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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 7 years ago

DIY health: Grow, pick your own

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Using slow food to your benefit, and finding it in your own backyard (sometimes literally).
by: Nancy Rudner

Did you make a new year’s resolution to eat better? Or to take better care of our planet? Slow foods can be part of your strategy. “Slow Food” is the opposite of mass produced fast food and agribusiness food. Slow food is about food and farming policies that are healthier for you, for the planet, and for the people who produce it, which can include local foods. Eating local foods not only helps the local economy and uses less fossil fuel to get the food to you, but it is also likely to be fresher, and have more nutrients with no preservatives and other chemicals.

Here are four ways to eat slow and local and know what you are eating:

  1. Buy local produce whenever you can. Most of our local cities have some sort of “farmers market,” and while the people selling it aren’t always the farmer, the food is often Florida grown. You can pick your own at the Oviedo strawberry patch. Several vendors sell local honey. At least one local farm sells locally made cheese and other dairy products.
  2. Make your own bread. Homemade bread won’t last as long as store-bought bread not only because it is made without preservatives, but also because it tastes better. Here is a simple recipe: 1.5 cups of warm water, 1 teaspoon yeast, 2 tablespoons honey or molasses, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon salt, a few cups of whole wheat and bread flour, some oats and some wheat germ or bran. Mix together, knead a bit, put in a warm place for 2 hours, punch it down and put in bread pan or on a cookie sheet in the shape you want, let it rise for 2 hours, then bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. This will give you some high fiber bread that tastes good, saves money, and has no added chemicals. Top with apple butter (its fat free) or locally made orange preserves instead of cholesterol-laden butter.
  3. Grow your own fruit and vegetables. Look at the great advice from our local gardening experts. Check out a workshop for home gardening. During World War II, the U.S. government encouraged “Victory Gardens” of home grown fruits and vegetables, as labor and transportation shortages limited access to many trucked foods. We can do it again, for a healthier nation.
  4. Cultivate your own eggs, maybe. Backyard chickens give you very fresh eggs. You know what the chickens ate (your table scraps or feed) to make that egg. Eggs are a great source of protein. Egg whites have no cholesterol. The eggs from your happy backyard chickens, compared to factory eggs, have more vitamins A and D, beta-carotene, and omega 3 fatty acids. They are less likely to have salmonella and other infections found in the chicken factories. Chickens in your yard also create great fertilizer. Chickens laying eggs do not crow; only roosters, which are not needed for eggs, greet the dawn with the cock-a-doodle-do. For more information, check out backyardchickens.com

Nonetheless, you have to be cautious with your chickens, as they may have been exposed to infections before getting to you. Careful hand washing is required.

Also, take a careful look at your local laws first. Many ban keeping feathered friends in your backyard. Orlando has a pilot program allowing a limited number of permits for urban chickens. Winter Park is considering permitting the homestead fowl. Several cities across the nation now allow urban chicken farming, but most around here do not. Stay tuned for developments here.

Maitland resident Nancy Rudner Lugo is a nurse practitioner and president of Health Action, offering workplace health consulting and nurse coaching. Visit www.healthaction.biz

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