Monday, March 14, 2016

How to Make Healthy Living Fun

Farm Update

Fred has been seeding microgreens in the greenhouse lately,
and these ones are almost ready to harvest!
We're officially off to the races!  With the recent warm-up, Fred has been getting microgreens and transplants seeded in the greenhouse, repairing our two coldframes whose plastic blew off in the big windstorm last month, meeting with and hiring our summer crew, and generally getting things up and running for our summer season.  He's also continuing to teach a course at Delta College about getting started in small farming, and he's even made the first few deliveries of overwintered spinach to the GreenTree Co-Op in Mt. Pleasant and the East Lansing Food Co-Op.  This is the time of year when his focus increasingly shifts to the farm, but he still has one foot at home, where he continues to cook awesome food and be a great daddy to our three little kids.  In a month or two, his life will revolve around the farm, and mine will too by extension.  Right now, my base is still at home, but I spend a fair amount of time each week signing people up for the CSA, figuring out how to spread the word about our awesome veggies, and transitioning from my previous record-keeping and payroll system (mostly a series of Excel documents) to an actual program that does most of the thinking for me.  Once we get into the season, the payoff of time savings with the new system will be great, but for right now, it's a pretty time-consuming process getting it all set up.  Now that the weather is warming up, our lives are picking up the pace as well, and we are settling into our springtime rhythm.

How to Make Healthy Living Fun

The overwintered spinach is
looking and tasting awesome!
We've been eating quite a lot
of it at home lately.
A few years back, Fred and I were referred to in a newspaper article as one of the power couples of organic farming, which I find totally hilarious but very flattering.  When I think of the fairer half of a power couple, I imagine  someone in a boardroom wearing a stylishly tailored suit, not someone sitting on the couch with a baby on her lap and a preschooler kicking her feet, which is what I'm doing right now.  But as one half of the Monroe Family Organics power couple, part of my job is to "market" the CSA, a task I feel supremely unqualified for.  This is partly because I have no marketing training, and partly because I think of traditional marketing as mostly consisting of convincing people they need something they really don't, which I never want to do.  So I decided I needed to learn more about what I'm supposed to be doing, which brought me to the archives of the entirety of human knowledge (also known as the internet), which recommended a book about social media marketing called Built-In Social.  (If you happen to find yourself where I am, trying to promote a small business without any actual knowledge of how to do so, I highly recommend this book.)  I will be eternally grateful to the author for reframing my entire understanding of what marketing should be.  His premise is that instead of trying to get people to buy a product, we should actually be applying our expertise in our field toward helping people solve a perennial problem in their lives.  For most of the people I know, that would be the problem of how to make healthy living fun.  Well... gosh.  I can do that.

Everyone wants to be healthy.  Some have a harder climb than others toward reaching that goal, and some are willing to put in more effort than others to get there, but I've never met someone who has said they don't care about their health.  What a lot of people don't realize is that living a healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be boring, or hard, or stressful, or otherwise unpleasant.  So that is my goal with the upcoming installments of the CSA newsletter:  to outline ways to make healthy living easier, and dare I say it, fun.  In order to do that though, I'm going to need some input from all of you so that I know what topics you want addressed.  I have some ideas involving healthy and delicious recipes, enjoyable physical fitness, and advice on where to start if you're a lot farther from your goal than you want to be.  But send me your questions, ideas, and topics, because I really want to help our community be healthy and have fun doing it!  You can catch me on Facebook or through email anytime, and I look forward to hearing from you!


Now that the weather is starting to feel a little springier, my mind is turning toward asparagus, one of the first spring veggies.  If you've got an early farmers market near you, you'll probably have access in the next month or so to some excellent local asparagus.  If like most people, you are entirely reliant on the grocery store throughout the winter and early spring for your produce, never fear.  Asparagus in the stores now is coming from closer than it was a few months ago. (Although still not exactly close.  It's usually coming from the American south, but that's better than South America.)  So even though it's not exactly in season yet, it's going to be one of your best bets for produce right now, along with spinach, kale, and rhubarb, which are likely to be coming from closer to home than most other things.  So here are some asparagus recipes to give even the most lukewarm asparagus eaters a new appreciation for it!

This recipe for Parmesan Asparagus is really similar to how we make it at home, except that we use olive oil instead of cooking spray, and finely chopped garlic rather than garlic salt.  Either way, it's bound to be delicious!

Or try this Grilled Asparagus with Caper Vinaigrette for a slightly fancier take on the theme.  The bright flavor of the capers is a perfect pairing with asparagus!