Sunday, July 24, 2011

Farmer's Market Bounty

Just home from the farmer's market in Baltimore with a pile of amazing food and the goodwill that come from community shopping. As I wrote on Friday, one of the benefits we've found from farmer's market shopping is that we are more careful to eat everything we buy and therefore waste less food. Still, I'd suspected we were spending more money farmer's market shopping versus the grocery store so today I kept careful track. Which is really to say, I started with $200 and counted how much I had left when I was done. I am home from the market with $80.25 so spent $120 on today's bounty.

As you can see, we have a selection of meats including bison NY strip steaks (from Gunpowder Bison & Trading), pork chops and a chicken (from KCC Natural Farms). Rounding out the animal protein is a dozen eggs and a bison marrow bone our dog is now happily enjoying.

A loaf of fresh bread from The Breadery and some mozzarella from South Mountain Creamery (I've written about them before and their "as close to real tasting" milk I've had since being on my grandparents farm).

Fruits included blueberries (my very favorite food), peaches, yellow plums and a cantaloupe. Garlic, kale, arugula (my next favorite food), corn, tomatoes (grape and heirloom - or are these my next favorite???), eggplants and a gigantic bouquet of basil.

All of this for $120 seems pretty reasonable and it will, in large measure and combined with some pantry ingredients, feed us for the week. I think we'll have to find some really great prosciutto to enjoy with the cantaloupe. And, I got the last 1/4 pound of arugula and, since I graze on that near continuously, I may have to find more before next Sunday.

Tonight's meal will be a starter of grilled peach and brie quesadillas, followed by pork chops with pesto and corn with basil butter.  I can't wait! I've also noticed I look forward to cooking and creating and sitting down to a healthy dinner that comes from the local area. Shopping in this way is the next best thing to growing your own food. Talking with the farmers, expressing the enthusiastic hellos and goodbye greetings of "Have a great week," and building a relationship with people and your food is so much more rewarding than an anonymous, florescent lit grocery store where you might as well be bar-coded just like the "food."

If you haven't been to a farmer's market, please try it. You'll too see how much better your food can be. For now... it is time for me to wander off to the kitchen and nibble something for lunch. I think this may be a tomato sandwich on the fresh bread kind of lunch day. Yummy!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Taste of Food

We've become regular farmer's market shoppers this summer. Most Sunday mornings we head to the fantastic farmer's market under the JFX in Baltimore City. If you haven't been, go... details here. If you don't live near Maryland, find a farmer's market near you. Local Harvest has a great search tool.

Our Sunday morning trips have had a pretty profound impact on how we eat which even I'm surprised by. The most notable benefit is that we buy less and eat what we buy. Going to the grocery store invokes more of an "I want that" mentality as you stuff the basket with things you think you might like. Buying from the farmers is the first step in a relationship. I value the time and effort they invested in the foods they are selling. I'm reminded, often, of my grandparents who were also farmer's and the commitment and love required to farm for a living. I'm impressed by these farmers' knowledge and willingness to be at their farm stand, with their wares ready at 7 AM on a Sunday morning. Buying this way somehow makes the food we buy more precious. And, we eat it. I'm less apt to disregard what is in the fridge for the week's meals. I'm more creative tossing things together and trying new inventions without even consulting a recipe. And, the food is amazing.

Case in point: Strawberries. June is strawberry season in Maryland and we had some utterly amazing strawberries last month. Seriously, utterly amazing. Sweet. Juicy. A deep, passionate reddish-purple color. Small. And the taste? Wow. Your mouth is having a party and your brain is saying, "Ah, yes. This is what food is supposed to taste like." We spent those weeks with those strawberries just having one on occasion. One was all you needed. One was perfect. You would savor the one. Enjoy it. And, for a brief moment experience food induced bliss.

Organic Strawberry from
Grocery Store
Sadly, last week we didn't make the farmer's market. In retrospect, no excuse. We could have gotten up at 6 AM Sunday morning to make it before our other commitment. We didn't and I've regretted it all week. Monday I went to our locally-owned, mostly organic and fantastic grocery store, Roots, to buy some food for the week. I bought a pint of organic strawberries. I had one today. Ick. It tasted like some combination of fake sugar and prickly cardboard. Take a look ---> it seems like a perfectly reasonable strawberry. It is red, firm, ripe. And, it was horrid. Almost "spit it out horrid," but I managed to choke it down for the sake of the writing about the experience.

I'm sitting here now thinking about all of the people that don't ever get to taste real food. There are millions of children in this country who've never had a strawberry. Not a conventional, non-organic one poisoned with pesticides. Not an organic one. And certainly not a real, fresh from the farmer's market one. One personally picked from the strawberry plant? Not a chance.

These children and millions of their parents live on food from boxes and fast food places and don't actually know what food tastes like. For as disappointing my organic strawberry was this morning I can still say it was a zillion times better than a Pop-tart. What have we done to this county and our children? We've, though Government policy and big business, managed to make food-like products coming from a box seem normal. Next year during strawberry season I may just buy them all and walk the streets of Baltimore sharing them with anyone I meet.

From Lao-tzu, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Perhaps, in this case, the step is a single strawberry.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

$1 + 90min = A Fit and Healthy You

Earlier this year, January in fact, we introduced our 10-to Workday Workout programs to help you take little workout breaks all throughout your workday. If you do 5 to 10 minutes of exercise each hour, you'll have from 45 to 90 minutes of exercise by the end of the day. Awesome!

The program has two versions, the details of which are here. If you're not a Cybercise member, you were left with the written instructions for each exercise which we made available on our website for free. For Cybercise members, you could simply click on the link and follow along to the exercise video on our website.

Until..... (drum roll, please).... today!

Today, we are lauching a new video storefront which gives you the ability to subscribe to a specific set of videos. We are debuting our storefront with The 10-to Workday Workout videos which you can subscribe to for $1 per day (made easy with PayPal). You get access to 9 videos most of which don't require any equipment (or we suggest handy substitutes if some gear is required). You're running out of excuses! Imagine... a full body workout by the end of the day, you'll be feeling great and can have some fun instead of hitting the gym after work.

If you're following along on Twitter, you'll know that today is a B program day and you get a handy tweet reminder at the :45 minute mark of each hour. What are you waiting for??? Head over to the Cybercise Video Storefront, invest a dollar in you today and exercise all day long.

Psssst... As a super debut day bonus, the B Day program is FREE today only. Click here!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Coke. Bread. Steak. Fries.

I drank a Coke. Some of you may be thinking I've gone crazy as in "Big deal, you drank a Coke." Those who know me well will think I've gone crazy because I'm apt to point out the downside of soda drinking to those around me.  In fact, a friend recently blogged about my cola-lecturing ways. I was flattered. And, I'm aware I could be considered "one of those people" who is always blathering on about health and what we do to our bodies. My health and your health matter to me. No apologies.

At any rate, I drank a Coke on Friday. And, it was incredibly tasty. What? Why? Soda that was good? Yes, indeed, because I was in London. Chilled Coke, straight from the can into my glass, into my mouth. Yummy! Many places outside of the United States have stricter regulations on what chemicals and other fake stuff can be added to food.

In the United Kingdom they don't have things like high fructose corn syrup or sucrose in their Coke. It is sugar. Plus, there are no added preservatives which we cannot count on in the US. Many of the preservatives added to drinks in the US (including sodium benzoate) do harmful things to your body (like damaging your mitochondria).

  For the benefit of those of us who've forgotten our high school biology lesson, mitochondria is the power producer for the cells in your body. They give energy to the cells so they can carry out their mission. Mitochondria also control cell growth - perhaps cancers are a result of damaging these little guys... And, per Wikipedia, "Mitochondria has been implicted in several human diseases, including... cardiac dysfunction and may play a role in the aging process." I don't much like the word "implicated" in the quote which makes it sound like rogue mitochondria are out there doing damage on their own. Doubtful they've gone rogue, more likely they've been harmed and have lost their way.

And, even more than the Coke I was reminded constantly during my week in Paris and London that I could feel reasonably good about eating every meal at a restaurant. Food is different in Europe. It tastes different and it makes you feel different. I had steak and frites in Paris. Pain au chocolat as often as possible (which was alot). I had fish and chips with my Coke. Probably more espresso than advisable. And, I ate a great deal of bread and butter and jam. The indian food (called curry) in London? Divine. I could look at a menu, select something that looked good and not have too much worry about what chemical or additive or process the food has been subjected to before it arrived at my table. For a person that eats few meals out in the US and chooses pretty carefully when doing so, I was able to eat whatever I wanted and I felt great. Granted, I was on vacation and walked at least five hours each day, but I could (and boy did I) eat anything that appealed to me and not have a moment of that "ugh" feeling after eating something you know isn't good for you.

I'm home now and I'm distraught. Yes, because vacation is over and mostly because we are not afforded the same "luxury" in the US. I don't want Coke with high fructose corn syrup. I don't want oatmeal from McDonalds with more than 20 ingredients. I want to be able to go to a fast food place and get a piece of real whole Cod, lightly battered in real flour and deep fried in real oil. No, I won't eat it every day (and nor should you), but wouldn't it be nice to know, when you did so, it was real?

I am not a chemist or a biologist. I don't (yet) have a PhD in nutritional science. I can't cite dozens of double-blind clinical studies which prove to you the chemicals and additives in the things you choose to eat are doing damage to your body. What I do know? I feel better when eating things which grow naturally. I like to be able to eat without wondering or worrying if I'm starting the clock on a nutritional timebomb which will show up in my body at some point. I like the taste of real food.

Come on US. We can do so here. Is this really asking too much?