Monthly Archive for: ‘April, 2013’

ECO (Eastern Carolina Organics)

I’ve been struggling for a few weeks now on a topic for my next blog post. I’ve thought about sharing some of my current personal struggles, but I’m just not quite ready to do that yet. Instead, I’d like to share my thoughts & admiration for ECO (Eastern Carolina Organics) and the farmers who have made it successful.

When we started at Guilford College, one of the first people we met was a representative from ECO. They’re a co-op of sorts…it was explained to me that they use money from big tobacco lawsuit settlements to help farmers throughout the south turn their tobacco farms into organic vegetable farms. ECO then contracts with the farmers to promote, sell & deliver the products grown on the farms.

In my studies of the local and organic produce movement, some of the biggest hurdles have been finding enough quantity of product to make transporting to foodservice locations worthwhile, and how to go about that transporting. ECO has developed the system that I think should be a template for farmers & chefs worldwide. How can you not love & respect a company that promotes organic & local produce, sustainable practices for harvesting, transporting & delivering those products, and providing farmers a better-than-living wage.

Who would have thought that so much positive could come out of big tobacco?!

Below is a brief note (included in the product availability listing I receive twice a week), from the folks at ECO about a farmer, Charles Church, a founding father of ECO, who recently passed away. It shows the depth of caring by the company he helped create. There is also a short video of the Charles, talking about his land and how he came to be an organic vegetable farmer. I hope you take a few minutes to view it-he seems like he was a very likeable guy… tho I think most farmers are.

Friends, our hearts are breaking as we mourn the loss of one of our own – Charles Church of Watauga River Farms in Valle Crucis, NC. Charles was a founding owner of ECO, and helped organize other organic growers in the High Country to grow more produce and carpool their product down the mountain for ECO. He believed in what we were trying to do from day 1 back in 2004. He was always a powerful mentor to new and young organic growers around Boone, and was tremendously proud of the organic community in the High Country. A great farmer, a Valle Crucis legend, and most importantly, an incredibly nice man. Charles was a ridiculously hard worker, and sweet and generous in every way.

Charles, we will miss you dearly and will continue to make you proud! Our love and prayers go out to Charles’ family and the Valle Crucis community.

“You got to just about have an inborn love for farming to do it… you got to understand what you get in to, and you got to love every day of it.” -Charles Church

Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, ‘It’s All Good’

In a totally non-nutrition related confession, I love all things Gwyneth Paltrow. Not in the creepy I want to name my children after her, but more in the fascination of a life that is led with incredible privilege. However, when her latest cookbook came out I didn’t have much interest simple because I deemed it unrealistic, mostly based on the pre-release reviews. However, one day while walking through the bookstore I happened to come upon the book. Curious more about the pictures of the blonde haired beauty rather than the recipes, I began to comb through the book. To my surprise the first few pages presented recipes that were really intriguing. I made a spontaneous decision to purchase the book and since we were visiting family I had a few spare moments to actually read through the pages. Now I agree with many reviews that some of the ingredients may be hard to obtain and can be quite expensive. But once I was done reading this book I had a few takeaways

  1. Her health/elimination recommendations should not be taken literally, meaning this is just one persons personal experience of how to live healthier
  2. Many recipes call for sheep or goats milk yogurt which can be replaced with the easy to obtain Greek yogurt
  3. I have no issue with gluten/wheat so I have no problem using regular whole grain bread in place of her recommended “gluten free” bread
  4. This book is a guide, not gospel. Though I cook often, I have new ideas for easily incorporating quinoa into my everyday diet and some great dressing ideas (again they can be easily modified)

For a more animated review of GP’s latest venture into clean eating see the quite comical review from the Washington Post.

Weekly Wisdom – Mediterranean Diet: Making it work for you (part 2)

  • Eat fish – two 4 oz servings of fish are recommended per week;look for easy, foolproof recipes for cooking ease
  • Love the lemons – Squeeze on salads & vegetables; make dressing with olive oil, lemon, fresh garlic & salt

Source: Mediterranean Diet Cookbook

Trash Talk – Celebrate Earth Week!

3 simple things

Canopy Project – plant a tree, or donate to the Canopy Project; for each $1 you donate, they will plant a tree!
Go Paperless – online bill-pay & paperless statements are easy ways to save, save, save!
Recycle e-waste – each year tons of devices are pitched when they could have been recycled! Learn more & pledge to help.

Will you take a small step to help?
Visit the Earth Day Network

Mindful eating quest (part 3)

As my quest for mindful eating continues, I have explored consuming foods I traditionally do not eat. As I mentioned previously, I have not been a fan of yogurt, but I was determined to give it another chance. After some trial and error, I came to the conclusion that pre-sweetened yogurts were the most undesirable for me. Not only do they contain the added sugar I am trying to limit, they produce an undesirable taste on my palate. However, I have become a fan of plain Greek yogurt and have been eating in a variety of ways. Helping me to break out of my cereal rut, I pair plain Greek yogurt with granola (homemade so I can control the sugar content), add it as a garnish on my eggs and even mix it with avocado. At night, always looking for a taste of something sweet, I pair granola with slightly sweetened popcorn or make a shake with Greek yogurt, plain almond milk, banana & cocoa powder (still a work in progress). The point being I have opened my mind (and mouth) to new flavors and textures that I probably would not have done in my previous “mindless” eating life. However, my transition to mindful eating has not been seamless and like anyone with a busy schedule I struggle day to day with making smart choices. That said, we should certainly take pride in any small changes we make in our life that lead to better health. 

This chart from Appetite for Health is a great go to guide how to use Greek yogurt in ways you may not thought of.

Weekly Wisdom – Mediterranean Diet: Making it work for you (Part 1)

  • Do not fear fat ­ think extra virgin olive oil, avocados, and nuts. Research proves fat enhances the nutrients we absorb from food
  • Make veggies the star of your plate ­ find ways to have salads play a bigger role.
  • Embrace beans ­ add to salads, whole grain pilafs, pasta, etc.

Trash Talk – More ways to save: sports & exercise

Golf – golf loses about as many new players as it attracts each year, so if you are just starting, buy used, and/or begin with a half set of irons. As you improve, you can add!
Tennis – play outdoor, during daylight. Lighting a single tennis court can consume over 4,700 kilowatt­hours of energy per year – enough to power the average home for about 6 months!
Surfing / beach combing – stay on the appropriate paths, keep your vehicle on the road, & help protect the dunes by not climbing over them!

Source: The Green Book

Weekly Wisdom – Food Rules: Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature

  • Can you imagine the long list of Twinkie ingredients in their raw state or in the places they grow? No!
  • This rule will keep all sort of chemicals & foodlike substances out of your diet.

Source: The Green Book

Weekly Wisdom – Food Fears: Which ones should you worry about?

  • Farmed salmon ­ err on the side of caution & don’t eat more than once a month.
  • Arsenic in rice ­ eat no more than 1 ½­2 c cooked rice a week-­sub other grains such as quinoa, millet, wheat berries, spelt, etc.
  • Nonstick cookware fumes ­ breakdown only occurs when cookware is heated over 500 ° F; keep the burner below high.

April Recipe: Spring Pea & Mint Soup

Serves 10

4t - oliveoil
1c - shallots,minced
2t - garlic,fresh minced
8c - petite peas, fresh/shelledor frozen thawed
51⁄2c - chicken or vegetable broth
1⁄3c - fresh mint chiffonade
1t -salt
1⁄2t - pepper

  1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat
  2. Add shallots & garlic,sauté until tender, 7 minutes
  3. Add peas & stir1min, add broth, bring to simmer
  4. Cook peas until tender,about 8 minutes
  5. Puree soup & mint in batches until smooth
  6. Return to pot, thin with more broth if desired, add s&p
  7. Ladle into bowls, garnish with chopped mint
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