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Fall Foods for the Whole Family | 08.24.2014
Fall is back-to-school time as well as harvest time for a variety of super nutritious fruits and vegetables. Why not send your kids back to the classroom full of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants their bodies will need to stay healthy as cold season sets in?
Squashes are among the cheapest and easiest fall fruits to prepare, and they pack a powerhouse of nutrients, including potassium, carotenoids, folate, and fiber. Best of all, they are both kid friendly and baby friendly, being a great food for infants.
To prepare squash, simply split any variety (acorn, butternut, pumpkin, spaghetti) down the middle with a large knife, scoop out the seeds, place the halves flesh-side down in a pan with ½-inch of water, and bake at 350 degree for 45-60 minutes. The squash is done when a knife sinks easily into the flesh. To serve, scoop out the flesh and add butter and cinnamon to taste.
A high-quality butter from pastured animals will add Vitamins A and K2 to your dish as well as a healthy dose of saturated fat. Wait a minute, did I use healthy and saturated fat in the same sentence? Yes! Research is chipping away at the myth that saturated fat is bad, when in fact both saturated fat and cholesterol are essential for growth and development. See westonaprice.org for a wealth of information on the benefits of fat and other nutrient-dense foods—or do a Google search for the recent spate of articles in the news!
Spaghetti squash can be a fun food for kids since it looks like, well, spaghetti! After baking, scrape out the flesh with a fork and serve with butter, salt, and pepper, or with a little pasta sauce and Parmesan cheese.
Fall is also harvest time for that universal symbol of education, the apple. Making homemade applesauce or apple butter can be a fun project for the whole family, and can spare your kids the high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners added to commercial products.
To make your own applesauce, simply cut apples into 1-inch chunks (no need to remove the skin—it has lots of nutrition!), sprinkle with cinnamon, and steam for about 10 minutes, or until the apples are soft. Place steamed chunks into a food processor and puree with a few squeezes of lemon juice. You can also add a tablespoon or two of virgin coconut oil for extra flavor and nutrition.
For apple butter, place 10-20 sliced apples in a slow cooker with an inch of water (again, no need to remove the skin). Sprinkle with a generous amount of allspice and cinnamon and cook on low for 8-10 hours, checking periodically to make sure there is enough water in the bottom of the cooker to prevent burning. Puree the apples with the remaining water using a stick blender (or transfer to a food processor), adding a tablespoon or two of vanilla extract as you blend. If it’s too thick, add small amounts of water until you achieve the right consistency.
Cori Hart is the local chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation, committed to reintroducing nutrient-dense foods into the Standard American Diet. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Goat and I | 05.20.2013
By Alexis Bonogofsky
Seven years ago, I moved back to the family farm south of Billings and decided to raise goats for meat and weed control. Goats are amazing, versatile creatures that can provide high quality lean meat, milk, fiber and control weeds. Goat meat, or chevon, is the most widely eaten meat in the world and well-managed goats are easy on the land.
But there are moments – ok, many moments – where I question the wisdom of this decision. As one Wyoming goat rancher put it, “if you can build a fence to keep in water, you’ve found yourself a fence that will keep in a goat 80% of the time.” I tell most people that our fences are more like suggested guidelines.
The Wandering Goats
Goats are unique. They are different than any other type of livestock and will test your patience daily. Why? Goats are browsers, not grazers and act more like bison than cattle. In fact, when looking for a fence that could keep them in I found that goats have the same electric fence requirements as bison.
Browse makes up about 60% of a goat’s diet but only about 10 to 15% of a cow’s diet. That means that my goats take a few bites from a plant, move five to ten yards, take another bite and so on. If they had their way, they would be three miles up river by sundown. The neighbor to the west of me came home numerous time last summer to see my goats lounging on his porch with his newly planted flowers eaten and the goats contentedly chewing their cud in the shade, feet dangling off the side. The neighbor to the west of us has at least benefited from the goats quite voracious appetite for leafy spurge.
But this very characteristic is the reason that goats will continue to grow as a livestock of choice for many producers, large and small. Their browsing characteristics make them ideal for land rehabilitation and weed control without having to use herbicides or other heavy-handed methods. Seven years ago, leafy spurge was taking over in many places on our property. Now, we can’t find a single plant. They also love Russian Olive trees that use tremendous amounts of water and choke out native cottonwoods. They strip the bark and will eat the new shoots until nothing comes back.
But on top of all of the benefits to the land when goats are properly managed, the meat quality and characteristics are phenomenal. It is low in fat, cholesterol, calories, and saturated fat and high in protein. But I’m not going to lie. This part of the business has been the hardest for me. The first time we took a group of goats to the butcher, I cried the entire way home and thought about it for weeks. I kept waiting for that day to get easier but it hasn’t. There is a struggle that I think many producers face on shipping day but there is a need for sustainably and locally produced meat.
And that is what we can promise our customers. Our goats are happy, healthy and definitely free-ranging. If you would like more information about raising goats or goat meat, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com
How I Learned to Love Goat Meat http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/01/dining/01goat.html?
Editor’s Note: GEM does not carry goat meat due to low demand, but you can meet Alexis and have a taste of got meat at the Early Season Farmer’s Market this June!
From the Local Producer Committee | 02.19.2013
As we enter the heart of winter, thoughts of leafy greens, ripe, red tomatoes, and other crisp vegetables fresh from the local farm or garden can seem like a dream. But, while the earth slumbers under a blanket of snow and the sun lingers far away over southern climes, the Local Producer Committee has been striving to make the dream of farm fresh produce a reality sooner than later this spring. We are working with about a dozen local producers to offer an Early Season Farmer’s Market this year.
On the first four Saturdays in June, before the Yellowstone Valley Farmer’s Market opens in July, the Good Earth Market will host morning markets in our parking lot. Customers will be able to find a fantastic variety of spring produce from several of our local producers. We’ll even have starter plants ready to hit the warm soil in your own garden. Some of the favorite producers you’ve come to expect at our booth during the Yellowstone Valley Farmer’s Market in July will join us, including Kenny’s Double D Salsa, das Kuchenhaus baked goods, and Lehfeldt Lamb sausage. There will be a little something for everyone, from GF Harvest’s Gluten Free Oats to bison jerky from Broken Willow Bison Ranch. We hope this news helps you survive the colds months ahead and fuels your dreams of spring!
by Heather Ristow, Local Producer Committee Chair
How to Keep Your Fruits & Veggies Fresh | 07.30.2012
I’ll admit I’m one to go a little crazy in the produce department and farmers’ markets. Especially this time of year, I’m enticed by the colors and freshness of all the local produce and end up with a little extra in my Market bag. I’ll find a way to work in that kohlrabi that just came in from Tom Kress or Danly Farms!
And my fridge looks beautiful! For a while. My plans to cook delicious meals all week long fade (as do my veggies!) when more summer outings with friends present themselves – events in Downtown Billings, baseball games, concerts – summer fills up fast!
So I was excited to stumble across this handy guide, “How-To: Store Fruits and Vegetables”, from the Ecology Center’s Berkeley Farmers’ Markets to keep my produce fresh a little bit longer, or at least until I can make time to cook them. The guide lists how best to store 60 popular fruits and vegetables – without using plastic.
A few tips from the guide:
Apples (I’m anticipating the delicious varieties from Ross Orchards in Fromberg) – Store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks. For longer storage, they can be kept in a cardboard box in the fridge.
Stonefruit (apricots, nectaries, peaches, plums) – Store on a cool counter at room temperature. Only refrigerate when fully ripe!
Berries – Keep them dry (wash only before eating) and don’t stack too many high when storing. They’re very fragile.
Greens – Most greens should be kept slightly damp (not wet or they’ll rot faster) in an airtight container. The hardier greens, such as collards, chard, and kale, can be placed in a cup of water on the counter or fridge. Yes, please – I’ll put an edible bouquet on my kitchen table.
Tomatoes – Shouldn’t be refrigerated. Keep them on the counter until ready to eat.
Who you store the veggies with makes a difference in their longevity, too. Check out this guide from the Vegetarian Times to find out which fruits and veggies should and shouldn’t be neighbors.
Would you use plastic to store your fruits and veggies? Is there another type of container you use for produce storage? If you have any other tips, let me know!
Alicia Reyer, GEM staff member, can be found either dancing or at the Market, usually with a cup of tea on her desk.
Discover Local Foods | 07.19.2012
It has become vital to our health in recent years to find safe, healthy foods, especially in light of modern industrial diets and recent food scares. Buying fresh local food is the easiest way to know where your food comes from and to avoid eating processed food loaded with added sugar, fat and preservatives. Locally grown food also tastes better because it’s fresher – local producers can grow better-tasting varieties of fruits and vegetables that don’t need to hold up to long-distance shipping. The case for eating locally grown food is strong, but how do you make it happen?
Sticking to a strict local diet can be intimidating, so think baby steps – start spending $10 a week on local foods, buying all your potatoes locally, or trying something new each week. Starting small and phasing in gradually will help these changes become a part of your lifestyle.
Be adventurous and flexible.
Exploring new foods will increase your options of eating locally. Ever tried Jerusalem artichokes, garlic scapes, or black beluga lentils? All are grown here in our region and can lend variety to your meals. Fruits and vegetables have specific growing seasons, so stay flexible with your menu planning and take advantage of these delectables while they’re in season. For cooking tips, find a good cookbook, watch the GEM blog or ask local producers and co-op staff for advice.
Shop your co-op and Yellowstone Valley Farmer’s Market.
Food co-ops and farmer’s markets are committed to providing local foods to the community and building a sustainable regional food system. Shopping these venues gives you an opportunity to purchase local foods and discover new ingredients, meet your local producers, and learn cooking tips and tricks. Plus, a Saturday morning at the market, with its live music and bustling energy, can add even more enjoyment to your food experience. At GEM, local products are easy to find by looking for the yellow tags around the store and perusing our free Local Producer Map to see at a glance which products are available.
Because you value your health, it’s also important to source local foods raised organically or sustainably as they have higher nutritional value and are grown without toxins. Eating locally doesn’t have to be overwhelming or tough on your pocketbook, but with a few small changes, you’ll be on your way to healthier eating and enjoying Montana’s bounty!
News from the Farm: Wholesome Foods | 05.03.2012
By Dick and Patricia Espenscheid
As the days grow longer and the earth wakes up from winter, our thoughts turn to the bounty of summer. To prepare for the coming months of growth and productivity, our local producers have already begun planning, planting, and calving. The Local Producer Committee decided to bring the farm to you so that you can participate in the excitement of the season. We will be highlighting a number of local producers in our new feature “News from the Farm”. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into the love and labor of their lives. – Heather Ristow, Board Member and Local Producer Committee Chair
Greetings from Wholesome Foods and the Espenscheid Ranch! We were delighted to be asked to share “News from the Farm” for the spring newsletter. Life at the farm really picks up speed this time of year. Planting has already begun indoors for the season – it is a joy to see the small green sprouts growing and waiting to get outside. This year, because we purchased a high tunnel hoop house, the plants will be outside six weeks earlier than usual, enjoying the warm spring sun and secured at night in a protected environment. Because of the intense winds we sometimes experience in the valley, we’ve taken the extra precaution to set the hoop house poles in cement just to keep it at the ranch!
The winter project of building an insulated chicken house is completed. The new structure has a “nursery” for the 100 baby chicks and turkeys arriving in mid-april. After they feather and develop sufficiently, the new chicks will be introduced into our flock of 50 laying hens, two roosters, 10 geese and four Moscovy ducks. It is a fun day to watch the baby fowl meet their elders! To expand our herd of free-range cattle and hogs, this year we have added an additional 305 acres to our ranch for them to roam and have fun (check out our delicious pork and eggs at GEM). As of now, we have 12 new calves romping with their moms. By the end of April we should have 22 new calves.
The most exciting news is that the Espenscheid ranch will be at Yellowstone Valley Farmer’s Market this summer with other GEM producers, selling our beef, veggies and eggs. We have added a farm manager/partner to our staff to help make this all possible. Andrew Riedel, MSU Bozeman alumnus and agriculture major, joined the Espenscheid Ranch in January and we are very fortunate to have him.
Over the last five days, our pond has thawed and the sun is bright and warm. What a lovely sight to see our geese enjoying the natural beauty of our ranch. Happy Spring, everyone! See you at Good Earth and the Yellowstone Valley Farmer’s Market!
Dick and Patricia Espenscheid of Wholesome Foods operate a sustainable ranch near Bridger, MT.