16 May 2016

Small (sic) beginnings

I love my pigs.

From the time a neighbour presented me with Pickles and Pork, and the subsequent days of raising Piggylet, the piggery has grown at its own peaceful pace, with a number of slaughterings in between, to the respectable number of two breeding boars and 7 breeding sows, most of which are raising piglets at the moment.   Suddenly last week I woke up to the fact that toting up the newbies, we now have about 60 pigs! At the moment most of them are diminutive but they don't stay that way for long...

This is what piggylet grew into...

Meet the new juvenile delinquents...

When peering over their enclosure one is met with the straight inquisitive stares of 36 eyes and 36 cocked ears, 18 sniffling snouts and questioning grunts -

An attentive mommy with spotty kids!
Pigs have different personalities.   In two weeks this is the closest glimpse I have had of this sow's piglets, and I'm left guessing as to how many she dilligently hides from me in the grass.   And then she gives me the eye....

Yet her nextdoor neighbour is so relaxed, lying off to the side in the sun while the little ones are feeling a bit of sun on their bodies for the first time too...

There is a saying, "breeding like rabbits".   Whoever coined that idiom didn't know pigs...

29 March 2016

The blur that is the supermarket...

I have come to realise that supermarket shopping for me has become a blur - I honestly couldn't tell you everything that you can find on those shelves anymore. I used to enter and go straight for the cheese, 1st straight aisle right, which is no longer necessary now that I get our own Fairview and Daleview selections, see website. And I use my own kefir instead of cottage cheese and I'm planning to progress to making our own mozarella and feta (as soon as I have grown more arms). Next stop is fruit and veg. Or shall I just say fruit, because I don't have to buy veg. Then I head for the far left corner, oblivious to whatever else I'm passing, in order to get to the meat counter. Then straight across for milk if I run short of the unpasteurised I get on a Thursday and because it doesn't last long enough. No more yogurt and butter purchases for me now that I make my own, then to the far right hand side of the shop for cleaning stuff and up the second-last aisle from where it is easy to spot the shortest till line. While traversing the front I can grab some tea, coffee or toiletries if needed. And that's me done!

So why am I telling you this mundane personal anecdote? It is because I am so happy I am free to allow the rest of the supermarket to pass by me in a blur of nothingness. I just watched a documentary this week called 'Fed Up', and the conversation is headed up by Bill Clinton at the behest of a live-wire lady whose name I forget, and its about the obesity epidemic that has hit the USA. The information I gleaned from this doccie is too much to include in one volcanic effort to you, but the supermarket is a good start. Produce is preferably not sold in its original form any longer, because if it has been value-added (read deconstructed, processed, and sugar added) it sells for so much more. And if one can claim 'just add' something or another and sit down and eat, your overworked mother/housewife/working lady is happy to grab and go, if it means she doesn't have to peel veg and slave to put dinner on the table. It's just that if anyone took the time to tell her the price she is paying is her health and the health of her family, with medical bills added, I bet more than 90% would be just too happy to rather go to the farmer's market and cook their own darn dinner!

Just a few stats which raised the alarm bells for me once again: Of 600,000 items available on supermarket shelves in the USA 80% have sugar added. They tell you 'with half the fat' or 'half the calories' (compared to what?) and while making the comparison, they don't tell you they never reduced the sugar as well, because the sugar barons have succeeded in labelling to simply contain 'sugar' in the list of ingredients, without stating how much, which is mandatory for everything else. And then they furthermore disguise the s-word by calling it fructose, glucose, lactose, dextrose and a myriad others which I can't even remember. Research furthermore shows that all the fake-sugar sweeteners have exactly the same effect on the endocrine system as if it was refined sugar you are ingesting!

The second alarm bell raised for me is what they've done to grains. Everything is sugar coated, the cereal boxes have action men and popular tv characters on and in and efforts to stop them advertising to children have been met with cries of interference with freedom of speech... but what I didn't know is that the metabolic effect of a processed grain is exactly the same on the body as when ingesting refined sugar. Even if you astutely eat your sugar-free kelloggs with just milk, there's no health benefit. In the words of the nutritionist-doctor interviewed: "Whether you eat your weetbix or whatever it was he called it, without sugar or you eat a bowl of sugar without the weetbix the effect to your metabolism is identical and the metabolic diseases resulting from the intake of processed foods and sugar are Diabetes, Heart disease, Lipid problems, Strokes and Cancer (there were more) because they all cause an overproduction of insulin.

The overproduction of insulin makes you think you're hungry because it blocks the brain from receiving the 'full' impulse. And most notably diabetes caused by an overindulgence of sugar and fine processed carbs is no longer called 'Adult onset' diabetes, it is now just referred to as Type 2 diabetes, because it is ocurring in teenagers and even in children as young as 9 years of age.

This is the one doctor's mantra, which I shall repeat in the weeks to come, while I write more about nutrition and the scourge of our age which is processed food:

Detox on food which looks like it came from nature as opposed to a box or a can with a list of ingredients printed on the outside.

21 March 2016

The thing about nutrition ...

I am having a total mindshift, over a period of years and counting, about what constitutes proper nutrition. I can't help but remember our ancient forebears who didn't have the knowledge and access to the variety of foods we eat, yet they lived, farmed, married, had children and fought wars ... with their bare hands so to speak.

I am becoming more and more convinced that what one can get from the land around or near you, as fresh and as little travelled as possible, without the involvement of chemicals of any description, is good and satisfying and nutritious enough to keep one in good health. It isn't the variety that's available to eat that feeds us better - proteins, sugars, vitamins and minerals are widely present in all manner of produce. The crux is whether the produce is fresh, not through treatment and refrigeration, but rather through recent removal from its position of growth, and whether the meat is from an animal that lived well and was treated with kindness and respect. That's a big mouthful and begs reams of articles I know....

But take the Christmas lima beans of which I only have a precious few packets on offer this week... I can be far from home in the lands and feeling woozy and hungry, and if I shell two of those pods and eat the 4 or 5 beans inside, I feel fed and satisfied and can keep going for hours again, sometimes all the way to dinnertime. At other times it may be ordinary green beans or peas, or a carrot pulled from the ground, the effect is always satisfaction, and hunger that stays away for hours. That's got to tell you something about nutritional density. We have become so used to eating heaps of food before feeling well fed, and we confuse the full feeling with a fed feeling. That is because manufacturers have to be so careful what they supply us with especially when it comes to fast foods, that the bulk of the food has little or no nutritional value so even if we eat our fill, our bodies are still telling us it needs something more.

Its no wonder people from ages past could go on long journeys with just their sourdough bread in a sack, which although it gets hard it doesn't grow mould, and cheese which was possibly quite hard and strong, and then they lived off the land, foraging along the way, because a little handful goes a very long way... By the way there's a few bunches of heirloom carrots the monkeys have spared us so far... they are more earthy in taste, and pretty on your plate!

I am starting to spend less time cooking and more time foraging... and thinking of how I can help my customers have the same benefits I have - bringing the farm and farmhouse kitchen to you through www.farminabox.co.za! Just click to see what is on offer this week.

And I am grateful for technology which allows me to write this on a laptop sitting in the kitchen watching many litres of cream churning to become fresh butter - I had to tell my kids last week to buy their own because I had sold everything I had. They were not so miffed about having to buy, as about not being able to enjoy the fresh farm taste of the farm butter! Mindful of baking and babies, I have added unsalted butter to the list, and some with garden-fresh herbs added.

29 February 2016

A yogurt story

Many years ago when I had my first baby who was born in winter, we had a wonderful first year because she was raised on mother's milk only for at least six months.   But when her first birthday rolled around and it was winter again, she developed a very hot, very uncomfortable cheek which I found out was dry eczema.   I was given an atrociously expensive cream to apply to the cheek, for three days only, because it contained cortisone.   Of course the condition disappeared as if by magic yet not two weeks later it flared up again.   I was instructed to use the cream again.   And again and again as the condition kept flaring up time after time.

I then read a book by Adelle Davis called 'Let's have healthy children' and in it she advocates giving the child real yogurt and Vitamin A.   I could not conceive of how to feed a one-year old Vitamin A but I got the real yogurt, mashed banana into it and sweetened it (bless my naive heart) with sugar.   Not only did the baby love the stuff, it cleared that eczema in three weeks flat.   

Eventually she was eating a whole lot of other foodstuffs and the yogurt was relegated to the back shelf.   The winter her second birthday rolled by the cheek was getting hot and red again so I quickly started the yogurt regime again and this time the condition disappeared forever.   So to speak, since she is now heading for her 38th birthday this year.

I didn't even know at the time what the nutritional benefit was of the yogurt, which I do now, I just knew it was the wonder-working thing that saved my child's complexion.   Today I know that naturally fermented foods are probiotic.   And probiotics are what the intestine needs in order for the body to retain 80% immune-efficiency.   That's right.   The digestive systems controls 80% of the body's immunity, which majorly impacts on the overall health of the body.   Probiotics have been cited as a hedge against immune-deficiency diseases such as Chrohn's, IBS, MS, Lupus, and a host of others.   Once the disease is present it may not be possible to cure through the ingestion of probiotic foods but it will act as a hedge in healthy individuals and also lead to improvement in the daily function of people suffering from these diseases.   Here I also wish to quote another book I read in later years, called 'The maker's diet' in which Dr Jordan Rubin describes his recovery from Chrohn's disease, which until then had been considered a terminal condition.

Because the function is so large, the healing of the intestine has been cited as a mood enhancing process which aids brain function and concentration and relief for sufferers of ADD, ADHD and even Autism.   

So what are probiotics one might enquire, and how does one acquire them in food?   Firstly, eating organically grown food fresh and raw without peeling, is a good way of ingesting the bacteria and other microbes that are compatible with those present in the digestive system, which strengthens them.   Secondly, eating and drinking naturally fermented foods such as Kombucha, natural yogurt without flavourants and preservatives added, kefir and kefir cheese, sauerkraut, riesentraube and other fresh vegetables naturally fermented, gherkins naturally fermented instead of bottled with vinegar and taste enhancers, most notably sugar, and many others which I haven't even investigated yet.  

But since this was just a yogurt story I will keep the information on the rest for another day, another blog..

Here's to gut health!

2 February 2016

I floated a website...

In January this year, 2016, my website for selling my farm produce went online.   To say that it took me two years to get to that point is not an exaggeration.   What you see is not all there is, it is the tip of the iceberg.   I took photographs during every season, researched masses of recipes and nutritional benefits of the produce, and populated a not-so-simple template for a website that I can use for orders online and it took months of hard graft.   Everything is not available all the time so that most of what is there is not visible until I enable it when the appropriate time comes for bringing it online.

All this blurb is just to say, don't wonder why I haven't been blogging.   And the other sentiment is, although there were so many times I decided it was all too much work for nothing, those hours are paying off now because next time a broccoli head pops into view, I can just go to the website, enable it and voila, it is available in all its glory, picture, description, recipe's and nutritional info all at once!

Check it out (orders only get delivered to Barberton, Nelspruit and White River, sorry!) but it is still interesting and useful for anyone in the mood to cook their own dinner!   More about this as we go...


1 January 2016

Farm in a box website


If you live in Barberton, Nelspruit or White River, Mpumalanga RSA, you can share in the goodness of my organically grown produce and authentic farmhouse fare by clicking on the link above and placing your order there...

16 January 2015

The real initiation of the pond

Finally after the little girls had had their swim, it was the turn of the ducks and the geese to be introduced to their pond.   They took to it like ... well, need I say it?

Enter Iliah - prepare to be amused, she wants to catch a duck!
    Iliah in hot pursuit
They about face and so does she
And again... darn ducks!                  
When she decides to go in the geese go on the offensive and I have to run to the rescue!

Just another terrible day at the office for me :)