cold brew delight

Posted by on Sep 27, 2012 in Food for thought, healthy food, home remedies, Recipes | 2 comments

6904368144_ea1340fe13For those of you coffee drinkers who absolutely love coffee but have challenges digesting the everyday pick me up, try cold brewing your coffee! Instead of using hot water, you use cold, resulting in a concentrate that is super low in acidity, and very tasty! It takes some time and patience, but worth every minute.

Here is how:

1. Pick up your favorite coffee beans, and opt for course grind. Note, there is a debate about fine vs. course. Choose which one makes the most sense for your brewing method. For you tea lovers out there, check out this link to make cold brew tea.

2. Without purchasing a Toddy, (which works wonders) there are many ways of cold brewing with equipment most coffee lovers already have sitting in their kitchen. You can use a french press, a jar, pitcher or anything that can hold water + coffee (since it takes a while to make, opt for a larger vessel, you will get a greater return on your investment). You will also need some sort of strainer, like cheesecloth or coffee filters and a sieve or colander.

3. The usual ratio is 1/3 cup of ground coffee to 1 cup of water. Slowly pour water over your brew, and do not mix.

4. Cover your brew, and let it sit on your counter for up to 24 hours. The longer you leave it, the stronger it gets. Optimal time is anywhere between 12-18 hours.

5. Strain your coffee into another vessel, through a sieve/colander lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. The resulting liquid is your delicious coffee concentrate.

6. Keep sealed and refrigerate for up to two weeks. If you make a huge batch and know that you won’t drink it within that time frame, you can freeze it. Tastes best within 1 week, but it can manage to still taste lovely within 2 weeks.

7. Make sure to dilute before drinking. Add ice to a glass, pour in 1/2 part coffee and 1/2 part water, if you like it strong, or 1/3 part coffee and 1/2 part water, if you like it more subtle. Then add milk or sugar, some people even add salt! For a cold winter day, you can heat up your cold brew over the stove or in the effective, albeit less desirable microwave. Dilute it as you would your iced coffee, and enjoy a hot cup of cold brew.

Your belly will thank you, and you will be as alert as ever. Happy cold brewing to all!

Photo courtesy of Jennie Faber

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What is the farm bill?

Posted by on Sep 25, 2012 in agriculture, Food & Farm program, Food for thought, food politics, local food, news and happenings | 0 comments

In our country, nearly 16 million jobs depend on the success of American agriculture.

Every five years, a new Farm Bill is passed. What is the farm bill? One of the most significant legislations affecting food, farming, nutrition, and land-use in the United States.

The first Farm Bill was enacted after the Great Depression with the dual goals of supporting American farmers and helping them maintain their land. The last Farm Bill was passed in 2008 and expires on September 30th of this year (that’s in 5 days!).

The Farm Bill programs have a strong influence on what food is available, how it is produced, food security, farmer livelihoods, and environmental consequences, as well as having notable international impacts. Together, these various initiatives significantly impact public health.

More than 60 percent of Farm Bill funding is allocated to food assistance programs. Since 2008, the food stamp program has doubled in cost to a pricy $80 billion a year, helping to feed almost 46 million Americans, or 1 out of every 7th person.

For more information on the proposed Farm Bill, click here. To learn about the most current state of the Farm Bill, click here. To check out John Hopkins Farm Bill Visualizer, click here.

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green gardens growing in East London schoolyard

Posted by on Sep 21, 2012 in agriculture, cooking with kids, Food & Farm program, Food for thought, food politics, gardens, healthy food, let's move, local food, lunch time, news and happenings, school food, seasonal | 0 comments

Sixteen years ago, Alice Waters partnered with the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, and their school community to start an edible garden, whose purpose was to create an experiential learning space that delved into various school subjects. Through strong community support, Alice Waters spearheaded the transformation of a concrete playground into an edible schoolyard, and in turn started a local food revolution.Since then, many schools have followed suit, encouraging the growth of school gardens, greenhouses, cooking programs and gardening initiatives all across the country, and world.

Across the pond, in an East London school community, shoots and similar ideas are sprouting. Spearheaded by parent, Cassie Liversidge, the Chisenhale Primary School has grown it’s very own edible playground.

The playground boasts a bounty of fresh fruits, veggies, and even wheat, which they mill in class, and transform into fresh loaves of bread, in collaboration with the “lessons in loaf” curriculum. Some of their local produce is used in their cafeteria, so that the children can eat their very own harvested food at lunchtime.

The children all have a hand in planting, weeding, harvesting and even selling! By smartly partnering with the Royal Horticultural Society Campaign for School Gardening, School Food Matters, and Waitrose, they are bringing the community together all in the name of good food education.

For more information on the Chisenhale Primary School edible playground, check out the Edible Schoolyard’s website here. To hear Cassie speak about the transformation she helped spark, watch her inspiring video here, friend her facebook page, and follow her on twitter.

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green gardens growing in East London schoolyard

Posted by on Sep 21, 2012 in agriculture, cooking with kids, Food & Farm program, Food for thought, food politics, gardens, healthy food, let's move, local food, lunch time, news and happenings, school food, seasonal | 0 comments

Sixteen years ago, Alice Waters partnered with the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, and their school community to start an edible garden, whose purpose was to create an experiential learning space that delved into various school subjects. Through strong community support, Alice Waters spearheaded the transformation of a concrete playground into an edible schoolyard, and in turn started a local food revolution.Since then, many schools have followed suit, encouraging the growth of school gardens, greenhouses, cooking programs and gardening initiatives all across the country, and world.

Across the pond, in an East London school community, shoots and similar ideas are sprouting. Spearheaded by parent, Cassie Liversidge, the Chisenhale Primary School has grown it’s very own edible playground.

The playground boasts a bounty of fresh fruits, veggies, and even wheat, which they mill in class, and transform into fresh loaves of bread, in collaboration with the “lessons in loaf” curriculum. Some of their local produce is used in their cafeteria, so that the children can eat their very own harvested food at lunchtime.

The children all have a hand in planting, weeding, harvesting and even selling! By smartly partnering with the Royal Horticultural Society Campaign for School Gardening, School Food Matters, and Waitrose, they are bringing the community together all in the name of good food education.

For more information on the Chisenhale Primary School edible playground, check out the Edible Schoolyard’s website here. To hear Cassie speak about the transformation she helped spark, watch her inspiring video here, friend her facebook page, and follow her on twitter.

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Conventional or Organic?

Posted by on Sep 19, 2012 in cooking with kids, families, Food for thought, food politics, healthy food, let's move, local food, news and happenings, raising children, school food, seasonal | 1 comment

8099419727_c31c7bbe2cTwo weeks ago, Stanford University published their controversial study in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluding that organic produce has no added nutritional health benefits over their conventionally grown counterparts.

However, one of the few distinguishable advantages of organic fruits and vegetables is that there is a lower risk of pesticide exposure. Despite this, the conventionally grown produce that was reviewed contained pesticide levels within the safety limits set by the EPA.

It was noted in the study that children are especially vulnerable when it comes to pesticide exposure, since they are maturing and their immune systems are more sensitive. Because childhood is a critical period in human development, exposure to pesticides during that time may cause adverse effects.

According to the FDA, foods labeled “organic” must be certified under the National Organic Program. They must also be grown and processed using organic farming methods that promote biodiversity and recycling. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, bioengineered genes, antibiotics, hormones, and radiation cannot be used. For more information on organic food labels, click here. To read about the challenges small farmers face should they chose to become certified organic, click here.

In the study it was found that organic produce has a 30 percent lower risk of containing detectable pesticide levels. The Environmental Working Group has compiled a list of the twelve foods containing the highest levels of pesticides, calling them the Dirty Dozen (with apples, celery, and bell peppers at the head of list). The Clean 15 on the other hand are the foods lowest in pesticides, with onions, sweet corn, and pineapple as the top three least contaminated. Here is their methodology.

What this study did not focus on, was the nutritional, environmental and community value of locally grown produce. Eating local produce offers various health benefits for our bodies, and our planet. According to the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, the top five reasons to eat locally are:

  1. taste
  2. environmental concern
  3. community
  4. variety
  5. health

Our food now travels an average of 1,500 miles before ending up on our plates.

At Butter Beans, we have created close relationships with local food purveyors, purchasing as much of our produce as possible from nearby farmers to provide the freshest and most nutritious food to our students. A list of our suppliers can be found here.

Despite the emphatic reactions to this food study, it’s a step in the right direction for the quality and safety of the food we eat daily. This sort of dialogue shows that our communities are taking more interest in different methods of food production, which trickles down to how we feed our families. It is of utmost importance that we nourish ourselves everyday with fresh fruits and vegetables.

First Lady, Michelle Obama sums it up pretty well: “We can make a commitment to promote vegetables and fruits and whole grains on every part of every menu. We can make portion sizes smaller and emphasize quality over quantity. And we can help create a culture — imagine this — where our kids ask for healthy options instead of resisting them.”

Photo courtesy of ePsos.de

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