Farming Matters – FEB 15, 2021


A Great Big Family of Health Nuts!

This is my first Farming Matter’s blog of 2021.  I apologize for being absent so long but … COVID.  We’ve done OK this past year and are proud of how well Yellow Stonehouse Farm dealt with the pandemic – implementing distancing and sanitation protocols, adding washing stations and then, silver lining, getting to know all the many new CSA members who joined our farm.  It’s been challenging but rewarding and an unexpected joy to welcome so many new families and children as they discover the delights of Yellow Stonehouse Farm. 

Rather than rehash the past, let’s explore the thing that’s obliterated all other issues for me:  Health. Humanity spent an entire year as a planet focusing on it.  We’ve all learned that health is at the core of it all.  We all need to be healthy; we want our loved ones to be healthy, families & friends included and we are willing to do what has to be done to keep ourselves healthy!  Plus – we’ve learned that a lot of us are willing to sacrifice, inconvenience ourselves, consider others, try new things and collaborate to be healthy.  We’ve become a great big human family of health nuts!

This is great news – for me the organic farmer and the budding herbalist, the healthy chef and owner of a vibrant and growing organic farm, and also the environmentalist, citizen, and aspiring humanitarian.

My experience has been most of us don’t think about our health until it’s threatened or we find ourselves unhealthy.  And for many of us, the unhealthy habits we are practicing, often for convenience alone – don’t have an immediate impact, so we ignore it.  This is unfortunate, because negative health impacts are cumulative and create the real life experience of the boiling frog – we persevere in unhealthy behavior in an increasingly toxic environment until it boils over and we die from it.  This is the cause of so many of our lifestyle diseases – diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease worsened by environmental stressors such as air & water pollution, plastics, toxic chemicals, industrial and processed food.  The cumulative effects push many of us into poor health, but so gradually that until we hit a crisis, we find them easy to ignore.

But during COVID, we experienced a health crisis that didn’t make most of us sick (though the numbers infected are atrocious), yet many of us made immediate and wise decisions proactively to change our lives to protect our health.  We interrupted our lives, WOW – amazing – before we were sick to stay HEALTHY.  Let’s do it some more!!!

Let’s make positive life-style changes that keep us healthy but will also address some of the dangerous health threats that are harder to see.  Lets:

  1. Eat more vegetables and grains to balance our diet and help maintain our weight and blood sugar.  Join a CSA, become a vegetarian or eat a meatless meal once or twice a week, avoid processed food, additives and industrially produced animal products.
  2. Go a step further and eliminate the pesticides and herbicides that impact the quality of the food we eat and kill off pollinators and other beneficial insects, soil microbes, wild plants, birds and amphibians.  Eat organically, reduce plastic use, recycle, don’t use herbicides or pesticides at home.
  3. Exercise – walk, hike, play a sport, garden, do yoga, whatever gets you moving.
  4. Work with, advocate and convince Industry that toxic, cancer causing, endocrine interrupting chemicals are bad for all of us and that it’s better to reduce profits than sacrifice health.
  5. Reduce our carbon footprint – support local farms, drive less, reduce petroleum consumption, install solar, walk more.  Recycle, reduce plastic use, support a carbon tax,
  6. Protect our water – clean water is becoming more precious and scarce.  Rather than ignore the long-term damage we are causing by careless regulation, excessive extraction, inefficient usage – often for short term financial gain – let’s treat it like the scare resource it is.  Maintain open space, parks and forests, irrigate using drip, water at night, don’t buy water in plastic bottles, lobby your local government to keep your town green and preserve the environment.
  7. Protect our air – so many industries and careless developers allow pollutants that seep into the air, increasing greenhouse gases, and exacerbate the warming of the planet.  Support climate change mitigation, maintain forests and farmland, reduce impervious surfaces that increase the concentration of pollutants in run-off.

The idealistic environmentalist is writing this now, but the pragmatist in me has seen what we can do if we understand threats to our health.  The entire world, the planet, needs to be healthy if humanity is to be healthy.  Let’s all work together to make it so.

Being a Locavore in 2018

As we enjoy yet another snowstorm this winter of 2018, thoughts of Spring are starting to sneak into my mind.  It started when I noticed it was still light outside as I started dinner the other night, and then I noticed that the sun was up when the alarm went off this morning.

I must admit I like winter. I am an active hibernater. I like dressing in cozy layers, soft sweaters and wide wale corduroys. I like how clean everything on the farm looks when it is blanketed in a layer of pristine white snow and I just love the hearty stews, soups and roasts centered on the hearty root vegetables and brassicas available to us locavores.

Being a locavore – someone who eats what is locally grown and in season — is mandatory for us.  As owners of Yellow Stonehouse Farm, John and I must “walk the talk”.  After all – we expect our CSA members to eat what we grow when it’s harvested, or in the case of our Winter Share, when we distribute from winter storage. So of course, we do the same. Thankfully, it’s a pleasure because these vegetables are the basis for the warm and comforting dishes we love to eat when its’ cold and blustery outside.  As I write this, I have a delicious stew of veal, onions and carrots simmering away for dinner tonight.

I enjoy knowing we are eating vegetables that are grown locally, organically and are good for us because these are the vegetables that are meant to sustain us during the cold times – as our ancestors did back before commercial growers starting shipping vegetables around the globe.  I think it’s healthier to eat what’s available to us based on the calendar – during winter, we eat carrots and potatoes, turnips and Brussel sprouts which contain the nutrients we need now to stay healthy.

Eating healthy foods, specifically vegetables, is one way to maintain our health and well-being.  Processed food have so many chemicals, additives, salt and sugar that they aren’t healthy for us. We’re not vegetarians but we eat lots of fresh produce and strive to make sure that at least two thirds of every plate are vegetables or fruit.  How?  Well, by adding vegetables to sandwiches, eggs and other dishes, and it’s easy to cook extra’s to add cold later to a salad.  I also harvest and dry herbs to make herb mixtures to add to recipes and even a healthy salt free salad dressing mix for homemade salad dressings.  All of these spice mixes and salad dressing mixes are offered to our CSA members so they can experiment as well.

Sharing recipes and ideas on how to cook the many vegetables we offer CSA members is an integral part of what we do at Yellow Stonehouse Farm.  We know many of our members aren’t familiar with some of our produce, so we provide them the help they need to take full delicious advantage of their farm-share.

But still, we entertain ourselves with thoughts of Spring and what we are going to grow next season. Reading seed catalogs is fun – we peruse seed catalogs and learn about new varieties of vegetables to offer our 2018 CSA members.  We look for new varieties that offer different colors and tastes as well as new hybrids that are bred to be more drought pest, and disease resistant – so that we can continue our organic practices of avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides and continue to offer the highest quality organic fruits and vegetables to our CSA members.  Just a reminder – membership applications for Yellow Stonehouse Farm’s CSA 2018 Summer share are now available.