Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Local Farmer's Market

I'm always writing and talking about supporting my local farmers and farmer's markets, and I believe in the value of creating stronger local economies - farmer's markets are a big albeit seasonal part of that.

My hometown started a little Saturday farmer's market last year. I heard it was dinky and didn't have any organic food, which is okay, but coupled with the fact that it was only open till 2:30 made it very difficult for me to get my butt down there.
I get to the farmer's market in Morristown, NJ, which is a great Sunday outing, but until this past weekend, I hadn't gotten to the Boonton farmer's market. For shame.

While I buy local in many other ways, I neglected my little farmer's market.

When I finally got there, I noted that it was indeed kind of dinky, but it felt good to meet and talk with the two farms represented. The one farm, Race Farm of Blairstown, NJ seemed to have more variety and while neither of them had organic produce, they said they usually do and will again in a couple of weeks. The heatwave had something to do with not having the organic stuff (I was too busy sweating to retain all the details).

I bought two bunches of beets and made some DELICIOUS roasted beets that I've been living on for like 3 days. See my 'for the love of beets' post on eatdrinkbetter.com.

There were a couple of other local vendors who are worth mentioning:
1. A very local healthy snack foods company (based in Boonton) that sells these AMAZING and hysterical snacks, including these 'wing' baked chips that are actually in the shape of little buffalo wings! Many of the chips are gluten free. They distribute through Whole Foods among other grocery chains and he even knew about our food coop (VeggieHeads) and was going to get some of the overstock to us at cost! Learn more about these yummy veggies chips @ Mediterraneansnackfoods.com.

2. Anyone who knows me at all, knows I'm a tea junky. I hit pay dirt, but it happened at the end of the day and I was wilting in the sun - but, I will go next weekend to get some of their wonderful organic teas and accessories! You can order stuff on the web, look for Ducky Life Organic, Loose Leaf Teas, Accessories and Gifts.

3. Paul the pickle guy. Didn't get any takeaway information, but we did takeaway some crispy, crunchy pickles. There were some really creative ones. I got the cranberry horseradish ones myself. My daughters were fighting over which type of olives to get (we got both, of course). It was a pickle tasting smorsgasbord and it made it all seem worthwhile.

4. There were some local crafters represented - mostly jewelry and a couple of silk scarfs.

If you are in Boonton on a Saturday this summer, visit our growing little farmer's market! Now, I'll be there!

GD Meg

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wisdom of the Elders in Action - Sustainable World Peace

It just may be that rock n roll/music will indeed save the planet. In 1999 Peter Gabriel and Richard Branson decided that we as a global village were missing the essential survival ingredient - the wisdom of our elders. So they set about to identify a few of them. It didn’t take long for them to approached Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel, both who have done amazing work beyond what I can even describe here in this brief blog post. If you’ve been under a rock for the past 20 years, you will want to read up on Mr. Mandela, but I would encourage everyone to please see the brief, but inspiring biography I’ve linked you to for Graca Machel.

While it took several years for them to put this group together, they launched these elders as facilitators of powerful global change last July.

“This group derives its strength not from political, economic or military power, but from the independence and integrity of those who are here. They do not have careers to build, elections to win, constituencies to please. They can talk to anyone they please, and are free to follow paths they deem right, even if hugely unpopular.”

Nelson Mandela, The Elders Launch Speech July 18, 2007

See Nelson Mandela’s speech from July 18, 2007

This is a potent list of global leaders who have reached a place in their lives and careers where they can shed imposing restrictions and focus on serious global concerns such as basic human rights, world health issues, climate change as well as share their valuable wisdom.

These leaders are not mere figureheads, but have the resources, seemingly boundless energy and drive to create change and movement on issues that other world and political leaders cannot seem to manage.

Kofi Annan
Ela Bhatt
Lakhdar Brahimi
Gro Harlem Brundtland
Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Jimmy Carter
Graca Machel
Nelson Mandela
Aung San Suu Kyi
Desmond Tutu
Muhammad Yunus

Start with these brief biographies that live on TheElders.org, but I encourage you to read more about each of these extraordinary individuals and let yourself be moved beyond your immediate sphere of influence into the realm of courageous action or very simple (sorry in advance for the cliche) random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. It all makes a difference.

GD Meg

Friday, July 18, 2008

the Berkshires - home of sustainable living and mostly serene

I used to live in the rolling green hills of western Massachusetts, better known as 'the Berkshires'. When I left there about 10 years ago, the summer tourist trade was brisk and annoying, but valuable to many folks who had tourist-dependent businesses.

It has gentrified significantly in these last 10 years. Great Barrington, my home town for many years is now a bit more like the Village in NY - artsy-funky-chic. It was sort of the last bastion for full-timers that has now gone NY in the summers. Getting from one end of this small town to the other used to take about 5 minutes by car, now it could take up to 45 minutes any given Saturday!

Okay, enough bitching. This is where I got my sustainable living chops. Being part of the wonderful Berkshire CoOp Market, learning and experimenting with so many other green folks over 20 years ago when this was all considered fringe behavior.

We got to be tourists this past weekend. Stayed in a gorgeous cottage across the street from the Stockbridge Bowl lake, with Tanglewood at one end of the road and the Norman Rockwellian Main Street of Stockbridge on the other end.

I actually shopped in Lenox. When I lived there, I only went to Lenox to go to a workshop or a class I had taken that happened to be up there. Nice place, but I'm just not one of those village, vacation-type shoppers. And I most certainly wouldn't have gone near it on a summer Saturday, what with all those crazy New Yorkers and New Jersey folks!

Guess what we did Saturday???? After going to Tanglewood, another experience I rarely enjoyed when I lived here, we went to Lenox and ate Lunch at a very classy restaurant called Zinc and sat two tables away from Hugh Downs, retired veteran TV news and anchorman. By the way, the food was amazing!

Then, I decided to walk around and shop like I was from New Jersey - although I live in New Jersey, I'm not exactly at home there. Found this fantastic little shop called, The Old Country Store. Hands down the coolest country store I've ever been in - complete with a full line of hysterical gifts from local company Blue Q, great organic baby clothing and gifts, and many other sustainable products and locally grown crafts. If you get up there, please visit this shop. Owners Carrie and Bill Wright obviously have a great sense of style AND humor.

Sunday we had brunch at Martin's in Great Barrington. Wow. I sold Martin my old house 20 years ago and I helped clean this restaurant up and get it up and running. Still a great low-stress breakfast joint - if you don't mind standing in the road and waiting for a while. I just went over to my favorite new age shop - Crystal Essence and did some more tourist-style shopping!

GD Meg

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Organic v. Local - The Healthiest Choices for Fresh Food: Not Always an Easy One!

Picking your battles when choosing organic over conventional (which often means locally grown).

It is important to be armed with the latest and greatest information so you can make the healthiest choices for you and your family.

I've done stories on this over the years, but some of my information is probably out dated. So, I'm glad folks like the Organic Center, a non-profit in Boulder Colorado is doing this type of research and sharing it with us! The Organic Center, which produces and disseminates peer-reviewed scientific research and information on the health and environmental benefits of organic food and farming, has just published this very handy little pocket guide, Organic Essentials, to help identify the highest risk, pesticide-laden fruits and veggies while we are shopping.

The list is based on a pesticide-risk ranking system they developed, based on their 2008 report, Simplifying the Pesticide Risk Equation: The Organic Option.

I'm always at a loss this time of year, with all the wonderful farmer's markets and locally grown fresh produce. I want to support local, but I also don't want to eat pesticides and a lot of the local farms still haven't gone Organic. However, I did learn last year, that in New Jersey, a great deal of farmers are transitioning, and while they can't say they are organic, they are darned close.

I think it is generally a good idea to meet your local farmers when you can and ask them how they produce their fruits and veggies and if they aren't organic, what types of pesticides do they use and are they transitioning to organic any time soon? If they aren't and enough people pester them with these questions, perhaps they will get the hint and make the move!

Happy fresh food shopping and don't forget to check out our Green Diva's Guide to Delicious Living food-related blog posts on GreenOptions.com's yummy food blog, EatDrinkBetter.com. We have great recipes and other foodie stuff.
Eat. Blog. Be Merry!
GD Meg