Community Philosphy Blog and Library

Posts Tagged ‘food’

HOMEGROWN Life: What We Learned From Our Year Without Groceries

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011






I can’t believe it’s been a year now since we started our year without groceries. We learned a lot in that year. We are definitely healthier, but also we’re happier. Our relationship with each other is stronger as we’ve had to learn how to really work well together.

When we first decided to do a year without buying food from the grocery store, convenience stores, box stores or restaurants we thought the challenge was going to be really difficult. And it kind of started out that way. We had difficulties getting local milk, even though we live near a lot of dairies, and our goats hadn’t been bred yet so we had to wait for them to start producing. We had an order on part of a steer that almost didn’t come in, and our first monthly co-op order was missed.

But as time continued onward we started to get into the groove of things. After a lot of research I had found a milk delivery service that actually came to my town. We made do that first month without our co-op order and the steer finally came in. We visited the farmers’ market every Saturday and if something came up and we couldn’t make our local one, we were able to always find another one in a nearby town that we could go to. Our little urban farm started to become more productive and eventually we were able to provide all of our own dairy from our two goats.


We met a lot of great small family farmers and built relationships with them. They answered our questions, gave us tours, and we relied on them for our food. We learned that you don’t have to produce your own food to give up the grocery store, you just have to get out there and meet the people that do produce your food. Not to mention that we saved money on food while buying higher quality products.

About 6 months into our year we realized that it was pretty easy and that we wanted to have more of a challenge. We decided to go the last three months of our challenge without buying any food. We would have to rely on what our little lot could provide us along with anything we had on the shelf.

We were so far behind on planting due to Mother Nature refusing to cooperate that I was worried we wouldn’t have anything to eat fresh. We got lucky and our first big harvest was the day we started the three month challenge. For those first few weeks we were limited to cucumbers, green beans and zucchini. That was probably the hardest part of the challenge – having such a limited diet. And because of our less than stellar weather during the first part of the year, our fruit trees were a complete failure.

On the plus side though we learned first hand what we should have in storage in case of emergencies. We also developed a bartering system with friends which helped strengthen our community.

After a year of being free from grocery stores we decided to continue this journey indefinitely but we’ll allow ourselves one restaurant visit a month. We met a lot of great people along the way and we learned a lot about ourselves.


My friends in college used to call me a Renaissance woman. I was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. I still am. My focus these days, instead of arts and crafts, has been farming as much of my urban quarter acre as humanly possible. With my husband, we run Dog Island Farm in the SF Bay Area. We raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. We’re always keeping busy. If I’m not out in the yard I’m in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!



Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Lauren is a full-time Farm Aid intern.  She is excited to contribute to the missions of Farm Aid and and to have an excuse to talk about food all the time! Outside of work she enjoys traveling, cooking, swimming, biking, and running barefoot.

Last year I joined my university’s triathlon team and started swimming, biking, or running six days a week. Working on three sports at once is definitely a challenge, but endurance races involve another type of training as well: eating. You can only race as hard as your body has fuel for, a lesson that I’ve sometimes had to learn the hard way.

athletePhoto courtesy of Lauren Constantino

It seems that since I started training with the team, my universe has largely been revolving around food. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what to eat before, during and after an endurance event to get adequate fuel without upsetting your stomach. A year into the sport, I’ve become well acquainted with soreness, muscle cramps,  and stomach troubles, and I can almost always tell when I’ve flunked nutrition-wise.

The options for eating during a triathlon are limited. I have yet to encounter anyone who has undertaken eating while swimming, biking leaves you with only one hand free, and there’s not much space to store snacks in a skin-tight tri onesie while you’re on the run. Enter the power food industry, making single serving packets of straight-up sugar goop for portability and easy digestion.

I won’t lie and say I haven’t consumed my fair share of energy gels and sports drinks, but I’m always on the lookout for more homegrown solutions to the nutrition dilemma. One easy recipe I’ve found is making homemade energy bars—great for a pre-run or mid-race snack. Bake a mixture of oats, peanut butter, honey and dried fruit and voilà! Good, nutritious energy at a much nicer price than the commercial brands. You can even cut them up into bite-size squares to keep in a bento box (a little zip compartment that attaches behind the handlebars of your bike) and munch during the ride.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Constantino

Energy gels present a little more of a challenge, but recently Caroline blogged about making honey sticks—a yummy treat any day, but also a great natural source of concentrated sugar. There are already single-serving honey packets on the power food market, so why not make your own? You can also flavor the honey by heating it and mixing in mint, citrus peel or chopped fruit  and then straining it. Sounds like a delicious mid-race pick-me-up that I plan to try very soon!

Coconut water is a great alternative to all of the artificial ingredients-laden sports drinks on the market. It naturally contains potassium to fend off those nasty muscle cramps and also packs electrolytes to help you stay hydrated. You can find it in all sorts of fun flavors, or you can add some juice to the plain variety for flavor and natural sugar (energy!).

In terms of recovery food, I would argue that there isn’t anything better than a smoothie. And I’m not talking about those pre-bottled protein shakes! Blend half a cup of vanilla Greek yogurt with a couple tablespoons of peanut butter, a banana, and some milk to thin it out. Pure heaven, and about 20 grams of protein! (Also great for when you’re too tired after a workout to chew.)

So is it a little more work to be a do-it-yourself athlete? Yes. Is it worth it? Totally. I want expand my arsenal of recipes to keep me fueled up and ready to swim, bike, or run at the drop of a hat. Let me know if you have any suggestions or can share tips or experiences for homegrown athletes!

Food Day 2011

Monday, September 19th, 2011

It’s official: Real food will have its day! On October 24, 2011 join millions of Americans at the table for national Food Day and eat real in celebration of sustainable agriculture, local and regional food systems, and healthy diets.

Photo courtesy of


Even though there’s been a boom in the number of farmers’ markets, local food systems, and emerging food cultures throughout the US, folks are still taking the easy way out at meal times, driving up to the fast food trough to get cheap, “convenient” nourishment.  Still fueling up on salty, fatty, processed foods and high-calorie sweets, many Americans are not reaping the benefits of the wholesome foods that sustainable farmers sow and are suffering from record-high rates of food related illness and disease.  The time for change is now!

The first-ever national Food Day aims to transform the American diet and inspire people to eat real.  The grassroots campaign has blossomed into a movement to get healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food on every table in America.  Food Day not only celebrates the good food movement, but it encourages everyone to cook real food from real farmers together.  Food Day is committed to six principles:

  1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
  2. Support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big agribusiness
  3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
  4. Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms
  5. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
  6. Support fair conditions for farm and farm workers


Join the movement by participating in a few of the hundreds of Food Day events and grassroots actions being held across the nation, or coordinate your own on your campus or in your community!  Visit to pledge your commitment to the campaign, take action to urge your Congressmen to support the eat real agenda and to fix our broken food system, or cook up a few of the Food Day recipes for your family and friends. has a ton of great resources to get involved in Food Day! Get your hands dirty in some soil or in the kitchen with our HOMEGROWN101s on planting and growing; cooking, baking, preserving; and making, building, and crafting.  These handy DIY guides have projects for growers, chefs, and makers of all-levels.  Host a Food Day event with other growing enthusiasts and build a hoop house for planting season extension.  Open your kitchen up to fellow eaters and start canning the flavors of summer for good eating all winter long. Or, work from out handy HOMEGROWN How-To cards and make yourself some kale pesto, a self-watering container, or save the last of your tomato seeds for next year.  Jar your pesto, save your seeds, and plant your rows with’s downloadable goodies – seed packets, canning labels, and garden sticks!

Start a conversation with others in the community about recipes, themes, and tips on how to get growing and cooking seasonally for your family.  There are plenty of folks who have joined our groups with their own tips and tricks to live HOMEGROWN – it’s like Food Day every day!

However you celebrate Food Day on October 24th be sure to share your photos, videos, and events with us on  From potlucks to house parties, community fairs and gardening days, you can get involved in the movement to reconnect with food and build a sustainable system of agriculture. Together we can all join the effort to feed the nation with the bountiful harvests grown and produced on America’s small and mid-size farms, and to support the farmers that grow and raise food sustainably and humanely.  In the name of food, farms and righteous eating, Happy Food Day!