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This has been fun!

A February like this is…just grand! Mowing my lawn in February – who would in their wildest dreams (or nightmares) have expected that?! Sure, it is only February, and the other coast is buried in snow, but not us! We might as well enjoy it while it lasts. As a farmer, I always have my eye on what I think the weather is doing and might do.

Okay, I am not quite doing cartwheels (Maleah is though), because it is February and we usually don’t start working the dirt until mid to late March. More often than not I hold off starting early, because the ground isn’t dry enough to really start. Also, more often than not I have to redo work when I’ve gone and jumped the gun. Now I know Diesel is amazingly cheap right now, but starting early in the fields can really harm the land and cause problems later.

That was a roundabout way to say that I am tempted to fire up the tractor and work the ground…but probably won’t.

President Abraham Lincoln said, “[Good] Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

Amen, President Lincoln! The art of knowing when to wait and when to hustle is a fine line. When I was younger, I would have been considered an early adopter, an opportunist always hustling. As I have become more “seasoned” through the years, I have learned when to wait and when to hustle. Right now, waiting to start the tractors is the prudent choice. As a caveat, if the weather is still this nice in early March, then I will need to get after it and start hustling.

 

But right now? I will take my time “warming up” to the weather and enjoy it (maybe even go canoeing!).

 

tristan-sign

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When it comes to less plastic, we have it “in the bag”

Last week I wrote about the journey that brought us to using recyclable cardboard boxes in our delivery business. This week I want to share how we came to the place of using plastic bag liners for these boxes. We currently line our boxes with a FDA approved biodegradable plastic bag. Each bag has perforated holes to help with ventilation and transpiration. Ironically enough, we are using plastic to save on plastic.

Before we started doing home delivery as our primary source of distribution, I worked in retail produce and had my own produce store as well. During that time I watched many customers load up on healthy organic produce and leave with a plastic bag of Fuji apples, navel oranges, lemons, onions, potatoes, garlic, lettuce, radishes, and a paper bag for mushrooms. This was just how it was done in the 90s and before. It was just more convenient, since every item had to be weighed separately. So when we switched to home delivery from retail produce, we did what we had always done, we used lots of plastic bags to deliver the produce.

As we matured as a company and moved from paper bags to recyclable cardboard boxes, we were able to cut out 90% of our plastic bag use by using one plastic liner inside the box and packing everything inside it. We still used the small plastic bags to pack the “extras,” like bananas, lettuce or apples, which customers ordered in addition to their “box of good,” but we were still using too many plastic bags in our service.

About five years ago we noticed a trend: customers were not only buying a standard box of good, they were also ordering many additional produce and grocery items as well. Some customers had also started ordering “a la carte” and not even getting a regular box. That was different. We were suddenly using more plastic bags again. Customers were shopping with us like a grocery store, and we found ourselves packing produce orders like a grocery store – using separate plastic bags for each item.

We were happy to fulfill these “a la carte” orders, to make healthy eating as easy as possible for our customers, but we did not want to be using that much plastic. We decided to start packing these “a la carte” orders like our regular boxes, which again drastically cut our plastic use. We now call these orders “custom boxes” and are packing 170 custom boxes a week, easily eliminating over 1,200 bags a week, which makes 60,000 less plastic bags a year! Add in our regular boxes and we are using 10,000 less plastic bags each week, which makes 520,000 less plastic bags a year!

Imagine, just by purchasing your organically grown fruits and vegetables through us, you are helping eliminate the use of over half a million plastic bags a year – plastic bags that are not being manufactured and thus not going to our landfills. WOW!

We are focused on bringing your family the freshest fruits and vegetables in the safest and most sanitary way possible, and doing it with less plastic is a bonus.

 

tristan-sign

 

plastic bag saga

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The Story Behind a Box of Good

After my last article about the changes on the farm and at the business, I received a few emails encouraging us to keep up the good work. Back in the 90s (yes, we have been at home delivery for that long) we started out using paper grocery bags, lined with a plastic T-shirt bag for the “wet” produce. While that was a good solution for 50 customers, it wasn’t the best way to pack fragile items like tomatoes or peaches.

So we moved on to waxed boxes with a liner and put all the extra items purchased into plastic bags. Those waxed boxes lasted for 20 or 30 deliveries, which at that time seemed like an environmentally friendly decision, simply because we were buying less boxes. However, there was always this nagging feeling every time you had to dispose of one because it had to go to the landfill.

We were sensitive to the waxed box, plastic liner and plastic bag issues. We knew that there were companies in California in the home delivery industry who were using plastic bins to deliver their produce. The idea of using bins did eliminate the need for plastic bags, but it also supported the plastic industry quite a bit more than we were comfortable with, and we would have to make a very large investment upfront. For us there were a few apparent issues with this option: where does one store all of those plastic bins (1000s), all the damaged/unusable ones would still go to the landfill, and how much water and sanitizer would you need to use every week?

That last item was the kicker for us. Having to wash and sanitize every bin every week seemed like an incredible waste of water, soap, and bleach-type products. I would still feel like I would need to use a plastic liner because it wouldn’t feel sanitary enough for me to put your produce in a plastic bin. I still shudder when I think of this – yuck!

Mind you, we were a growing company with lots of little ones running around the farm (a.k.a., we were sleep deprived), but in one of our more lucid moments, we decided to go with a cardboard version of our box and stay with a liner and the plastic bags. This decision allowed us to recycle the boxes at the end of their usefulness, often using the older boxes one last time to send produce to the food banks.

One of our core principles is to be good stewards of the land and our natural resources. Because of this we are constantly evaluating our processes to better serve you as well as to benefit the environment. With those principles driving our discussion, we decided that using the recyclable cardboard boxes with a liner saves on landfill waste, plastic, water and chemical usage, and is a sanitary option. Is it perfect? No, but it has a minimal impact on the environment and is a sanitary way to distribute fresh produce.

Next week, I will go into our reasoning on plastic and how our company uses less than buying produce at the grocery store.

Thanks for supporting our good food network!

 

tristan-sign

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Why I cleanse in February

Week of February 1, 2015

It’s that time of year when everybody talks about detoxes, cleanses, diets, etc. I have to admit, I may have overindulged during the holidays, but a detox or cleanse is not the answer to overcome that guilt. I am a huge advocate of detoxing, but cleanses are more than a quick weight-loss solution. Weight management simply comes by making a habit of making better eating decisions.

I tend to avoid the fad of cleansing right after the holidays because I like to decompress and get back to my “real” routine. By mid-January the Christmas tree has served its purpose and gone to the “park” where all Christmas trees go after the holidays. The last remaining decorations have been put away and the cookies are finally gone! I have time to juice in the mornings and am once again able to think clearly.

Now is when I am finally ready for the benefits of a cleanse! But why cleanse in the first place? The only way that toxins are eliminated from the body is through the natural processes of detoxification, which occurs through the skin by perspiration, through the colon by elimination, through the kidneys by urination, and through the lungs by respiration. When the body has accumulated more toxins than it can handle, the body, in its amazing natural healing process, attempts a healing response. It must force the toxins out or the body will disease and die. I have been detoxing twice a year for four years now and the benefits I have experienced are endless. Here are just a few:

  • Increase in energy.
  • The digestive tract will rid itself of accumulated waste and bacteria.
  • Liver, kidneys and blood are purified and function more effectively.
  • The peristaltic action of the colon is strengthened. (Peristalsis are a series of muscle contractions that occur in your digestive tract.)
  • A mental clarity occurs that is not possible under the constant bombardment of chemicals and food additives.
  • Dependency on habit-forming substances such as refined sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and drugs is greatly diminished. (No more cravings!)
  • Bad eating habits are broken. As you come off the program it will be easier to make wiser food choices.
  • The stomach has a chance to return to its normal size, making it easier to control the quantity of food you eat.

I was super excited when Klesick Family Farm announced their Juice Cleanse Box last year. This box contains all of the produce you need to participate in a basic juice cleanse. They even include a copy of their juice cleanse plan with all of the recipes.

After you cleanse it is important to pay attention to your body and what it needs. Your “cravings” will be different and your palate will be cleansed as well. Real fruits and vegetables will taste better, so take advantage of this situation and avoid introducing “not-so-good” food into your daily diet.

One of my go-to recipes for after a cleanse is Fresh Summer Rolls: thin rice paper stuffed with veggies, protein and rice noodles, and served with a side of lightly spicy peanut sauce.

If you’re not familiar with these little delicacies – also known as fresh spring rolls – then my, you’ve got a treat in store! Cucumber water aside, they’re just about the freshest thing I can imagine: a jumble of crunchy raw vegetables, soft, aromatic leaves and cool, squidgy noodles, all stuffed snugly into a feather light rice wrapper. In fact, summer rolls were what first hooked me on the fresh flavors of Vietnamese cooking: so much lighter and punchier than the fried snacks I was expecting. It’s a delicious Asian salad packed into an edible container.

Once you’ve mastered the basics you can play around with the recipe to your heart’s content, but the guiding principle should always be to cram as many contrasts of flavor and texture into each bite as possible, while retaining the roll’s elegant appearance. And listo! Ready to enjoy!

Please Note: A juice cleanse is not for everyone. Consult your doctor to be sure a juice cleanse is right for you.

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
peruvianchick.com
instagram.com/peruvianchick
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Recipe: Fresh Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce    

 

Your choice of protein: cooked prawns, sautéed chicken or tofu

1 block of rice vermicelli noodles

4 sprigs of mint, leaves picked

4 sprigs of basil leaves (Asian or Italian)

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 red pepper, peeled and grated

¼ cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks

1 soft lettuce, ½ shredded

4 tbsp. salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

8 rice paper wrappers

 

For the Peanut Sauce:

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Juice of 1 small orange

2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon of garlic-chili sauce

1-2 tablespoons of agave

 

Put the vermicelli noodles in a large bowl and pour over boiling water. Add ½ tsp salt, leave for about four minutes until al dente, then rinse well in cold water and drain thoroughly.

Set out all the ingredients and place within reach of a clean, dry chopping board. Half fill a bowl big enough to fit the wrappers in with warm water, and then dunk one in the water and continue patting until it becomes pliable, but not completely soft. Lay flat on the chopping board.

Arrange lettuce horizontally towards the bottom edge of the wrapper. Top with protein in a horizontal line, then top your protein with a line of herb leaves. Add a pinch of carrot and red bell pepper with a few cucumber sticks, and then add a small clump of rice vermicelli noodles. Finish with some shredded lettuce and a line of crushed peanuts.

Bring the bottom edge of the wrapper tightly up over the filling, and then fold the sides in over it. Continue to roll up tightly and place on a plate, join-side down. Cover rolls with lettuce leaves to keep them fresh.

Once all the rolls are made, prepare your peanut sauce. Whisk all the ingredients. Adjust to taste if necessary.