No More Eggs

I don’t really know if it merits a blog post, but I thought I should announce somewhere on my site that I’ve finally decided to stop losing money in the egg game.

For over four years now, I have raised chickens and ducks on soy-free organic layer feed, allowing them to free range the entire yard and feeding them treats regularly as well as fresh produce. I’ve had and offered the highest quality eggs an animal could produce (I even raised quail last year, whose eggs were delicious!) but at the prices I had to charge to get even half of my investment back, I was always losing money. And layer feed just went up again!

Organic feed isn’t cheap, and neither especially is Soy-Free feed. Why do I feed the girls soy-free? I’m soy-intolerant, but if you click that link you’ll see the other reasons. At any rate, I am going through some changes in my life right now and I simply can’t afford to be losing so much money on feed when I can barely sell any eggs. So I have reduced the size of my flock by over half. I now have 3 chickens and only 4 laying ducks.

Basically, if you are one of the 2-3 people who were buying eggs from me consistently before, chances are that I’ll be able to supply you with a few dozen eggs a month still. If I happen to have extra eggs, I’ll sell them. Otherwise, due to lack of customers and increasing feed prices, my egg operation is now officially closed.

I will continue to feed my girls soy-free and extra treats, but the eggs are going to benefit my own family. Thank you for your support the past few years! It’s an unforgiving job, but I’m glad I can at least feed my own kids the healthiest of eggs available.

Food IS Medicine!

Before herbs, before drugs/pharmaceutical medicine, before therapy, what is there in this world that you put into your body EVERY SINGLE DAY to run you, heal you, activate you, motivate you, energize you, or even just to survive on? FOOD.

It is really difficult to get this message through to people for some reason. I actually might present a class on it, if I can muster enough resources.

The food that you eat every day is almost entirely what determines your energy levels, ailments, health, mental state, happiness, desire, life. It makes sense to me that since the health and well-being of my entire body is so dependent upon what I put into it, I should pay attention to the quality of that fuel.

I’m not shaming you for drinking booze occasionally, or eating some chips or cookies once in awhile. We all have weaknesses, and eating or drinking something we know is bad for us once in awhile is a human right. Many of us regret doing so later (diarrhea, nausea, hangover) but it was fun while it lasted. But the things you ingest regularly matter more than you can imagine. Cookies and cocoa puffs are not meant to be everyday fare.

You’ve probably heard about your microbiome, that symbiotic colony of bacteria inside your body that is more than partially running your organ systems, like tiny little engineers. This is related to the Gut-Brain connection, which basically means the bacteria in your gut affect your mood and behavior. Remember that episode of Futurama where Fry eats a gas station sandwich and suddenly his body is colonized by generations of tape worms that clean out his organs, increase his intelligence, and make him healthier? That’s not how it actually works with parasites (much the opposite,) but your gut’s natural microbiota DO have a similar effect on your system.

Which is a healthier food choice: a salad or a box of Oreos? “Duh!” you say. “I’m not an idiot!” But which one do you eat more frequently? Which one, honestly, would you rather have?

I don’t eat Oreos anymore. I refuse to support Nabisco because their demand for palm oil has decimated the only forests in the world that are the last remaining natural habitat for orangutans. But I digress. Cheap processed food is made to trigger the happy centers of your brain. But it doesn’t run your body the same way a salad or a baked potato would.

This is one of the best winter time meals ever, no matter where you bought the potato

Every human body has different needs; this post isn’t meant to be taken as a knock on you or your dietary restrictions, specific condition, or income level. I’ve certainly been in a spot in life (See: How to Eat When You’re Poor) where I couldn’t afford to eat great quality food, especially not organic vegetables. BUT I DID know that vegetables and fruits were the best thing I could put into my body, and I did my grocery shopping with that in mind. Are organic potatoes and collard greens better for you than conventionally-grown? Abso-freaking lutely. But are the regular cheap veggies still better than eating Top Ramen and Cheetos for dinner? DUH. You can go shopping at Aldi and CHOOSE to buy a bunch of veggies, meat, and cheese instead of shopping in the chips aisle. It should be well-known by this point that I agree with the theory that Processed Foods Are Bad.

When you (hopefully) reach a point in your life where you can do some of your weekly shopping at the local farmer’s market instead of the grocery store, you should be excited as hell because THOSE veggies are going to be fresher than anything you could possibly get at the local store.

Maybe you can even grow a little garden yourself? Even if you think a garden is too hard, ANYONE can grow a tomato plant in a pot on their front step. If you can’t grow a tomato plant, I pity whatever gods gave you the blackest thumbs in humanity. Nothing tastes better than a tomato you grew and picked yourself!

As far as protein goes, you know damned well I want you to eat eggs. Which eggs you buy and eat DOES make a difference, which you can see just from cracking some open. While I will say again that buying the cheap 80 cents a dozen eggs from Wal-Mart is still healthier for you than eating a can of Chef Boyardee for dinner, if you are at a point where you can choose where to buy your eggs, please, PLEASE buy from a local farm or at least buy Free-range eggs. Quick note: “Vegetarian Fed” chickens are probably freaking miserable. Chickens naturally eat bugs and sometimes even eat mice and small snakes. They are omnivores; anyone who forces them to only eat vegetable sources is cruel.

Our eggs frying in bacon fat in February

Buying your meat from sources LOCAL TO YOU is incredibly good for the environment, and it helps the farmers in/near your community rather than some asshat who clear cut half the Brazilian rainforest for his crappy beef cows. We raise meat birds on a very small scale here, mostly for our own consumption. But there’s always a meat vendor at the farmer’s market selling great quality meats. I like to know that I can go pat the cow on the head and see it happily eating grass a few weeks before I eat some of it.

I’m going to stop ranting now, but I want to make it clear to anyone struggling to eat healthfully, lose weight, or stop feeling so crappy in your tummy: EAT REAL FOOD. If it was grown as a plant of some sort or produced by an animal somehow, it’s better for you than Tasty Cakes and Doritos. If you have specific questions or a different situation and would like help figuring out the best dietary changes or herbal additions for YOU, please remember that I do Consultations, in-person and online.

Happy eating!

Get out and Move!

This time of year, people are normally starting their new diets and worrying about the pounds they packed on from the sweets they ate over the holidays. You might think joining a gym is the answer to your problems, and sucking down veggie juice and smoothies will trim your waist down. It could work…

But I don’t think so. Wanna know why? Because that shit is BORING.

Who wants to ride a bicycle in place, or walk on a treadmill for an hour while staring at the ass of the person in front of you? Sure, a smoothie is delicious, and some juice can be too… but they also frequently shoot your blood sugar through the roof and cause your energy to crash later.

If you don’t feel good about yourself, you’ll be stressed. And while stress can make you lose weight sometimes, it’s really not the healthiest way to do so. You want to know what helps more than anything else?

GETTING YOUR BUTT OUTDOORS.

We just took a nice 3.5 mile hike yesterday through a very well-traveled path that was wide enough for people to go mountain biking on. I used to do this when the kids were little too; I either had them in a baby backpack or we simply took shorter hikes. The older the kids get, the longer and harder hikes we take. Getting outdoors in the fresh air, especially if you can find a place surrounded by forest on all sides is good for your heart, soul, AND waistline.

A huge cause of stress right now is Covid 19. You know where you have the least likely chance of catching it? Out in the damned woods with no one else around.

Important factors for keeping your immune system in good health, especially in regards to fighting any kind of viral infection like the Rona or the Flu, include moving your body and getting enough Vitamin D. Did you know that your lymphatic system (you know those little knobbly bits under your chin/neck that hurt when you feel sick? They’re all over your body, known as your lymphatic system) does NOT have its own pump to move fluid through your body? The heart and breathing in general can only move you so much. What really helps get that nasty, stagnant lymph fluid the heck out of your body is MOVEMENT. And when you do that movement outdoors, you often get the added benefit of a little Vitamin D dose from the sun. Eating lots of vegetables and fruits is important too, but you can just… you know… EAT them. They don’t have to be blended up into a pulp and mixed with protein powder or yogurt to be delicious.

And while you CAN exercise indoors if it’s too frigid or rainy or there’s a blizzard or whatever, any time conditions are reasonably decent for getting outside, it’s best for your exercise to happen there. Even a 20-minute walk on a paved path somewhere (preferably away from moving vehicles) is better for you than huffing around an indoor gym. The fresh air improves lung function, the sun gives you energy, and the benefits of surrounding yourself with nature are well-documented to reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and improve the functionality of your immune system.

If you simply can’t get outdoors for some reason for awhile, consider supplementing your routine with lymphatic draining herbs such as calendula, cleavers, violets, or red clover. And even if you’re stuck inside, move those buns! Hang out with a houseplant beside a sunny window. Get a little nature in you, and you’ll feel much better.

One last tip: I never lost so much weight in my life as I did when I became a farmer. Best weight loss program EVER. Also, my back hurts…

Best workout EVER

Hot Cocoa Could Be Healthier

My kids love hot cocoa. Pretty sure EVERY kid loves hot cocoa, at least in the Northern United States. But most of what I can find here in Northeast Connecticut is Swiss Miss or some other knock off brand that’s like 80% sugar and preservatives. Sure, it tastes good, but enough of it will probably turn you diabetic.

I know this isn’t a food blog, and I mostly talk about herbs. Guess what? Cacao is a healthy plant if you eat it right! It contains antioxidants and this lovely thing called phenethylamine, which triggers the feel-good center of the brain. So is cayenne pepper, a warming herb (much desired on cold snowy days!) I am aware that most Mexican hot cocoas have chili powder in them rather than cayenne, but I can’t find chili powder that doesn’t also contain salt for some reason, so I use a bit of cayenne.

Cacao VS Cocoa FYI

As per usual, I didn’t think this would make a good blog subject until AFTER I had already made it, so my packages are all open and I don’t have steps of the process, nor did I EXACTLY measure ingredients out. I hardly ever do… so bear with me.

Instead of buying the cheap prepackaged cocoa packets from the store, I mix my own hot cocoa. My kids, thankfully, actually PREFER mine (when their friends aren’t looking,) so I get them to eat a tad healthier on my time.

I mix about 3/4 cup unsweetened cacao powder, a heaping 1/2 cup of white granulated sugar (you can use a healthier sugar like turbinado if you want; I just didn’t have any in my cupboard today,) a dash of cayenne powder (about 1/4 tsp at the most) and 3/4 of a bar of dark chocolate all chopped up. Just whisk this all together and pour into a jar with a lid. When you want cocoa, you can use either hot milk or hot water. Most of the time, we put a big scoop of cocoa mix into the mug, pour a few tablespoons worth of heavy cream on top, and then just fill the rest of the cup with boiling water. Mixing with a spoon is critical; marshmallows are optional. Note: If you taste it and think it needs to be sweeter, just add a little more sugar to your jar and give it a good shake.

Jumping up on my soap box for a moment: I bought this chocolate bar at Big Y on sale for $3. Yes, it’s more expensive than a Hershey bar, but it’s much higher quality, fair trade, and sustainably sourced. That means no small children were kidnapped and forced to work on plantations to produce the beans, nor was some poor farmer forced to work and feed his family on ten cents a week just so we could eat cheap candy. I do not buy products made with what we refer to as “slavery chocolate.” I admit, the white sugar trade isn’t a heck of a lot better, but I think the fact that their crimes were outed and made more visible long ago has forced the industry to treat its laborers just a little better in modern times.

The first thing you learn when becoming an Herbalist is that what you put into your body matters more than anything else. I am a huge advocate for eating healthfully, and keeping processed foods out of your diet as much as possible. I understand the line of “processed” is blurred here, considering the cacao powder I bought is processed from cocoa beans. But if you choose to buy INGREDIENTS rather than ready-made foods more often than not, your stomach (and whole body!) will thank you.

One final note: a full jar of this mix lasts us close to a year, but only because I don’t let my kids have hot cocoa all the damn time. This has been my TED talk… now go play in the snow and drink some hot cocoa when you’re done!

Any old jar will work

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