Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Order From Johnny's Selected Seeds

It's been in the 60's for temperatures this week and I've got Spring Fever! 

We placed our seed order for the upcoming season a couple of nights ago and today Johnny's sent confirmation that it's been shipped.

2903.11Olympian (F1)-Packet
Vegetables > Cucumbers > American Slicing
566G.11Yankee Bell (OG)-Packet
Vegetables > Peppers > Sweet Bell > Green-to-Red Bells
568.11Biscayne (F1)-Packet
Vegetables > Peppers > Sweet Specialty Peppers
586G.11Early Jalapeno (OG)-Packet
Vegetables > Peppers > Hot Southwestern Peppers > JalapeƱos
2437.11Red Malabar Spinach-Packet
Vegetables > Greens > Specialty
Vegetables > Beans > Beans, Pole
2664.11Cashflow (F1)-Packet
Vegetables > Squash > Summer > Zucchini > Dark Green
88G.11Black Cherry (OG)-Packet
Vegetables > Tomatoes > Cherry > Red Cherry
2845.11Brandywine (OG)-Packet
Vegetables > Tomatoes > Heirloom
2450.11Yellow Crookneck (OG)-Packet
Vegetables > Squash > Summer > Yellow
459.11Sweet Granite (OG)-Packet
Vegetables > Melons > Cantaloupe > Open Pollinated
477.11Sweet Favorite (F1)-Packet
Vegetables > Watermelon > Red Flesh

We've got 10 Earthboxes and an above ground bed to plant, so we'll likely purchase a few more seed varieties locally. This year I plan to attempt growing water melons and cantaloupe in bags of store bought compost. I've seen others do it so I'm going to try it also.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Homebased Food Products - Jam by Hand

This morning I tagged along with my wife to a craft fair sponsored by the High School Band Booster Club.  The craft fair was pretty typical with a mixture of handmade, handsewn, and bake sale items combined with some items that appeared to be mass produced crafts that pushed the borders of what I personally consider "craft". 

While walking through the cafeteria we ran across a booth selling homemade jam.  I tried a sample of the Strawberry Lemon Poppyseed Jam that was spread on a Ritz cracker. The jam was excellent, so I purchased some.

I have written previous articles about Cottage Food Laws, so my discovery later on that the jam was made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture was an interesting surprise. Just as the law requires, the container had a label explaining the details.

It's good see entrepreneurs taking advantage of the rules and regulations that have helped many wannabe food producers get started. Many small businesses grew into medium sized businesses by starting small and growing by word-of-mouth.

Later on I learned that Jam by Hand is made with Michigan Made Pioneer brand sugar, which is an additional bonus for us because we firmly believe in buying products that are produced as close to home as possible. 

You can read more about Jam by Hand on Facebook and on the Jam by Hand blog on Blogger. To read more about Michigan's cottage food laws visit this page on Michigan.gov.

I found this How to Make Small Batch Strawberry Jam video on You Tube:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What Does Organic Really Mean?

During the past few years, Linda and I have become much more knowledgeable and informed about our food choices. I feel confident that we have a better understanding of what it means when food is "organic" versus "natural".

We joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm and purchased food at farmers markets from "real" farmers who actually grow what they are selling. Many roadside "farm stands" are actually selling food imported from other states and countries that didn't grow themselves. Curious? The next time you make a purchase from a "farm stand" ask a few open ended questions and pay close attention to the body language and answer that you receive. I think you might be surprised.

Regardless of what I thought I knew, tonight I learned that there is still much, much more I can learn about the different types of "organic" food.

According to an article I read tonight on Learnvest.com here are few definitions:
  • 100% Organic: All content is certified organic.
  • Organic: At least 95% of content, excluding water and salt, is organic.
  • Made With Organic Ingredients: At least 70% of content is organic.
  • Ingredient Panel Only: Less than 70% organic.
But if you think organic certification automatically ensures food is without pesticides you probably need to read this article from UC-Berkley.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Nutritional Supplements

My wife and I made a decision several years ago to start growing some of our own food.  We live in suburbia, so we can't grow a lot but it's made us better consumers. We don't buy imported vegetables from foreign countries if we can avoid it. I'd rather buy an orange from California than a nectarine from Spain. Likewise I'd rather buy from actual farmers at the farmer's market than from vendors who purchased food from a wholesale supplier and brought it to the farmer's market.

We've benefitted from an increased awareness of where our food comes from, how it's grown, and the nutritional value it contains (or doesn't contain). To supplement this healthier lifestyle, I've been taking nutritional products from Sisel International for several months. I was introduced to this company from an internet friend of mine from St. Louis who happens to be married to a doctor, so her endorsement of the products played a key role in my decision to try the products.

I've been taking the weight loss product called SiseLean - a powdered supplement - that I mix with water and drink for breakfast. It's also been an occasional effective meal replacement for me and others who want to supercharge weightloss.  It's interesting that on days I drink the SiseLean, I feel a little better and have more energy compared to days when I skip it. These shakes are loaded with protein and provide a lot of supplemental vitamins that I might get from my regular meals. I can't promise the same results for everyone, but it's working for me.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hi Tech Rabbit Farming

Raising rabbits has come a long since my uncle raised about 25 rabbits for a 4-H project 30 years ago.  I'm sure those farmers approaching it from a commercial perspective have been using some of these techniques for many, many years, but the video provides an overview of the the possibilities to raise rabbits in an urban area.

Farming & Breeding Fresh Rabbits for NYC Restaurants *food curated* from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.