Saturday, November 27, 2010

Please Help Save the Farmers Market

I paid a visit to the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market this morning and was pleased to see fliers standing out against Senate Bill 510! I am not surprised by this as most of the vendors in this Farmers Market will be out of business if this bill passes. I do not normally like to get political with this blog, but if I don't, and this bill passes as it is written, then much of the purpose of my efforts will be lost. Therefore, I will do everything in my power to stand against the passage of this bill as it is written and support those who favor the Tester-Hagan Amendment  and the Managers Amendment to this bill which gives more leeway to small to mid-sized farms and processors. The bill as it is written favors large corporate growers and processors and will force small and mid-sized producers out of business. Our economy and way of live will suffer for this and cannot bear it! We cannot do it alone, we need the help of the public to step up and stand with us.  It will only take a few minutes of your time and will preserve a growing trend of buying locally and will help encourage more small businesses to establish themselves.  The small businesses and local economies are what our country was built on; we cannot afford to lose them.

Please Please Please get involved!  Follow the links below and call your Senators. Just simply read them the following message:

I am a constituent of Senator_______________, and a representative of insert your local Farmers Market here Farmers Market, and I am calling to ask him/her to vote for the Manager's amendment and the Tester-Hagan Amendment to the Food Safety Modernization Act, Senate Bill 510.  We need a food safety bill that cracks down on corporate bad actors without erecting barriers to more local and regional food sourcing.  Size and practice appropriate food safety regulation for small and mid-sized farms and processors is vital economic recovery, public health, and nutritional well being."

You can find more information at www.wix.com/savethefarmersmarket/savethefarmersmarket. They have done a fantastic job of summarizing this bill and of making it easy to take action.

If you live in states other than Arizona you can find contact information for your National and State Representatives at http://www.congress.org/  In the upper right hand corner under the header GET INVOLVED is a search box. Just type in your zip code hit go and then click on your Senators name. This will return his/her contact info.

Other links to help get you involved are:

The John Birch Society  This link will allow you to attach your own comments to a prewritten message which can then be emailed to your representatives.  Very easy to use.

Popvox  This is a survey site and also lets you send comments to your representatives.

Govtrack  This is a link to a summary of the bill.  Please read between the lines and notice how much of it is directed at setting up offices in foriegn countries. This bill wreeks of outsourcing, hidden agendas, and the corporate monopolization of our food sources.

Again, Please Please Please Get involved and please send your comments,

Scott

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

S 510, The Most Dangerous Bill In US History, Who Does It Protect?

Well once again our corporate rulers are using congress to eliminate yet another of our freedoms. It’s being called the “Most dangerous bill in United States history and unless we act quickly to stop it, it may soon become law. It’s bill S510 and is named the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. On November 18th, 2010, the Senate passed a Motion to Invoke Cloture by a vote of 75 to 24. What this means is that the Senate will soon vote on this bill possibly as early as this weekend; we must stop them!


The reason this Act is so dangerous is because it severely restricts our ability to raise our own food or to buy food products from local producers by placing stringent regulations on food production. Basically I must admit I am appalled!  If it passes most Farmer's Markets and small producers will not be able to afford to operate because the regulations will be too cost-prohibitive. With the recent popularity of local markets and the move back to a simpler lifestyle is no wonder the food giants want to put tough regulations on food production. It’s really quite simple; they want to protect their profits.

I took some time to read through this bill and then I read between the lines. They make it look as though they are doing this to protect us from deadly bacteria that could contaminate our food supply. So tell me, they have had the opportunity to do this years ago so why all of a sudden are they moving so quickly and with so much stealth to steamroll this thing through? Well, in my opinion, its quite simple, if you want to sell someone a lemon, you gussy it up with a fresh coat of wax and put some sawdust in the transmission. Of course the buyer won’t realize he has a clunker until after he’s bought it and then it’s too late. It’s the same thing with this bill, they have added all kinds of colorful language stating that it’s to protect our school children from allergic reactions in the classroom and to prevent food-borne illnesses. When examined closely this bill speaks very little of protecting the people from contaminated food and speaks in volumes about setting up offices in foreign countries to monitor the food that is imported to the U.S. In fact, the majority of this bill addresses the importation of food also known as “Outsourcing” I doubt very much that our governments cares as much about the health of its citizens as it does about protecting the profits of the food giants.

I also find it very interesting that they want to be sure that all of the labs that test for food safety share knowledge and methods freely. How convenient, this means no one can dispute a finding or health concern so the government can effectively shut down anyone they want at any time and there will be no way for the affected enterprise to defend themselves by obtaining independent laboratory results.

I only recently found out about this bill and realize there is not enough time to put a strong argument together to stop the passage of this bill so I will post several links to other articles that support what I am saying. I am also posting a link to a summary of the bill itself. Please take the time to read it and then let your Senators know how you feel. You can do this by going to the John Birch Society and posting a comment which will be forwarded to your Senators. The link is:                                                http://www.votervoice.net/core.aspx?APP=GAC&AID=972&IssueID=22734&SiteID=-1
Another useful link to voice your opinion is
http://www.popvox.com/bills/us/111/s510/comment/oppose
By the way, 95% of the people surveyed on this site are opposed to this bill.

Also, a good summary of the harm this bill could do to our individual freedom can be found at:
http://www.naturalnews.com/030440_Food_Safety_Modernization_Act_Senate.html
At the bottom of this article is a list of how your Senators voted. I will take a minute to thank Senators McCain and Kyl of Arizona for standing opposed.

I hope you will take the time to read through this Bill at:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-510&tab=summary


Until the next time, Happy Gardening!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pico de Gallo Farmer's Market Style



About once or twice a month some of the people I work with have potluck lunches to celebrate someone's birthday or some similar occasion.  Usually someone will come around with a list asking what you would like to bring.  I'm often asked to bring the drinks or the utensils.  I suppose this is because I'm a guy and guys can't cook right?  Well I can cook but that's a different story. 

This time, as luck would have it, I was asked to bring the chips and salsa. "No problem," I thought.   A bag of Tostidos and a couple of jars of La Victoria  oughta do it.  Of course, the overachiever in me quickly ruled that out.  I started thinking chips and Salsa on a grander scale and then it occurred to me, I would make pico de gallo and I would make it completely with ingredients purchased at the farmer's market.

So Saturday morning I made a list of ingredients and set out to the Old Town Farmer's Market in Scottsdale. My list consisted of Tomatoes, Onions, Green Onions, Jalapeno Peppers, and Fresh Chives.  Let me tell you, nothing beats Pico de Gallo made with fresh ingredients.  You just can't get the flavor in store bought veggies and my mouth was watering before I ever left the market.



Tasty Ingredients Fresh from the Market

Now That's a Tomato
 I wasted no time getting to work once I arrived home and I thought I would share my Pico de Gallo del Farmer's Market recipe with with you along with some tasty pictures of the process.
Step 1:


Dice one large tomato and put it in a bowl. 
While doing this cut off one....ok two slices of tomato,
sprinkle with sugar or salt and pepper and sample it to
be sure it tastes as delicious as it looks.




Dice One Large Onion
I prefer to use Red Onions
which are stronger and really
Beef up the pico.  It's OK to cry
When you do this!




Remove the seeds from one
Jalapeno Pepper and chop into
itty bitty pieces.
Do not rub your eyes!
I REPEAT, DO NOT RUB YOU EYES!


Chop Up The Green Part of 2 or 3
Green Onions.  Eat the bottoms.
Brush your teeth.  Take some Breath Mints





Chop Up, Tear Up, Rip up or somehow
cut into tiny pieces 2-3 sprigs of cilantro.
  Finally, ad a dash of salt, a spigeon of black pepper and about a half a tsp. of garlic powder.  Mix thoroughly and chill in the refrigerator a minimum of 30 minutes. 


Serve with chips or use as a topping to your
favorite Mexican food. 
I only made one mistake when I made this batch of Pico de Gallo, I didn't make enough.   The bowl was empty before half of my coworkers made it through the line.  There is just something about fresh ingredients that make your favorite recipe a stellar dish.  Everyone at work wanted the recipe and several will be heading to Old Town this weekend.  If you like Pico, head on out to your local Farmers Market and buy fresh ingredients, it will blow you away. Until the next time, Happy Gardening!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

From Lemon Boys to Brandy Wines, Heirloom Tomatoes are FANTASTIC

They have such names as Lemon Boy, Brandywine, Arkansas Traveler. There are over 100 varieties and lately they have become all the rage. You might have noticed them walking through the garden section of your favorite do-it-yourself center. They’re called………. Heirloom Tomatoes.


A Delicious Heirloom
Heirloom tomatoes are nothing new, in fact before there were Hybrid Tomatoes there were Heirloom Tomatoes. The best way for me to describe Heirloom Tomatoes is that they are like the one’s Grandma used to grow. You know, the kind that were just bursting with flavor and were wonderful to eat sliced with some salt and pepper or my preference, a teaspoon full of sugar. Heirloom Tomatoes are simply tomatoes that have not been hybridized or genetically altered in any way; they are propagated with seeds from earlier crops.

Some of the drawbacks to heirlooms are that they do not produce as well as hybrids and they tend to be very particular about the climate they grow in. However, this does make them an excellent candidate for container gardening because if it’s too hot out side they can be moved to a cooler area, or vise-versa. Heirlooms also tend to have less fruit and more foliage but as a rule, more foliage means better tasting fruit. This is a great tradeoff.




You won’t typically find Heirloom Tomatoes in your local supermarket; this is because most growers prefer hybrid tomatoes because of higher yields, rapid growth, and resistance to disease. The drawback to hybrids is that flavor is sacrificed for rapid growth and yield. Just a note, Heirloom Tomatoes can be found at many Farmer’s Markets, and some organic supermarkets, however, the best way to get them is to grow them!

Until the next time, Happy Gardening!






Search Amazon.com for heirloom tomatoes

Monday, November 1, 2010

Container Garden October Planting


Well the cooler weather has finally arrived in Arizona and its planting time. This will be my first real attempt at container gardening. Ironically my bio states that my Grandmother raised tomatoes in the winter in Minnesota in containers. Well I shall do the same in Arizona. It’s funny too that the growing season here in Arizona is almost the opposite of that in the Midwest. We do have to watch out for midwinter freezes though (yes it does freeze in Arizona), but this makes container gardening ideal as I only have to move the pots under the cover of my balcony.



Tomatoes, Peppers, Chives and Cilanto, a Good Start
  To begin, I planted three varieties of tomatoes two of which are heritage tomatoes and one is a hybrid. I also planted Anaheim Peppers, Red Bell Peppers, and my favorites, JalapeƱo Peppers. I also transplanted some chives I had started this summer and some cilantro. All I have left to do now is plant some onions and I’ll be able to make some garden fresh pico de gallo. I also planted some Sweet Basil that I started earlier but then almost killed it by putting it out too early. Apparently, Sweet Basil likes full sun but prefers milder temperatures. Our temperature here right now is between 75-90F and on the patio it reaches over 100. I’ll wait until the highs are in the low 70’s to put the Basil out. I am happy to say though that the Basil has made a miraculous recovery and looks to be available for spaghetti dinner in a couple of months.



Sweet Basil
 I’ve been using miracle grow potting mix but a little bird told me Lowes will not be carrying it anymore. I decided to try Sta-Green Moisture Max Potting Mix. Sta-Green claims that its soil is formulated to protect against over and under-watering. Sta-Green Moisture Max also contains Nitrogen, Phosphate, Potash, and Sulfur so no fertilizer is needed for nine months. I did notice that the Sta-Green soil drained more easily so I guess the real results will come with time.


One cool thing I’ve noticed more of this year are biodegradable planting pots. They are made of peat moss and can be placed directly in the soil. This is not only better for the environment but better for the plants as well because the root systems do not get disturbed during transplanting.


Biodegradable Pot
 I plan on adding some cooler weather crops such as cabbage, lettuce, and broccoli in a couple of weeks. My eventual plan will be to have a year around container garden. In order to do that I will have to come up with a lighting system because my condo is too dark and edible plants need lots of light, but that’s another blog.


Until the next time, Happy Gardening!

Search Amazon.com for potting soil

Search Amazon.com for planting pots