Category Archives: Guest

Dan Moore of Farmshares Interview (part 1)

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Spring has sprung and if you are curious as to how you can eat better and support your local farmer, a CSA might be the perfect solution for your family. Recently, I asked Dan Moore of Farmshares.info a series of questions that will help you dive further into whether a CSA is the right choice for your family.  I also asked a few of you in the community if you had further questions about CSA’s and those questions and answers will be in the next post.

danscsaLilly: What is a CSA and what is the main reason to join one?

Dan: CSA stands for community supported agriculture and is a direct relationship between a farmer or rancher and the end customer with a risk sharing component.  You give the farmer money early in the year, and they give you produce, meat or other food throughout the growing season.

The main reason to join a CSA is to learn more about who grows your food and how it is done.  CSA provides a level of involvement with your food that is deeper than anything other than gardening.

Lilly: What is the most common question or concern you hear from people interested in starting a CSA?

Dan: The most common question is “how do I pick the right farm?”.  Just as with any major purchase (share prices are typically in the hundreds of dollars and can be up to three thousand) you have to both know what you are looking for and do your research.  

To the first point, many people are romantic about “getting food directly from the farmer” and ignore that they don’t like to cook, or travel often during the season, or work a job that will make a weekly pickup hard.  There is enough variety in CSAs available, so think about what you need. If you want to learn the basics of CSA, I have put together a free email course

To the second, while there are similarities, each CSA differs in what they expect of their members, the types of food they provide, and where you can pick up the share.  So while tools like farmshares.info can help, you really need to review each farm’s website, talk to current and past members and mesh what the farm/ranch offers with your needs.

Lilly: What has been the biggest change you have noticed since you first became a CSA member in 2007?

Dan: Two big changes: 1) the widening of the CSA market, both in number of farms and products offered.  It’s amazing to see new farms and new products be available in the CSA risk sharing model. 2) the turnover of CSA farms.  I think the skills needed to be a successful CSA farmer include all the skills of a regular farmer, plus marketing and sales skills (plus management once the farm is a certain size).  I see a lot of CSAs start up and run for 4-5 years and then shut down, either because the farmer is moving off the land or because they are focusing on other markets (farmer’s market, direct sales of a product, wholesale markets).

Lilly: How soon after joining a CSA did you realize the need to create coloradocsa.info which has recently expanded to become farmshares.info? What was the driving motivator?

Dan: I started out with a list of farms on which I had done research, and quickly realized that it would be helpful to others.  A friend also joined a CSA in Denver about the same time and shared her list.  After combining the two, I had a simple web page that received some traffic, indicating there was interest.  After about two years of updating that page and fielding questions about CSAs in Colorado, I decided to build ColoradoCSAs.info in 2010.  In 2015, my wife and I decided that the existing national directories were not as useful as they should be, and spent some time and money re-working and re-launching ColoradoCSAs.info as FarmShares.info, as well as pursuing affiliates and sponsorships.  

The driving motivation for the redesign is that CSA membership, for me, was a fundamental shift in how I viewed food and the food system.  I wanted to share that with people beyond Colorado.photo-52

Lilly: What is the advantage of using a tool such as farmshares.info versus just jumping on the Google?

Dan: Farmshares.info gathers data from farms, standardizes it, and makes it very easy to compare farms that meet your needs.  I always advocate contacting the farmer directly once you have narrowed your choices to two or three, since CSA information can change from day to day (for example, shares can sell out).  

When you start at Google, you find farms that are best at showing up in Google, as opposed to the farm that might be closest to you, or have the type of share you want.

Lilly: How has the transition from coloradocsa.info to farmshares.info been? Can you give us a sneak peek of what to expect in the coming months or years?

Dan: The transition from coloradocsas.info to farmshares.info has been smooth–the launch affected our traffic slightly, but it has bounced back as we head into the prime signup season for the mountain west (Jan-May).  

In the future, you can expect more features, greater coverage of the mountain west and eventually the entire USA, and more partnerships with companies that support local food.  

Lilly: Most of us now think of CSAs in terms of produce, but ‘community supported’ has evolved in recent years to include other products. What are some of those changes?

Dan: I’ve seen two main changes in the offerings from CSA farms over the years.  The first is a far wider selection of  farm-to-consumer products available.  These range from soap to meat to fish to bread to coffee–at least 40 different types of food are available via CSA.  This is fantastic because it lets consumers support local farmers and ranchers even if they can’t commit to a season of vegetables.

The second is the rise, especially in farms selling produce, of the market share.  Instead of the farmer picking out vegetables and boxing them up for you, you pre-pay for credit at farm stands and farmer’s markets.  It’s a way to support a farm and share the risk of poor crops without losing choice.  (The customer still shares the risk because if the farm has a poor season, or doesn’t produce much of a popular crop like tomatoes, the customer is still committed to purchase from that farm.)

Lilly: Can you forecast any predictions for the future of CSA’s in the US?

Dan: I think that CSAs will rise and fall as interest in home cooking rises and falls.  CSAs just don’t make sense if you aren’t eating at home.  The recent trend of people re-learning how to cook (see Michael Pollan’s books) makes me optimistic about the long term future of CSAs.danpam

Three Cheers for Fruitcake! (Gluten Free)

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Please welcome Dr. Kaycie Rosen Grigel from Golden Holistic Medicine and her beautiful Gluten-Free Fruitcake.

 

I know, fruitcake has a bad repuation in this country:  It can bring up images of dry, hard, dense bricks filled with objects that used to be fruit but were replaced by neon erasers.  However, my husband’s Canadian family insists upon fruitcake as a delicious holiday treat and so I went looking for a recipe that used real fruit, nuts, spices, plenty of booze, and nothing unidentifiable.  Thanks to Alton Brown, I was able to modify his recipe to be moist, filled with a delicious array of rum-soaked natural dried fruits, crystallized ginger, and toasted pecans and hazelnuts. Because the cake part is really just there to hold all that deliciousness together, it makes little difference that it is gluten-free.  I usually make mine a few weeks ahead (which, according to the Canadians, makes it way better), but it is still pretty magnificent if you eat it the same day.

 Gluten Free Fruitcake–

Thanks to Alton Brown for the inspiration for the recipe

½ c currants
1 ¼ c raisins
1 c. golden raisins
1 c. dried apricots, chopped
½ c dried cranberries
⅓ c. crystallized ginger
zest of one lemon
zest of one orange
1 1/2 c. spiced rum
1 c. sugar
5 oz butter
1 c apple juice
¼ tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 c. brown rice flour
¼ c white rice flour
½ c cornmeal
1 tsp Xanthum gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup toasted, chopped pecans
1 cup toasted hazelnuts, halved
about 2 Tbsp grand marnier

Directions:

Combine Fruits, ginger, and zests.  Add rum and macerate at least 8 hours or warm over low heat in a medium saucepan 1-2 hours.  Add sugar, butter, apple juice and spices.  Bring to a boil, stirring often, then reduce to a simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool 15 minutes or more.

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients, then sift into fruit mixture.  Stir until integrated, then stir in eggs one at a time, then fold in nuts.  Spoon into 2 buttered nonstick loaf pans.  bake 50-70 minutes, checking for doneness every 10 minutes by inserting toothpick.  Remove cake from oven and baste with grand marnier.  Allow to cool completely before turning out from pan.  When cool, wrap thoroughly.  Check every few days to make sure it is moist, but this cake can sit for several months before eating.

Please welcome author and life coach Sharon L. Muir to our blog as she discusses her personal experience of eating real, homemade food. -LillySharon Muir-002Since June of this year I have been eating home cooked food.  That means no pre-fab food.  Mostly I have been eating fresh whole fruits, veggies, grains, beans, milk, cheese, eggs, fish and meat.  I haven’t been worrying about any crazy fat free, low carb, low calorie foods.  I’ve been eating out a lot less.  I even took up a challenge thrown out there by my famous friend “Chef Lilly” and stopped eating sugar for 6 weeks.  Well, I mostly stopped eating sugar for six weeks.  And lately I have been noticing some very interesting things.

I have become very sensitive to unhealthy food.  When I do go out to eat, if the food is not made in house I don’t feel well within a few hours.  Sometimes my stomach is upset.  Sometimes I suddenly feel exhausted.  It’s not that the food is bad or spoiled it is more that I have become accustomed to healthy, unprocessed, homemade food.   My body has regained its ability to tell me the truth about what I am eating and how that food is supporting me or undermining me.  That is awesome!  I have always known that food has a direct effect on how I’m feeling but I had spent so many years eating for convenience that I lost the ability to listen to my body and make better decisions.  Now I actually prefer eating at home.

I know that it isn’t easy for most of us to cook at home.  Life gets so fast paced and demanding that I lose track of meal time then it seems like better idea to eat something “pre-fab” or just eat out because I’m so hungry.   It’s also hard to put a priority on homemade food because I’m constantly being bombarded with information on what’s good or bad to eat and at the same time watching commercials about superfast comfort food.  It gets crazy confusing.  But, I have to tell you that if you can possibly find a way to start making and eating most of your meals at home the transformation will be well worth it.  I can also report that although I wasn’t going for this, I have also lost at least 15 lbs without trying.

As many of you know I am all about transformation and improving my life as quickly and easily as possible.  This change has taken place in less than five months.

Jamie Oliver proved on his food challenge TV series that it takes less time, money and energy to make a really good homemade meal than it does to go out for fast food.  Take some time and consider making this life style change.  Talk to your family and friends.  Just think about how you can make it happen.  Find the people in your life that will support you in it.  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to listen when your body is telling you what is best for you again?

Sharon L. Muir is the 2012 International Coach of the Year who helps people transform and improve their life. She also is the author of Changing from the Inside Out. Find out more about Sharon at her website www.SharonLMuir.com.