Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The REAL Stewards of the Earth -- an Opinion

Have you been watching the ABC World News Tonight’s 3-part series on organic food? It’s been two days of broadcasts so far, and I’m seeing the usual distortions, but nothing new. I went to the Broadcast Plus section of their website to look a little further into the subject and I found myself in an interesting conversation.

ABC provided a few links to 'find organic food in your area', so I checked them out. One of the links was to an “online community” which can put you in touch with organics in your area, so naturally, I tried to find Timber Creek. But we weren’t there. I emailed the webmaster (in California where this group is based) and told him about TCF. I asked him if he could include us in his database. But he said “NO”. His reason was that his organization only promotes family farms “that sell to their local communities and the businesses that support them.” (Interestingly, I could purchase organic and 'natural' foods from this website, and have it shipped across the country to me.)

So, I asked him: “How come I can buy organic food from you online (you’re in California and I’m in Illinois)? Isn’t that the same thing that TCF does?”

I’ll quote his answer directly:

“Our goals are:

#1: Family farms
#2: Buy Local
#3: Organic food that order.

90% of the work we do is though our directory, where people find local sources of family-farm grown foods. We have a catalog where we sell products from family farms via mail order, which is how we support the project.”

Now, I didn’t write back to him, but I’m hearing this unusual argument a lot lately. The argument goes something like this:

“The most important thing we can do is to support the ‘little guys’ {farms} who are struggling to stay afloat. We all wish that we could just go down to the corner farm and buy our fruits and veggies, but since we can’t, we have to protect these guys as best we can, from being absorbed into the giant factory farms. And, locally grown food is better for you, anyway. If the food is Organic, well, that’s just a plus.”

Fair enough, I guess……but to me, that's exactly backwards:

If I’m spending my money at your farm to help keep your business afloat, don’t I have a say in what quality of food I’m buying from you? Yes, family farms have a unique struggle, and eating locally grown food is the ideal, but if your food could be slowly poisoning me and my family, why is helping your farm so important? The terms “locally grown” and “organic” are not mutually exclusive.

There are a lot of seemingly unsolvable issues in the organic world. Transportation over long distances seems counterproductive, yet if the farms in my area are only growing food with the full compliment of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics, recombinant growth hormones, and such, I’m going to look elsewhere. Plenty of us don’t even know where the nearest farm would be – but many of us know better than to read the words “locally grown” without asking the far more important question: “is it clean?” All food is locally grown to someone – that doesn’t make it better for you.

The way I see it, there is nothing wrong with helping a farmer who lives somewhere other than my neighborhood, if he’s the one who will bring me the clean, organic food that I want. That organic farmer's success makes it easier for my neighbor the farmer to transition to organic, if that's what he wants to do. These far-flung farmers who, year after year, demonstrate their commitment to the future of the planet and my family’s health; help other farmers in the long run, too -- they're the real stewards of the earth. Not everyone cares about the quality of the food that they eat, but if you do, there is a farmer out there who is upholding the organic standards for YOU.


... P.S. The lovely family farm in the picture above is the storefront of Roseland Organic Farms -- the USDA Certified Organic Farm in Niles, Michigan where we get our grassfed beef.

Friday, November 03, 2006

90 Days of Purpose

There is a church in Forest Park called “Living Word Christian Center” that is really unique. The pastor of the church is a doctor, so he has a passion to keep his congregation healthy. Some of our Members belong to the church, so they asked me to come up and speak to them about the benefits of eating organic foods. I was overwhelmed when I saw this group! There were over 100 people signed up for “90 Days of Pupose”. This is a 90-day re-orientation to one’s personal health, covering all aspects of body, mind and spirit, beginning with eating the right foods: organics. Timber Creek Members Mitze, Audrey and Louella (pictured above) had an incredibly organized presentation that touched on food combining, the low-glycemic index and many other cutting-edge concepts.

They asked us to develop a Timber Creek Basket for this group, specifically, and so we did. The 90 Days of Purpose Box ($36.81) will consist of a broad selection of greens, some root vegetables and fruits. Any time you eat an organic fruit or vegetable instead of a conventional one, you are signaling to your body that you are ready to detoxify. Detoxification begins with that first bite of organic food, and the more you substitute organics for conventional foods in your day, the more your body responds. You can change your diet to make healthier choices, but if your changes include detoxifying your body, you can surpass your original goals and enjoy an even more potent level of health.

These unique women and their group of fellow travelers already have an energy that you don’t see every day. We look forward to working with them more and more.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday Morning Kitten Blogging

Merlin tries one last time to hide from Jack Frost Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 13, 2006




After much waiting and working with one of our dairies, Lamer’s, we are pleased and proud to announce the launch of Organic Milk and Hormone and Antibiotic-Free Milk and Orange Juice in Glass Bottles!!

Why all the fuss, you may ask?? Well, aside from the fact that the milk just tastes better and using glass is better for the environment, Timber Creek Farms is one of a small handful of companies in our delivery area able to bring you the real deal right to your door. There are other, larger companies who can deliver milk in glass, but what kind of milk? In the past, another home delivery service who specializes in milk in glass bottles offered a clean product. They could certify that their milk contained no antibiotics and no synthetic growth hormones. Over time, that certification eroded into a promise, and now their milk is the same as all the rest.

Enter: Lamer’s in Wisconsin. Lamer’s provides Timber Creek with two lines of milk; Dairyland’s Best and Wisconsin Organics. Although not organic, Dairyland’s best is certified to have no synthetic growth hormones or antibiotics in it. And now it’s available in glass! We have their affidavit on file, and we’ll send you a copy for the asking. Wisconsin Organics’ milk is USDA Certified Organic, of course, and now it’s also available in glass, too! Really, what more could you ask for?

Timber Creek now has a complete Dairy Brochure listing all of our dairy options. Look for it on our website at or ask for one in your next delivery.

Now I have my milk in glass and produce delivered together, and they’re on my doorstep once a week.

I only wish I knew about Timber Creek when my children were little………


(**Important announcement: Lamer's has stopped carrying "Grass Point Farms" milk from grass-fed cows.**)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Yesterday, I spoke with the Director of the LaSalle County Health Department, an official with Lakeside Organics (where our spinach comes from) and checked the websites of the Center for Disease Control and ABC News.

What I found out was that Illinois was at that moment reporting its first case of E. coli. I also found out that the company found to have produced the contaminated spinach was Natural Selections, LLC in California. It just so happens that this company has a “commercial side” and an “organic side”. This does NOT mean that products are co-mingled; in fact, it means quite the opposite. Organic products cannot be processed at commercial facilities. The commercial side of Natural Selections is the place that the contaminated spinach originated from. The organic side, named “Earthbound Organics” has been cleared of any suspicion.

The spinach the Timber Creek delivers to you is from Lakeside Organics – also in California. I spoke with them and asked them if the FDA or any other government agency had asked them to stop harvesting or to stop shipping their spinach. The said “NO”. So it appears that the government investigators have done their job, and the worry is over. The CDC isn’t quite that optimistic, however, so I have reproduced their latest announcement later in this post. And because the “all clear” has not been sounded by the government, Timber Creek has decided to pull all spinach from our deliveries until further notice.

What we know so far as of 9/18/06 from the Centers for Disease Control website:

As of 1 PM (ET) September 18, 2006, Monday, 114 persons infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported to CDC from 21 states.
Among the ill persons, 60 (53%) were hospitalized, 18 (16%) developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), and an adult in Wisconsin died. Eighty-five (75%) were female and 6 (5%) were children under 5 years old. Among ill persons who provided the date when their illnesses began, 92% became ill between August 19 and September 5.

The states that have reported cases are California (1 case), Connecticut (2), Idaho (4), Illinois (1), Indiana (8), Kentucky (6), Maine (2), Michigan (4), Minnesota (2), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (5), Nevada (1), New York (7), Ohio (10), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (4), Utah (15), Virginia (1), Washington (2), Wisconsin (32), and Wyoming (1).

CDC Advice for Consumers

The following is advice for consumers about this outbreak:
• Currently, we are advising consumers to not eat any fresh spinach or salad blends containing fresh spinach that are consumed raw.

• E. coli O157:H7 in spinach can be killed by cooking at 160° Fahrenheit for 15 seconds. (Water boils at 212° Fahrenheit.) If spinach is cooked in a frying pan, and all parts do not reach 160° Fahrenheit, all bacteria may not be killed. If consumers choose to cook the spinach, they should not allow the raw spinach to contaminate other foods and food contact surfaces, and they should wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling the spinach.

• Persons who develop diarrhea after consuming fresh spinach or salad blends containing fresh spinach are urged to contact their health care provider and ask that their stool specimen be tested for E. coli O157.

• Persons who ate fresh spinach or salad blends and feel well do not need to see a health-care provider.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Did you know that Timber Creek Farms sells two kinds of milk? They’re not all the same, and Members buy them for different reasons; so let’s take a closer look at each of them...and before we begin, let me point out that ALL of our milks can be frozen for later use!

The first milk in our Dairy Brochure is Dairyland’s Best.

Dairyland’s best is not organic, but the cattle that provide the milk are vegetarians. In fact all cattle associated with TCF products (including beef) are vegetarians, and that’s important because by only eating grains, legumes and grasses there’s no possibility of transmitting Mad Cow Disease through the herd or into the final products. One thing that Dairyland’s Best can certify is that there are no antibiotics or synthetic hormones given to the cattle. Dairyland’s Best is the ONLY large dairy in the Midwest that can make that claim! The milk comes in gallons and half pints (for the kids), and you can get Skim, 1%, 2% or Whole. They also provide us with our Half and Half which comes in ½ gallons or pints, and our Whipping Cream which comes in ½ gallons and ½ pints. Dairyland’s Best also offers ½ gallons of Orange Juice made from purified water.

The second milk in our Dairy Brochure is Wisconsin Organics.

Like it says in the title, it’s USDA Certified Organic. It’s also homogenized. That means that the fats in the milk have been evenly distributed throughout the liquid of the milk and will never separate. Just like regular milk in the store. Wisconsin Organics offers Skim, 2% or Whole in half gallons and gallons. This dairy also supplies us with our Organic Butter and cheese.

Timber Creek also offers a whole line of cheeses including the Specialty Line from Sugar River Cheese Company. Their flavors include: White Cheddar with Chipotle, or with Roasted Garlic and Green Onion; Monetery Jack with Roasted Garlic and Basil or with Jalapeno and Cilantro; or Prairie Jack with Parsley and Chive or with Green Peppercorns. We also carry soy milks, cottage cheesse and sour cream from Organic Valley, so be sure to check them out!


(**Important Announcement: Lamer's Dairy no longer carries milk from Grass Point Farms**)

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Cookbook Box

You know that every time you browse through the Timber Creek brochure you see that "Cook-book Box" on page 16. And you know you think it would be cool to order, but you just don't know how it works...

Well, I'm happy to explain it to you.

First of all, what kind of cook are you? If you suddenly realize that it's almost dinnertime and you haven't given it a thought all day, there are 3 possible responses: Panic; order something; or put a pan on the stove, add some butter or olive oil and then start going through the fridge to find out what dinner is going to be.

Well, it's the third category of cook that would enjoy The Cookbook Box. It's for the experienced cook who is very comfortable in the kitchen, and likes a little bit of a challenge.

This is what you get: NOT recepie cards, but a beautiful, full-color, coffee-table type cookbook to whet your appetite. Then, Tony shops for you using produce items in the book that appear frequently throughout. For example, once he sent out a gorgeous cookbook of Greek cuisine. The box that was delivered with it had artichokes, eggplant, garlic, figs, basil, lemons, fennel and so on. When our Member received the box, she would go to the back of the book -- in the index -- and look up a given item such as eggplant. There were quite a few recepies, and then all she had to do was choose which one she wanted to make, and proceed. Other ingredients for that recepie may have also been delivered, so trips to the store are not always necessary. It really depends upon what's in your pantry, what you might be able to substitute, and which of the recepies your family would enjoy. Since we really don't know which recepies those might be, we give you the basics to choose which ones you'd like to try.

It's a popular box, but not for the faint of heart. If you have ever ordered a Cookbook Box, I welcome your feedback. Feel free to post a comment here.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Saturday Morning Kitten Blogging

Piquad posing as an herb...with that look on her face!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Kitchen Tools

Ever since I started doing Moo Cluckety-Cluck Parties for TCF, I've been singing the praises of the OXO Salad Spinner. If you don't have one, you might consider buying one. I got mine at the local box store and this thing is the best spinner I've ever owned. It takes a half-head of romaine at a time and it's really good for cleaning radishes, spinach and other items that tend to keep dirt clinging to them. You can fill up the bowl with the basket inside, swish and brush till they're clean, then dump the water in the sink (or on your plants) and spin them out.

The other thing I just recently bought and really love is a Jack LaLanne Juicer. I've never been into juicing, so it was an out of character purchase for me. On the other hand, I've wanted to get into juicing -- especially for lunch -- because I never seem to have time nor the inclination to prepare anything, and then by dinnertime, I'm famished. (Did I mention I work at home?) My son bought this juicer recently and said, "Mom, it's like having a power tool in the kitchen". He also said it had no problem with carrots. See, I think if you're going to juice, you're probably going to do a lot of carrots, and a juicer has to be able to stand up to that.

So -- my first juicing experience was: 1 ripe mango, 10 strawberries and 3 carrots.

It was HEAVEN!

My next juicing experience was: 15 bing cherries, 4 carrots and a 2" piece of ginger.

Again -- FANTASTIC!!

Tony has just developed 2 new juicing boxes for athletes: Juicing for Jocks ($43.48) and Juicing for Jockettes ($36.81). I ordered the Jockette Box -- not knowing what to expect. HOLY COW I'm going to have a BLAST juicing. I got about 6 pounds of huge carrots, a pineapple, a bag of red delicious apples, at least 3 pounds of baby spinach, a cucumber, 6 oranges, a head of romaine and a head of red leaf lettuce (...I know there was more in there, but I had the juicer running as I was putting things away!)

In our house, we're not big fruit eaters. We love fruit (especially TCFs) but we just dont eat a lot of it. Now I can see we may be running low by the end of the week...due to heavy juicing action. And something strange is happening....

We just got two kittens. I'm really allergic to them, but we live out in the country, and the word has gotten out amongst the chipmunks, squirrels, birds, 13-stripe squirrels, ground hogs, moles and so forth, that our older cat, Spike, passed away. We're overrun with critters!! So we got the kittens as a deterrent. The problem is, while I'm petting them and playing with them, I'm suffering. I've got the usual itchy eyes, runny nose and now a burning sensation in my chest. Well, it's kinda of strange, but my symptoms are going away. I'm still playing with the kittens, and I'm still juicing, but I'm not suffering. I can't say that juicing is fixing my allergies....or can I?

PS: can you spot the kitten checking out the pond?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Summer Parties

Summertime is far from over and so summertime parties are far from over, too. I found that there is an even easier way to prepare munchies for the event than buying a veggie and dip tray at the grocery store:

Enter: The Raw Vegetable Box meets The Chop Chop Chef

Every time I get the Raw Vegetable Box, it's a HUGE amount of veggies that are great with dip! (you can cook them all, too, but that's another post.) Have the Chop Chop Chef cut them all up for you, and all you need to do is make a dip: how about:

2 C Mayo
2 Tb. Tamari or Soy Sauce
you can even add
1/2 tsp. hot sauce

When your delivery arrives, you just arrange the vegs on a tray and add the dip. It's just too simple.

This is my vegetarian granddaughter, Shiloh, who hails from Kodiak, Alaska -- and fresh veggies are her favorite!! She brought them to school on her birthday instead of cake (!!) There was some doubt that the kids would even try anything, but low and behold -- THEY ATE EVERYTHING! (they sure do make them smart in Kindergarten. =) Posted by Picasa

Saturn Peaches

Did you get those little squashed peaches in your delivery this week? Aren't they strange looking? But have you tasted one? If they're hard, just let them sit out a couple of days. Check them often, because once they're ready -- they're ready! These little gems are the SWEETEST, PEACHIEST peaches you'll ever eat. They have a teeny-tiny pit inside, so they're great for juicing -- but it's difficult to keep them from going straight into your mouth. HOWEVER....the other night I was in the mood for a little cocktail. My latest fave is a Mojito -- and I had an idea: I took 6 large mint leaves (minced) and one sliced Saturn Peach and put them into the bottom of a waterglass. Then I added 2 Tb. of sugar, and using the back of a tablespoon, I ground the ingredients together. Then I added a little club soda and mixed it all up...added 2 shots of light spiced rum, ice cubes and enough soda water to fill the glass....gave it a little stir and WOW !!