Carrboro, North Carolina
Born and raised in central Maine, my youth was spent mowing the lawn, kicking a soccer ball against the garage doors, and trying to sneak sugar cereal out of the kitchen cupboards after I was put to bed. More about Tim
South Royalton, Vermont
I am a baby boomer who grew up in a time when the trend in food was convenience and speed. It wasn't the fast-food era, but a post-World War II time when ... More about Warren
We live in Holliston, Massachusetts. When we bought our house in Holliston about 27 years ago, Holliston was a rural/residential town of about 13,000 people. More about Barbara
Wallace, West Virginia
My name is Autumn. I'm 24 years old, and I live in rural north-central West Virginia. I was born and raised in West Virginia, and in 2005 I graduated from ... More about Autumn
My personal interests revolve around the environment, both knowing more about it and getting outside and enjoying my surroundings. This led me down an educational path to ... More about April
Now that our two gardens are planted, I've been exploring the benefits of grass-fed beef versus natural beef.
FDA rules require for beef to be labeled grass-fed the cattle must be 99 percent pasture- or hay-fed. Natural beef is grass-fed but finished the last few months on grain or silage, which creates fat and causes the meat to be marbled.
Many chefs, growers and consumers believe that natural beef is superior to grass-fed because it has a better flavor -- one that is closer to the juicy, red factory-raised Western beef that we have become accustomed to.
When I was growing up, the beef we had, was grass-fed. It's a flavor that I've missed until recently when I started eating locally-raised beef. The taste is clean and well, a bit grassy. It seems a healthier meal, and in fact, it is.
Grass-fed beef is a good source for conjugated linoleic acid, and there's evidence that CLA helps reduce bad cholesterol and my help people lose weight. Grass-fed beef also is high in other beneficial nutrients that do wonderful things for your body. It's not a miracle food, but it is a healthier choice.
Natural beef is far superior to feed-lot beef, not only in the way that the animals are treated, but it's also healthier -- but not by much.
According to some studies, cattle that are raised on grass and then given grain for fattening, lose all the benefits of being grass-fed. The CLA and many of the other beneficial nutrients go away, and the saturated fats increase. So the benefits of grass are undone by the grain.
I figure if you're going to eat beef, why not eat beef that has been humanely raised and slaughtered and given a diet that nature intended it to eat -- grass. And it has the benefit of being local.
As I served yet another organic but not local salad, my husband looked at it with disdain. It's spring. In the spring we usually eat wonderful salads of mixed greens, so tender and full of flavor. The store bought stuff just isn't the same. Thank goodness we can get to a market this weekend! It was during our discussion about why the salads I've been serving lately just don't pass muster that I realized we will be in big trouble come August if we don't plant something in our weed infested yard. What if we have more trouble getting to the markets because of the baby? What would August be like without fresh produce- particularly tomatoes?
I was also lucky enough that my parents had last week off and spent one of their vacation days in my yard pruning and pulling weeds. It is amazing what non-pregnant people can get done. So I even have a few clear spots in the weeds, and those spots need filled with something productive before the not so helpful weeds return.
I think we'll plant some tomatoes. I'm hoping to buy them from a local organic nursery, but if I don't find the time to finish that research, I'll get them from the garden store mega mart. If for any reason getting to the markets are difficult after the baby I need to have tomatoes at a minimum one way or the other.
We're also planning big things for the garden in the coming years. As many of you suggested earlier in the season we are more and more sold on raised beds, and still considering a water garden too. We could have a very tidy garden that way. By next year I'll have the energy for it, know the best places to plant our favorite veggies, and have a better sense of how wet it will be all year. That will help take care of the spring veggie doldrums we had here this year. And I think then I can just bury the ivy and remaining weeds under a weed barrier rather than having to pull it all up and then find a tiller to till the residue under. Any one have experience with such a project? Tips and advice?
On Tuesday night, it started raining. Hard. Lightning flashed, thunder boomed, winds howled, the whole bit. By the time I woke up Wednesday morning, the floodwaters had receded somewhat. But a cursory glance outdoors revealed how bad it had been. None of us had ever seen our little creek crest so high. The garden had been under about three feet of water. The hayfield remained partially submerged, with debris scattered everywhere, and the walking bridge had been temporarily lifted off its foundations. My initial response consisted of several words not fit for publication. Then I pulled on some clothes and hurried down to the garden to investigate the damage.
I expected major losses. It looked bad, with all the mulch washed away and the tomato cages tangled in the partially toppled garden fence. But, incredibly, almost all the plants were right where we'd put them, clinging to life by their roots. The garden was basically a swamp at that point, with water standing between the rows and a layer of fine silt covering
everything. The potatoes, onions, garlic, and strawberries were lying on their sides, but they appeared to be intact. The tomatoes we had planted a few days earlier were covered in piles of muddy mulch.
I pressed my hands into the mud around each tiny pepper plant, coaxing the plants upright and squishing the mud down around them. Then I began to gently pull the mulch off the tomato plants. Lo and behold, almost all of them were intact! Only one plant had broken off its stem completely; the rest were covered with mud but holding on for dear life. My husband and father-in-law joined me in excavating the tomatoes from the mulch piles, and we all agreed that the damage was minimal. Whew!
Then it started raining again. A few spells of hard rain throughout the day kept the water at flood level until the following night. We were lucky: We had only minor damage to some fences and bridges, and a thin layer of mud on the garage floor. Folks downstream from us were much worse off. Most of all, I'm thankful for the strength of those marvelous vegetable root systems for holding my local food in place through the storm.