Friday, April 4, 2014

Food Dehydration: How to dry your own fruits, vegetables and other foods

dehydratedDehydration is an alternative to canning (called "bottling" in the UK) and freezing fruits and vegetables.If you have a surplus of fruits or vegetables from your garden, but lack the canning equipment or freezer space, drying may be the right method for you!

Dehydrated foods have a number of advantages: Dehydration is a low-cost way to preserve food that is free from concerns about botulism, the dried foods require less storage space than canned goods, and there's no freezer to keep running.

Food Drying Principles

Dehydrating your own produce does require time and some knowledge of food drying principles.

Preparation
  1. Select the best fruit and vegetables! As with canning and freezing, dehydrated foods are only as good as the fresh fruit or vegetables. When selecting fruits and vegetables for dehydration, choose ones that are ripe, unbruised and at peak-eating quality.
  2. Prepare foods to be dehydrated as you want them to be served. Apples, for example, may be sliced, cut into rings, or pureed for fruit leather.
  3. Keep pieces uniform in size and thickness for even drying . Slices cut 1/8 to 1/4-inch in thickness will dry more quickly than thicker pieces.
  4. Some foods should be washed before drying. Foods such as herbs, berries and seedless grapes need only be washed before dehydrating.
  5. To prevent browning: try steaming, sulfuring or coating light-colored fruits and vegetables with acids such as lemon juice or ascorbic acid (FruitFresh) before drying. Steaming or blanching also is recommended for vegetables to inactivate enzymes that cause vegetables to mature, or toughen during drying.
During Drying
  1. Select the drying method and equipment that is right for you. Foods can be dried in a conventional oven, a commercial dehydrator, or in the sun. Drying times vary with the method and foods chosen. Be sure to read the instructions with your dehydrator.
  2. Maintain 130F to 140F with circulating air: Remove enough moisture as quickly as possible to prevent spoilage. A drying temperature of 130 degrees F to 140 degrees F allows moisture to be removed quickly without adversely affecting food's texture, color, flavor and nutritive value. If the initial temperature is lower, or air circulation is insufficient, foods may undergo undesirable microbiological changes before drying adequately. If the temperature is higher, or humidity too low, nutrients can be lost or moisture may be removed too quickly from the product's outer surface. This causes the outer surface to harden and prevents moisture in the inner tissues from escaping. When testing for sufficient dryness, cool foods before testing.
  3. Know when your food is dry: Some foods are more pliable when cool than warm. Foods should be pliable and leathery, or hard and brittle when sufficiently dried. Some vegetables actually shatter if hit with a hammer. At this stage, they should contain about 10 percent moisture. Because they are so dry, vegetables do not need conditioning like fruits.
TO READ THE NEXT THREE STEPS ON THE DEHYDRATING PROCESS LISTED BELOW CLICK HERE
After Drying (for fruit only)
Packaging the dried foods
Storing the dried foods

*Any portion of this Article is posted under US Fair Use Laws.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Raw Milk Upsets “Big Milk”

by Tim Shoemaker on APRIL 1, 2014

rawmilkThe dairy lobby, or Big Milk, is upset over Rep. Thomas Massie’s introduction of the “Milk Freedom Act,” H.R. 4307 that would allow for the interstate sale of raw milk, and the “Interstate Milk Freedom Act,” H.R. 4308 that would allow the interstate sale of raw milk between two states where the sale of raw milk is already permitted.

Politico notes,

The swing in momentum can, in part, be attributed to a transformation of the argument that advocates are using. The debate used to be centered on the health and nutritional benefits of raw milk versus the safety of pasteurized milk, but the likes of Ron Paul — who mentioned the issue in several speeches during his 2012 presidential run and introduced similar bills when he was in Congress — have turned it into one about freedom of choice.

When Dr. Paul would travel the country speaking at college campuses about personal freedom, he would often frame it in an argument about food freedom, and freedom of choice — raw milk provided the perfect example of Nanny State regulators who outlaw choice in the name of “keeping us safe.”

Politico continued,

Despite the growing grassroots movement in favor of loosening raw milk regulation and bipartisan support, getting a bill through Congress will continue to be an uphill battle, especially with strong opposition from the dairy industry. The National Milk Producers Federation and International Dairy Foods Association — usually on opposite sides of dairy policy — have repeatedly compared consuming raw milk to “playing Russian roulette.”

Chris Galen, spokesman for NMPF, said his group will be educating members of Congress on the risks associated with raw milk to deter Massie’s bills from gaining traction.

Freedom comes with a certain amount of risk. If you wanted to live a risk free life, then a benevolent dictatorship might be your preferred form of government. But, as Thomas Jefferson wrote,  ”I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies [sic] attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

On his Facebook page, Rep. Massie at least had a sense of humor about the opposition to his bills from Big Milk, posting “The lactose lobby can be so intolerant! It’s time to legalize freedom.”

We’re glad to see Rep. Massie is in line with a great American political tradition that places personal freedom over the desire for the Nanny State to keep us safe from ourselves. This sort of strong opposition, this early, from Big Milk is actually a good sign that they’re worried about the number of original cosponsors this legislation has and the potential for momentum to swing in our direction.

Please contact your representative and tell them to legalize freedom by urging them to cosponsor H.R. 4307 & H.R. 4308!

ARTICLE FROM CAMPAIGN FOR LIBERTY

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

White House looks to regulate cow flatulence as part of climate agenda

By Michael Bastasch

As part of its plan to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the Obama administration is targeting the dairy industry to reduce methane emissions in their operations.

cowThis comes despite falling methane emission levels across the economy since 1990.

The White House has proposed cutting methane emissions from the dairy industry by 25 percent by 2020. Although U.S. agriculture only accounts for about 9 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it makes up a sizeable portion of methane emissions — which is a very potent greenhouse gas.

Some of these methane emissions come from cow flatulence, exhaling and belching — other livestock animals release methane as well.

“Cows emit a massive amount of methane through belching, with a lesser amount through flatulence,” according to How Stuff Works. “Statistics vary regarding how much methane the average dairy cow expels. Some experts say 100 liters to 200 liters a day… while others say it’s up to 500 liters… a day. In any case, that’s a lot of methane, an amount comparable to the pollution produced by a car in a day.”

“Of all domestic animal types, beef and dairy cattle were by far the largest emitters of [methane],” according to an EPA analysis charting greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. Cows and other animals produce methane through digestion, which ferments the food of animals.

“During digestion, microbes resident in an animal’s digestive system ferment food consumed by the animal,” the EPA notes. “This microbial fermentation process, referred to as enteric fermentation, produces [methane] as a byproduct, which can be exhaled or eructated by the animal.”

It’s not just the dairy industry that the Obama administration is clamping down on. The White House is looking to regulate methane emissions across the economy from agriculture to oil and gas operations — all this despite methane emissions falling 11 percent since 1990.

READ THE ENTIRE STORY HERE

Monday, March 31, 2014

7 Secrets for a High-Yield Vegetable Garden

By organicgardening.com

Here’s how to get the most out of your garden.

Imagine harvesting nearly half a ton of tasty, beautiful, organically grown vegetables from a 15-by-20-foot plot, 100 pounds of tomatoes from just 100 square feet (a 4-by-25-foot bed), or 20 pounds of carrots from just 24 square feet.

Yields like these are easier to achieve than you may think. The secret to superproductive gardening is taking the time now to plan strategies that will work for your garden. Here are seven high-yield strategies gleaned from gardeners who have learned to make the most of their garden space.


1. Build up your soil.

Expert gardeners agree that building up the soil is the single most important factor in pumping up yields. A deep, organically rich soil encourages the growth of healthy, extensive roots that are able to reach more nutrients and water. The result: extra-lush, extra-productive growth above ground.

The fastest way to get that deep layer of fertile soil is to make raised beds. Raised beds yield up to four times more than the same amount of space planted in rows. That’s due not only to their loose, fertile soil but also to efficient spacing—by using less space for paths, you have more room to grow plants.

Raised beds save you time, too. One researcher tracked the time it took to plant and maintain a 30-by-30-foot garden planted in beds, and found that he needed to spend just 27 hours in the garden from mid-May to mid-October. Yet he was able to harvest 1,900 pounds of fresh vegetables—that’s a year’s supply of food for three people from about 3 total days of work!

How do raised beds save so much time? Plants grow close enough together to shade out competing weeds, so you spend less time weeding. The close spacing also makes watering and harvesting more efficient.

2. Round out your beds.

The shape of your beds can make a difference, too. Raised beds are more space-efficient if the tops are gently rounded to form an arc, rather than flat. A rounded bed that is 5 feet wide across its base, for instance, will give you a 6-foot-wide arc above it—creating a planting surface that’s a foot wider than that of a flat bed. That foot might not seem like much, but multiply it by the length of your bed and you’ll see that it can make a big difference in total planting area.

In a 20-foot-long bed, for example, rounding the top increases your total planting area from 100 to 120 square feet. That’s a 20 percent gain in planting space in a bed that takes up the same amount of ground space! Lettuce, spinach, and other greens are perfect crops for planting on the edges of a rounded bed.

READ THE OTHER THREE STEPS HERE

Martha Boneta - The Environmentalists Are Not Giving Up

By Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh (Bio and Archives)  Friday, March 28, 2014

marthaboneta2The small farmers in Virginia rejoiced when Senate Bill 51 and House Bill 268, dubbed the “Boneta Bill,” passed both houses and the Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe signed it. The bill gave farmers legal protection from overreaching and overzealous county bureaucrats who impose unreasonable requirements and unnecessary fees on small farmers.

The bills, sponsored by state Senator Richard Stuart (R-Montross) and state Delegate Bobby Orrock (R-Thornburg), protect “agricultural operations from local regulation” and limit the government’s ability to require “special-use permits” for farm activities. Among many things, “Martha’s bill prevents counties from imposing a $100 fee to grow tomatoes.”

Martha Boneta, the farmer at the center of this protracted battle in Virginia said, “No Virginian should be forced to lose everything when they fight city hall.” Her farm is embroiled in a costly legal battle with Fauquier County supervisors over the use of her own farmland.

Boneta explained, “Corn mazes and pumpkin carvings were considered ‘events’ that required site plans and a mile-long list of red tape that can be suffocating.”

“There is an illusion that farmers are allowed to sell all their products because there are farmers markets and one-day bake sales. ... These are exemptions granted at the whim of government. I have 33 acres with cows. If I had the ability to sell all my farm products (including raw milk) directly to the public, I could make $56,000 a year. But not under existing regulations.” (Bernadette Barber, founder of Virginia Food Freedom)

Martha Boneta found herself at the center of the battle for farm freedom and property rights when she held a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls at her Liberty Farm. Fauquier County deemed this party illegal because it lacked a permit. “Why would I need a permit for pumpkin carving?” Boneta said.

Boneta was issued a special license in 2011 which allowed her to run a “retail farm shop” in which she sold handspun yarns, fresh vegetables, eggs, herbs, honey, and craft items such as birdhouses. Fauquier County Board of Supervisors changed in 2011 the “farm sales classification” to require a special permit for activities that were previously included in the permit that Boneta had already been issued. Faced with fines of $5,000 per violation under charges that she held a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls without a permit and a “site plan,” advertised one wine tasting, sold postcards with pictures of her rescued farm animals, sold wool fiber products from her sheep and alpacas, and sold organic tea from herbs grown in her garden, even though she had a business license, Martha paid $500 to appeal these unjust administrative charges. “The county zoning administrator told her at the hearing that “Martha was out of line,” for appealing these charges.”

Mark Fitzgibbons wrote that “Fauquier County also passed a winery ordinance that blatantly violates property rights and civil liberties.  It gives Fauquier zoning administrator Kimberley Johnson discretion to create penalties and to prohibit private personal gatherings.”

Fitzgibbons said that “A local but powerful group called the Piedmont Environment Council wholeheartedly backed that illegal, anti-liberty winery ordinance.  The PEC seems to have an unusual if not disturbing amount of influence over Fauquier County officials.

Barber described the Boneta Bill victory as “opening the barn door for the blossoming farm-to-table movement.” However, bureaucrats and NGOs do not give up easily. Undaunted, no sooner had the ink dried on the signatures on the bill, the environmentalists came calling for a farm inspection of Martha’s Liberty Farm.

Property owners and farmers are fined, bullied, threatened based not just on zoning ordinances, but also via environmental conservation easements with onerous requirements, and farm inspections.

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE

Friday, March 28, 2014

Boneta Bill Part III by Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh

By Tom White - Virginia Right

boneta1-276x311The small farmers in Virginia rejoiced when Senate Bill 51 and House Bill 268, dubbed the “Boneta Bill,” passed both houses and the Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe signed it. The bill gave farmers legal protection from overreaching and overzealous county bureaucrats who impose unreasonable requirements and unnecessary fees on small farmers.

The bills, sponsored by state Senator Richard Stuart (R-Montross) and state Delegate Bobby Orrock (R-Thornburg), protect “agricultural operations from local regulation” and limit the government’s ability to require “special-use permits” for farm activities. Among many things, “Martha’s bill prevents counties from imposing a $100 fee to grow tomatoes.”

Martha Boneta, the farmer at the center of this protracted battle in Virginia said, “No Virginian should be forced to lose everything when they fight city hall.” Her farm is embroiled in a costly legal battle with Fauquier County supervisors over the use of her own farmland.

Boneta explained, “Corn mazes and pumpkin carvings were considered ‘events’ that required site plans and a mile-long list of red tape that can be suffocating.”

“There is an illusion that farmers are allowed to sell all their products because there are farmers markets and one-day bake sales. … These are exemptions granted at the whim of government. I have 33 acres with cows. If I had the ability to sell all my farm products (including raw milk) directly to the public, I could make $56,000 a year. But not under existing regulations.” (Bernadette Barber, founder of Virginia Food Freedom)

Martha Boneta found herself at the center of the battle for farm freedom and property rights when she held abirthday party for eight 10-year-old girls at her Liberty Farm. Fauquier County deemed this party illegal because it lacked a permit. “Why would I need a permit for pumpkin carving?” Boneta said.

Boneta was issued a special license in 2011 which allowed her to run a “retail farm shop” in which she sold handspun yarns, fresh vegetables, eggs, herbs, honey, and craft items such as birdhouses. Fauquier County Board of Supervisors changed in 2011 the “farm sales classification” to require a special permit for activities that were previously included in the permit that Boneta had already been issued. Faced with fines of $5,000 per violation under charges that she held a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls without a permit and a “site plan,” advertised one wine tasting, sold postcards with pictures of her rescued farm animals, sold wool fiber products from her sheep and alpacas, and sold organic tea from herbs grown in her garden, even though she had a business license, Martha paid $500 to appeal these unjust administrative charges. “The county zoning administrator told her at the hearing that “Martha was out of line,” for appealing these charges.”

Mark Fitzgibbons wrote that “Fauquier County also passed a winery ordinance that blatantly violates property rights and civil liberties.  It gives Fauquier zoning administrator Kimberley Johnson discretion to create penalties and to prohibit private personal gatherings.”http://washingtonexaminer.com/virginia-vintners-taste-the-police-state/article/2504381

Fitzgibbons said that “A local but powerful group called the Piedmont Environment Council (http://www.pecva.org/index.php/our-region/fauquier/711-fauquier-farm-winery-ordinance)

wholeheartedly backed that illegal, anti-liberty winery ordinance.  The PEC seems to have an unusual if not disturbing amount of influence over Fauquier County officials.http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/09/the_environmentalists_police_and_welfare_states.html

Barber described the Boneta Bill victory as “opening the barn door for the blossoming farm-to-table movement.” However, bureaucrats and NGOs do not give up easily. Undaunted, no sooner had the ink dried on the signatures on the bill, the environmentalists came calling for a farm inspection of Martha’s Liberty Farm.

Property owners and farmers are fined, bullied, threatened based not just on zoning ordinances, but also via environmental conservation easements with onerous requirements, and farm inspections.

Martha Boneta’s farm is the only farm in the state of Virginia that has four required inspections per year. Inspectors used to come several times a month until Boneta complained. She gets a seven day notice.

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE