Small Business Saturday is the New Black Friday

As we celebrate Thanksgiving with Turkey and all the fixings (no doubt incorporating goodies from Nature’s Garden into your Turkey Day dinner), we can’t help but think of the upcoming holiday season. Many have a tradition of getting out into the Black Friday shopping frenzy. But how about starting a new tradition of supporting local businesses in your neighborhood? Wait until Saturday to begin your shopping and support your local economy on Small Business Saturday, on November 24.

Small Business Saturday is a day when residents are encouraged to only buy from local stores and businesses. The idea behind Small Business Saturday, is to get people to shop at local, independent businesses. Locations of Nature’s Garden Express are all independently owned and operated, so we appreciate all of our members’ support.

Although only in its third year, it has gained an incredible amount of momentum, encouraging millions of people to shop small—at their favorite local stores—and help fuel the economy.
After all, the data from the September 2011 ADP National Employment Report makes clear that small businesses with fewer than 50 employees are the ones generating the overwhelming majority of new jobs.

Why supporting small businesses matters:*

* As of 2007, small business constituted the majority of our GDP
* Small businesses employ more than half of U.S. citizens
* Small businesses created more than 64% new jobs in the past 15 years
* Today, small businesses have lost a substantial market share and are still 4% lower than the beginning of the recession.

We, at Nature’s Garden are encouraging you to get out there and support those small businesses on Small Business Saturday. As a small business ourselves, we understand how important it is to be patronized by those in the community. Not only are we a small business, but the foods we supply are sourced from local vendors.  So, when you buy from us your support of local business is doubled! 

And to our satisfied customers, we’d greatly appreciate a referral. We’re sure you have lots of friends, family or co-workers that could benefit from our organic produce. New Year’s is just around the corner. What a better way to kick off the new year than starting out eating fresh, and good-for-you produce? If they are already shopping at Farmer’s Markets, we’ll save them the time and hassle by delivering right to their front door. Happy Shopping!


GMO Labeling Law Won’t Affect Food Prices

Proposition 37 is a hot button issue in California. It requires mandatory labeling on foods sold in the state that contain genetically modified organisms. Some argue that the labeling of these foods would create a rise in food costs. For those countries that have gone ahead and had labeling done for Genetically modified foods, the price has not gone up. In Europe, for example pricing remained the same.

Greater than 60 countries require labeling of genetically modified organisms—if they don’t restrict them altogether. Studies and polls show that the most consumers want to know if their foods contain GMOs. “We are helping other companies create a better market share. People will have lots of choices, increasing our competition. For all of our companies, this is a core values issue,” said Andy Berliner, Amy’s Kitchen’s CEO. “Only in America can you consume genetically engineered foods without knowing it.”

According to the Environmental Working Group, “A similar argument about costs was made before California passed the nation’s first law to label organic foods. The federal government followed suit with national organics standards.” And the national standards helped to regulate organic food prices, bringing them down in most cases, not driving them up. “If many of the farmers who are now growing GE crops switch back to regular crops which require less pesticides, it will affect the profitability and sales of pesticides but won’t affect food costs,” said Berliner. “Yet it will mean that less pesticides are being sprayed into our air, water and land.”

Pomegranates: What You Need to Know About This Superfood

There are many health benefits to pomegranates, which are now in season at Nature’s Garden Express. This fruit is a berry and is between a lemon and a grapefruit in size. Each pomegranate has hundreds of seeds, ranging anywhere from 200 to over 1,000. Seeds of the pomegranate are surrounded by a pulp. Pomegranates can resist a moderate amount of frost, which is why they are available in the winter.

There are many health benefits of pomegranates. In fact, there is a long history of pomegranates being used to treat or ward off illness. According to the Ayurvedic medicine, a practice that has been going on for thousands of years, the pomegranate has been widely used for this. The rind of the fruit and the bark of the pomegranate tree has been used as remedy against diarrhea, dysentery and intestinal parasites. The seeds and juice are considered a tonic for the heart and throat.

In modern times, It is thought the help reduce the risk of heart disease and blood pressure. Pomegranates are high in antioxidants. It is also high in vitamin C. Pomegranate seeds have lots of fiber in them as well.

The seeds of the pomegranate fruit are sweet, juicy and bursting with flavor. The seeds can be added to a salad or a variety of dishes to add a bit of flavor or simply eaten by themselves! However, they can be messy eat and can even stain clothes. So follow these easy steps to de-seed a pomegranate:

1. Cut the crown or top off
2. Slice the rind in several places from top to bottom

3. Soak it in water for 5-10 minutes
4. Pull apart the pomegranate. Seeds will fall to the bottom of the bowl of water.
5. Remove rind and membranes.
6. Pour water and seeds through a strainer to separate seeds.

Pomegranates can be used in a variety of recipes. These can be appetizers, soups, salads, main courses and even desserts. And since they are low in calories, you can enjoy pomegranates, guilt free. Check out some of these recipes, many of which incorporate other items you can get in your weekly delivery from Nature’s Garden.

Pomegranate Guacamole
Spinach Pomegranate Salad
Pomegranate Ginger Muffins
Pomegranate Crepes with Roasted Vegetables
Roasted Salmon with Pomegranate-Avocado Salsa

Nature’s Garden Express now Offering Sourdough Rye Bread

We are excited to announce that we are now offering Sourdough Rye Bread from Scandia Bread in Fayetteville, GA. At Nature’s Garden, we always strive to bring you the best products available. We want to offer a variety of nutritional products and support local farmers or businesses whenever possible. That’s why we are excited to be offering Scandia Bread produced right here in Fayetteville, GA!

Scandia Bread bakes 100% Organic Sourdough High Fiber Rye Bread according to a authentic Finnish Recipe. It is packed high in fiber and low in fat for a healthy bread the whole family will love. With No Preservatives, No Sugar, 9 Grams of Fiber and 6 Grams of Protein, and all the benefits of whole grain rye… It’s the healthy Choice.

Scandia bread selection is kept limited in order to focus on the unique quality of the bread they bake. They only use organic rye and organic wheat grain. The amount of wheat in the two products containing it is no more than 5 percent. No preservatives are used in any of Scandia’s products.

Ingredients are simply Organic Whole Rye, Water, Organic Whole Wheat, Refined Sea Salt, and Dry Yeast. You can read more about Scandia Bread Company here.

Halloween Cupcake Recipe

Black Cat Cupcakes

1 1/4 cup Oreo cookie crumbs
18 1/4 oz reduced fat chocolate cake mix
24 pieces Halloween Oreo cookies
16 oz reduced fat milk chocolate frosting
black string licorice
jelly beans
semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare 24 – 2 1/2″ muffin cups with cooking spray and flour; set aside.
Prepare cake mix according to package directions; stir in cookie crumbs.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove from pans; cool on wire rack.
Frost cupcakes with remaining frosting.
Decorate each cupcake with 2 jelly beans as eyes and 6 licorice pieces as whiskers. Cut and Oreo in half and use them as ears.
Place 3″ piece licorice string on back half of each cupcake for tail.
Servings: 24
Source – Spooky Fun Halloween Recipes

World Food Day: Support Agricultural Cooperatives in the Fight against Hunger

Some one billion people belong to cooperatives in nearly 100 countries worldwide guarding consumers, producers, and workers against hunger, bankruptcy, and rights abuses. How does belonging to a cooperative fight against these things? Agricultural cooperatives help farmers get fair prices for their goods, and participate in local decision making. Today is World Food Day. If you buy from Nature’s Garden Express, you already support local businesses, farmers and the environment. Read on to find out how you can participate  in ending hunger.

Agricultural cooperatives are part of a larger movement to make food more environmentally and socially just and sustainable. Agroecological practices enrich soils, improve yields, increase incomes, and support the people, animals, plants, and entire ecosystems affected by agriculture.

An infographic released recently by the Christensen Fund highlights how industrial agricultural practices like meat from factory farms, the addition of pesticides and chemical fertilizers to fields, and shipping food to markets across the globe—-contributes to increased incidences of diseases and severe air and water pollution.

In contrast, the practice of buying local, preserving wildlife habitats and composting can build resilience to climate change, increase nutritional and biological diversity, and increase agricultural yields over the long term.

“Agricultural cooperatives and agroecological practices go hand-in-hand to support a more sustainable food system,” said Danielle Nierenberg, Director of the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project. “By encouraging worker empowerment, farmer training, and consumer awareness, this year’s World Food Day theme is showcasing one of the most promising elements of a more sustainable food system.”

World Food Day is a global day of action against hunger. FAO suggests a variety of ways you can become involved. Here are some things you can do any day of the year to help end hunger.

  • Host a World Food Day meal: As part of its GROW Method, OxfamAmerica promotes 5 very simple actions to help create a better food system: save food, eat seasonally and locally, eat less meat and dairy, support small farmers, and cook smart (if you buy from us you already do most of these).
  • Join your local hunger coalition: The Alliance to End Hunger has created the Hunger Free Communities Network, an online platform for coalitions, campaigns, and individuals committed to ending hunger in their local communities.
  • Activate a school campus: Why Care? is a student-led campaign of Universities Fighting World Hunger to spark a global conversation about hunger and to build momentum to World Food Day campus events. The campaign offers several simple suggestions on how to spread the word about world hunger on a campus.
  • Arrange a food and fund drive: the World Food Day website can help you find your nearby food bank or pantry, and gives tips on donating food or funds to maximize your positive impact.

Field of Greens Recap

Did you make it out to the Field of Greens festival several Sundays ago? It is a long drive and the rainy day didn’t help encourage people to make the drive out to Whipporwill Hollow Farms. However, those that did brave the long drive and inclement weather were rewarded with some fantastic food and lots of interesting products from vendors.

Here are some pictures from the festival. The talented chefs wowed us with the wonderful dishes they served up. And all for only $20!! If you missed it this year, hopefully you’ll consider attending next year.

Check out the Nature’s Garden Express Booth:

Field of Greens is a good time for kids of all ages. Hope we’ll see you there next year!

Genetically Engineered Foods: The Fight to NOT Labeling

Major players in the organic food market have been conspicuously silent in what has become the food fight of the decade. This November, voters in California will have the opportunity to approve a ballot initiative (Proposition 37) that would require the labeling of all food products containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, commonly called GMOs.

As expected, major agribusiness and biotechnology corporations, like Monsanto, and food manufacturers, like Pepsico, General Mills, Dean Foods, and Kellogg are spending tens of millions of dollars ($23.5 to be specific) in their effort to deny the consumer’s right-to-know what they are eating. Monsanto alone has donated $4.2 million, while food giants Pepsico and Coca-Cola have each donated more than $1 million.

“Whole Foods Market, Stonyfield, Hain-Celestial and Trader Joe’s are among the biggest manufacturers and retailers of organic food in the country, yet they have been AWOL during this epic food fight,” says Mark Kastel, Codirector of The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm and food policy research group. “These companies should be proud to stand with their health and food conscious customers and join their efforts for the right-to-know what we are putting in our mouths and feeding our children,” Kastel added.

“There’s been speculation that because some of these company’s leaders have close relationships with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a proponent of genetically engineered foods, and others in the Obama administration, that they are sitting on their hands” Kastel notes.

It is ironic that independantly owned businesses that supply organics have donated money in favor of labeling such products, but the large companies that sell their products like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have not. Mandatory labeling of GE food ingredients is required in the European Union and dozens of other countries across the globe. Where in place, it has led to broad consumer avoidance of foods made with inputs from the biotechnology industry. The most recent polling from California indicated that almost 70% of the population supports labeling of GE ingredients. This level of support will soon be tested by an impending flood of advertisements, financed by Monsanto and the giant food lobby, in opposition to Proposition 37.

With stock prices at all time highs for some of the organic food retailers, lack of funds can hardly be blamed for lack of support for this labeling. “Hiding the truth about our food is pervasive, unethical, and only done for money,” says Michael Potter, CEO of Eden Foods, an organic food manufacturer that financially contributed to support Proposition 37. The bottom lines is consumers have a right to know what they are buying and ultimately putting in their mouths. Let’s do all we can to support the law that Genetically Engineered Foods get labeled.

McDonald’s Low Calorie Options

I was listening to Clark Howard last week as I often do. He’s extremely brilliant about saving money and offers invaluable tips for meeting your money saving goals. One thing he mentioned on his show was the fact that McDonald’s will be displaying their calorie content on their in-store menus. He applauded McDonald’s for the fact that many of their items are low-calorie and they are now evening coming out with more low calorie options.

He mentioned their Egg McMuffin and Filet-of-Fish where are both right around 300 calories. Not bad for fast food. Clark Howard even mentioned that McDonald’s would be coming out with an even lower calorie Egg McMuffin. This egg white only sandwich would be even lower in calories than the original.

While I admire Clark Howard, and do believe low calorie is a good idea in general, let’s remember that this is McDonald’s. Just because something is low calorie that doesn’t mean it is good for us. It would be interesting to see exactly what is put into these foods. Filler, extenders and sugars are probably added to make products taste better.

Of course, we aren’t just picking on McDonald’s. They, like other fast food establishments, are about making money. Just remember there is no substitute for eating fresh, produce and getting a large source of your daily caloric intake from fruits and vegetables rather than processed food. Hopefully McDonalds’ adding calorie counts on their in-store menus will help consumers to make better eating choices.

Join us At the Field of Greens Festival

Nature’s Garden Express has been participating in the Field of Greens Festival for several years now. Whippoorwill Hollow Farm is a 74-acre certified organic farm that sells at farmers markets in Atlanta. Located in Walnut Grove, it is about 45 minutes east of the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta.

Bring the kids out and let them see why it is so important to buy local produce. No pets are allowed, so leave them at home, please.

Who: Atlanta Chefs, Craft Vendors, Musicians and more!
What: Chef demonstrations, tasty bites and more.
Where: Whipporwill Hollow Farms, 11 am – 5pm
When: Sunday, September 30

Some of the other fun features of the Field of Greens are:
30 of Atlanta and Athens’ best farm to table chefs
Live Music
Face Painting
Cooking demonstrations
Soap Making

We hope you will join us this year at the Field of Greens Festival. It is on Sunday, September 30. Tickets are only $20 in advance. If you make it out, please stop by the Nature’s Garden Express booth and say hello!

Brought to you by Nature's Garden Express