Farmers’ Markets 101: Questions to Ask

basket of tomatoes denim back

 

So, we’ve been talking Farmers’ Markets. You want to go, you’ve picked out a Market to go to, and you know how some do’s and don’ts while you are there. Now let’s discuss some good questions you might want/need to ask while shopping for all your goodies.

Beef

  1. Is this grass-fed beef?
    In my opinion, the best beef to buy is “grass-fed.” This means that the cows had been grazing on open pasture and eating yummy green grass as opposed to being fed a grain-based diet.
  2. Are the cows fed non-GMO feed?
    Some ranchers do a combination; they let their cows graze on grass and supplement with a grain diet. If this is the case, I suggest asking if the grain is non-GMO. The main ingredient in cattle feed is corn, which is usually Genetically Modified {GMO} . I’ll save my thoughts on GMOs for a later post, but it’s suffice to say that it has been banned in some countries, and its long-term affect on humans is not known.

Eggs

  1. Are these free range/pastured eggs?
    This just means the chickens are allowed to roam around the farm, pecking and eating what they were created to eat.
  2. Are the chickens fed non-GMO feed?
    Chickens are also fed a grain-based diet. So, again you will want to ask if the grain is non-GMO.

Produce

  1. Were any sprays used on these veggies/fruits?
    The term “organic” is regulated. Farmers have to pay big bucks and go thru a bunch of red tape to be able to label their produce as organic. Therefore, most small farmers at local Farmers’ Markets will say no if you ask them if their produce is organic because technically it’s not. HOWEVER, you can ask if they use sprays {pesticides or herbicides}. And if they don’t, it’s as good as “organic.”

Well, there you have it. Now go forth unto a Farmers’ Market and buy local!

Keep enjoyin’ the Journey!

And ps…the pics from this series are from my fav Farmers’ Market at Eden’s Organic Garden Center and CSA Farm. It’s the 1st, 3rd and 5th Saturday of each month in Balch Springs.

 

 

Farmers’s Markets 101: Etiquette

farmer carols cukes

 

Last post we discussed why you need to visit your local Farmers’ Market. I also told you where to find one in your area. So, now you are ready to go, but might feel a bit intimidated, especially if its your first time going. Never fear, Red is here! Today we’re going to discuss Farmers’ Market Etiquette.

Yes, folks, like most civilized places, Markets do have a certain etiquette that when followed, will make your shopping experience much more enjoyable.

I’m going to list some do’s and don’ts that I have learned by trial and error, so that you won’t have to look like the geek who’s never been to a Farmers’ Market {not that I ever did}.

Some Do’s For You

  • Do bring your own shopping bags. Lots of stands won’t have bags for the things you buy, so it makes life easier when you have your own. I’ve forgotten mine on more than one occasion, and I regretted it as I chased after a wandering toddler while holding onto some zucchini, squash and 3 pounds of ground beef all the while trying not to smoosh my carton of eggs. The bags can be plastic or reusable, but reusable is preferable {after all we’re trying to save the world here!}.
  • Do bring cold hard CASH. And in small bills, ones and fives are best. There are some stands that take credit cards, but cash is king. And small bills come in handy when there’s a long line behind you waiting for you to complete your purchase.
  • Do ask questions. It’s ok that you don’t know all the different kinds of honey and their subtle differences. That’s why they are selling the honey and you are not. Like I said in the last post, you can learn so much about the food you eat by just asking questions. And we all need to be asking more questions about the food we eat! So ask away. What’s the difference between these two kales? Why are those carrots so small? What the heck is that?? I’ll talk more about good questions to ask in my next post.
  • Do be friendly and say hi to folks behind stands even if you don’t want to buy their stuff. It will feel awkward at first because you know that they really want your business. And you know that they know that you’re just looking and saying hi to be friendly. BUT they also know that they win some and lose some, so just say hi and move on 🙂

Some Don’ts for You

  • Don’t cut in line. Even if your two-year-old REEAALLY has to go potty and the last carton of eggs will be sold if you don’t buy them NOW.
  • Don’t try to “teach” the farmer something. Chances are they know more than you do about XYZ. Afterall, they have poured blood, sweat and tears into growing/raising/making XYZ.
  • Don’t be a jerk. One time, I was walking by a bread stand that made delicious homemade bread and pastries and I heard a guy ask, “You got anything gluten-free?” in a not-s0-friendly tone. The sweet lady working the stand said, “No, sir. All of are breads have gluten.” And the guy kinda mockingly laughed, “Well, that’s no use!” Really? They sell bread, COME ON! Go take out your gluten frustrations elsewhere.
  • Don’t walk up to a local artisan and say, “I can make that.” And this comes from personal experience. I had a lady come up to me at one of my Christmas shows and tell me she could make the same sugar scrub I was selling. Good for her. Go knock yourself out making all the sugar scrub in the world. And by the way, why are you here, at my stand, holding my sugar scrub?

I know I’m being a bit sarcastic, but I do sincerely hope you will hear my heart behind it…Farmers’ Markets are awesome. I promise you will love shopping at them or your money back!

Keep enjoyin’ your Farmers’ Market Journey!

And ps…go grab some sugar and some olive oil from your kitchen. Mix them up and make your own sugar scrub…it’s very empowering!

 

 

Farmers’ Markets 101

First Market Day 8-11-07

 

Summer is in full swing and so are Farmers’ Markets. I LOVE Farmers’ Markets! They are kinda like a one-stop shop for groceries…fresh groceries, that is. At most Markets, you can find: grass-fed meats, pastured eggs and fresh produce.

I love going to our local Farmers’ Market, but I didn’t always. When I first started going, I was a bit intimidated. I was just beginning my Green Journey, and was unsure what questions to ask or what to get. There are so many booths and I felt bad walking by a booth without buying something – not to mention if I happened to stop by a booth to peruse what they had. {It’s kinda like that feeling when you’re on a road trip and you need a pit stop, so you run in to McD’s just to use the ladies’. But then, you accidentally catch the eye of one of the employees, and STINK! now you just have to buy something!}

Anywho, I’ve been going to Markets for about 3 years and I’ve learned a bit about the lingo, what to take and what questions to ask. So, of course I want to share them with you because Farmers’ Markets are awesome and everyone should be going. Here’s why:

3 reasons you should visit a Farmers’ Market this weekend:

  1. Fresh Produce: Produce you buy at the grocery store {including organic} was picked way before it was ripe {hence, less nutritious}. Then it travels all the way from the farm to your local grocery store shelves. On average, produce travels 1200ish miles from where it was grown to your plate. On the contrary, produce at a Farmers’ Market was picked at its peak {more nutritious and delicious} and then traveled maybe 30-40 miles {usually less} to get to you.
  2. Great Resource for all kinds of info: Did you know that garlic doesn’t really need to be sprayed with pesticides because it repels most bugs naturally? Me neither, until I spoke with a garlic farmer at a Market. You can learn all kinds of things about the stuff you’re buying because chances are, you’re speaking to the guy who grew it.
  3. It’s fun: And who doesn’t want this…after all, this is all girls want {cue Cyndi Lauper}. It’s a bit nostalgic when you go. And after you go a handful of times, you’ll start recognizing people, so you’ll start to feel apart of that community.

Now that it’s settled that you will visit your local Farmers’ Market soon, I want to share some of my tips and tricks I’ve learned. I’ll be doing this over the next post or 2, so stay tuned!

Enjoy your Farmers’ Market journey!

And ps…go here to find a Market in your area.

All-Natural Delicious Chocolate Cookies

Yum!

Who doesn’t love chocolate cookies? Today, I came across a DELICIOUS recipe for super easy cookies that are super delicious. And chances are you’ve had a version of them at some point in your life.

They are a slightly different version of those yummy no-bake cookies everyone and their dog knows how to make. They are slightly healthier, due to their lack of sugar, but slightly tastier than their original version.

What You’ll Need

1 c raw honey
1/2 c extra-virgin coconut oil
1/2 c cocoa powder
2 c rolled oats
1 c all-natural peanut butter
1 c unsweetened coconut flakes
1 t vanilla extract

What You’ll Do

In a medium pot, dump in the honey, coconut oil and cocoa powder. Put the pot over medium-high heat and wait for it to boil. Let it boil for a couple of minutes, then take it off the burner and stir in the oats, pb, coconut flakes and vanilla.

Then plop out a spoonful of the mixture onto wax paper. Keep ploppin’ them out til you’re all out of mixture. Allow the cookies to cool. Finally taste one and pat yourself on the back for making very delicious all-natural chocolate cookies!

Enjoy your cookie journey!

And PS – You are special today!

 

Green Spring Clean: Using Essential Oils

I LOVE essential oils. I think they are God’s gift {one of many} to mankind! They have a variety of uses. To learn more about essential oils, read this.

Today, I want to talk about using essential oils for cleaning your house during the great Green Spring Clean, specifically which oils are my favorite to use and how I use them.

My Springtime Oils of Choice 

  • Lavender is THE essential oil to have around your house; not only for medicinal purposes, but also to clean with. It is antimicrobial, antibacterial, smells amazing and helps you to relax!
  • Lemongrass is just as awesome. It is antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral and smells like a warm spring day. Just a whiff brigs a smile to my face!

How I Use My Springtime Oils

  • In an all-purpose cleaner. To make a simple AP cleaner, you just need a spray bottle, some distilled water and lavender and/or lemongrass. Put 3-4 drops of each oil in the bottle and add the distilled water. You can also add castile soap, hydrogen peroxide or vinegar.
  • Diffuse them throughout the room. I love my diffuser and use it often. Diffusing lavender and/or lemongrass is a great way to clean the air in your home. The oils will kill nasty bugs that can cause sickness. Plus it’ll leave your house smelling AMAZING.
  • Use them in the dishwasher. Put 1-2 drops of either or both oils in the detergent compartment of your dishwasher before you run it. Not only will your dishes thank you, but your nose will too!
  • Put them in the vacuum cleaner. Put 3-4 drops of either or both oils on a cotton ball and place it in your vacuum bag. This will kill the nasties in the vacuum bag and in the air while your vacuum.
  • Make an all-purpose deodorizer/cleaner. Add 3-4 drops of either or both to 2 cups of baking soda. Sprinkle the mixture on your carpet, upholstery, mattress, etc and vacuum up. Use it to clean kids’ toys you can’t throw in the wash. Also use it to clean the sink, toilet, bathtub and shower. Just sprinkle some in, scrub away and rinse clean. I call it Everything + the Kitchen Sink.

I hope you are enjoying the Green Spring Clean!

And PS…Stay tuned for more!

 

 

 

 

 

photo by: taylorri40

Time for a Green Spring Clean

Spring is right around the corner! And with that comes the great Spring Clean that occurs every year or four in my home. However often it occurs in your home, I wanted to write a series of posts to help you out with it. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite tips and tricks I’ve learned {and use} about green cleaning.

Before we delve into those nifty tips and tricks, let’s talk about what exactly is “green” cleaning and why would you do it.

In my humble opinion, green cleaning is cleaning your home in a way that is healthier for you, your family and the environment. This may play out in different ways for different people. For some, it means ditching all cleaner-type products and using only micro-fiber. For others, it means switching their conventional  cleaners to more natural cleaners like Mrs. Meyers.

Still for others, myself included, it means ditching all commercial cleaners for all-natural homemade cleaners. There are several reasons I choose to do it this way:

  • To me it doesn’t feel clean unless I’m using a spray bottle and a cloth. I realize that microfiber really does get stuff clean, I just like to spray and wipe!
  • I want to know exactly what is in my cleaners and why it’s in there. As a mom of two littles, this is super important to me.
  • I want my children to be able to clean with me. I can’t do this with commercial cleaners. Even so called “green” cleaners aren’t really green {in my opinion} when you look at their ingredients.

So, why would you choose to do green cleaning? Along with the reasons above, I would add:

  • To reduce toxin levels in your home. Everyday conventional cleaners contain lots of chemicals that are hazardous to your health and to the environment.
  • You can save some green. If you ‘re willing to make your own cleaners at home, you’ll be amazed at the $$ you save.
  • Most green cleaners include essential oils, and essential oils ROCK! Not only do they make your house smell soooo good, they also have health benefits. For example, lavender will not only kill the bacteria on your countertop, but will also kill the bacteria in your air. And all this while leaving your house smelling heavenly and peaceful.

Speaking of essential oils, my next post will explore my love for essential oils in cleaning.

Enjoy your green cleaning journey!

And PS…if you’re concerned about the ingredients in your cleaning products, check out this website.

And PSS…We are now starting to book our Green Spring Clean parties. Gather your friends to learn more about cleaning your home green-style. Click here for more info and to book.

 

Kicking the Diet Coke Habit

Who am I kidding….Diet Coke was no habit for me. I was Diet Coke dependent {that’s PC for an addict}. So what made me kick it and how did I do it?

The Short Answer

Diet Coke is not exactly green. And seeing as I’m on a green journey, this was the blatantly obvious next step.

The Long Answer

So, as you know, I LOVE Diet Coke. I’ve drank it for over 20 years. So, kicking the addiction habit was no easy feat {and still isn’t}. I’ve been {barely} trying to quit for some time, but I knew the time was coming when I would need to give it up for good.

Around the same time, we were contemplating whether to proceed with vaccinations with Baby Boy. I decided that if I was even going to consider to not vaccinate my child, my Diet Coke habit would have to stop. It seemed hypocritical of me to not want to expose my son to potential harmful ingredients in vaccinations, yet expose him to harmful chemicals in Diet Coke everyday. That same week, we were eating at one of our favorite restaurants, and the Diet Coke fountain drink dispenser wasn’t working. As the restaurant worker opened up the cabinet to pull out a box of Diet Coke syrup, I thought…really, is that what I’m drinking?! And I haven’t had a sip since.

 

8 oz Diet Cokes

 

Call it a miracle…because I do! It’s hard because I was addicted for so long, but also because I love Sonic! When I am out and about, I want a drink from Sonic to sip on while doing errands….it’s how I was raised! So, I still have my Sonic runs, I just order an unsweetened tea with lime…not quite the same, but definitely healthier for me. Putting lime in my water and tea has really helped. Also, I have become rather fond of herbal teas, but more on that later!

 

 

And PS – Have you ever given up a guilty pleasure? How’d you do it and why?

 

photo by: diaper

Diet Coke, I Bid You Adieu

Well, it’s been 3 weeks, 5 hours and 40 minutes since my last sip of Diet Coke.I AM A RECOVERING DIET COKE HEAD.

I am still recovering because I can still taste the tingling of the aspartame-filled beverage on my tongue, and one sip would throw me right off the wagon. This is a B.I.G. step for me.For those who know me, you know how big of a deal it is for me to stop drinking my Diet Coke. For those who don’t know me, let me put this feat into perspective.

Diet Coke has been my beverage of choice for over 20 years. I have consumed large amounts of it: on 5 continents, in 11 countries and numerous cities. I was no light-weight. I LOVED the stuff.

When I was little, I’d be in the back of the house and would hear my mom crack open a can and would come running up to her to get a sip. My grandmother had an entire refrigerator in her garage dedicated to Diet Coke.

This drink was in my blood. It was apart of me. When people thought of me, inevitably they would say, she LOVES Diet Coke.

So, what made me quit and how did I do it? I’ll give you a hint…Diet Coke is not exactly green.

Tune in next post to hear my story.

And PS…just choosing a photo to use in this post made my mouth start to water….pathetic sad, I know

photo by: SeveStJude

A Relaxing {and Green} Bathing Ritual

Spa in DVN

It’s been one of those days. Sleeping Beauty is transitioning to a big girl bed and didn’t take her nap today. And Baby Boy is teething, so he’s been fussy all day and wanting Mommy to hold him all.day.long. On top of that, our Great Dane, Brutus, got into the kitchen trash and ate an entire rotisserie chicken carcass plus some of the foil it was wrapped in.

So, tonight I just wanted a relaxful evening. Prince Charming had a meeting at church, so I poured myself a glass of red wine and drew a warm bath. To the bath I added some epsom salt and 2 drops each of rose absolute and ylang ylang essential oil. I sank into the bathwater trying to pinpoint a word that described the amazing smell I took in each time I drew a breath. Amazing. Beautiful. Sultry. were some words that came to mind. I felt like I was standing in the middle of a flower shop with a warm, cozy blanket wrapped around me, drinking a glass of red wine. Could it get any more delectable than this?!

Oh, but it could…

After soaking for about 20 minutes, I slathered coconut oil on my face. And then rubbed on a mixture of sugar and grapeseed oil. The coconut oil cleaned my face {oil dissolves oil}, while removing my mascara {the best makeup remover ever}. The sugar and oil mixture served as an exfoliator.

Needless to say, my face and body felt yum afterwards. I stepped out of the bathtub a relaxed momma ready to drink in some much needed sleep. But wait…what about those dirty dishes in the kitchen…

For a relaxful evening in the bath…

What you’ll need & do:

for the bath:
1 tablespoon of epsom salt
2 drops rose absolute
2 drops ylang ylang 

draw a warm bath and add the salt and essential oils. *if you don’t want to buy the individual ingredients, i have the herbal bath salt mixture for sell.  just email me: kasey@redsgonegreen.com and I’ll get you some!

to cleanse your face:
1 tablespoon coconut oil

slather on the coconut oil and rub in circular motions. keeping your eyes closed, massage oil into your eyelashes until mascara breaks up. using a warm wet washcloth, wipe away the oil, dirt and mascara from your face.

to exfoliate your face:
1 tablespoon sugar {preferably organic}
1 teaspoon olive oil

in a small bowl, mix the sugar and oil together. first, rub the mixture between your fingertips. this will turn the sugar into glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy. massage the mixture into your skin and rinse clean.

Enjoy your relaxing bath journey!

and ps…be sure to sniff your skin when you emerge from the bathwater.

 

photo by: Dennis Wong

Elderberry Syrup

We love our Elderberry Syrup!

We love our Elderberry Syrup!

Did you miss me?! I’ve been a busy mommy since I last blogged. I’m continuing on my green journey, which has included giving birth naturally and giving up Diet Coke (to which I have been addicted for over 20 years). More on those 2 topics later!

Today, I want to share a natural remedy our little family has been using lately: Elderberry Syrup. Love me some Elderberry syrup! This little gem will give your immune system a kick in the rear to get it moving in high gear. It is also used to shorten the duration of a cold and give the flu the boot. And being in the midst of cold and flu season, isn’t that what we all want?

The elderberry is a berry that is harvested from the Elder tree, which can be found growing in moist areas. The berries are praised by the natural community for their medicinal properties. They are high in antioxidants, potassium, beta carotene and vitamin C. Many folks use them to make an immune boosting syrup, Elderberry Syrup, and you can too!

What you’ll need:

photo (12)1/2 c  dried Elderberries (available at most health food stores or here)
3 c water
1/2 c raw honey
a couple of dashes of each: cinnamon, ginger & ground cloves (all optional)

What you’ll do:

In a medium pot, bring the elderberries, spices and water to a boil. Then reduce the heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture into a glass bowl. You’ll keep the strained juice and throw away the elderberries. Let the juice cool and then stir in the honey. Store the syrup in a glass jar in the fridge. It will last 2-3 months.

How to use the syrup:

As an immune boosting supplement: adults take 1 tablespoon daily and kiddos take 1 teaspoon daily. At the first sign of a cold or flu: take the normal dosage every 2-3 hours. We’ve been taking the syrup as a supplement for about a couple of weeks now. I gave it to Sleeping Beauty every 3 hours when green snot started seeping from her nose, and it nipped it in the bud.

I hope you enjoy your Elderberry Syrup journey!

And PS…you will not need a spoonful of sugar to take this medicine. It is really is yummy!