Thursday, September 16, 2010

Farm Talk

I buy fresh (unpasteurized) milk from a few different local organic farmers. One of them is an Amish farmer named Leroy Miller. And I trust his farming values and practices. He puts his jersey cows out to graze in the grass whenever there is grass, and feeds them grass hay in the winter. No feed with chemicals or pesticides. He doesn't give them steroids or antibiotics. He is very open to talking about his farm. It's easy to drive up and see his happy pigs, sheep, cows, turkeys, horses, and their living conditions.

My kids and I especially like the pigs cuz their ears flip-flap when they skip around, their tails do a curly-Q, and their snouts dig really fast when they're looking for food. One time, we were quietly tip-toing closer and closer to a cozy group of about 20 sleeping piglets who were huddled-up together with their moms. Suddenly, one of my kids coughed, and all the piglets simultaneously popped up their heads and oinked a gasp in stereo. With synchronized ear-flopping! We couldn't stop giggling because it startled us too.

I usually go to Leroy's farm once a week. Raw milk lasts 7-10 days. If you're interested in buying anything from his milk house, bring cash or check. No cards. The person behind the counter will ask you if you're a CARE member. This stands for Communities Alliance For Responsible Eco-Farming. It is a private organization consisting of 42 farmers and more than 5500 community members, which requires a $20 annual membership in order to obtain food from the farmers. The money supports the small local farmers. And they also gather together to support one another's good farming practices through meetings, publications, mutual-inspections, etc. If you say no, then they'll ask you if you want to be, and they'll give you a short form to fill out.

Bring your own glass bottles or buy their plastic bottled milk. They are open on Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, & Sat. Closed Wed. and Sun. He also calls his farm:
Life Enhancing Acres
2931 Miller Lane
Bird-in-Hand, PA

...but you won't see a sign. Just a little red building next to his barn. Simple. Functional.

I was at Leroy's milk house a couple days ago and wrote down his prices for you:

Whole Raw Jersey Milk $5.50/gallon or $3.00/half-gallon or $1.50/quart
Raw Cream $9.50/quart or $5.00/pint
Yogurt $4.00/quart
Butter $11.00/ lb.
Sour Cream $5.50/pint
Cottage Cheese $4.25/pint
Kefir $6.00/quart or $1.50/pint
Fertile Eggs $3.50/dozen
Broiler Chickens $2.75/lb.

Here's an excerpt from "Lancaster Buy Fresh Buy Local" guide to local foods:

Life Enhancing Acres

2931 Miller Lane, Bird-in-Hand, 17505

Phone: 768.7848

Fresh chickens: May-Oct, turkeys: Nov, eggs & frozen meats all year. M,Tu,Th,F 8 - 5, Sa 8 -4 Pastured poultry, turkey, eggs, beef, lamb, fruits & vegetables

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sugar, Rapadura, Sucanat, Turbinado, Demerara,etc...

Sweeteners! When I started expecting real nourishment from my food, I stopped buying many over-sweetened processed chemically preserved foods and started sweetening my own yogurt, baked goods, and oatmeal, etc. with natural sweeteners. I quickly realized that the possibilities are vast. What are they all? What do they do? How do I substitute for white sugar in recipes? So, I read some books and web articles and made each birthday another baking experiment in the kitchen over the past couple years.

My son just turned 7 last Thursday, so I experimented with 4 kinds of brownies. My older daughter will be 9 tomorrow, so I made an angel food cake today with raw honey. I found a handy substitution guide that's working well for me so far at:

It's great to use local foods as much as possible. For Lancaster, our local natural sweeteners are definitely honey, maple syrup, and local fruits and fruit juices. Of this list, I like raw honey because it is the least processed and contains enzymes that help digest carbohydrates. The substitution guide above says to use 1/2 c. honey wherever a recipe calls for 1 c. sugar, then reduce the liquid content of the recipe by 1/8, reduce oven temp. by 25 degrees, and bake a bit longer. This worked well for my angel food cake today.

Reminder: Don't give raw honey to kids under the age of 2 because their digestive tracts are not mature enough to deactivate the bacteria spores. As for the rest of us - enjoy!

Regarding cane sugar forms, I'll list them in order of least processed (which contain the most nutrients) to most processed (which contain the least nutrients): muscovado, rapadura, sucanat, turbinado, demerara, sugar in the raw, brown sugar, and white sugar. If you see the terminology "evaporated cane juice," this doesn't really tell you anything specific because all of these are some form of that. Muscovado and rapadura are the two forms of evaporated cane juice which do not have the molasses separated out of them. This is good because the molasses contains the trace minerals and nutrients you want like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. It also has a toffee like flavor, which is much deeper than the neutral flavor of white sugar, so you need to be aware of the difference and decide how you like it. (I like the toffee flavor, but not full-strength, so I cut it by using honey or agave nectar with rapadura in many baked goods and homemade icecream.) To see the nutrition info. on rapadura, go to an old post of mine at

Sucanat also has some molasses, and although it contains less than the aforementioned, it still has some worthwhile trace minerals and nutrients while delivering a milder flavor than rapadura.

The rest of the "brown" sugars are turbinado, demerara, sugar in the raw, and brown sugar. Am I missing any? Probably... cuz there are various brand names that are some form of those listed. And in each of these, all the molasses is removed and then a very small amount is put back in. It's such a small amount that it's nutritional content is pretty close to white sugar which is devoid of nutrients altogether. But it can be used as a bridge if you are trying to get used to sucanat or rapadura. Since it has some of the molasses flavor, it will help your taste buds become accustomed to something new.

I was just at Miller's Natural Foods today (on Miller Lane in Bird-in-Hand, PA) and wrote down some prices of sweeteners on their shelves. Everything listed is price per pound unless otherwise specified:

Organic Rapadura $2.65
Sucanat $1.50
Unrefined Demerara $0.79
Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar $0.75
Evaporated Cane Juice (white) $0.67
Fructose $1.35
Maple Sugar $10.00
Stevia powder $54.64
Stevia herb powder $22.00
Date Sugar $5.95/ 11 oz.
Raw honey $9.80/ 2.5 lbs.
Liquid Stevia $18.75/ 4 oz.
Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar $9.26/44 oz.
Pure Maple Syrup $13.20/32 oz.
Xylitol $12.49/ 2.5 lbs.

Let me know if you have any questions! And thank you Melissa for writing to me about it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gut Feeling

It's amazing what the body can do with rest. And the digestive tract is no different. Fasting is resting for the digestive tract. And a full 12 hour fast each night (like 7pm-7am) makes all the difference for me. The daily cleanse of eating nothing at all for those 12 hours feels like renewed strength for my gut each morning.