We Gave Up This for TV and Videogames?!

We Gave Up This for TV and Videogames?!

Any spare time we have had over the last two weeks has gone to tilling, planting, watering, chicken coop building, and related activities.  In one of these planting sessions, Jim made the above comment “We gave up THIS for TV and videogames?”  The more we learn about growing our own food and the industrial food system the more we are compelled to really know where our food came from.  Not just was it organically grown but what was its life really like.  There’s a lot of marketing ploy mumbo jumbo out there you see often:  all natural, cage free, grass fed, etc.  Companies know these labels will sell their product and commonly do the bare minimum to get them on their packaging.  Which is why we encourage everyone to grow your own food, talk to your farmer yourself, or better yet, go visit the farm.  How else will you know what you are really eating?

I could go on and on about this but the great farmer and writer, Wendell Berry, does it so much better in his essay The Pleasure of Eating.  I highly recommend giving the whole essay a read but this excerpt summarizes why we are so convinced that it is important for our own health and the health of the world to know the source of our food.

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Learning to Nurture

Learning to Nurture

In Wendell Berry’s, The Unsettling of America, he describes two types of people: the exploiter and the nurturer.  He states:

“Let me outline as briefly as I can what seem to me the characteristics of these opposite kinds of mind.  I conceive a strip miner to be a model exploiter, and as a model nurturer I take the old-fashioned idea or ideal of a farmer.  The exploiter is a specialist, an expert; the nurturer is not.  The standard of the exploiter is efficiency; the standard of the nurturer is care.  The exploiter’s goal is money, profit; the nurturer’s goal is health – his land’s health, his own, his family’s, his community’s, his country’s.  Whereas the exploiter asks of a piece of land only how much and how quickly it can be made to produce, the nurturer asks a question that is much more complex and difficult: What is its carrying capacity? (That is: How much can be taken from it without diminishing it? What can it produce dependably for infinite time?) The exploiter wishes to earn as much as possible by as little work as possible; the nurturer expects, certainly, to have a decent living from his work, but his characteristic wish is to work as well as possible.  The competence of the exploiter is in organization; that of the nurturer is in order – a human order, that is, that accommodates itself both to other order and to mystery.  The exploiter typically serves an institution or organization; the nurturer serves land, household, community, place.  The exploiter thinks in terms of numbers, quantities, “hard facts”; the nurturer in terms of character, condition, quality, kind.”

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Rethinking The Banana

Rethinking The Banana

In recent years, bananas have edged out apples as the most consumed fruit in the United States The average American consumes 25-30 pounds of bananas per year, which amounts to roughly 100 bananas. In fact, with bananas being such a consumer staple, there has been a hidden price war over the cost of bananas at many local grocery stores. Many of us hardly get a few items onto our shopping list each trip before bananas make the lineup. So many in fact, that grocery retailers have notice the profound power behind having the cheapest bananas on the block. This article explains specifically the way this has been happening in the Chicagoland area. http://www.smartbrief.com/original/2016/01/banana-gauge-how-do-banana-prices-affect-food-retail

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Spring Chicken Fever!

Spring Chicken Fever!

At Creating Sustainable Roots we believe living more sustainably means bringing agriculture back into urban settings and we’ve found raising backyard chickens is one of the most fun and productive ways to do this!  Chickens have the capability to provide soil cultivation, weed control, insect control, natural and super effective fertilizer, compost, education for children, a very abundant and healthy source of nutrition in their eggs, and bring a lot of joy to your life.

We first got 6 baby chicks in the spring of 2014 and have been hooked ever since.  They are easy to care for and there really is nothing quite like checking the laying box and seeing a fresh bundle of eggs just waiting to hit the frying pan!  We parted ways with those chickens just before this past winter when their egg laying had more or less stopped and have been dreaming about new ones each day since.

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Two Ingredient Creamy Popsicles

Two Ingredient Creamy Popsicles

I am currently typing this while lying outside with a tank top on…spring is here!!! With the warmer weather on the way, I’ve also been thinking about the shift in the seasonal foods we will be enjoying.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the comfort food aspect of winter soups and stews, BUT I Love the abundance of fresh greens and fruit in the summer.  

This recipe was born out of a desire to empty my freezer of some frozen pineapple that needed to be eaten and put to use the coconut yogurt that I had just made.  The resulting product was too good not to share.  Like I said, we used frozen pineapple and coconut milk yogurt but I’m thinking this recipe would work with any frozen fruit and regular plain yogurt.  Let us know if you try it in the comments and how it turns out!  

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Instant Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt

Instant Pot Coconut Yogurt

I’d heard about the Instant Pot for the last couple of years but thought, I don’t need another cooking appliance, I already have my slow cooker.  Fast forward to this Christmas when I reluctantly decided to take the plunge and ask for one of these devices whose praises were sung by so many.  Well, I have not been disappointed…if anything, I wish I would have asked for one years ago!  

What is an instant pot?  It’s a pressure cooker but also has features to sautee, steam, and slow cook as well as function as a rice cooker, yogurt maker, and has settings to cook various meat items to perfection.  Our instant pot gets used several times a week and often daily.  We regularly used it to make all sorts of vegetables (especially root vegetables), roasts, whole chickens, broth, hard boiled eggs, and now you can add yogurt to that list! 

Why Coconut Yogurt?  I used to regularly make raw milk dairy yogurt and loved it.  However, since having our daughter, we have cut back drastically on our dairy consumption and have all felt better because of it.  I love that coconut milk contains nutrients and fats as well as the beneficial probiotics contributing to health.

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Family Mission Statement – Part 8: Play

Family Mission Statement – Part 8:  Play

Play is valued little in our culture.  Let me explain.  It is difficult to refute that life has changed more in the past 150 years than it did cumulatively in the previous thousands.  The simple, pastoral, self sufficient life has given way to a fast paced, highly educated, and others dependent life.  Obviously, technology is a factor, but much before that, industrialization changed the terrain of how people eat, sleep, work, learn, and play.

For adults, a mindset of work before play has set in with an industrialized economy.  My fear is that we’ve transferred this mindset to children at a premature age and more aggressively than we think.  I would also make the case that adults should be reluctant to give up the art of play in their own lives and even practice it regularly.  Let’s begin by looking at children.

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Family Mission Statement – Part 7: Work

Family Mission Statement – Part 7:  Work

Who doesn’t love hearing the exciting and creative job titles kids come up with when asked what they want to be when they grow up?  Firefighter, car mechanic, astronaut, missionary, doctor, marine biologist, viceroy of the open seas!…  Ok, maybe not that last one – but we are taught to dream big and the sky’s the limit.  However, at some point, for many but not all of us, reality sets in and our selections are narrowed to a much more practical list of career options offered by our university, trade school, etc:  Accountant, chemist, engineer, business, education, history, math, and so on.

The thought that has amazed us lately is realizing how segmented career pursuits can be from the rest of life.  The dream as children to pursue our passions gets replaced along the way by the expectation to enter a proper and pragmatic profession.  Whereas our goals, values, dreams, and passions apply to the rest of our lives, it seems almost normal that our career ought to take a different path.  This is what I mean by segmented.  Our lives head one direction while our work heads us in another.

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Family Mission Statement – Part 6: Intentional

Family Mission Statement – Part 6:  Intentional

Parenthood especially, has caused me to rethink how I value time.  “They won’t be young forever.”  “Blink and they’ll be in college!”  All things I’ve heard from practiced parents.  Time can look very different depending on the stage of life you’re in but one of the things we’ve been challenged with for a while now is being intentional with the time you have – So much so, that it became the next part of our Family Mission Statement.

Imagine two lives.  One being the planner who is always focused, driven, ahead of schedule, prudent, goal oriented, and has days, weeks, and months set on the calendar.  Now, think of the partier who is always unpredictable, extremely social, unplanned, usually not on time, carefree, adventurous, relaxed, and seems to lack a general sense of direction.  Take those two lives, throw them in your stock pot, stir them around, and you have what we would aim for as the perfect stew of intentional living.

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Family Mission Statement – Part 5: Freely

Family Mission Statement – Part 5:  Freely

In 2010, Joelle and I had the chance to spend a summer in Orlando, Florida.  We couldn’t have timed it better!  Just a few weeks prior, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter had opened at Universal Studios.  How could we resist the opportunity to channel our inner Dumbledore and Hermione!  We went and it was packed – in fact we waited near an hour just to get into that portion of the park.  Besides the simulated ride through Hogwarts and drinking my first butterbeer, our other fondest memory was our mystery line.  With the masses of people in the park, lines were everywhere.  At one point we jumped in a line thinking we knew where it led.  We asked the people around us in line and no one could give us a definite answer.  In all, we waited in this line for over an hour, it only moved a few feet, and still to this day we have no idea what the line was for.  Somebody pass me another butterbeer, please!

We eventually got out of our not so magical mystery line.  One thing I couldn’t help but notice was how many remained in the line.  How long, I wondered, would they continue to stand there with no clear direction and such little forward progress?  Either way, walking away gave us a new sense of freedom to explore!  I think we left Wizard World and enjoyed the rest of the park where there were no lines at all 🙂

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