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May 1, 2006

ODDS & ENDS

Posted by Anais Dervaes


Garden delicacies

The homemade toothpaste, happy to report, is a success, Justin says that the toothpaste has stopped the sensitive teeth problem. I still want to make a dry toothpowder and that will be next on my project list. The deodorant smells wonderful and does a good job at fighting odor, however, applying it (especially on chilly morning) is another matter. We have to put it in a warm place otherwise it's a challenge to apply.

In the garden, there are hundreds of tiny green blackberries that will ripen in a few months, the strawberries are producing. It's wonderful to eat fresh strawberries once again, especially on Saturday morning topping the pancakes. The two year strawberry plants are looking healthy and filling out nicely after being divided up early this year. It looks like this year, we'll be keeping a few of the homemade self-watering tubs around to plant tomatoes in. We didn't get around to designing the area after the concrete was removed because we had to work with other parts of the backyard. The design and plans will come in time and will be put on hold till there's a down time in the garden planting season and that's normally around Dec-Feb.  

The sun and warm weather has returned and has lifted our spirits. The dreary grey weather was getting a bit depressing. We still, however, have foggy mornings, but it burns off by noon.  

Saturday we went to the opening of a new park/"dog park" in Pasadena -a swath of land that runs underneath massive electric poles (definitely got our dose ofEMF's for the day - earthlings calling outer space do you copy? ) Anyhow, we want to support our friend and neighbor who owns a pet sitting/dog walking business.   The event had music, free food (for people and animals) and, of course, raffles. Too bad we weren't meat eaters because the local fire department was grilling and giving away hot dogs and other sugary treats - cotton candy.    

The place was packed with people and dogs of all kind. Too bad we didn't have our goat!    As for the raffle we won some pet jerky (which the cats love) and the grand prize: one night at the famed 1907Ritz Carlton in Pasadena deluxe suite. Now, why/what would we want a night in a posh hotel anyhow?   We were hoping for a simple items like a gift certificate to a pet store or a bag of groceries from Trader Joes.   Perhaps we should raffle the raffle prize? ;)

Our knitting mentor gave us the recent issue ofNational Geographic, it has an interesting article about"Prince Charles's Backyard'' and his great experiment is proving a success on ancestral lands turned testing grounds for his ideas about sustainable agriculture, architecture, and community breaking with the commercial mold Prince Charles says " I suppose you could say - it's radical."

He has used this private little kingdom as a place to test solutions to the problems of modernity, for the prince believes, fervently, that life in both town and country has gone awry. "All my life," the prince said, "I have tried to break conventional molds because I think they are mistaken. The only way I could do it was through the duchy, to show there was an alternative way of looking at things."
read more snippets

There's another article and about thegrowing cases of allergies to quote the article "as countries become more industrialized the percentage of population affected with allergies tends to grow higher."

If the [family] had wanted to prevent [their son's] allergies, they should have moved a cow into their living room.
... Good dirt - early exposure to beneficial microbes in dirt and animal waste may help the immune system distinguish later in life between real threats and bogus ones.
read more snippets

Obviously industrialization means more diseases and sickness not to mention the many other ails that befall our society.

Sunday was a busy day on the homestead!   Justin cleaned up the garage and used a old drum that was used to store biodiesel to fill it up with waste vegetable oil which certainly tidied up a corner of the garage that was stacked high with about thirty 5 gallon containers of oil.   Jules worked on the garden, tending, planting, pruning, etc.   Jordanne and I spent a good part of the afternoon repotting a few plants and cleaning up around the outdoor patio/eating area. Of course, there was the routine garden work, watering, picking and animal chores that needed to be done.

Still collecting bottles every time we deliver to a restaurant, particularly fond of the blue and light green bottles. They are a free and pretty way to make borders around the garden and now that the backyard is an open slate - time to bring a sense of whimsy and color to the backyard garden.


100 mile diet radius

LOCAL EATS

May starts the EAT LOCAL CHALLENGE.  
If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic.If not ORGANIC, then Family farm.If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business.If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Fair Trade.If all else fails, at least don’t eat at McDonald’s!
Putting in our zip code in at the handy100milediet.org site's map we find that the radius reaches to Ventura (know for growing a variety of crops including strawberries and citrus) Fallbrook/Julian ( apples ) and the parts of the Central Valley where a majority of California's produce/fruit are grown.

Every day on the urban homestead we try to eat from our garden, so eating locally is not that much of a challenge except in certain months (late fall - winter) when the diet is heavier on dried beans, grains and bread. In the summer our garden can give us about 80-90% of our vegetarian diet.

The hardest in the challenge will not be produce or fruit since that's plentiful locally - if not in our garden, certainly the plethora of farmer's markets in the area are a good source of local food and honey.

Jules is on a special diet for health reasons so this is a bit of a problem with getting certain foods that he can eat. But, otherwise, with the garden coming into production, more and more of our diet is from our garden supplemented with grains, nuts and a few diary products.

The toughest steps in the local challenge will be the staple items: oils, grain, rice, nuts (peanuts) and dried beans for protein and, of course butter, and cheese. The use of butter and cheese are easy to cut back using. We do, however, have a local diary AltaDena within the 100 mile radius.  AltaDena does offer home delivery and many years ago we had its raw milk products delivered to our home. Unfortunately, AltaDena no longer offers raw milk, cheese products.    As for the main staples {including olive oil}, it may be that we would have to make a concession to at least buy from a source in our state of California.

If you ate meat, seafood would be local also since parts of the radius reaches the Pacific Ocean [don't know how contaminated the seafood supply would be though]. I am sure there are local farm operations/ to purchase meat and chicken from, but, thankfully, we don't have to worry about that food source.

I am sure (eh, hope?) spices and salt are probably exempt from the local challenge. Of course, it's good to cut down on your salt intake and we hardly use salt at all. Spices on the other hand {vanilla, cinnamon, etc.} are difficult. No wonder thousands of years ago spices were so highly valued.   Imagine a world without spices --an apple pie without cinnamon.?

Not all people have access to such spices so I am sure we could learn to live without and perhaps taste the true, natural "naked" flavor of our foods. Possibly it would mean we should use more herbs to flavor foods.  

Last, but not least - indulgences. For our family, it's chocolate.   So that means we'll have to ( try to) cut back. There are certainly alternatives to satisfy the sweet tooth but, unfortunately, nothing compares to chocolate.   Funny how our ancestry of French and Belgium  is so into chocolate and yet this yummy treat originated across the globe in South America.

Basically, looking at the whole picture living in California certainly offers a cornucopia of food products: from wines,  almonds, juices, olive oil, avocados, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables (citrus, tomatoes, apples, etc), dairy and even meat/seafood and fish.   California is know for it's "fruits and nuts" (yeah, I know not the edible kind) but it and is truly a fertile land -- "land of milk & honey."   One wonders, however, for how long and that's a topic for another day as the expanding eyesores of suburbia paves/builds over precious crop land and our future food source.

Anyhow, you'll find local alternatives atLocal Harvest.org enter your zip code to find your local foodshed.
BOOKMARKS
What We Need to Know About the Corporate Takeover of the "Organic" Food Market

When the research is done to uncover the chain of corporate connections related to ownership of organic food brands, the results are similar to what is revealed in any other area of economic production touched by the "global economy." Corporate connections are invisible to the shopper, and the marketing image of safe and healthy "organics" is used to maintain consumer trust.
read article


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2 Comments: "ODDS & ENDS" »

  1. In Ireland we never had cinnamon in apple pie - and that's the way I still like it. I guess there's a natural tendency to like the foods of your childhood...

    ...although I'm not a big fan of cinnamon, sad to say.

  2. I am also seeing the strawberries getting ready to produce. just a couple more days. I just put in an ollalieberry plant and we are getting a few blackberries, but next year after it spreads its "arms", I think we will be making blackberry cobbler!!! I am finding all sorts of places for permacultured fruits which are attractive and tasty. I am so encouraged by your example.