Thursday, March 29, 2012

Whole Foods on a Budget

I just wanted to highlight a new blog I've added to the "Traditional Foods Blogs" list on the right side of the page.  The blog Whole Foods on a Budget is maintained by someone I know in the D.C. area.  She and I don't know each other very well personally, though we stood together with our friend Becca in her wedding a couple of Octobers ago!  If you check it out, you'll see that Christy has a food budget, a large family, and a desire to feed her family quality food.  She has taught herself over the years to use local co-ops, online vendors, and local farms in a very reasonable, cost-effective way.  I know I have a lot to learn, so it inspires me to see how one mom does it.   

Check it out when you get a chance!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Farm to Table Conference - Pittsburgh

This past weekend, the Farm to Table conference was held at the David Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.  It was a great place to learn more about resources in our area. [EDIT 3/27/12: Here is a link to the program if you'd like to check out all the exhibitors, speakers, CSA's, etc.]

There were several speakers and demonstrations to choose from every couple of hours - one definitely could not have attended each one.  There was also a large room filled with exhibits from regional farms and vendors.  I was really glad I brought a big bag to carry all my info and purchases!
The exhibit room
The first table I visited was for Building New Hope, an organization that supports projects in Central America.  They had coffee for sale (which is roasted by our own Commonplace Coffeehouse!) and they pay the Nicaraguan farmers a rate that is better than fair-trade.  I was even more impressed when the rep told me they are volunteer-based.  I couldn't justify buying coffee since I just purchased some recently, but I bought a pretty woven bracelet made by a young Nicaraguan man trying to support himself.  You can purchase coffee from BNH by visiting one of these places listed on their site, or purchasing online.

Next I sampled probably the best honey I've ever tasted.
Honey from Bumbleberry Farms
Oh my word.  Maybe it's partly due to the fact that I'm off sugar right now, but I feel like I could drink this stuff.  It's local (Somerset, PA) and it's raw, which means it's therapeutic properties are still intact!  This honey is available in many places, including Whole Foods, but we could request it locally at our grocery stores if we wanted to see it on their shelves (I have a few business cards and will probably suggest this honey to Martin's - let me know if you want a card to take somewhere else).  The good news is, it's also available for purchase and home delivery through Rosary Acres (more on them in a minute)!  Kudos to Karen Mosholder for this fabulous taste of nature!  She also has a few specialty honeys you may want to check out on her Web site.

Of course, no foodie convention is complete without these guys:
I spoke with the girl in the blue shirt for a while, who was volunteering at the table because her health has dramatically improved by switching from pasteurized to raw milk.  In fact, she has an autoimmune disease that she's had since birth - I forget the name but it's the same one Michael Jackson had, where the skin pigment is damaged.  When she made the switch, her skin started healing!  She had no idea that would happen, but it made her a big believer in how much our bodies need good enzymes and bacteria in the gut.

I told her about my personal reasons for getting educated on nutrition (history of miscarriage), and she recommended a booklet to me, which I eagerly purchased.  In case anyone else would ever want to borrow it or get their own copy, the title is "Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts" and it's the "Healthy Baby Issue" (published by the Weston A Price Foundation).

And, while we're on the topic of nutrition and how it relates to healing and wellness, I'll tell you a little bit about the speakers I heard.  One was Janet McKee, a holistic health counselor who gave a cooking demonstration and talk.  I could have spent a long time listening to her!  Check out her Web site by clicking on her name - she has a long list of upcoming events and has tons of interesting info on the site.  One of the most remarkable things she discussed was her current partnership with a physician who beat terminal cancer by changing his diet.  They are working together to educate people and spread the word about the amazing healing power of food.

I also heard one of the owners of Weatherbury Farm give a presentation on grass-fed cows.  There was a lot of information given, which I won't get into in this post, but I am definitely in favor of making the switch!  The thing is, most grocery stores don't sell grass-fed beef - except certain Giant Eagle stores and Whole Foods stores.  You can purchase from Galaxy Farms (grain-finished) - see our Local Farm page - or Manchester Farms, or you can find a grass-fed beef farmer at Eat Wild or Local Harvest.  You can also purchase through Rosary Acres (I promise I'll get to them!).

Manchester Farms also sells grass-fed, whole, organic milk that is NON-homogenized (old-fashioned, cream-on-top milk!) and gently pasteurized.  You may find this milk at many locations around Pittsburgh - see their Web site.

All right - on to Rosary Acres.  I was really excited about them because they are now beginning HOME DELIVERY to anywhere in western PA!  They just finished building up the stock in their store in Ligonier, and just got their refrigerated truck.  Delivery will rotate throughout the region, so that means one area will get delivery about every two weeks (beginning after Easter).  No membership is required - you just call and place your order the week before your delivery day.  There IS a minimum order of $75.00, plus a $5.00 delivery fee, which isn't much when you consider your own cost of gas to get to all the markets in Pittsburgh.  And you can combine orders with a friend and just split the cost, if you can't reach $75.00.  Perhaps we can communicate on Facebook with one another if we are placing orders - that way, if people just need one or two items, they can piggyback on someone else's order.

If this delivery system works out well, it will bring together virtually all of the items this group has discussed - local honey (Bumbleberry Farms), grass-fed beef, local organic produce, raw milk (Your Family Cow), fresh wild-caught fish, herbs, teas & spices, and the entire catalog of Frankferd Farms, plus items from Friendship Farms.  I was ready to hug the man.  You can also shop in their store in Ligonier, located at 1869 Rte. 30 W.  The owners are Rick and Lisa Adams, and I met Rick at the conference - he's a very nice man and I am excited to do business with them.

I have about 35 handouts and catalogs sitting beside me, so I can't cover everything I saw there, but it was a great resource and I hope this information helps us here in Indiana to connect with the many healthy food options available to us!  Feel free to ask questions here or on the Facebook page... I am not sure if the comment form is even working here, so if you have problems, let me know.

I leave you with a couple of gratuitous Pittsburgh pictures.  I think we have a very lovely city :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

C.S.A. - Davis's Greenhouses

For those interested in community-supported agriculture, there is now an Indiana drop-off for produce from Davis's Greenhouses.  (Davis's is taking over customers from Misty Morning Farms, which is no longer operating.) Thanks to Barb, Andrea and Allison for doing some of the legwork to connect us with this CSA!

Free-range eggs will be provided through them as well.  Full share will include one dozen per week; half share will include one half dozen.

Davis's is not certified organic, but Tom Davis, the owner, used the term "naturally grown."  He tells me they use plant food and if they are forced to spray, it is the same kind of spray that organic farmers use.

Click here to visit Google Docs for the produce list. 

 If you have further questions about the eggs or the farming practices, please give Tom Davis a call at (814) 948-9202 or send him an email at

Here are some more details from Tom Davis:



Community Supported Agriculture is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm and a group of subscribers forming a direct link between the production and consumption of food.  Subscribers cover a year's farm budget by purchasing a "share" of the harvest in advance.  Subscribers then receive a weekly portion of the farm's product during the production season.  Davis's Greenhouses & Produce C.S.A. is seeking subscribers ready to embark on the enjoyment of sustainable local vegetables and fruits.
Signing up by June 1, 2012 insures your full 20 weeks membership.   

Davis's Greenhouses & Produce is located on Davis’s Farm on Spruce Rd off of Rt 580 between Uniontown and Pine Flats. As a member of C.S.A, you can receive fresh produce from early June through October. We will offer vegetables, salad greens & some fruits as they become available.
Weekly delivery will be via picking up at the Greenhouse or at specified drop-off points.

A Full Share is ideal for families.
A Half Share is ideal for couples or singles.

Full Share Prices:
            $300      20 weeks

Half Share Prices:
             $150     20 weeks

 To join this CSA, you must fill out and return this form along with payment to Davis's Greenhouses.

Butter, delicious butter

Thanks to Allison for this helpful picture of Whole Foods' store prices on Kerrygold butter! 

Allison must really be a fan, because she also posted this one from Sam's Club, which sells the 500 gram size (1 lb, 1.6 oz.) for about $7.00.  Thanks, Ali!

If you're on our Facebook page, you may have seen the group's conversation about this butter a few weeks back.  Here are some excerpts pertaining to people's reasons for choosing Kerrygold:

From Hillary:
"It's Irish butter made from grass-fed cow's milk. I haven't actually tried it yet, but it's supposed to be wonderful and good for you too!"

From Rebekah:
"Giant Eagle has it.  I bought the unsalted stuff and it is AMAZING!!!"

From Elaine:  
"Giant Eagle has it for $4.19 a block; the cheapest place I've bought it is at Trader Joe's -it's $2.74 a block there. I've written Wal-Mart and requested they stock it in Greensburg We could request it for Indiana."

Elaine also added:
"Wal-Mart is trying to provide more organic and other healthier choices. I think requesting it as a group is a great idea; demographics believe that every letter/email sent represents about 100 people so making requests as a group would be terrific. Groups represent buying power to companies. ...

... Wal-Mart had a form that we filled out while we were there and the other stores just sent us to their website. Communicating through the websites seem to be the way the stores accepted requests."

So the idea has been thrown out to contact local stores via their Web sites or by requesting products in person if there's a product we'd like to see offered for sale.  Out of curiosity, has anyone done this, and have you seen any results?  Feel free to share your comments below!

As a bonus, we live very close to Amish country and have ways to purchase local, raw milk butter from the Amish.  The last time I personally purchased it, I paid around $3.85 per pound.  The color and taste were delightful.  Here it is next to a stick of butter from a local dairy:

We love seeing that beautiful golden color, indicative of nutrient-dense butter from a cow feeding on rapidly growing grass in the spring and fall!  (And you can buy butter in bulk then freeze it for safe-keeping.)  Even Ma from the Little House books yearned for that gorgeous hue - she colored her pale winter butter with the juice of a carrot!

If you'd like to be a part of a buying group for Amish butter or Kerrygold butter, get in touch with the group on Facebook, or send an email to greenlifeindiana (at)  

For more information on nutrient-dense butter from grass-fed cows, check out The Skinny on Fats over at the Weston A. Price Foundation, or read any of the traditional food blogs in the column to the right.  Move over, margarine!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pink Slime Action Items

Thanks to Rachel for passing on this link to a petition to the USDA.  It is very easy to type in a few lines and get this message to multiple people regarding the use of "pink slime" in ground beef. 

Googling "pink slime" will, of course, turns up lot of articles.  Here is an ABC News article that contains more details on the filler and lists the practices of some of the major grocery chains.

We can make a difference in our local community as well.  Here are a few suggestions for taking action (these are just suggestions, and in no way are they intended to represent this group's official position - they are offered here merely as options for those who may be interested in taking a stand):
  • First and foremost, always be polite :)
  • Call the grocery stores where you shop, ask for the meat department, then ask if they use "lean beef trimmings" or "pink slime" as filler in their ground beef.  Let them know you do not want to eat ground beef that is filled with chemically treated scraps, and that you will not purchase there anymore if it is used.  
  • If they do use the filler, tell them you will also be letting your friends and family know so they can make the choice to keep purchasing ground beef there or not.
  • If you have an extra few minutes, we'd love to hear what you find out.  If you could, would you please report back to us at this page in the comments section?
  • Buy meat from local farmers instead of the store.  Check out the links on our "Local Farms" page and see if you come up with an alternative that works for you.
  • Letters to the Editor of the local paper are a great way to spread the word and invoke change.  Businesses (like grocery stores) are very highly motivated to stay in business!  That means they are sensitive to where your dollars are going.
What about you?  Do you have any other thoughts on this subject? 

Friday, March 9, 2012

"Pink Slime" ground beef filler not labeled

Yet another reason to buy meats and produce straight from the farmers: USDA whistleblowers have revealed that about 70% of supermarket ground beef contains a filler known as "pink slime."

The filler is leftover fat and scraps of unused beef (trimmings that have typically been used in dog food), heated then treated with ammonia, then packaged into pink "bricks" for grocery stores to mix with beef.  Consumers don't even get the courtesy of a label.

Retired USDA microbiologist Carl Custer calls the pink slime a "salvage product" and does not consider it beef.

People might look at you crazy if you're one of those folks who grinds your own food, such as ground beef or grains.  But if a former USDA scientist, Gerald Zirnstein, is now grinding his own beef, perhaps it's not so crazy after all.  

I don't know about you, but this makes my stomach turn.  What's equally sickening is that we don't get a label because, according to ABC News' Jim Avila, "Over objections from its own scientists, USDA officials with links to the beef industry labeled pink slime 'meat.'"  In fact, it was former Undersecretary of Agriculture, Joann Smith, who made the decision to call it that, and in so doing, paved the way for Beef Products, Inc. (the manufacturer of pink slime) to make "hundreds of millions of dollars."  Interestingly enough, after stepping down from the USDA, Smith was appointed to the Board of Directors for one of Beef Products, Inc.'s principle suppliers.

Folks, this ain't right.

Anyway, for our little co-op to start organizing and getting some firm connections to local farms, we need to hold an informational meeting.  We just need a location that's big enough, and free.  Please comment below or send us an email if you have any suggestions!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Local Business Spotlight: Glick's Bulk & Discount

There's a great little Mom-and-Pop store called Glick's Bulk & Discount less than 10 minutes outside of town on Route 286 East.  I have now been there twice and am beginning to realize what a gem it is!  They have a wide selection of spices, baking needs, candies, jams, honey, pasta, meats and cheeses (John F. Martin and Sons), dried fruit, local eggs, and many other grocery items - almost all purchased in bulk so that it's sold very cheap.  In my mind, I could even begin to call it "Indiana's Trader Joe's" - as long as you ignore the fact that they don't have fun balloons and fresh produce and exotic sauces and ... OK, well, there's a lot you have to ignore.  But as far as getting some rare items and getting them cheap, Glick's has a lot to offer!

For instance, for the gluten-free diet, there's sorghum flour, rice flour, GF oats, GF brownie mix and chocolate chip cookie mix, lots of Bob's Red Mill items, GF pasta, and many other GF flours for baking (too many for me to write down in my little book while shopping!).  I got a 3-pound bag of Bob's Red Mill gluten-free oats for around $7.00 - pretty reasonable for a specialty item like this.  You can also buy small containers of arrowroot powder for $1.00-$3.00, which is better, in my budget, than buying a large bag at the grocery store for over $6.00.

Here's a list of some noteworthy items I found at Glick's (there are tons more!):
  • Honey (raw "rough" honey, Yoder's, and others), some for around only $10.00 per quart
  • Flax seeds and flax meal, $1.00 for 0.5 lb.
  • Polenta
  • Flake coconut
  • Coconut oil, $6.29 per quart (though I could not see info on its processing)
  • Carob powder
  • Butter (John F. Martin and Sons, Hillendale Farms)
  • Dried fruits
  • Dried vegetables
  • Vegetable chips
  • Tons of gluten-free baking supplies
  • Arrowroot powder
  • Bob's Red Mill flours 
  • Stevia
  • Maple syrups
  • Farm fresh local eggs
  • Tons of spices, including rare finds like whole nutmeg - all very well-priced
Glick's is located at 5381 Hwy. 286 East (before you get to Clymer) and is open every day but Sunday (M-Th. 8-6, F. 8-7, Sat. 8-5). Ph: (724) 349-5453.

What about you?  What local businesses would you like to tell us about?  If you have a place you'd like to share with us, send us a message or leave a comment!