"Turn Over A New Leaf" This New Year

BY MARIN LISSY

Farmer Foodshare welcomes a new blogger: Marin Lissy loves to cook with her family and friends, and enjoys sharing delicious healthy recipes. When she's not balancing sixth grade academic activities, Marin enjoys reading, playing guitar, biking, and spending time outdoors.

Every New Year, millions of people create a resolution that they will try to keep as they start the new year. Maybe you want to eat healthier, lose some weight, or be more healthful in general. It can be difficult to know where to begin. My suggestion?  Take one step at a time. Start by “turning over a new leaf” by trying a new leafy green on your trek to become a healthier person!

Why all the commotion over kale? Most people think it’s just an over-rated vegetable that everybody raves about, so they don’t even think to try it. But after you hear what its got to offer, you’re going to find it hard to resist from jumping on the bandwagon yourself. First of all, it helps you lose weight. You end up getting full on fiber, vitamins, minerals, and vegetable protein instead of carbs, fat, and sugar. Kale can also keep you (and your brain) like a genius around the clock. How? A cup of kale is made up of 27% manganese, a mineral that serves as brain food. Without it, we would feel droopy and sleepy all day. Worried that you’ll get sick of it? Here’s a link to 99 different healthy recipes that all include kale.

If someone told you that that the collard greens you were eating with your barbecue were just as healthy as the spinach you were dieting on (and getting sick of), you’d probably run out of your house with a mouthful of barbecue screaming (a muffled) ‘Eureka! I have found it!’ like Archimedes. This relatively ignored Southern staple can help lower your blood sugar, reduce the risk of cancer, and keep you from gaining weight. So now you’re probably wondering why you’ve never explored this neck of the woods. To cook collard greens, you typically boil them for about an hour with smoked meat, such as bacon or ham. The meat provides a salt and flavor to the broth that the collard greens are in. You have to be careful with your recipes, since it’s (surprisingly) easy to chose something that can have too much fat/salt in it. A bad recipe can keep you from being able to “count” the collard greens, because the health benefits were counterbalanced with unhealthy aspects.

Egyptian, Turkish, Grecian, and other Mediterranean cuisines are all common places where you might find Swiss chard. This leafy green is also known as spinach beet, silverbeet, perpetual spinach, crab beet, and mangold. Chard has around 600% of your daily minerals/vitamins. Kale’s cousin fights cancer, improves heart health, prevents diabetes, strengthens your bones, and maintains brain, muscle, and nerve function. It also helps raise your metabolism and get rid of belly fat. Furthermore, the superfood is easy to cook, and its colorful stems make an elegant dish. Young Swiss chard is typically put raw in salads (since it’s milder in flavor), while more mature leaves are cooked (cooking them extracts most of the bitter flavor). Make sure to use leaves that are a deep green and with little discoloring.

All of these healthy greens are “new leaves” to consider turning over as you start this new year. Don’t forget to stay in good health as you make your way through 2017. Good luck to all of you New Years Resolutioner’s out there!

 

Helping Others

BY MARIN LISSY

Farmer Foodshare welcomes a new blogger: Marin Lissy loves to cook with her family and friends, and enjoys sharing delicious healthy recipes. When she's not balancing sixth grade academic activities, Marin enjoys reading, playing guitar, biking, and spending time outdoors.

 

In December, peoples’ minds aren’t far from the thought of charity, and giving. I always love reading stories about valiant people who go to great odds to help the least of us. Here are a few inspiring stories.

Even small acts of kindness are contagious. This can start in the most unexpected places, including a coffee shop drive-thru line. People occasionally buy the drink of the stranger behind them. Often this is a catalyst for a chain reaction where everyone in line is buying a drink for the person behind them.

During the summer of 2014, in Canada, specific customers were invited to test a new ATM model. Little did these people know that this ATM was not an automated teller machine! It was an automated thanking machine. A single mother was granted some gifts that she couldn’t believe. After receiving $1,000 checks for each of her children, as well as a family pass to Disneyland, the mom was touched and near tears. A lucky Toronto Blue Jays fan was gifted with his favorite team’s attire, and got any baseball fan’s ultimate dream:  he was invited to throw the first pitch at a home game!

Giving food is another generosity, and even better, fresh food! In 2008, when Charlotte resident, Robin Emmons, discovered that 72,000 people in her community lack fresh fruits and vegetables in their everyday diet, she went to work. Emmons turned her entire backyard into a garden so she could distribute fresh produce to people who needed it. She has grown over 26,000 pounds of fruit since she started. Locally, Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s HOPE Gardens provides a learning experience for college and highschool students to serve their community and learn life skills. If you don’t want to rip up your entire backyard, you can start your own mini garden, or even rent a plot at a local community garden. 

These examples of charity are a motivation to all of us to help others. How can you help organizations in your community?  Donations are always a great way to help. Consider doubling up on your non-perishable foods to give to a local food bank. Non-profit foundations benefit from monetary contributions that assist them in continuing their service to the community. In the Triangle, there are multiple hard-working organizations such as Farmer Foodshare that serve the community in countless ways. And, it makes you feel good, too. Don’t forget to do your part, and keep them on your holiday giving list!

Four Foods You've Probably Never Tried Before

BY MARIN LISSY

Farmer Foodshare welcomes a new blogger: Marin Lissy loves to cook with her family and friends, and enjoys sharing delicious healthy recipes. When she's not balancing sixth grade academic activities, Marin enjoys reading, playing guitar, biking, and spending time outdoors.

There are some really strange foods out there. Sometimes it is something like deep fried Oreos, or a new weird ingredient that your mom likes to use as an herb in her tea. Here are a couple foods that might surprise you.

Big coffee fan? Replace your morning staple with a cup of something slightly healthier : Pu-erh tea. A cup of it can enclose anywhere from 30-70 milligrams of caffeine. This fermented beverage is produced in China, and is named after Pu’er, a Chinese city. Still the “poetic” name doesn’t tell you much about the actual tea. Green and black leaves are both used to brew the tea, so there is a little bit of variety.

Grapefruit is infamous for its revoltingly bitter taste, but have you heard of its cousin, Pomelo? Pomelo is a grapefruit in disguise. Instead of having grapefruit’s orange-red skin color, it has more of a yellow-green tinge. It is native to south/south-east Asia. It is packed with many healthy benefits, including vitamins B and C, as well as potassium.

Dried Hibiscus

Dried Hibiscus

The hibiscus flower is worldly known for its beauty and elegance. The flower also has other pluses, including the fact that parts of it can be dried. Dried hibiscus, as you probably know, is used in tea. It can also be used as food coloring, a garnish on a dish, and can be even put in a cocktail! The dried flower is popular with dieters, and helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure regulation.

Celeriac is probably one of the weirdest looking vegetables. It is in the celery family, and is often known as celery root. It looks nothing like its relative, but tastes very similar. So overall, celeriac and celery are not the same thing. Celeriac embodies many minerals and nutrients, including vitamins B and K, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.

These four are just a few of the random foods that are out there. Many more exist, and a little effort can get you to a website or recipe link to learn more about these and other crazy foods!

What's In Season?

BY MARIN LISSY

Farmer Foodshare welcomes a new blogger: Marin Lissy loves to cook with her family and friends, and enjoys sharing delicious healthy recipes. When she's not balancing sixth grade academic activities, Marin enjoys reading, playing guitar, biking, and spending time outdoors.

In autumn, apples, pumpkins and gourds are widely known as “typical” fall foods. Just about everyone is used to seeing pumpkin-flavored this and that in stores. Many like to stay on “safe” by preparing dishes with these “typical” foods. Personally, I like to venture out and try other fruits and vegetables that are in season.

Carrots are a classic root vegetable. They are famous for their traditional orange color, but also can be yellow and purple! The vegetable is rich in vitamins A, C, and K. Carrots are loaded with powerful antioxidants that can fight off cancers and many diseases, including heart disease. Liver protection, good eyesight, and brain health are all ensured when carrots enter a daily diet. Carrots can be cut and served raw as a snack with a dip, or can be cooked into soups and stews.


Cauliflower belongs to the cruciferous family. It has is similar in looks and texture to its green cousin, broccoli, but you can create a whole different flavor from it! Cauliflower has amazing health benefits. The vegetable can boost your brain and heart health, fight cancer, and provide antioxidants. To cook the cauliflower, put it in a large pot, and bring it to a boil. Then, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5-7 minutes until it is soft. I love to add cheese on top of my cauliflower while it is still warm, so it melts and provides flavor. A lot of kids are into this as well, and it may be a way to make vegetable eating “enjoyable” for your children. Who knows?

In 2015, brussel sprouts were voted one of the world's’ least favorite foods. And yet, they are my go-to vegetable. Although notoriously smelly, these “tiny cabbages” are considered a superfood. They can singlehandedly lower your risk of cancer, support heart health, and are rich in vitamins B, C, and K1, potassium,manganese, and fiber. To roast them, simply put them on a baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, and season them with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and roast them for 25-40 minutes. Make sure to stir them every 5-6 minutes to avoid excessive browning.


There are many more vegetables that are currently in season.  They are easy to look up, or simply stop by your local farmer’s market. With such a variety of foods available, keep up the healthy eating habits this fall!

The Big Question: After School Snacks

By : Marin Lissy

Farmer Foodshare welcomes a new blogger: Marin Lissy loves to cook with her family and friends, and enjoys sharing delicious healthy recipes. She recently won an essay contest sponsored by the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties to improve access to healthy foods. When she's not balancing sixth grade academic activities, Marin enjoys reading, playing guitar, biking, and spending time outdoors.

How many times do your children come home from school demanding a snack? How often do you want to pull out a bag of chips or crackers? This is an obstacle faced by many parents -- putting out healthy after school snacks. There are a couple of solutions to this challenge.

Ever have time on the weekend? Sunday nights are a great time to make snacks for the upcoming week. Homemade kale chips, hummus with vegetables, and roasted seasonal vegetables are a few make-ahead’s. Most of these do not even require a recipe--you just have to cut up some vegetables, season them with salt and pepper, and stick them in a 425 degree oven on a cookie sheet for 15 to 20 minutes. It also doesn’t take much effort to google some recipes, even if it isn’t the most creative thing in the world.

Even on the first days of fall, it can feel as hot as summertime. How can you quench your children’s thirst? Smoothies! They are a good way to “camouflage” vegetables that you want your children to eat. It may be subversive, but it works!  Smoothies can not only be milk/yogurt-based, but may also include leafy greens such as spinach or kale. You can incorporate protein (vegan milks, protein powder, etc), or non-fat ingredients into your smoothies to make them even more healthy and tasty. Never stop experimenting with different fruits or vegetables to change flavors and textures!

Looking for a snack with little preparation that could become a favorite of your children?  Go for something simple -- peanut butter balls packed with dried fruit and oats, fruit kabobs, or roasted sweet potato fries. Click here for a link to one of my favorites. http://www.thehealthymaven.com/2015/08/no-bake-oatmeal-protein-energy-balls.html. For me, cutting up a raw fruit or vegetable, and arranging it creatively on a plate is a simple strategy to make food appealing. Doing this decreases effort, so you can get to your favorite part--eating it! This has been one of my mother’s tricks, and it still works on me today!

Don’t forget about these tips, because at one time or another, they will come in handy.

 

Daddy! Daddy! I've got salad!

Mention Farmer Foodshare to Kimmie Champitto, Assistant Director at Johnson Pond Learning Center in Fuquay-Varina, and she breaks into a brilliant smile.  “I was so glad that Wake County Smart Start’s Farm to Child Care connected us to Farmer Foodshare! Such good things have come from that connection!"

“Picture a 3-year-old running down the hall toward her Dad waving a Ziploc bag and shouting, ‘Daddy! Daddy I’ve got salad!’ That’s the difference Farmer Foodshare has made here.”

Along with many other responsibilities, Kimmie is charged with balancing budgets while meeting dietary requirements and still planning menus that kids will not only eat, but also enjoy. She succeeds!

Kimmie has recipes that make little boys say, “Oh, boy! Leaves!” 

Fresh food is changing lives. One mom told Kimmie that after she let her veggie-resistant son pick out some fruit at the mini-farmer’s market after school in the lobby of Johnson Pond Learning Center, he told her about a dish they had eaten with green peppers. Eager to build on this new appetite, Mom bought two peppers and started home. The produce was in the back seat with her son. Halfway home, she glanced in the rear view mirror to see her son chomping on the pepper as if it was an apple. She called Kimmie to say, “Thank you!”

Another mom reported that her older child had gone to a different preschool and had grown used to “kid-friendly” foods: pizza, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, and hot dogs. Those became his comfort foods. Her children at Johnson Pond love ‘leaves’ and welcome new fresh veggies, - expecting them to be yummy.  She was also very glad that the younger children were so much less ‘picky’ than the older child had become, and were always willing to try new foods.

How does Kimmie make this magic? She has been an enthusiastic supporter of Farmer Foodshare’s POP Market (Pennies on the Pound). Farmer Foodshare’s supporters make it possible for Farmer Foodshare to offer Johnson Pond a wholesale market that gives small – mid-scale farmers a fair price, and still keep the markup small enough that fresh, local, healthy produce is a reasonable choice for institutions on budgets. 

It's Personal

Rachel Kulberg is owner of Floppy Hat Farms, please visit her website at: http://floppyhatfarms.com/

Rachel Kulberg was a former research scientist at home in a lab coat, at home with a microscope, when her beloved father was diagnosed with cancer. Her focus changed entirely. That fine, scientific mind turned to trying to understand how to lengthen his survival. This was personal. 

Her intense study led her to understand that there is a clear link between diet and cancer which drove her to explore how to grow nutritionally rich food. Today, Rachel is a farmer practicing both aquaponics and soil-based farming using sustainable and organic cultivating methods. She understands that healthy ecosystems eventually lead to healthy communities and healthy people.

She also understands economics. Beginning farmers don’t receive the subsidies that factory farms do. Pesticide-free food grown in good soil with clean water is expensive. That means farmers have to make hard choices. Rachel is keenly aware of the importance of local, nutrition-rich food. Rachel wants that for everyone – not just the economically advantaged. She also knows from experience that growing healthy food is expensive, and that farmers have to make a profit to be able to continue.

Enter Farmer Foodshare and our POP Market (Pennies on the Pound.) POP Market’s purpose is to help small to mid-scale farmers, beginning farmers, female farmers, and farmers of color flourish. The POP Market offers advice, connections, and a wholesale market where farmers can make a fair profit, and folks in their own area can have access to fresh, local, healthy produce – even people who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

Our donors make that possible. Our donors help cover the costs and volunteers help us keep overhead low. That is good for all of us: farmers, eaters, and the environment that supports us. Rachel Kulberg knows- It’s personal.

Farmer Foodshare is about people. People like Corly Jones.

Corly Jones is a young mother of four with a gentle nature and a caring heart. She is also the Market Manager at the Eno River Farmer’s Market and one of Farmer Foodshare’s best advocates. 

Corly says, “I got into this because I was a shopper at the Farmers Market, and one day I overheard someone from Farmer Foodshare talking to the market manager at the time about starting a Donation Station. The manager thought the idea was good, but didn’t feel there was the volunteer support to man it. The idea stayed on my mind, and soon I went back to the market and offered to be the volunteer in charge of the Donation Station.”

The Donation Station became a family affair, and as a former teacher, Corly knew the value of learning to care for others at an early age. Her children and their friends and classmates became important members of the Donation Station team.

The Eno River Farmer’s Market is also somewhat unique in that rather than selecting one agency to be the recipient of the food gathered, they worked with the public school’s social worker, who selected 10 – 12 families to benefit from the food.

“These were folks who had real need,” Corly said. “All of these families would walk to the meet up spot in which the social worker would distribute wonderful fresh produce and meat. They walked because they didn’t have transportation. Often they didn’t have shoes. But they went away with lovely fresh, local food that had come from the farmers less than an hour before. “

Corly also knew that learning how to store and prepare this fresh food was essential. So she morphed Farmer Foodshare’s Food Ambassadors into a Kids’ Cooking Club. Everyone was welcome, and mixed in the group were the children whose families were receiving the donated food. These kids learn how to prepare dishes from a real chef. They taste test the dishes, have fun, and at the end, the children most in need were quietly given the extra food and extra ingredients to take home and share with their families.

Corly is our rock, and her kind nature and caring heart ripple out into the community through the children, who are learning the power of being good neighbors.

Davon Goodwin's Story

Davon is only 27 years old, but he has learned a lot in his life. Growing up in Pennsylvania, he was a wrestler. He learned about discipline and about competition. Then he enrolled at UNC- Pembroke. His goal – to be a research scientist. He did well in his classes and as he says, “I was a typical college kid. I had fun. I thought about myself – what I wanted to be; what I wanted to have.” Then he made a decision that would change his life forever.

He decided to take a break for college and do a tour in the army. He was young, strong, smart, and willing to risk his life for his country.  While serving in Afghanistan he did just that. Out on patrol, a bomb exploded under the armored vehicle Davon was in. His life would never be the same.

Davon says, “Everything changed that day. When I woke up in the hospital, I realized I had a second chance at life, and I had to figure out how to make my life count for something. “

Battling continuing memory issues and bouts of narcolepsy, Davon finished college and set out to find a way to give back.

It wasn’t easy, but Davon refused to give up. Then he met the Griffin family. Dr. Neil Griffin had “Fussy Gourmet”, a 500-acre farm that needed a manager. Davon Goodwin needed a chance. It was a match made in heaven.  

Today, Davon farms the 500 areas almost single-handedly. He manages a vineyard with grapes for eating, juice, and wine. He raises goats, hogs, and chickens, lots of hay, and he experiments with other crops. All the while, he thinks about the people in Hoke County where the farm is located. Davon says, “One in four kids in this county wonder where their next meal is coming from. There are backpack programs, and that helps, but what kind of food is in those backpacks. Everybody deserves to have the choice of fresh, healthy food. So I think about what I grow. I want the people in my county to be able to afford it.  “

Davon wants his neighbors to have fresh, healthy food, and you know that beginning farmers, like Davon, have to make a living. They also need someone to share advice.

Enter Farmer Foodshare.  Farmer Foodshare connects people who grow food with people who need food.  Farmer Foodshare has three main programs:

  1. Donation Stations at Farmers Markets, where farmers donate fresh food and shoppers donate cash to buy food from the farmers to be shared with neighbors in need.

  2. Food Ambassadors, who share demonstrations on easy and economical ways to store and prepare fresh produce.

  3. The POP Market (Pennies on the Pound) a wholesale market that connects small to mid-scale farmers with groups or organizations that want healthy, local food, but have limited budgets.

There wasn’t a Farmers Market near the farm, but Davon was a perfect candidate for Farmer Foodshare’s POP Market.  Through the POP Market, Farmer Foodshare shares information about average pricing, packaging, transport, and need, and then serves as the connection between farmers and groups or organizations serving people with limited access to fresh, local food. This is just the population that Davon wants to help, and using POP Market, Davon receives a fair price for his goods. That means he can support his family and continue to grow healthy food for his community. Our POP Market is one of Davon’s favorite customers. It’s another match made in heaven.

 

Hard Work Pays Off! Down 2 Earth Farms is certified ORGANIC!

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What do an engineer, an International Business attorney and a GIS Specialist have in common? A love for the environment, a willingness to work hard, and wide-ranging intelligence: the perfect combination to found the organically certified Down 2 Earth Farms.

In 2011, Cecilia Redding, bought the 143 acre farm from the McKee family. “The minute I set food on the land, I knew it had to be mine. I had to work hard not to hyper ventilate.”

Cecilia is the engineer in the group. She brings 20 years experience in the food industry, working as a biological and agricultural engineer. She knew first hand that big farming practices could damage the land. She wanted a farm that fed folks wholesome food and nurtured the land for future generations. “Being organic means more than eliminating harmful chemicals” Cecilia shared.

For Cecilia’s farm manager, Matt Ball, those future generations have taken on new importance. He and his wife, Christine, are expecting a son, who will grow up on Down2Earth Farms. Sustainable just became even more important. Matt is the GIS Specialist, that and his experience in land management, conservation and habitat restoration are invaluable.

Cecilia’s brother, John Dorsey, is the International Business attorney. He says, “I wasn’t really interested in farming when this started, but I was drawn by Cecilia’s enthusiasm and drive.” Cecilia says that John has been a boon to the business – helping to negotiate the legal aspects, helping with the massive amounts of paper work, and he knows how to influence others. He has headed the marketing efforts for Down 2 Earth Farms – which include navigating the varied needs of multiple markets – like Farmer Foodshare.

Congratulations to our valued partner, Down 2 Earth Farms on earning the USDA Organic Certification!

 

 

Farming is Public Service

After graduating in 2011 from UNC Chapel Hill, I spent a year living and working on a family farm in nearby Hillsborough. I experienced the edible seasons this bioregion has to offer as well as the realities of farm life: daily chores to keep animals healthy and happy; long hours in the fields building the soil, planting, weeding, and harvesting a variety of crops; late Friday nights processing chickens and early Saturday mornings preparing for markets. The reward for this hard work: hot coffee and thankful eaters ready to devour the precious fruits of that labor.

Volunteer Led, Volunteer Grown: Innovations Ahead in 2015

Farmer Foodshare volunteers are gearing up for another wonderful year – leading Donation Stations, engaging and educating customers about farmers and local hunger, and visiting and picking up food from farms and delivering it to our recipients. We are even beginning to share meals  with our farmers, market community, and recipient organizations.