Category Archives: farming

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Our Bulk Almonds are Local and Organic, too!

Brought to you by Yemetz Family Farms!

Lassen’s is committed to supporting organic and local farmers, and that applies to how we source our bulk items as well. A case in point is our bulk almonds, grown in the Central Valley of California.

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A few of weeks ago I visited George Yemetz at his almond grove just north of our Fresno store. It was easy to know when I was at his farm when I saw almond trees with green underbrush. Most of the almond groves have bare ground all around, indicating that toxic weed killers have been applied all around the base of the trees. But organic groves are easy to spot!

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Producers and manufacturers usually have amazing stories, and George sure does! His parents and grandparents fled Stalin’s Ukranian atrocities in the 1940’s, and settled in the Los Angeles area, where George was raised. Ukraine was known as the Bread Basket of Europe, so they were watching for agricultural opportunities. They had gardens in LA and around 1980 when the chance to buy farmland in the Fresno area appeared, they jumped at it. George learned all he could on his family farm, and in 1997 bought 12 acres of untilled land. He had a mentor that encouraged him to farm organically, so right from the start his almonds have been grown organically and sustainably. He has expanded his acreage by another 11 acres, and has his eyes open to further expansion in the future.

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Almond trees live about 25-30 years, but don’t produce for a few years after planting. George said it took five years before he was able to break even, and the 2008 recession was difficult. Add California’s long drought into the mix, and needless to say it’s been a challenging decade for farmers, including Yemetz Family Farm. But George has been able to keep his trees healthy through a strong soil ammedment program (using the manure from an organic chicken ranch nearby), and his own well water. The groves are mowed every three weeks which helps keep the soil around the trees healthy and cooled.

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If you’re wondering, yes, almonds and peaches are in the same family!

George grows two varieties of almonds — Carmel and Nonpareil. Nonpareil is the premier variety, but Carmel is harvested about a month later, making harvesting and processing more convenient. Both are wonderful almonds for all kinds of uses. Almonds are harvested by equipment that shakes the trees, then blowers and sweepers gather the almonds. They are processed by hulling and shelling, then these organic almonds are frozen to kill any moths or other pests. Yemetz almonds are never heated at all, so they are truly raw. 

In about 2007 there was a big almond processing operation that had an problem with salmonella, so laws and regulations were put in place that require pasteurization of all almonds. Most organics use steam pasteurization, but conventional operations use chemicals (!!) to pasturize their almonds. Ick! 

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George is a true believer that we have a choice  — we can pay a bit more now for healthier, organic food, or we can pay the doctor later when our health suffers. It’s certainly a belief that we at Lassen’s share. We are proud to count on such a strong commitment from our farmers and producers to help us bring your family the Best of Everything Good! 

Look for our beautiful bulk almonds and Lassen’s brand Almond Butter, brought straight to you from Yemetz Family Farm!

Love,

Lassen’s

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Producer Spotlight–Gaia Farm Tour

What a Gorgeous Farm!

 
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Have you ever wondered how those herbs get in the extracts, the tinctures, the capsules, the bulk boxes, and the tea bags?  We had the amazing opportunity to visit the Gaia Farm in North Carolina recently.
 
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With the morning sun gently shining, we looked out over the ginko trees to survey some of the 350 acre farm.  The temperate weather influences and land formations of this area provide a unique habitat–ideal for growing many herbs for their products.  The diverse red clay to black loam soils also provide a fertile landscape.  Gaia Farms grow about 20% of their herbs right here in this beautiful farm.  For the rest of their herbs they scour the world for the best, most ethical, and “clean” producers and gatherers.  

 

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This is Ric Scalzo, the owner, CEO, Herbalist, and Naturopath at Gaia Herbs.  He took us throughout the farms for two days, explaining the herbs that they are growing.  Here he is showing us the Ginko trees.  Ginko is great for mental alertness (in fact, Gaia has a formula called “Mental Alertness” which contains Ginko!) 

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These leaves will be harvested for greatest potency when the edges begin to have a golden edge.

From Seed to Shelf

At Gaia, the herbs are cultivated carefully from seed to harvest.  

 

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Here are thousands of Echinaea seedlings in their greenhouse.  They beging to plant seeds in February. Once they get bigger and stronger, the seedlings are taken outside to the Hoop Frames where the plants get acclimatized to being outside, and are allowed to grow bigger and stronger.
 
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The plants in the foreground are ready to be planted in the fields.  
 
Everything grown at Gaia, as well as all of the herbs they get from sources around the world, is certified organic, according to Oregon Tilth standards, and recertified every year.  Gaia also does yearly soil analysis as well to be sure the soil has all of the nutrients needed for plant strength.  In the winter they grow crops to be tilled back into the soil to increase the nitrogen level in the soil, and it is amended in the spring with fish, kelp, and seaweed amendments, as well as compost, of course.  Pests and fungi are managed organically–no chemicals!  They use wasps to control the Japanese Beetle.

Knowledge

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Here is the group learning about Hawthorn buds and leaves, which were being harvested right behind us.  Hawthorn is a great source of flavanoids, which are extracted right at the Gaia plant.  Hawthorn is a great heart support.
 
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This was the view we had (perfect photo-op area!) as we walked to the fields.
 
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Experience

Ric actually had us taste some of the herbs as he explained their use.
 
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Some of us even planted some Gotu Kola plants from the trays and into the ground.  Here are a couple of rows that had just been planted.  Ric said that Gotu Kola can “calm an overanxious mind.”  Some of us who have a hard time turning off our brains at night could use some of that calming!
 
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We tasted some lemon balm herb, one of the ingredients in formulas for gas and bloating. 
 
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The fields were so well maintained are beautiful.
 
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I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the beautiful herbs!
 
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This is Stinging Nettle.  Gaia farm is allowing it to go to seed this year so that they can harvest 500 lbs of seeds.  Stinging Nettle is an Anti-inflammatory, among other uses.  The seeds, the leaves, and the roots are all used in herbal medicine.  

Purity.  Integrity.  Potency.

Gaia Farms has partnered with several universities, as well as international groups to conduct research on herbs.  They recently did some research on Tumeric with Auburn University.  One thing that I was very impressed with was Gaia’s committment to quality.  They test their own products, as well as the herbs they recieve from other sources, to make sure that they have the purest and most potent products possible.  On their own herbs, they will take a sample to the lab to make sure the plant has the best potency before they harvest.  If it doesn’t, they will wait a few days or longer while the plant continues to grow.  They test again, and will not harvest until the plant has reached the target potency.  
 
Gaia does the processing of the herbs–they generally receive the herbs as raw material.  They test it to make sure that it is not only what the supplier says it is, but that it is the target potency.  They make sure there is no pesticide or herbicide residue.  Gaia has a beautiful lab and plant where quality is job #1.  
 
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Valerian Flowers–the root of the beautiful and sweetly-fragrant plant is a sedative for insomnia, as well as muscle pains and spasms.  It is found in the Gaia Sleep formulas.
 
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Gaia has an amazing website, where you can literally “Meet Your Herbs.”  You can enter the ID number on the box or bottle of product, and the website will give you the history of the herbs in your product.  You can also learn about herbs what they are good for, and how your health can be enhanced by using herbal products.  There you can see how Gaia supports local and global concerns as well.  You can find their website here.
 
Thank you Gaia, for a great tour!
 
love,
 
Lassen’s
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What’s the Big Deal About Organic?

I May Be Preaching to the Choir, Here

You may already be convinced that eating organic foods is the best thing for you, your family, and the planet.  But just in case you aren’t, here’s some information and some reasons why choosing organic makes a lot of sense.

 

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First, a Definition of Terms

“Organic” refers to the way in which food is grown.  This includes produce, dairy products, grains, and meats.  Farmers who grow organically do not use chemical pesticides or herbicides or drugs to control bugs, weeds, or diseases.  They are committed to using methods and practices that encourage healthy soil and water, as well as that reduce pollution.  Food that is not produced organically is termed “Conventional.”
 
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As you can imagine, an organic farmer has chosen to use methods requiring more labor and time.  For example, a conventional farmer will just preemptively spray crops for bugs and weeds.  But an organic farmer will examine the crops regularly for weed or insect infestation, and then pull weeds, use traps, hand-remove pests, or use friendly insects and birds to take care of the pests.  They may also use sophisticated crop rotation and organic fertilizers to encourage healthy growth and healthy soil, rather than chemical fertilizers.  They will spread mulch or manure to discourage weed growth.  Organic farmers also use targeted watering systems (such as drip or water tape) to make sure the water goes directly to the plants, rather than to weeds.  This also conserves water resources.   

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This is Burroughs Family Farms–Happy cows and happy chickens, and healthy soil and pasture grasses!

Organically producing foods generally takes more space, too.  Animals are allowed to have a large range to wander, rather than being grown in small-space cages.  Crops often have smaller yields, since the farmer is not using chemical fertilizers to spur growth.   

The United States Department of Agriculture has established strict guidelines for a food to carry the USDA Organic label.  Any product that carries this label must adhere to those guidelines, and be certified by the USDA.  There is an exception for those who produce less than $5,000 worth of produce per year, but if it is labeled “Organic” (even without the certification) it has to be grown according to the certification standards.  Lassen’s works only with reputable producers to make sure that what we carry in our stores really is the best quality organic food available.

What Does the Organic Seal Mean?

 

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“100% Organic” means that everything in the product is wholly organic.  “Organic” means that at least 95% of the ingredients meet the organic standard.  Products labeled with “Made with Organic Ingredients” have to have at least 70% of the ingredients organic.  If a product has less that 70% organically grown ingredients, it cannot use the word “Organic” on the label or include the USDA seal, but it can list the organic ingredients in the ingredient list.  
 
Organic regulations also prohibit or severely restrict the use of food additives, processing agents, and fortifying agents.  This means that organic processed foods (such as cereals and canned goods) will not have the preservatives, colorings, artificial sweeteners and flavorings, as well as chemicals such as MSG that conventionally produced foods may have.  Produce will not have waxes and dyes sprayed onto the foods to make them look better and may give them a longer shelf life.

So What’s the Benefit of Buying and Eating Organic Foods?

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No Pesticides.  I know that conventionally grown foods do not exceed the Government Standard for an acceptable level of pesticides in my body.  But I don’t really want to be voluntarily eating any poisons.  This link will take you to an article about the produce items that have the most pesticides in them.  Their premise is to cut back on pesticide ingestion by changing to organic on these dozen items, but although those are the worst, all conventional produce has pesticides and insecticides.  My goal is to eat as little as possible.
 
No Chemical Weeds Killers.  Ditto the above.  No matter how much I wash my produce, those chemicals are designed to be absorbed into the plants.  And they are still there when I or my family eats them.

 

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Taste.  I think organic just tastes better.  It is subjective, but a fun family activity might be to do a taste test.  Buy both conventional and organic foods and compare the taste.   We have found that apples are a good test subject.  And meats!

Nutrition.  The jury is still out on the question of if organically produced food is more nutritious than conventionally produced food.  There are some studies that suggest it is.   There is clear evidence of more phytonutrients in organically produced foods.  Click here for more information about some of the studies being done.

 

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Better for the Environment.  If more of our food was produced organically, we would not have the threats to our water and soils that we do now.  The residue of all of those chemicals is washed through the fields, absorbed into the soil, and spilled into our waterways.  Then the fish and other sea life are impacted by those chemicals. 

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You can tell this Burroughs Family Farm almond grove is Organic because there are grasses under the trees.  A commercial grove would be bare–the grasses killed by herbicides

Sustainable.  Many fertilizers are made from fossil fuels, on which I think we’d all like to reduce our dependence!  Soils are healthier when organic farming is practiced.   

No GMOs.  This is a big topic that will have to wait for another day.  There is some great information in this article (17 Essential Reasons to Eat Organic Food) on GMOs, as well as other great ideas.  
 
Better for Farm Laborers.  One day several years ago after riding my bike past some fields on the Oxnard plain, I developed a rash all over my skin that had been exposed to the air.  Legs, arms and face.  It was itchy and blotchy and took several weeks to go away.  I have no idea what had been sprayed on those fields as I was riding by, but can you imagine the exposure to dangerous chemicals that the farms workers and the neighbors are suffering?  

What About the Cost?

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Lassen’s always has several delicious–and always organic– produce items on sale!
There can be a concern about the cost of organic produce and other food.  As you can see, producing organic food takes more space, time, and labor, thus higher costs.  But we at Lassen’s are committed to bringing you the very best value in organic produce and other organic foods.  We also bring you local produce whenever possible, thus cutting down on shipping expenses (and, as a bonus, helping to reduce the carbon footprint.)  Click here for our website, and you will find a link there for our monthly sales newsletter, which always has great produce specials.  You can also find a link to the newsletter on the right-hand side of the blog.
 

This is a helpful article on organic eating.  And even TLC (the channel that brings us all kinds of shows about sugar–Cake Boss and DC Cupcakes!) has an article on why we should eat organic!  Click here to see their 15 reasons to eat organic food.

Come to Lassen’s and enjoy our beautiful, organically produced food and supplements!

love,

Lassen’s

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Now, This is a Family Enterprise!

Burroughs Family Farm

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It All Started in 1971

Although the family had been farming for at least 70 years, the Burroughs Family Farming formally began in 1971 with Ward and Rosie Burroughs, and Ward’s brother.  They farmed, and raised their children, and in 2004 Ward and Rosie dissolved the partnership with Ward’s brother.  They then formed partnerships with their children in various farming enterprises.  They like to say that they produce an ABC of products:  Almonds, Beef, Cheese, Dairy, and Eggs.

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A few weeks ago we visited the Burroughs Family Farm in Denair, California, just north of Fresno.  We were able to see the dairy operation (they partner with Organic Valley), the free-range egg production, and the almond and olive groves.  We carry their eggs, and have just brought in their Benina Crema Gouda cheese.  

 

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Rosie

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 Rosie Burroughs in the matriarch of a family committed to organic, sustainable farming.  We were very impressed with their farming philosophy.  We learned about how seriously they take the health of the soil, the pasture grasses, the trees, and the animals. 

 

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 The cows and chickens are moved to new pasture regularly (the chickens are moved every day, and the cows after each milking, twice per day.) Their pasture grasses have species diversity to naturally balance the nutrients for the animals, as well as to assure the health of the soil and pasture.  This makes their eggs and dairy products have a natural blance of Omega-3s and Omega-6s.

 

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Mobile Chicken Coop

These coops are on wheels, and are moved to a new pasture daily.  The chickens can come into and out  of the coop as they please.  Burroughs has about 2000 laying chickens, and 1500 chicks.  The chickens lay for about 18 months.

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The chicken get about 30% of their nutrients from the pasture, and about 70% from organic feed, which is available in the white troughs shown above and below.  I didn’t see any chickens going to the feed, so they clearly like to peck at the ground!

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The chickens come into the coop to lay their eggs. 

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There are laying boxes on both sides of the large coop.

 

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A chicken just laid this egg, which gently rolled down into the trough. 

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Several eggs were laid while we were there.

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Peter shows off a newly laid egg! 

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Every day the eggs are collected and then refrigerated.

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These are definitely free-range chickens, not just cage-free!  They are pasture fed as much as they want, and then supplemented with what they can’t get from the pasture.

 
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Sometimes they just want to take a little nap on the roosts.   

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This little hen was clearly not sure about getting her photograph taken!

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Other Enterprises

The Burroughs family also has 865 acres of organic or transitional almond groves.  (Transitional means that they are treated as organic trees, but will not get the organic certification for three years.)  

 

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You’ll notice that there is grass between the trees.  That is because the Burroughs family does not kill the grasses with herbicides.  They use a drip irrigation system to keep the grasses down as much as possible.

 

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The young almonds look like young peaches here!

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The young almonds can be cut open like a cucumber.  Here you can see the edible part has been taken out of the half on the left.  

 The Burroughs Family has been growing olives as well, and last year pressed their first bottles of oil.  

 

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I couldn’t resist adding the photo of their Dairy Milking facility. It is open air and very clean.  The Burroughs Family takes such good care of their cows that they will produce milk for 10+ years.  The industry average in only 2.6 years!  I’d say that Burroughs Family has happy cows!

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The Burroughs Family even gave us a delicious lunch after our farm tour.  We had a wonderful day, and hope that you try their delicious eggs.  You can really taste the difference! 

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Love,

Lassen’s
home+gardening, earth+friendly, earth+day, composting, composting+tips, how+to+compost, gardening, healthy+soil

Reduce Your Waste for Earth Day!

It’s a Beautiful Thing

When I was a teenager I went to visit my sister who was living is Seattle in a darling, tiny house.  She had strings of sweet peas lining the whole side of her garage, and I thought she had created paradise within sight of Lake Washington. 

And to go in her house and have the scent of those amazing little flowers, placed all around in jars and vases, permeating the air–it was heaven!

But she had done something else that didn’t strike me as quite so beautiful (at least until I was older!)  She had a compost pile.

Now, isn’t that a beautiful sight?

Composting…  Made Easy!

My recollection is that my sister had dug down a foot or so deep, and then added organic materials such as kitchen scraps (including fruit and vegetable peelings and egg shells, but no meats or dairy), yard clippings, even coffee grounds and shredded paper!

According to this article, there are 5 easy steps to composting.

1.  Shred and Chop.  The smaller your ingredients, the faster you’ll have usable compost.
2.  Mix dry browns and wet greens.  This means to mix yard waste (grass, dry leaves, etc) and kitchen waste (vegetable and fruit peelings, cores, etc).  Make sure not to make the mix too wet and bogged down.
3.  Strive for Size.  Your compost pile should be about 3x3x3 so that there is enough material to heat up and compost more quickly.
4.  Add water as needed.  The compost should not be soggy, just damp.
5.  Keep things moving.  The compost needs air to be mixed in.  The article has a couple of methods to do that–the easiest it to just pitchfork it around, regularly mixing the stuff on the edges into the middle.

Here’s an easy, inexpensive way to Compost

 

 

 

Or If You Want to Go All Out…

 
Or…
 
 

Or…

 

Looks so tidy!

 

So to sum up…

 

  

This article from Purdue University was really helpful.

Here is another article on composting that you might like.

I liked this website that had six great ways to make compost.

I’m going to celebrate Earth Day by getting my hands in the earth!  

I’ve had a compost pile in the past, but gotten away from it lately.  But I’m inspired now!  Look out, I’m composting again!

And then I’m going to plant hundreds of sweet peas!

 

Don’t forget to stop by Lassen’s this Saturday, April 20, for our Earth Day Celebrations!

Click  here  to see our Earth Day flier for more information on all of the fun activities and celebrations going on at Lassen’s this Saturday!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s
 
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Ooo, I want to get outside!

The Sun is Shining…

 

When I stopped by the Ventura store the other day I was greeted by the lovely sight of gardening supplies!

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Pots and soil, trowels and fertilizer, even strawberry plants greeted my delighted eyes!

As I have mentioned before, gardening has long been a part of my life.  I spent the first seven years of my life on a dairy farm, and then my parents were constantly growing everything from tomatoes to lilacs!  So every spring (even year-round, in California!) I get a hankering to plant a garden.

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It’s so nice that there are organic soil and amendments available–even fertilizers for flowers and vegetables and fruit trees.

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So Fun!

These adorable planting kits caught my eye, too.  They are an easy and fun way to start gardening!

The first time I attempted a back-yard garden, I made a classic first-timer’s mistake:  I planted sun-loving plants–tomatoes–in a spot that just did not get enough sun.  We got lots of blossoms, but very few tomatoes.  So make sure your plants get what they need.  The information on the seed packets will tell you how much sun they need, and when to plant.  Pay attention to that info!  If you don’t, you’ll have to learn the hard way, like I did!

One of the most important steps to having a successful garden is amending the soil.  Very few of us have perfect soil in our yards.  So make sure your soil is healthy.

organic+gardening

Use some compost and some leaf or grass clippings.  If you want to grow organic produce, you have to make sure your compost and your grass clippings are also organic (this is a tricky one, since most gardening services use non-organic pesticides and herbicides.)  Mix your soil thoroughly.

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Seeds or plants?  Your choice.  If you are impatient, plants are a great choice.  However, the economics of seeds make them very attractive, too!  Make sure your plants get enough water and keep the weeds from crowding them.  A few minutes a day is all it takes, once your garden is growing.

Gardening by Josh…

Josh, our buyer, is becoming quite the Farmer Fred!  Here are some pictures of his growing garden!

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Gotta have onions!
 
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He has at least three varieties of peas–can’t wait to taste these!
 
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Josh is inspiring me!  If only I could figure out a way to outsmart those tricky rabbits, gophers and squirrels that roam our neighborhood!  (I think I’m going to have to build a greenhouse!)

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If you’d like a nice tutorial for how to start an organic garden in nine easy steps, from Goodhousekeeping, click here.   Here is another one from Better Homes and Gardens.  I also like this article from the Organic Gardening Guru.

 
Enjoy this glorious Easter weekend–maybe by planting a garden!
 
love,
 
Lassen’s
forks+over+knives, documentary+review, vegan+diet, healthy+eating, earth+friendly+eating, earth+friendly+diet

Documentary Review–Forks Over Knives

Look at all of those gorgeous fruits and vegetables!

organic+produce
Just in time for Spring and lots of gorgeous produce, I watched the documentary, “Forks Over Knives.”
 

 

This was a compelling and convincing argument for changing our diet–especially the highly processed animal-based diet of the average American–to a whole-food, plant-based diet.  
organic+produce

 

Of course the documentary begins with all of the scary statistics about the American diet–the change in the last 60 years that has brought a health crisis with Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and obesity.  This doesn’t even begin to mention the billions of dollars spent on drugs, drugs, and more drugs.

When this film was made, the healthcare cost in America was $2.2 trillion, and yet Americans are sicker than ever, and the rate of chronic diseases is ever increasing.

So, the question is posed, “What is the solution?”  “Not another pill.”

 

The film centered on the life-long research and experience of Dr. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.  They both have spent their professional lives making connections between food and health. 

“Let Food Be Thy Medicine”  (Hippocrates)

 
 

Several other doctors were involved in the film, as well as patients whose lives had been changed.  One of those who changed their diets completely was Lee Fulkerson.  The film followed his journey as he learned of this movement.  He went to see Dr. Matthew Lederman and Dr. Alona Pulde, a husband/wife team. 

 

 

Yikes!

Lee was shocked to see how unhealthy his bloodwork numbers were, especially since he had considered himself generally healthy.  He had an alarmingly high risk factor number for heart disease.
 
 

 

Lee took this very seriously and changed his diet completely to eat only whole-food, plant-based foods.

organic+produce

 

Lee was taken step-by step, from shopping to preparing to eating a whole-food plant-based diet.  Within a few months, his health was vastly improved, and not just by the numbers, but by how he felt.  The documentary also followed several others who have changed their lives and found incredible health benefits.  There was even one woman who was told that she should just go home and prepare to die because of her heart disease.  Instead, she met Dr. Esselstyn and changed the way she ate.  The film was made twenty years after that diagnosis, and she looks younger than she did when she was told to go home and get ready for her demise.

If you’d like to read more, and watch the trailer or the entire film, go to their official website.  They also have recipes and more help to make the switch.

organic+produce

 

I know we feel better when we eat more fruits and vegetables, and cut back on the animal products.  In the coming weeks we will feature recipes and tips to eat better, as well as featured produce.  We have some really beautiful produce at Lassen’s, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised as how affordable it is!

Love,

Lassen’s

Focus on Local–Highwood Eggs

Don’t they look like Easter?

 
Highwood+farms+eggs, highwood+Eggs
 

Lassen’s is so excited to feature a new local producer–we have just started carrying Highwood Farm’s beautiful blue and brown eggs in our Ventura and Thousand Oaks locations!

Highwood+Farms+Eggs, Highwood+Eggs

Last week we went to Somis to meet Devon and Patrick and tour their farm.  Despite my trepidation about being near chickens (my shins have scars from the vicious rooster pecks I got when I was a little girl!) I was ready to face my fears.  We learned so much about chickens and eggs, too!

Devon had 6 or 7 chickens when she was growning up in Santa Monica, and now she and Patrick have taken that childhood hobby into a budding business.  Patrick also grew up in the LA area, but visited relatives who farmed soybeans and corn in Minnesota and became interested in farming and in animals.

lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs

The farm is 200 acres, and there are about 300 chickens, and growing.  They started about 2 years ago with a few chickens who roosted in their laundry room!

lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs
These have got to be the nicest coops I’ve ever seen!
 
Now the chickens roam around all day long and then gather to their coops each night to roost.
 
lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs

Highwood Farms has three varieties of chickens–two lay brown eggs ( Rhode Island Reds and Australorps) and one that lays blue eggs (Araucanas).  They scratch around, free-range, on fields of hay and grass.

lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs
Here is a Rhode Island Red–isn’t her color gorgeous?

 lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs

Australorp Chicken–they are also sometimes white

Everything that the chickens eat is organic, and they are never confined in cages. Patrick moves the coops to a different part of the fields about once per month so that the chickens always have a good food source.
 
lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs
Here is a Araucana chicken–she lays blue eggs
 
The chickens come into the coops to lay their eggs (although they do sometimes sneak into other places, like buckets or under bushes to lay, and Devon and Patrick have to go hunting!)
 
lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs
These laying sections are on the sides of the coops
 
lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs

 

Most of the laying is done by about 4:00 each day, and Patrick and Devon gather all of the eggs, mark them with the date and then refrigerate them.
  
lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs

 

They make sure the chickens have water and extra feed, and clean the coops so there is a nice clean place for the chickens to lay their eggs.
 
lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs
A rooster watches over the brood
 
Highwood Farms has a few roosters and are starting to hatch some of their own chickens.  They also grow some hay, wheat, and barley to use for feed for their own animals and also to sell to their neighbors and some to the feed store.  And speaking of their own animals…
 
lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs
 
Here are some of the piglets that are at Highwood Farms.  They have had three litters of piglets in the last five months!
 
They also have a horse and two miniature donkeys, who were very friendly!
 
lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs
The donkeys coming over for a look at us!
 
lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs
Bethany, our Marketing Director enjoys petting the soft nuzzle of their horse!
 

We have noticed that these eggs are not only beautiful on the outside, but firm and full-colored on the inside (not that pale, drab yellow of commercially produced eggs), as well as delicious.  We have enjoyed them at home for about a week, and think you’ll love them too!

lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs
Thanks, Patrick and Devon!  We had a great time!
And I got over my anxiety about chickens!  (but I didn’t approach the rooster, either!)
highland+farms+eggs, focus+on+local, local+eggs, free+range+chickens, free+range+eggs
Look for Highwood Farms in our Ventura and Thousand Oaks locations!
 
love,
 
Lassen’s
the+American+Way+of+Eating, Undercover+at+Walmart, Farm+Fields, Applebee's, changing+the+way+America+Eats, American+diet, Tracie+McMillan

Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table

No, Not Me…

This last weekend found us at the Natural Foods Industry Trade Show in Anaheim–Natural Products Expo West.

Natural+Foods+Expo

May I just say this show is HUGE?  Thousands of exhibits, vendors, new products, great ideas.  It’s a bit overwhelming, but also very exciting to see the passion and innovation involved in the natural products industry.  

While there, we attended the keynote speech, given by Tracie McMillan, author of The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table.  
 

     Tracie is a freelance journalist who decided to work in the farm fields, at Walmart, and at Applebee’s to get a true picture of the working poor, how food gets from farm to table, and to start a conversation about food policies.  She wanted to know how our food system works, both inside and out.  

     Most of her keynote address focused on her work in the farm fields of California.  She worked for two months total in three areas–grape vineyards, peach sorting, and garlic harvesting.  She described her living and working conditions, as well as the pittance that she earned.  
     One of Tracie’s quests as she set out on the undercover work, was to see how people who earned minimum wage–or less–were able to live and eat.  
     She talked briefly about the “food deserts” that are in American–places where people are unable to find fresh food, and where their economic situation makes it close to impossible to afford it.  
 
I am looking forward to reading her book–which I downloaded on my ebook reader.
 
For more information, you can go to her blog.  There are plenty of reviews of her book, and here are two:  the NY Times Review and the LA Times Review.
 
If you want to get a taste of the actual book, you can go to this Slate article which exerpts three sections.
 

It’s always great to go to Expo West, and one of the reasons is the line-up of educational and informational speakers!  This year was an eye-opening one for me.  Watch this blog for more posts of what I’m reading!

 
Happy reading and  delicious eating!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s