5 Reasons to Invest in a CSA Share from Riehm Farms

How would you like to have a bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy while also supporting a local business and farm?

I had never heard of CSA until I attended a health fair last October where I work. The Riehm Farms representatives were there and I was excited to learn about a Community Supported Agriculture, CSA, and what they offered. After learning about the local farm and benefits of participating in a CSA, took a pamphlet to to discuss the option with my husband. Since he grew up as a local farm boy, he loved the idea.

Here are 5 Reasons You Should Invest in a CSA

  1. Who is Growing Your Food?
    This is Riehm Farms’ motto, and wouldn’t it stand to reason that you might want to know who is growing your food since it’s providing nourishment to your family’s growing bodies and minds?
  2. No synthetic pesticides are used or artificial fertilizer; ground water pollution and toxic residues are avoided. Riehm Farms prefers to use organic farming practices. Not only are you avoiding many of the toxins on your foods from factory farms, but your product will be better tasting than that which is in a grocery store chain
  3.  Buy healthy local food.
    You spend money on food every week.  The best way to get the most value for your dollar is buying food that is healthy and nutritious from a local farm, instead of produce that is picked before it’s ready and shipped hundreds of miles.
  4. They seek to put extra quality care into the soil and daily procedures.
    This means they  test the mineral content of the produce you’ll receive to ensure the best quality produce.
  5. Not just produce, Riehm Farms not only sells vegetable shares, but also fruit, eggs, and beef.
    Imagine eggs that have bright yellow yolks that stand up when you crack them! Fruit picked at their peak of freshness because it doesn’t have as far to travel.  Local beef, raised in humane conditions at a family farm instead of a factory farm!

If you want more information about Riehm Farms, contact them: Riehm Farms, 7244 North State Route 53, Tiffin, Ohio 44883 or 419-992-4392.  Ask about signing up for a CSA and a tour of the farm!

What is a #CSA Food Share?

csa-food-share-box
An example of a CSA Food Share

Community Supported Agriculture, CSA, is a way to buy produce, eggs and sometimes farm raised meat directly from a local/regional farm.

You, the customer, invest in a “share” ahead of the planting season to guarantee your food harvest in the spring/summer months. Monies go towards seeds, planting and harvesting so that you get farm to table fresh food every week during the season.

One local CSA in Northwest Ohio is Riehm Farms. It’s family owned and run near Tiffin, Ohio.

A regional CSA is Yellowbird Food Shed, a partnership of area farms in Ohio and Tennessee that deliver food shares throughout Ohio.

CSA Facts and FAQs

Why should I invest in a CSA?
When you join a CSA, you make a choice to help create a sustainable food system and you have a whole season to fresh, quality food that was grown with intention and close to your home.

Locally grown vs store bought?
A CSA share is locally produced, it is rich in the valuable nutrients and flavor that is lost in transit when food is shipped from thousands of miles away.

More variety than store bought produce.
Small family farms plan a diverse variety of food that they grow on their land. This offers so many more choices that have been ignored due to the industrialized farming model. Not only is the food fresh, but regional farms offer local artisan products and heirloom varieties that you would not find at a store.

Less toxic chemicals including pesticides are used on crops.
Many CSAs use sustainable methods without the use of harsh chemicals, including  pesticides. While CSAs are not labeled certified organic by the federal government, they are in the truest sense, organically grown.

Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows your food.
Have questions about what’s in your weekly food share? Not sure how to store or use the food share? This is your opportunity to talk to the people who grow your food. Establish a relationship, and learn more about the food you’re eating. You cannot get this information if you buy it from a grocery or big box store.

 

Preserving Food: Tips to Extend Perishable Items

Imagine saving 20, 30, 50 or even 70 percent off your grocery bill every month then regrettably throwing half of that food in the trash because it went bad or you didn’t use it before its expiration date. It happens to me every month, so I was happy to learn that there are tips to preserve food from spoiling and I can continue to use my coupons on groceries.

Learn How to Keep Fresh Foods Last Longer, Prevent Throwing Away Food, and Save Money on Groceries

1. Know an item’s expiration date. Almost all canned,  bottled and packaged foods have an expiration date. Ensure you look at the date and write it on the package with a sharpie or marker if needed. Use these fresh packaged items first, or freeze them if you can.

2. Invest in an Ethylene Gas Guardian E.G.G ($25), which will extend the life of fresh fruits and vegetables. The EGC absorbs ethylene gas that’s emitted by most fresh produce. Although some produce can spoil faster from this gas, you can use it in a drawer with those separated fruits/veggies. See this article on RealSimple.com for a complete list.

EGG - Ethylene Gas Guardian Keeps Fruit and Veggies Fresher Longer.

3. Don’t cut or wash the veggies and fruit! I learned this tip awhile ago, and it’s true that if you cut and wash fresh produce days before you eat them, they will spoil. Once you cut into fresh produce, you create a breeding ground for mold by exposing the cells. Grapes are a perfect example, I only wash the amount we are going to eat right away. I keep them in a bowl on the top shelf in my frig, then wash a handful at a time.

Cook it or toss the bad apple in the bunch to preserve the other produce.

4. Toss the rotten apple or banana or kiwi. You know the phrase “One rotten apple spoils the rest.”  When 1 piece of fruit starts going bad, use it right away, so you can extend the life of the other produce.

5. Buy in bulk and freeze half. Like to use those multiple coupons, but can’t eat it all before it goes bad? This is perfect opportunity to freeze half of it. I write the date I bought it on the package or divide larger amounts and put it in freezer safe bags with the date. Then I know which package to use first. This food preserving tip works with bread, milk, cheese, meats, green/red bell peppers, onions (slice first) and many other types of food.

6. No, to organic produce. Unless you can eat organic fruits and vegetables within a week or freeze them, don’t buy those grocery items often. I buy fresh peaches, but I prepare them to freeze for the winter (minus the fuzzy skin).

 

More tips available on LearnVest.com – lots of valuable information on this site for preserving food that ultimately saves you money on groceries!

Healthy Living Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

How to Save on Healthy Food, So You Can Eat Better

What you don’t know about eating healthy is that it doesn’t have be an expensive chore.

Natural Home Magazine teaches us all how we can enjoy a healthy lifestyle without spending a lot of money on organic and local food choices in your area. If you always thought (like I did) that buying wholesome nutritious food was expensive, you’re in for a surprise!

1. Shop local farmer’s markets and roadside stands (even from your neighbor’s garden) when it’s in season (and the cheapest) and plan to can or freeze what you can’t eat right away.

2. Do shop natural and organic food stores to buy common staples of food in bulk to keep on hand especially pastas, rice, cereals, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices as well as frozen fresh vegetables that you can’t otherwise buy in your area.

3. Cook larger quantities of food and freeze it to use later. Invest in quality glass or BPA free plastic containers to keep food fresh and to prevent freezer burn.

4. Keep nutrient-rich foods on hand that will satisfy food cravings, but won’t inflate your calorie count or fat intake. Buy or make treats that are packed with nuts, seeds, whole grains like oatmeal and flax seed that will fill up quicker than processed sugary treats.

5. Buy more beans. Buying an assortment of beans either dried or canned cost much less per serving. They are also loaded with potassium and fiber that will satisfy your hunger and are healthy for you.

6. Stock up on protein rich foods that are both nutritious and low cost. Foods include eggs (farm fresh are the best ones), bananas, potatoes (red, yellow or blue retain the most nutrients), bulgur, and non-fat plain yogurt.

7. Buy small quantities of fresh meat, vegetables and dairy on a weekly basis. Use all of it, so you are not wasting food and money. Cook and freeze it if you are not going to use it within a week. Prepare fruits and vegetables the same day you buy them, so they are ready to use when you need them and for kids to snack on after school or in the evenings.

8. Plan weekly meals including snacks and desserts. Buy food according to your meal planning to save money. Shop what’s on sale and use coupons whenever you have them.

9. Keep a record of your food spending. I walk around the grocery store with a calculator to monitor how much I am spending and what I have budgeted for food and I only shop twice a month. I have managed to cut my grocery bill in half by doing this.

If you follow these tips for buying healthy and locally grown foods, you’ll be living a better life too.

Try nutritious and delicious recipes from these recipe books:
Mediterranean: The Low-Fat No-Fat Cookbook
Anne Sheasby,(Southwater, 2009).
Casual Entertaining,
Ross Dobson, (Ryland Peters and Small, 2009).
Vegetarian, Linda Fraser, (Hermes House, 2002).

Stock Up on Hardy Winter Squash and Pumpkins for the Best Recipes

It’s nearly the end of the Fall Harvest, and as farmer’s markets and produce stands are winding down along the East Coast and Midwest, it’s time to stock up for the winter.

Buy Hardy Winter Squash Varieties that Will Last Throughout Winter

Squash – there are still several varieties of squashes available. Look for the mature varieties of

  • Acorn
  • Butternut
  • Buttercup
  • Delicata
  • Hubbard
  • Pumpkins (sugar or pie)
  • Turban
  • Spaghetti
Types of Winter Squash

Pumpkins and winter squash (over 40 varieties are available) are stocked full of vitamins and provide a healthy dose of  beta carotene antioxidants to fight off winter flu bugs. Squash and pumpkins also contain Vitamin C, Iron and riboflavin along with the benefits of being low in calories, but high in fiber. Weight conscious people will also appreciate that these orange veggies are cholestrol and fat-free.

Unlike yellow squash, zucchini and other types of summer squash, the hardier winter squash can be kept for 2 to 4 months if stored correctly, and if bought directly from the field.

Start stocking up and saving for the winter months ahead with these delicious recipes, you will enjoy the hearty flavors of pumpkin and squash soup that these recipes provide.

How to Cook Winter Squash

Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Soup

Delicata Squash Stuffed with Wild Mushrooms and Herbs

Eggsactly Why You Should Buy Local

More egg recalls were announced on Thursday, citing 2 more sources of salmonella in California this time from Wright County Egg. Although it seems like the majority of the recalls were from eggs bought and sold in lots of 60 to restaurants and catering companies, it does bring to mind why you should buy local.

Several months ago I cut out an ad from my local newspaper about a farm nearby that sells eggs year-round for just $2 a dozen. And I do remember seeing a sign along one of the country roads  that read “Eggs for sale,” but couldn’t remember which road it was. I have this little rectangular paperclipped to my calendar in my kitchen; I haven’t ventured to the little farm yet, but after hearing more about these egg recalls I think it will be on my list to do this week.

CNN has more information on the most recent egg recalls as well as Julian dates and plant numbers. While this egg recall does affect several million eggs, it only constitutes about 1% of all the eggs produced in the U.S.