Local Food Connections

On Saturday, our neighborhood fresh produce market hosted their 3rd annual Farm Fest to give shoppers the opportunity to meet local farmers and producers. We love Farm Fest, not just because we get to chat with the men and women who grow the foods we love to eat, but because we can sample new products that more often than not end up on our regular shopping list.

Having fun at Farm Fest 2018.

Last year, we fell in love with an oven-ready vegetarian lasagna that’s made right here in our town. At $20 for an 8 x 8 pan, Il Pandolce isn’t something we can afford all the time but it has become one of our favorite date-night splurges. We also discovered Santo Niño de Atocha Tortilleria. Ms. Alice and her family make fresh corn tortillas and chips literally down the street from us. We can (and have) walked to her shop.

This year the big hit for us was Smirk Ice Cream. Their small batch ice creams are made with fruit sweetened almond milk – no artificial ingredients, no added sweeteners, and no dairy. It was like heaven on a spoon for me (I’m very sensitive to dairy products and usually have to enjoy ice cream in tiny, tiny servings). Smirk even offers free delivery right to your door in the greater Nashville area.

As we made our way around the tables at Farm Fest, I couldn’t help but notice something interesting…besides this grandfatherly gentleman posting pictures of his wife to Instagram.

It’s Instagram-pa! He was having such a great time.

People were really interested in where their food came from. They wanted to know where the farms were located, if they could visit, and if their methods were organic and/or humane. I suppose this is what one should expect in a local produce market but nevertheless, it was inspiring. If more folks thought this much about their food, just think of the impact we could make.


Top 5 Reasons to Buy Local

  1. It supports your local community. 68% of food dollars spent locally stay in the community, as opposed to only 43% of food dollars spent at a chain grocer.
  2. You will reduce your environmental impact. On average, food travels 1,500 miles to reach the grocery shelf. This means massive amounts of energy are used in the transportation, refrigeration, storage, and packaging of these foods. Buying local eliminates almost all of this resource waste.
  3. Local food tastes better and is more nutritious. Most grocery produce is picked early and ripens in transit. Local produce has time to ripen in the field, meaning it can be picked and sold at the peak of flavor and nutrition.
  4. You will buy less. Let’s face it, there are no shopping carts at the Farmer’s Market, no impulse buys, and no BOGO super deals. When you shop local, you generally buy only what you need.
  5. You’re helping end food waste. Almost 40% of food loss occurs before the product even reaches the consumer. A lot of this waste occurs due to spoilage when fruits and veggies spend too much time in storage or transport but 17% occurs directly on the farm, where “ugly” produce is discarded as unsalable. Odd or misshapen produce is pretty much the norm at the local level and no one cares. An ugly carrot tastes just like a pretty one.

Angie with our free jar of salsa and a half pint of maple syrup from O’Brother’s.

During Farm Fest, we also signed up for our 2018 CSA share. Last year, we purchased shares from two local farms and we found ourselves overloaded with some things (like okra and peppers) and missing out on some others (like blueberries and melons). This year, we’re sticking with one CSA – Oak Grove Farms – and will purchase other “supplemental” items from the Farmer’s Market or the produce store. This will be our 3rd season with Oak Grove and we can’t wait for spring to roll around. They grow some of the most delicious strawberries we’ve ever eaten and their homemade salsa…oh my! Let’s just say, if it came in a keg, we’d buy one…or maybe two. As luck would have it though, Farmer Zach was giving away pint jars of his salsa that day.

Along with the salsa and maple syrup, we bought a dozen eggs, a bag of locally roasted coffee, 2 packs of dried apples, some Moosehead Kettle Corn, and 2 pints of local honey. We also went home with a half loaf of Amish sourdough bread and a half loaf of jalapeno sourdough bread from Laurel Mountain Farms. They had the cutest baby goat named Tommy at their table. After the second (or maybe fourth) time they let us play with him, I felt a bread purchase was the least we could do to repay them. And boy am I glad we did! That bread (and some homemade spinach dip) made for some super Super Bowl crostinis.


Food Waste Update

  • Wasted Food this week: 0 ounces
  • Total Wasted Food in 2018: 9 ounces
  • Found Food this week:  20.17 US pounds
  • Total Found Food this year:  83.34 US pounds

Keep up with our food finds in real time by viewing our Food Find Gallery.

#5TF: Maintenance Woes

Five Thought Friday Challenge:  Week 9 – August 19 – 25, 2017

You might say that this week’s theme was “home repairs” or rather “how many times can you call maintenance in one week??”. It all started with the strange circle that appeared on our bedroom ceiling (definitely evidence of a leak) and progressed to our fire alarm going off for (what seemed like) no reason at all. Turns out the two were related. When maintenance replaced the HVAC unit upstairs earlier in the week, the drain line wasn’t properly installed and it began leaking into our ceiling and consequently, into the smoke alarm. It’s always fun to twist off a screaming smoke detector only to get a face full of water!

To add insult in injury, we opened our water bill for the month only to find that it was nearly triple what it usually is. We pay a set rate for water, sewer, trash and pest control each month – usually $33.68 for up to 1,800 gallons of water. This bill was $82.23. The kicker of this part of the story is that we were making a conscious effort to be more conservative with water this month! We used the dishwasher only 6 times and washed only 9 loads of laundry in a month, and that doesn’t even include our shortened shower times, so we knew there was no way we’d used 8,800 gallons of water. Prior to our conservation effort, we only ever went over the 1,800 gallon mark once and that was when we had guests.

One thing I really enjoyed this week was planning a weekend getaway with my mom and Angie. Next month we are all going to the Tiny House Festival in Chattanooga, TN. It was fun to sit around together talking about what we wanted to see and do and where we wanted to stay. We haven’t been on a trip together since May when we went camping in Kentucky so we are all looking forward to the getaway. And who knows, we may find that tiny “dream house” (on wheels!) that we’ve talked about for years now.

I am grateful for the farmers who provided our great CSA baskets this season. We picked up our last Wednesday basket earlier this week and we’ll pick up our last Saturday basket tomorrow. We’ve gotten some really great fruits and veggies, in addition to getting to know some great folks at the Farmer’s Market. We’re very grateful to have a freezer stuffed full of goodies for the winter – corn, yellow squash, zucchini, okra, blueberries, blackberries, carrots, peppers of all sizes, tomatoes, and even a few bags of cauliflower rice.

I need to let go of checking on my niece and the baby every five minutes. Okay, so maybe it’s more like every few hours, but still, it is something I need to stop doing. They are still homeless, couchsurfing at the moment from friend to friend, and my niece has made it pretty clear that they do not want our help. I would admire the “can do” attitude if it were actually there but at this point it’s more about her just not wanting to get a job or live by the rules of our home than it is about her actually wanting to make it on her own. So, I need to let that go of that and focus on things I can change for a while.

We made progress on side hustles and trying new things this week. We surpassed our October vacation savings goal by $10 but have decided to keep working a few easy side hustles to save for other trips down the road. In fact, Angie is off right now doing an Easy Shift. As for trying new things, we downloaded a yoga app to Roku and gave that a shot on Monday. Though this particular video wasn’t for me, I agreed to try another one tomorrow. Angie has been using the app regularly all week (but then again, she does enjoy exercise more than I do…probably more than most people do).

The funniest thing that happened this week involved yet another repair job. We were on our way to mow Mom’s yard yesterday when we passed by a new shop that repairs mowers. I offhandedly joked that since we sold the Xterra and couldn’t tow a trailer anymore, it would probably be easier to just ride the mower up to this shop if we needed to have it repaired. For the rest of the drive to Mom’s house, we laughed and joked about how we’d wear costumes and wave at passersby as we made our way through town on the mower. Angie even suggested we toss out candy or hand out bottles of water. When we got to Mom’s, I hopped on the mower and what do know…the cable that engages the blades broke when I moved the lever! So I guess sometime tomorrow you should look for two superheroes riding a Murray lawnmower through the streets of Gallatin, TN.

On another note, a friend of ours was inspired by my post on redesigning our dining room and decided to do something different with hers this week. Our friend has two sons (ages 11 and 14). The boys have been complaining about sharing a room so my friend decided to convert her dining room into a bedroom for her youngest son, who happens to be a Yankees fan as you’ll see. Since they live in an apartment and can’t put up an actual wall, she purchased two utility shelves to separate the space from the living room and backed those with curtains. She says the shelves will serve as storage for her husbands work and play gear. I don’t have a “before” photo but picture a typical dining room with a large farmhouse table. I think it turned out rather well!

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