious flavor – yum!

I sometimes think of the whole hybrid vegetable thing as just an unnecessary novelty, but this organic combo of broccoli and cauliflower really was great together. Plus it’s really fun to say Romanesco. I’ll definitely have it again.

Do you have a favorite hybrid vegetable or fruit?

With Thanksgiving on the way, we thought it would be the perfect time to take a closer look a classic turkey day vegetable –winter squash. We grow plenty of squash on our farm in preparation for this time of year. What would Thanksgiving be without this delicious vegetable?

Because squash is a frost-tender vegetable, the seeds do not germinate in cold soil. Winter squash can be harvested whenever the fruits have turned a deep, solid color and the skin is hard. It’s usually harvested in September or October, before heavy frosts hit.

Other than being delicious, squash has many important health benefits. It’s a good source of complex carbohydrates, such as starch. It is high in vitamins A and C. Not to mention, high in beta-carotene.

Here is one of our favorite squash recipes, perfect for the holiday season. Enjoy!

Curried Squash Soup

Creamy and rich with a hint of curry, this squash soup is simply outstanding!

 

Photo by: Nociveglia

Over the last couple months we have posted videos from our Home Farm Manager, Jim Meyer, giving advice and sharing his knowledge with us on various organic farming topics such as crop rotation, controlling pests, and planting cover crops. This week, he shares some insights on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

One question we fairly often from you is "Do your products use GMOs?" The short answer is: No. You can know when you see the "certified organic" USDA seal on the front of our package that GMO crops have not been used. The USDA organic standards board does not allow for any GMO crops to be used in organic agriculture. A farmer using GMO seeds would not be able to use the USDA certified organic seal.

We've talked before about the difference between labeling "Organic" vs "Natural" food. While there is no strict requirement for claiming a food product is "natural," the absence of GMOs are one of the things that you can count on when you see the USDA organic seal...

Thanksgiving is still three weeks away, but it's the perfect time to start thinking about your turkey, especially if you plan on ordering it. From free range to heritage birds, there are several things to consider as you look for the one that will grace your table come Turkey Day.

Below I've looked at a few distinctions between organic, free range and heritage turkeys that might help you decide which fits best for your family.

Organic Turkey

Organic turkeys are different than free range and heritage turkeys, although you will find turkeys that carry all three labels. The term organic when talking about meat production is looking at the use of chemicals, pesticides and growth hormones that are not used in the farming practices. The USDA states,

Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled ‘organic,’ a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.

 

That is to say that not all farms who raise their poultry organically will have organic certification. Your local farmers market is a great place to talk to farmers and find out what their practices are. If you don't have access to the farmer directly in person, always check out their website or call to see if you're comfortable with the turkey you're purchasing.

Heritage Turkey

Heritage turkeys are domesticated birds that have characteristics that were found in wild turkeys years and years ago, such as they mate and lay fertile eggs, have a long lifespan and a slow growth rate. They are said to have a richer flavor than the average domestic turkeys of today, and they can also be quite pricey. The Heritage Turkey Foundation can provide more information and direct you to popular sources. However, there may be farmers in your area that also sell heritage turkeys, so be sure to investigate other possible avenues. Order soon because most farmers and vendors will sell out within the next week or two.

Free Range Turkey

Free range birds are allowed to graze out in the open or have access to the outside. USDA regulations are not strict on this requirement for meat-raised birds, saying only that poultry must have access to the outside, so it's best to source free range turkeys from farmers that you trust so that the birds have access to pasture and not just gravel or dirt.

What are your Thanksgiving Day plans?

Will you be serving a turkey, or do you have a favorite turkey substitute as your main dish?

What holiday traditions do you and yours participate in?

Perhaps you're a movie-going family, or maybe you like a nice, quiet meal with just immediate family members, and even still, you could get together all the aunts and uncles and cousins for a family feast.

Photos by Shaina Olmanson

Coffee is the number one consumed beverage in the world. Over 400 million cups of coffee are consumed each day in the United States alone. It is the 2nd largest globally traded commodity in the world, second only to petroleum. In the tropics, local economies and communities rely heavily on the stability and income from coffee beans. With that said, have you ever wondered what impact your morning cup of joe has on the environment or the people that depend on it for their livelihood? Does consuming only Eco friendly coffee make a difference?

Traditional coffee plantations require vast amounts of cleared land, displacing entire ecosystems of native plants and animals. Many traditional plantations also use pesticides, herbicides and insecticides in mass. These chemicals not only run into local water supplies, poisoning the water, they are harmful (some even cancer-causing) to the low-wage workers that manage the fields.

However, Eco friendly coffee plantations also known as "shade plantations" leave the natural canopy of trees over the plantation that gives animals, insects, birds and reptiles a protected natural habitat complete with native plants. Shade plantations allow the animals and nature to live in harmony with the coffee crops.  

If you feel that Eco friendly coffee does make a difference, choosing "shade-grown" coffee is the best way to go. There are other types of certifications that are also important when looking for Eco friendly coffee such as; "Bird Friendly", "Rain Forest Alliance Certified", "USDA Organic" and "Fair Trade." Whichever type of Eco friendly coffee you choose, remember that you are making a conscious decision on the impact that coffee beans can have on the environment, humans and wildlife in those areas.

What does it all mean? How to break down what the label says:

1- Shade Grown: Coffee beans that have been grown on plantations with a natural tree canopy above the fields, instead of clear cutting the forest. This allows native animals, birds, insects, reptiles and plants to live in harmony with the crops.

2- USDA Organic: Pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and other chemicals are never used during the coffee bean growing process. Many of these chemicals are known endocrine-disrupting and cancer-causing chemicals, they also are known to kill native animals and poison local water sources and the soil - which is another good reason not to ingest non-organic coffee.

3- Bird Friendly: Similar to the "Shade Grown" certification, it protects migratory birds that will be lost forever due to clear cutting of the rainforest for traditonal coffee plantations.

4- Fair Trade: Fair Trade means that the family farmers are treated respectfully, are paid a fair living wage for their coffee beans, allowing them access to medical care and educational services.

Do you consume Eco friendly coffee?

Do you feel that the benefits of Eco friendly coffee make a difference?

 

photo credits: Coffee Beans, Traditional Coffee Plantation, Shade Grown Coffee Plantation,

We are so fortunate here in San Diego, there is at least one Farmer’s Market happening every day of the week in various neighborhoods. One of the newer additions to the Farmer’s Market scene is Little Italy’s Mercato. It started up about two or three years ago and just keeps getting better and better! I have long been partial to the Sunday market in Hillcrest, boasting lots of vendors and long hours, but the Mercato - with its 90 booths and bay views has become my new favorite! I take all my out-of-town guests to it on Saturday mornings, including my mom who was just here last week. She absolutely loved getting an espresso at a locally owned coffee shop, strolling up and down the streets, listening to the live music and enjoying the bay breezes. Once we purchased all our goods we lined up for a delicious breakfast crepe, hot off the pan. Mmmmm.

Going to the Farmer’s Market is not only the best way to get really fresh food and support your local economy, it’s also a great way get to know your community. You start to recognize the faces (and dogs) of the other patrons when you go every week. You learn the names of the farmers at your favorite stands. It becomes a social event! Besides stocking up on my fruits and veggies for the week, I also like to try something new every time I go. Last week I tried some amazing organic, raw cheese – heaven! The Mercato has such a great variety of vendors. From oysters and pastured chicken to olives, fresh pasta and sauces – they have everything a foodie could hope for.

What unique vendors do they have at your local farmer’s market?

Photos by Kari Burks

 

Now that we’ve talked about why to can and preserve food, let’s look at the process of how you can. If you haven’t canned food before, the process can be pretty overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. Here are the basics, broken down step by step for you.

What you need to get started:

Canning Jars and Seals – mason-style jars with sealed lids and rings work best and can be found at most grocery stores

Wide-Mouth Funnel – to fill jars with sauces or jams without making a mess and having to constantly wipe down the jars (optional)

Lid Wand – makes removing lids and rings from boiling water easier (optional)

Ladle – to fill jars

Large Pot – for boiling preserves and jams, fruits, tomatoes and pickled vegetables

Pressure Canner – used for canning vegetables and meats for its ability to reach a higher temperature

Tongs of Jar Lifters – rubberized lifters make removing cans from their water bath less slippery, but a good pair of tongs can work just as well

Clean Towels – used to wipe down jars, lids and rims of jars

  • Sterilize your jars.   Start by washing your lids and jars in hot soapy water. From there, move them to a large pot with boiling water for ten minutes to sterilize. Remove the jars from the water, but leave lids in until you’re ready to use. This will ensure they don’t become contaminated prior to sealing.
  • Canning fruits and vegetables immediately after you harvest them gives you the highest nutrient concentration. The longer a fresh piece of produce sits the more vitamins it loses. Fruits and vegetables can be sliced and diced; prepare your jams and preserves using your favorite recipes, and pickle vegetables before placing in the jars. You can also stew tomatoes and precook depending on the variety you’re making.
  • Tomatoes often have lemon juice or another citric acid added to them prior to canning to ensure their pH level is above 4.6. Ascorbic acid solutions can also be added to fruits to prevent browning prior to placing in jars. Not all tomatoes need an acid added, but be sure to check for the variety you’re using.
  • Iron, aluminum and copper should not be used when preparing your fruits and vegetables to can. So, leave those gorgeous copper pots and pans on the pan rack and the shelves for this one. These metals can cause discoloration of the produce.
  • Now it’s time to fill your jars. Be sure not to fill them completely. Produce expands during the boiling process, so leaving adequate space at the top prevents the jar from leaking and making a mess. Usually about a half inch of space is recommended.
  • When filling your jar with produce and not liquids like jams, jellies and preserves, pour liquid over the top to submerge the fruit or vegetables. Pickling solution or juice should cover to the top of your produce.
  • Make sure there are no air bubbles along the sides of the jar. Run a knife along the side to remove any bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars down with a clean cloth and cap with the flat sealing lids and rims.
  • Preheat water in your pot or pressure cooker for processing your jars.  For hot food like jams and jellies, water should be preheated to 180º F, and for cold produce like canning whole tomatoes, it should be around 140º F.  This prevents cracking of the jars as you introduce hot liquid to them.
  • The water in your pot should be an inch or two above the top of the canning jar. A pressure canner should be used according to the manufacturer’s directions to determine the amount of water needed for the type of food you’re making.
  • Add the jars using your tongs or jar lifter into the pot or pressure cooker so they are not touching. Add the lid. For hot water canning, bring the water to a slow boil. This is where you start your timer and process. How long you process is determined by the vegetable or fruit you’re canning and the altitude where you live. The same is true of pressure cooking.
  • Let your jars cool.  Place them on a flat wood or cloth-covered surface to let them cool. They will start to pop while cooling, creating the vacuum seal. Once they have cooled, (usually leave a full 24 hours), press down on the center of your jars to check for proper sealing. Any lids that spring back have not sealed and can be placed in the refrigerator and eaten first.

Now it’s time to store the fruits of your labor until later. Canned food is perfect for those long winter months to break up the winter squash and root vegetable monotony. Do you can food?

 

Photos by Shaina Olmanson

 

As summer wanes it’s time to start thinking of what we’re going to do with all the produce that comes from the garden, but not only the garden. While I’ve explained why I choose to garden and expose my kids to it, you may not have the time, space or the ability to tend your own garden. Food preservation – canning, freezing and drying food – is for you as well. The farmers market is a wonderful place to stock up on fresh and local produce while it’s in season.

Why Preserve the Harvest?

*Preserving saves you money. Buying produce in season is always cheaper than buying produce that’s been shipped in from somewhere else. You can take advantage of low prices now by stocking up, canning and preserving fresh produce for use in sauces, casseroles and stews during the winter months.

*It is environmentally friendly. Much less energy is expended growing fruits and vegetables during the local season. Trucks can carry produce to local markets, rather than shipping them from different hemispheres.

*Preserving cuts down on waste. I grew up with a very frugal family, and we were always taught not to waste. In a day and age where so many people are hungry and looking for food, I feel that it is a social responsibility to make sure I’m using all the food I have available to me.  Letting my tomatoes rot because I couldn’t eat them fast enough just isn’t an option for my family.

*It’s fresher and tastes better.  Using produce that’s at the peak of freshness always tastes better than produce that’s been picked before it is ripe and then ripened using ethylene gas. Canning and freezing your food preserves it at the freshest point.

*No BPA.  So many companies still line their canned products with BPA. Canning in jars at home ensures you know exactly what you put in the jar, not only the salt content and extra ingredients, but also the lack of chemicals and byproducts.

Do you preserve food in the summer and fall for the winter?  What are your favorite canning recipes?

 

Photos by Shaina Olmanson

 

There’s nothing more synonymous with summer than sweet corn. It has become an essential part of any summertime cook out. We love to eat it and we love to grow it. At Cascadian Farm we grow our sweet corn organically. Which means we don’t use any synthetic pesticides or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), making it good for you and for the land.

Yes, organic sweet corn tastes delicious, but it also has many great health benefits that you should take note of. It’s a good source of many nutrients including thiamin (vitamin B1), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folate, dietary fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus and manganese.

Aside from eating sweet corn right off the cob, there are many great recipes to incorporate it into your diet. Here are some of our favorites. Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato- Corn Chowder

Corn and Black Bean Salad

Creamy Corn and Broccoli Chowder

Hello Friends! We’ve been extremely busy on the farm lately as we’re in the middle of our blueberry harvest. It’s an exciting time for us because we get to see all of our hard work pay off with plump, juicy berries ready to be picked.

With all the excitement surrounding the blueberry harvest, we figured it would be a great time to do a “Best of Blueberries” post, highlighting some of the blueberry posts that we have done over the last year. So here it is, the best of. Enjoy!

Farmer Jim's Organic Advice- Farmer Jim let's you in on his secret to growing such delicious organic blueberries.

Behind The Crop: The Blueberry- Take a look at all the great health benefits of blueberries and why they are referred to as a "super food". You’ll also find some amazing blueberry recipes.

Vanilla Blueberry Almond Bread- Kari Burks shares a wonderful recipe inspired by her favorite, Vanilla Blueberry Almond Pancakes. Thanks Kari!

DSC_0188 by New Amsterdam Market.

The best way to find fresh, local and organic foods that are healthy and delicious is by utilizing your local farmer's market. You can find a lot more than just fruits and vegetables at your local farmer's market too. You can find handmade personal care products, handcrafted items for your home, organic honey, bread, cheese, eggs, milk, meats, wine and even handmade apparel and jewelry. Here are my 6 tips for making the most out of your trip to the farmer's market and getting a great deal while you are there.

 DSC_0215 by New Amsterdam Market.

1- Go Local: Find a local farmer's market that is close to you at Local Harvest. Local Harvest is a great website because once you find a farmer's market in your area, you can find out more about the farmer's and vendor's that you will find there. Sometimes, the farmer's market will have it's own website where you can find out more about the local vendors and products that they provide.

2- Get Planning: Before you head out to the farmer's market for the day, make a meal plan. There are several questions that you should ask yourself when making your meal plan. Do you know what fruits and vegetables are in season? What meals can you make using these ingredients? How much will you need? You will want some flexibility however, since the farmer's market may not have all of the fresh ingredients that you will need.

Orderly by Sweet.Eventide.

3- Come Prepared: Hitting the farmer's market first thing in the morning is when you will have the best selection. Just remember that once the sun in high in the sky, it may get hot. Remember to pack your sunscreen, sunglasses and hat to protect your body from the sun. Also, don't forget to bring your reusable bags or a large basket to carry all of your goodies home in and small bills to pay for your purchases. If you are looking for a great deal, visit the farmer's market much later in the day.

Laurie Walter @ Applooza '08 by Lawrence Farmers' Market.

4- Ask Questions: One of the best things about a farmer's market, that you will never get at the grocery store, is the ability to interact with the farmer directly. Do you want to know more about the farm where the products are produced? Are you wondering how to use an ingredient that you aren't familiar with? Do you want to know if the products are organic? Just ask, you can learn a lot by asking just a few simple questions. You may learn that even though the products aren't labelled organic, doesn't mean that they are a member of the dirty dozen. Many small farmer's can not afford the organic certification, so their products may be organic, but not labeled as such.

DSC_0217 by New Amsterdam Market.

5- Shop Around: Your local farmer's market may have several vendors that sell the same or similar products. Shopping around to view what quality, price and quantity of the products that you are looking for can save you money. Once you find a vendor that you enjoy and create a relationship with, you may save even more money, since the farmer will remember you and is more likely to give you a discount.

Aneka Rasa House Salad 2.17.07 by Nodame.

6-Try Something New: While shopping at your local farmer's market, you will probably encounter fruits and vegetables that are unfamiliar to you. Give these new foods a try, you may just find that you really love jicama, cherimoyas or Chayote Squash.

What tips to do use to make the most of your farmer's market experience? Leave your comments below!

Photo Credits:

Bags Photo: Orderly

Jicama Photo: Nodame

All Other Photos: New Amsterdam Market

What is your biggest weight loss/weight maintenance challenge?

Mine is stopping eating when it tastes too good! I can often resist until it touches my tongue. But then I am gone!

I find it so hard to hit the bottom of the bowl, to take the last bite. So, if I am at home with “more” available, it takes all I can do to not indulge in second and thirds and fourths...

I have eaten a third of a tub of ice cream in the wee hours of the night! (Oh yes – late night eating is when I am at my most vulnerable.)

Here are five ways to battle back when you want to dig back in:

1. Put away the container/left-overs away and refuse to go back. After serving your first, reasonably sized helping, return the tub of ice cream to the freezer and place the scooper in the dishwasher, close the cookie tin and shut the cupboard door, or scoop the leftovers into a container and put it out of sight if it is still too hot to go in the fridge.

2. Have a glass of water with a splash of lemon to clear your palate with a refreshing taste. It feels like a treat and will help you move on instead of going back.

3. Brush your teeth! A sure fire way to get you out of “eating mode” is to brush your teeth. Your teeth feel minty clean and you can focus on something other than that delicious, tempting flavour that was lingering in your mouth.

4. Get moving! Go for a walk. Get up and dance with your kids. Getting outside, or even active inside, will not only help you metabolize your meal, it will get your mind off food.

5. If all else fails, have an apple. If you really feel an urge to keep eating and your teeth just need to chomp on something, grab an apple and enjoy the sweet, refreshing crunch.

Sweet, tart and tasty, there’s nothing quite like raspberries. That’s why we love growing them at Cascadian Farm. They are such an interesting fruit, as they’re one of only a few in which we consume their seeds. As a matter of fact, those little seeds are very high in vitamin E. Not to mention, the rest of the fruit is high in fiber and contains vitamin A, folate, antioxidants, and numerous minerals. We love it when foods are both delicious and nutritious. And that’s why raspberries are such a great fruit to incorporate into your diet.

Here are some of our favorite raspberry recipes.(click on the photo to see the recipe) If you have a tasty raspberry recipe that you would like to share, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave your recipe in the comments section below.

Grilled Chicken and Raspberry Salad

Raspberry Granola Bars

Raspberry-Ginger Cider

We can sure tell summer is approaching as we’re beginning to see our organic strawberry plants flowering in our fields. It’s truly remarkable to see the fruit turn from a faint green to a vibrant red right before our eyes. Nature sure is a beautiful thing. We don't quite have any berries ready for picking yet, but soon we hope you'll come see us at the farm and pick your own strawberries!

Aside from being beautiful and delicious, strawberries also have many great health benefits.

• Excellent source of vitamin C

• High in dietary fiber

• Good source of potassium

• High in omega-3 fatty acids

Here are some delicious strawberries recipes for you to try that are the perfect way to welcome summer! Click on the photo to get the recipe.

Sparkling Strawberry-Lemonade Slush

Strawberry Shortcakes

Spa Smoothies

Do you have any delicious strawberry recipes to share?

 

Hi Cascadian Farm fans! You overwhelmed us with such great questions last week! Jim is very busy this time of year, but he's going to take some time to answer a few of your questions each week for the next month.

Q: The first question came from Susan - who asked: "Does organic mean it's not GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms)?"

A: Yes! Certified organic means that GMO crops have not been used. The USDA organic standards board does not allow for any GMO crops to be used in organic agriculture. A farmer using GMO seeds would not be able to use the USDA certified organic seal.

Q: Alice said: "I need some suggestions on feeding your plants organically!!!"

A: Alice, we have a saying in organic farming "Feed the soil, so it can feed the plants." Conventional farming uses water soluble fertilizers which are quickly absorbed by the plants (almost like an IV drip of fertilizers).  Organic farming focuses on adding rich organic matter to the soil, so that the various microbes and chemical processes in the soil food web can convert them to available plant nutrients over time. Here are a few ways to add nutrients in the soil:

 

  • Crop rotation: Don't plant the same plants in the same places every year. Different plants pull different nutrients from the soil - so changing up your plants will make sure you're not depleting the same nutrients over and over again.
  • Cover crops and green manures can be grown in the soil as part of the rotation and/or in the winter to reduce erosion, and then tilled or dug into the soil about a week or two prior to planting.
  • Compost: try saving your grass clippings, leaves, and organic waste in a compost pile. You can mix this in with your garden soil each spring to feed the soil food web.  Many municipalities are developing green waste composting programs that take lawn clippings and tree trimmings and turn them into garden compost.  Check out what is available in your area.
  • Mulch: you could add a layer of mulch (at the farm, we cover our blueberry plants with sawdust!) to your garden each year. This will not only help prevent weeds, but last year's mulch, can decompose and feed the soil for this year's plants!  This works best with perennial plants.
  • There are several organic blended fertilizers, both granular and liquid that can be used.  These are generally based on one or a variety of organic “waste” products like scraps from fish and poultry processing.  Check the internet and local resources to find what is available in your area.

Q: Michelle asked how she can keep weeds at bay in her organic garden, without using synthetic chemicals or herbicides. We got Jim on camera to answer this question:

Thanks for all of your questions! There are a lot of them, but Jim will do his best to share his insights with all of you as he has time.

At Cascadian Farm we take pride in knowing that we not only provide you and your family with the best organic foods, but that we also provide you with knowledge about the benefits of organic foods. If you’ve ever been to our farm, you may have taken the farm tour. The purpose of the tour is not only to explore the farm, but also to teach people about organic farming. It’s important to have an understanding of what makes organic foods different than conventionally grown foods when you’re deciding what to feed your family.

So, this week we want you to ask any burning questions you have about anything to do with organic farming and/or organic foods. We will then choose some of your questions and ask Farmer Jim himself to answer. Next week, we will post his answers. This is your chance to ask a real organic farmer anything you’ve ever wanted to know about organic. Ask away…

Spring into summer is such an exciting time at your local farmers’ market. Fruits and veggies are plentiful and if you’re like me you often find yourself bringing home way more than you can possibly eat in a few days. I’m ashamed to say that I am guilty of throwing out (sometimes indistinguishable) greens left in the crisper drawer of my fridge. Which, by the way, is a great reason to start your own garden – you can simply pick the veggies as you are ready to eat them. But since most of us still don’t have the space to grow every fruit and veggie we like to eat, it’s best to know the proper way to store all that great spring produce.

Here are a few tips for storing some of my favorite spring veggies:

  • The quintessential spring veggie, asparagus, should be kept in a plastic bag with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel. It is best eaten within 3-5 days.
  • Lettuces should be kept unwashed in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer; excess moisture on the leaves can promote bacteria. Keep away from apples or pears which emit a gas that can brown leaves (they also cause other veggies to ripen faster).
  • Artichokes last a week or so, in a plastic bag in the fridge. If the leaves start to open up us as soon as possible.
  • My personal favorite, green beans, stay crisp and fresh refrigerated in an airtight container.

While most vegetables keep best in low temperatures and high humidity (like in the crisper drawer), tomatoes actually lose flavor in the refrigerator. They are best kept in an aerated basket on the counter.

Check out this neat tool I found on Real Simple: The “What’s in Season” tool is not only a great visual of what it in season for spring, summer, etc. it also provides tips for selecting, storing and even preparing those fruits and veggies.

 

Ahh the tomato... or is it tomah-to. Well, tomato, tomah-to. Regardless of how you choose to pronounce it, this wonderful crop has so many great benefits. Not to mention, they taste good on about anything. And with organically grown tomatoes, like the ones we grow on our farm, you won’t have to worry about any pesticides or other chemicals being used to grow them.

Here are some of the great vitamins and nutrients found in tomatoes:


•    Contain high levels of Lycopene, which is a vital anti-oxidant.

•    Great source of Vitamin C.

•    Contains beta-carotene (did you think that was only found in carrots?)

•    Great source of potassium.

As you can see, tomatoes are quite the crop and they can play a great roll in a healthy, balanced diet. That’s why we plant lots of them on our farm. And now that spring is here, we can't wait to enjoy this delicious fruit…or is it a vegetable?  Tomato, tomah-to. Have a great week everyone!

Here are a few delicious recipes for you to try that incorporate organic tomatoes.  And as always, if you happen to have a great recipe you'd like to share, leave it in the comment box below or post it on our facebook page.

Green Beans with Tomatoes and Feta

 

Vegetarian Chili

 

Roasted Tomato-Corn Chowder with Cilantro Pesto

 

What's not to love about blueberries? At Cascadian Farm, we love blueberries so much, we grow five different varieties (Spartan, Toro, Bluecrop, Jersey and Patriot)! Each variety has it's own unique taste, but one thing's for sure, they're all delicious. Aside from taste, blueberries are one of the most health-rewarding fruits that we can eat. It's no wonder they're commonly referred to as a "super food".


Let's take a look at all the benefits of eating this amazing fruit:

  • Packed with antioxidants that reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and the effects of aging.
  • Boost urinary tract health, protecting from infection
  • Help transport energy to your brain, stimulating the communication between brain cells
  • Known to improve eyesight
  • Excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and fiber
  • Help reduce gastrointestinal tract inflammation
  • Low in calories
  • Fat-free

As you can see, there's no wonder we all shouldn't be eating more blueberries, especially organic blueberries, like the ones we grow, without the use of pesticides. They taste good and they're good for our health!


Aside from just popping them in your mouth, there are many great ways to incorporate blueberries into your diet. Here are a couple of wonderful blueberry recipes to share with your family (click the image to see the full recipe). And if you happen to have a great recipe you'd like to share, leave it in the comment box below or post it on our facebook page.

 

Country Blueberry Dessert

 

Blueberry Smoothies

 

Whole Wheat- Blueberry Muffins

 

 

Last week, Kari shared a post about 12 of the most important fruits and vegetables to buy organic. This comes from the Environmental Working Group's list of the worst offenders (it's been dubbed the "Dirty Dozen" as far as pesticides and other chemicals that end up in our food.

This is helpful so that we can make smart shopping choices and avoid putting unnatural chemicals in our bodies. Several of you made great comments on Facebook about why you buy organic for your health:

Kathi writes:

"People are amazed that on my limited budget I insist on organic - but it is an investment in my family's health. You either pay for it now or later in my opinion. I'd rather pay upfront for better food rather than later in medical costs."

Dyan from Miami says:

"My body is not a discount body. I will buy organic whenever I can get it."


We couldn't agree more. The concern for our health and the health of our children is an important factor leading people to choose to look for that organic logo above. But it's not the only motivator. Lisa points out:

"There'also the larger picture to consider here - not just what I'm putting into my body, but what I'm supporting, through my purchases, others in putting into the environment. I may be the only me, but there are billions of humans sharing only one planet Earth."

Well said Lisa! This really has been a major (some would say the major) reason behind the organic movement going back to the 1970s with guys like Gene Kahn trying to figure out how to [drive a tractor and] grow food in a way that works with our natural ecosystems - not against them.

If you're new here, here are is some further reading on why Cascadian Farm cares about organics:

Why Should You Care Abou Organic Farming?

Organic vs. Natural

Controlling Bugs Naturally: Organic Pest Controll

We all know eating a diet filled with fruits and vegetables is essential to good health. But many people are still not convinced that organic is worth the extra price. It's important to realize that chemical residue from non-organic foods can accumulate over time in our fatty tissue and effect our immune and endocrine systems - scary. Since organic foods (the green and white USDA organic label assures it is 95-100% organic) are produced without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, all you get is the nutritional benefit and great taste. That being said, with organic produce typically costing 15% more than conventional, price is still a real issue for many families. That's why I wanted to find out which fruits and veggies are critical to buy organic. According to the Environmental Working Group, the twelve non-organic fruits and vegetables below consistently contain higher levels of pesticide residue (even after washing) than others.

Highest Pesticide Residue

  1. Strawberries
  2. Bell Peppers (green and red)
  3. Spinach
  4. Cherries
  5. Peaches
  6. Cantaloupe (Mexico)
  7. Celery
  8. Apples
  9. Apricots
  10. Green Beans
  11. Grapes (Chilean)
  12. Cucumbers

This is one important question that I posed to many of the people working at Cascadian Farm during my time in Washington State. And, in general, I feel like this is a great entry question to ask when starting to consider organic products.

What does organic mean? Is organic actually better than natural? If so, why? Craig Weakley was the man who answered all these questions (and many, many more) about the meaning of organic. Craig is the Director of Agriculture and Sustainability at Cascadian Farm, a fellow blogger and is extremely well versed in the ways of organic. Take a look below and see what he has to say about the organic vs. natural conversation.In the end, I hope you find that a topic that may have seemed clear as mud is actually pretty simple to understand.

 

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