Go Green with Your Grub

by Lucie Patrick

With the summer months quickly approaching, the Chippewa Valley will soon be filled with an abundance of fresh, local produce. Because food is the fuel for our bodies, it is important that we choose wholesome products that are beneficial for both the earth and ourselves. Community supported agriculture (CSA) allows local citizens to fuel their bodies with wholesome, natural foods while supporting sustainability and the local economy by choosing products from local farmers.

Community supported agriculture pairs community members with local farmers and provides them with weekly shares of food. To participate in a CSA program, each member must sign up and prepay for his/her share of food.

Sylvan Hills Farm in Menomonie, Wisconsin, organizes a CSA program for residents of the Twin Cities metro area. A shareholder has the option to pay a one-time fee for a large share ($675) or a regular share ($425). The Sylvan Hills Farm CSA boxes are sent to drop points where the shareholders pick up their boxes on a designated week day.

The food delivery begins during the first three weeks of June and supplies the members until September–October, depending on the crops and weather. The share of produce can be picked up at a pre-designated location and week day throughout the CSA season.

The food that is delivered in a CSA box varies by farm. Some farms box strictly produce, while others will box dairy products and produce. The CSA boxes from Sylvan Hills Farm include various fruits and vegetables.

The box drop-off and pick-up of the CSA creates a different grocery shopping experience than the traditional in-store grocery shopping tradition. The hassle of the additional pick-up step may concern CSA newcomers, but many believe that the benefits outweigh the extra pick-up step.

Larry Diehlmann and Jackie Kujack, owners of Sylvan Hills Farm, note that one of the benefits of a CSA program is “having the box delivered for you instead of having to run down the aisle trying to decide what to buy.” Diehlmann also adds, “Some members have compared it to getting a Christmas present every week.”

Although there are many benefits to participating in a CSA, there can be disadvantages too. Diehlmann said that one of the disadvantages might be “if you are not too flexible in preparing food or trying new things.” The food in the CSA box may take extra preparation and creative recipes, but Sylvan Hills Farm aims to help the members by sending weekly emails with recipes. Diehlmann said, “We send out recipes each week that use many if not all of the box contents.”

Not only do the Sylvan Hills emails inform participants about new cuisines and the produce in their boxes, but they also inform them about how to choose the wholesome, quality foods that benefit the human body. According to Food Routes Network, a company that works to reestablish local community food systems, “Knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown or raised enables you to choose safe food from farmers who avoid or reduce their use of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified seed in their operations.”

As consumers, it’s important that we know the source of our food so that we can purchase it from places that benefit our economy, the earth, and our bodies. For those looking to join a CSA for the upcoming summer season, Diehlmann advises, “Check to be sure that the farm is certified organic and local and small.” Larger farms may pick and refrigerate the produce multiple days in advance, leading to a loss of nutrients in the foods. Diehlmann suggests that CSA participants search for farms with 100 shares or fewer.

Choosing a farm that has a certified organic label and small shares is the best way to assure that you are choosing wholesome foods that will benefit your body. Diehlmann said, “We have maintained the USDA organic certified label since our beginning in 2003 and believe that is the most optimal way to treat the planet and the people that live on it.” Sylvan Hills Farms sells 50 shares of CSA boxes every summer to ensure that their food is always freshly picked and delivered within twenty-four hours.

Choosing a smaller, local farm also supports the local community because it returns the profit back to small businesses in the community. Diehlmann said, “The economy benefits when items are purchased locally as the dollar turns over in your community at least six times.”

CSA participants can also improve their local community by reducing their carbon footprint. Food Routes Network states, “Local food doesn’t have to travel far. This reduces carbon dioxide emissions and packing materials.”

Purchasing your produce from local farms like Sylvan Hills is a great way to start going green with your food. “We also believe in building community being important to any area, and CSA’s a great way to do that,” said Diehlmann. Choosing local organic foods will benefit your body, community, and planet. Make the right decision and go green with your grub today.

For those interested in improving their carbon footprint, local economy, and supporting local businesses, joining a CSA is way to be proactive in their efforts.

For more information on participating in a community supported agriculture program, please visit www.localharvest.org/csa/

Lucie is a journalism student interning at Second Opinion Magazine this semester.  She studies Professional Communication and Emerging Media at UW-Stout and will be graduating in May.

Homegrown Winter Hardy Seedless Table Grapes

by Judith Reith-Rozelle, Stonehoe Consulting, Spring Green, WI

Seedless table grapes picked fresh from the vine have that “picked fresh” from the tree taste that we all love when eating a true “ripened on the tree” peach. Wisconsin’s soil and climate produce grapes that have unique flavors beyond any supermarket grape ever purchased, and they retain the healthy nutrients found in fruits fresh from the garden. The California Grape Commission blog documents the following health value of grapes: “Grapes of all colors—red, green, and black—are a natural source of beneficial components called polyphenols, which are also antioxidants.”

Now home gardeners and vineyard owners can grow seedless table grapes in Wisconsin with careful management and selection of varieties for the zones in each area. Breeding programs across the country are releasing new winter-hardy selections, and several older hardy Elmer Swenson varieties are once again being planted.

The major limiting factors in producing seedless table grapes in any temperate climate is the ability of the vines to survive the freezing temperatures of northern regions, late spring frost, and fluctuating rainfall. The cropping loads, disease infections, and drought also impact cold hardiness. Each of these factors stresses the plants and decreases the vines’ ability to develop strong overwintering capacities.

The length of the growing season or ripening period also dictates what cultivars can be grown in regions where the frost-free days may be fewer than 150 days. The growing season is determined by the dates of the first and last frost of any one year.

Grapes grown in cold climates must be grown using methods other than those in warmer climates. The vines must be allowed to develop deep, healthy root systems before fruit production begins. Trellising to allow for strong trunk development increases the winter viability of vines. Fruit clusters must be removed the first two years. A few clusters may be left on the vines the third year and the two-thirds fruit load during the fourth year. Four years of good, strong growth is mandatory before a full fruit load is allowed to remain on the vine.

The fruit allowed to develop on the vines the third and fourth year will allow a grower/gardener to evaluate the quality and harvest time of the fruit produced. In the trials at the research stations three varieties were removed from the trials the third year. Either the fruit was unpalatable or ripened too late for Wisconsin’s growing season.

Seedless table grapes have been grown at the West Madison, Peninsular, and Spooner University of Wisconsin agricultural research stations for over seven years. At least fifteen varieties have been trialed at West Madison and Peninsular research stations. Fewer varieties have been trialed at the Spooner station. Spooner lies in Zone 3b, so fewer of the varieties survive the minus 30 degree temperatures. Interesting aside; Phil Holmen, superintendent of the station, reported on January 10 that Spooner area had already experienced thirteen days of minus 20 degrees this winter. There may be fewer varieties that survive this year at all three stations. Lower temperatures, for longer periods of time have already been experienced at all research sites than in the past seven years.

Several new varieties were planted in 2010 and have grown well and produced a limited number of really beautiful, tasty fruit in the third year. The summer of 2014 will be the true test for fruit flavor and production levels.

The twelve varieties of seedless table grapes have survived seven Wisconsin winters and the four newer have survived three winters. The lowest temperatures at the West Madison Station reached minus 18 to minus 19.5 degrees.

Red, blue,and green grapes are all part of the collection that have survived. The green and red grapes have been a true survival surprise and are some of the most flavorful grapes on the market.

The four varieties of red grapes include: Canadice, Reliance, Somerset Seedless, and Vanessa. The ripening sequence begins in early to mid-August with Somerset Seedless, followed by Vanessa, and Canadice, then Reliance rounds up the harvest ripening in early to mid-September. Of the four, Reliance is the hardiest, but it is harder to grow and does not ripen as uniformly as Canadice. Canadice and Somerset Seedless are the most flavorful: spicy and sweet. The colors of each variety are so beautiful: Reliance is a softer rose/green, and the remaining three are deep, rose colored.

The four varieties of white/green grapes include: Himrod, Interlaken, Lakemont, and Marquis. These grapes begin to ripen a little later than the reds listed above. Their flavors are very spicy and complex, and each is grape is very juicy. What a treat to harvest fresh green grapes right before breakfast or lunch.

Three blues, Mars, Trollhaugen, and Venus, ripen beginning in mid-August and finish in mid-September. Trollhaugen is first to ripen, followed by Venus and then Mars. Each has a very unique taste and texture. Venus has a very surprising burst of flavor a bit like pink grapefruit; Trollhaugen is sweet and spicy. Mars has more of the Concord taste.

The four new varieties planted in 2010 are: Montreal Blue, Suffolk Red, Thomcord (blue), and Jupiter (blue). Look for more information on these four in 2014.

Research shows that eating as little as 1¼  cup of grapes per day may reduce the risk factors for coronary heart disease. Plan your backyard garden grape arbor now and reap health benefits from the work for thirty plus years.

Now retired as a leader of the UW’s West Madison Agricultural Research Station, Judith Reith-Rozelle did research into the viability of cold-hardy table and wine grapes.  She now serves as a private consultant to growers throughout the Midwest.

The Right Choice: A Locally Grown Whole Food Diet

by Dr. Michael Court

There are many benefits to a locally grown whole food diet.  Locally grown food is fresher when it gets to the consumer.  The food sits on the truck a shorter amount of time and therefore has more nutrients.  Whole food is in its purest, simplest form and provides the most nutrients.  Processing may make food last longer, but it steals nutrients from our food that we need to stay healthy.  A whole food diet is the wisest and healthiest choice you can make to provide good nutrition for your family.

The bad news is that much of the food we buy comes from soil that is nutrient-depleted due to the methods of modern agriculture.  Our soil is becoming depleted of the essential nutrients needed to grow nutrient-rich foods.  Our soil becomes “exhausted” due to the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  In the book “Empty Harvest,” Dr. Bernard Jensen and Mark Anderson make the case for the importance of keeping our soil alive and full of nutrients because it significantly affects the health and well-being of the human race.  Our food can only provide the nutrition that is present in the soil.  Depleted soil produces an empty harvest.

When working in alternative health, a person begins to make some observations about how to stay healthy and what makes people sick.  One thing I have noticed is that many of the healthier people who come in for our health analysis eat a diet based on whole foods, exercise doing something they like, and generally make their health a priority.  On the other hand, some of the unhealthiest people have an internal stressor related to our food, water, or air supply that is keeping them from getting well.  They struggle to get well due to nutritional deficiencies from eating a diet of processed foods or have a buildup of toxicity from heavy metals or chemicals.

Beginning to move to a locally grown whole food diet is smart for anyone wanting to maintain their health.  Organic is best because it eliminates pesticides and harmful fertilizers from your food supply (and your body).

Just like processed foods can be incomplete, the synthetic supplements consumers buy at the store can be doing them more harm than good.  Many people have no idea that most supplements that are sold commercially are synthetic (manmade) chemical extracts that are really incomplete parts of food.  Nowhere in nature do we find vitamins in the same form as on our store shelves.  Because they are incomplete, your body has to take the missing parts from your internal reserves in order to process and use the synthetic vitamin you are taking.  Using synthetic supplements is kind of like eating processed foods.  They may be cheap, but over time they cause a deficiency in the co-factors, enzymes, and essential minerals our bodies need.  This leads to loss of energy, to less resistance to disease, and eventually to ill health.

Just like eating an orange is better than drinking orange-flavored drinks, using supplements that are ground-up organic, whole food that is concentrated makes the most sense.  Whole-food supplements are in a form (ground up whole food that the body is designed to use as fuel) that is easier for the body to use to heal itself.  Because they are concentrated, you can get more nutrition in a whole-food supplement than you would typically eat in a day.

The adage “You are what you eat” is true.  Small permanent changes in your diet and your supplements can make a huge difference in your daily health.  For some people, they have no idea how to do this on their own.  How do I get off Mountain Dew that I know is killing me?  What change can I make with my busy lifestyle?  Where do I get the information I need?  The best choice for restoring your health is to work with a health care practitioner to help you transition to a locally grown whole food diet and a personalized, clinically designed nutritional program.

Dr. Michael Court, a local naturopath, practices at Chippewa Valley Wellness with locations in Chippewa Falls and Altoona.  For more information, see cvwellness.net or call 715-723-2713.

My Farmers

by Inga Witscher

While driving down an old country road, I noticed a bumper sticker on an old beat-up Ford F150. It read “Who’s your farmer?” I figured the young man behind the wheel may have been a farmer himself due to the piled up feed bags and a few fence posts lining the bed of his truck. I asked myself who are the farmers growing my food later on that evening as I began to prepare dinner.

We always try to buy our pork in bulk, by the half or quarter hog, this way we always have something to take out of the freezer for dinner.  I begin to salt and pepper some pork chops, and think about the farmers that grew this food, from Deutsch Family Farm just over the hill in Osseo. Alison and Jim Deutsch take great care in making sure every pig on their farm is happy and well cared for by allowing the pigs to graze in the open air on organic pastures. It’s easy for me to stop by their farm to grab some pork. If Jim and Alison are around, we usually try to visit for a while and catch up on what’s happening. If they’re out in the field working, I simply get what I need out of the coolers from their farm store and leave some money and a note.

I set the pork chops off to the side and shuck cob after cob of Wheatfield Organcis sweet corn. Last spring, while visiting their farm near Durand, I helped Helen move their herd of Angus cattle to fresh grass. As we walked through the pastures, Helen stressed to me the importance of building healthy soils, “Literally my bones and my blood, my marrow, my DNA, they are built from this soil, my mother formed me here, I was built here, my very composition is of this soil.” Being with someone who had this much dedication to the land and the people eating from that land made me proud to stand beside her as a fellow farmer.

Who are the farmers growing my food? Ken and Jay are producing America’s first pumpkin seed oil near Prairie Farm. I quickly became a fan of Hay River Pumpkin Seed Oil after being introduced to it through a friend. In the early days, I would only use it to dress salad greens, and now I find we use it on almost everything, sprinkled into our popcorn, drizzled on ice cream, and at the end of summer, slathered on sweet corn. Beyond growing oil seed crop, Ken and Jay focus on building community. They contract out to local small-scale farmers to grow their special variety of pumpkins. Come harvest time, they look to hire people in their community for the hands-on harvesting of the pumpkin seeds.

I round out the meal with potatoes harvested from my own garden topped with freshly made butter from the cream of our little herd of Jersey cows and think, “Hey, I am the farmer growing my food too!”

To find out more about the farmers mentioned in this article and many more, please visit: www.aroundthefarmtable.com.

Food As Our Medicine

by Judy Meinen

Our magical, mystical, self-healing bodies — 70 trillion cells with all the wisdom, information, and ability to heal on all levels.

“You are what you eat,” a common saying and one our body takes seriously. Our health is dependent on how we feed and fuel our bodies. So what foods feed and fuel us and which ones subtract or bankrupt our supplies?

Green, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce have almost twenty times more essential nutrients, ounce to ounce, than any other food, according to Dr. Linda Page in her book Healthy Healing. They help us decrease inflammation in joints, detox our bodies, and add calcium and vitamins to our diets.

The more colors, the brighter the better, is a good guide in choosing our fruits. Berries, apples, melons, pineapples, avocados, and other fruits help our digestive tracts, give us good energy, and add antioxidants to help our immune systems.

Proteins are the building blocks for our muscles and support hemoglobin production — the oxygen-carrying component in our blood. Good sources are lean grass-fed (no grain), no pesticides, antibiotic, or hormone-fed beef and chicken, eggs, legumes, walnuts, and almonds. Also, whole organic, non-GMO grains such as quinoa (keen-wah), wild or brown rice, and poi give long-lasting energy and provide B vitamins to support digestion and the making of hemoglobin.

Refined sugars have been known to stop immune function for up to four hours after ingestion. Artificial sweeteners confuse the pancreas and liver, causing a chain reaction of responses that break down our body and can lead to nausea, nerve dysfunction, fatigue, and depression. Limiting refined grains and sugars and avoiding GMO foods and artificial sweeteners will significantly increase the immune function and overall health of each and every cell. Your body will thank you!

Spring and autumn are good times to clean out our bodies and clean up our diet. Juicing is a great addition to any lifestyle. Juicing fresh organic fruits and greens assists the body’s ability to break down and utilize the available nutrients in our food for maximum health benefit. Enzymes, present in any fresh, whole food, are pre-packaged by nature to help us break down and use the food. Cooking, drying, and microwaving our foods kill the naturally occuring enzymes in the food. If we need to cook our food, taking a digestive enzyme will assist in the uptake of nutrients.

Listening to Your Body: Hunger and Pain
Consider that the body gives messages through all signals and feelings, of comfort and discomfort. Proactively “listening” to what these signals are will allow us to make healthy choices.

Our bodies will create a “hunger” message for a nutrient that it needs. Intense cravings may be an indicator of an allergy, addiction, or serious lack of a nutrient in the substance craved.  Our hunger is usually related to nutrient needs or thirst more so than caloric needs — that is why even after eating a good amount of calories, we may feel hungry an hour or so later — causing us to search out more food, overeat, and still not feel satisfied.

Enzymes and probiotics, or friendly bacteria, are necessary for correctly digesting food and extracting nutrients. Adding enzymes and probiotics to your diet is very beneficial for adequate digestion.

Pain is a messenger — killing the pain messenger may cause our bodies to send out a bigger messenger and we may experience a dis-ease process that the original pain “messenger” was trying to warn us about. When we treat our body’s messages as a warning or alert to check in and give it what it needs, there will be no need for the messenger. Pain, for example, is a message from the body that a lack of oxygen is present for some reason (swelling, injured tissue, nerve endings injured, etc). Responding to the “message” of the lack of oxygen (massaging, icing, elevating, resting, relieving the swelling) will eliminate the need for the pain messenger. Painkillers kill the messenger, leaving the body to continue to have the problem. Because the “problem” is not heard and addressed, the body needs to signal us again, louder each time.

Drinking water, eight to ten glasses per day, may help relieve tension and pain. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, chakra clearing, and progressive relaxation will allow your body to naturally send out healing enzymes and growth hormones to relieve the reason for the pain message.

Food is nature’s medicine. Our body will let us know if it “likes” a food or not; we just have to listen. Many good resources are available to help us choose which fruits and vegetables, proteins, herbs, and spices are right for us. Ask a health care professional what foods and portions are right for you and what resources they recommend. Healthy Healing by Dr. Linda Page is a text that I use in my practice and recommend.

Judy Meinen, RN, HTP, Reiki Master, does business as Angel Care Healing Touch. Among her other services, she offers the QXCI non-invasive biofeedback system that energetically scans and harmonizes the body’s stresses and imbalances. She will be teaching health-related classes as well as her psychic development workshops this fall. Please visit www.AngelCareHealingTouch.com, or call 715-832-7250 for more information.