It's Mother's Day Weekend and it looks like beautiful weather for a relaxing morning at the SKY Farmers Market. The market is a great place to pick up a unique and personal gift like a cut flower bouquet, potted plants or hanging baskets, pottery, artwork, jewelry, clothing, hand-woven baskets, or to just sit down and enjoy breakfast together outside on a beautiful day.
In celebration we'll have our baby animal petting zoo this Saturday, with baby animals from our farms for you to see and play with. We'll also have a raffle just for moms to win a SKY Market tote bag full of market goodies. See Kellie at the Falling Springs Flowers booth to enter.
Of course, we've also got great food including fresh baked bread, milk, eggs, meat and cheese. Spring and early summer crops in season include:
- chinese cabage
- new potatoes
- summer squash
- early tomatoes
It's a beautiful and bountiful time of year at the SKY Farmers Market.
See you there!
Look for Us at the John Mellencamp Concert
As part of their commitment to promoting local and regional food systems and connections between family farms and consumers, Farm Aid and Independence Bank have invited the SKY Farmers Market to provide a local food concession at the John Mellencamp concert in Bowling Green next Saturday May 19.
If you're at the concert, find the SKY Farmers Market concession for 100% local yogurt drinks, baked goods, and fresh-picked ripe strawberries, all directly from SKY Market farmers.
Tickets are free and available exclusively through Independence Bank. To learn more about Farm Aid's commitment to local food, visit www.farmaid.org.
Can You Tell a Good Egg by its Label?
It wasn't too long ago that the choices available in the egg case were limited to small, medium, and large. Now the labels are crowded with claims. During a trip to the grocery store, you'll see eggs that are "All Natural," "Cage Free," "Organic," "Free Range," "Grain Fed," and even "Vegetarian Fed." You'll also read assurances about hormones and antibiotics as well as specific vitamins and nutrients.
Many of these claims are unbacked by any regulatory framework, some are meaningless, and some downright deceptive. But all of them acknowledge one simple truth. Animal-based food products are some of the worst corrupted by the industrial agricultural system. Consumers are disappointed, disgruntled, and disgusted with factory eggs.
These specialty labels are becoming increasingly popular and command a premium price in the market. So what is it that you want when you buy these labels? And do you know what it is that you're getting?
The vast majority of egg production in the U.S. relies on battery cages. A hen lives out its productive life in a small wire cage with a couple of other hens. Typically they have just enough room to sit down and to jostle about and trade places. Food and water come in through the front, manure falls through the wire bottom, and eggs roll out through a slot and are carried away. A cage layer is extraordinarily productive. But it's a pathetic-looking and disheveled creature, its feathers broken against the cage wires and its legs too weak to stand for long. It's no wonder people tend to have a negative reaction to this production system.
The industrial alternative is high-density floor confinement. In this system, thousands or tens of thousands of hens jostle about in one enormous room. The primary advantage of this system is that it looks better than cages. The hens seem to have more freedom of movement and don't look as scruffy. From the hen's point of view, however, it's probably worse than cage life. They have no more room but in a larger space, cheek by jowl with thousands of strangers. Think of the Superdome after hurricane Katrina, only with less room and you never get out. If a cage is a prison, then "cage-free" is a concentration camp.
The Free-Range Scam
The USDA regulates the "free-range" label, requiring that animals have "continuous access to the outdoors during their production cycle. The outdoor area may or may not be fenced and/or covered with netting-like material." To make factory eggs into free-range eggs, you simply put a few doors into a high-density floor confinement system. Because of their strict social hierarchy, chickens are reluctant to push through a crowd of strangers, so in this type of system very few hens have any real access to the outdoors anyway. The few who do make it out into their mud yard derive no benefit. But these eggs are top-shelf and top-dollar in the grocery store. All large free-range egg operations in the U.S. use this system. Large organic egg operations are essentially the same model with organically produced feed.
If this is less than you're expecting from premium eggs, then how can you find a good egg? The secret to the best quality eggs is pasture. Fresh green grass, clover, and other pasture plants as well as the bugs and worms they catch while grazing make all the difference to the contentment of hens and to the quality of their eggs.
You can see it with your eyes, and more importantly you can taste the difference. A pasture-raised egg has a thick, dark orange yolk with a rich flavor. It has a strong shell and when you crack it into a pan or a bowl, the white and yolk stand up tall rather than running out into a thin puddle. Grass-fed eggs give baked goods a rich golden color and good body and texture.
Since the forties, researchers have been aware of the nutritional benefits of eggs from pasture-raised hens. Compared to supermarket eggs, grass-fed eggs contain:
- 1/3 less cholesterol
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- 2/3 more vitamin A
- 2 times as much Omega-3 fatty acid
- 7 times as much beta carotene
You are what you eat, and so is your food. Once you've tried the real thing, there's no going back.
Unfortunately, most Americans have never had the opportunity to try the real thing. Pasture-raised, grass-fed layers make up only a tiny fraction of one percent of the U.S. egg market and are entirely absent from mainstream distribution. Currently, the only way for most people to get a good egg is through direct local connections to small farms. As a SKY Farmers Market customer you are truly among the privileged few. Cherish that opportunity.
You can tell when and if a goat has babies. You feel the back of her back. You can tell how many. When a goat is going to have babies she acts weird and walks around by herself.
Finally the goat has babies. It comes out covered in slime. Go get some towels and clean it off. The mother will lick it to get off the slime, but you have to keep it dry.
The mother will supply milk for her baby until they can eat hay. Sometimes mother goats are stubborn and abandon their kids. I had a goat named Silas that was abandoned and me and my family had to feed him with a bottle. He died around a month old from freezing.
Mothers are very important in the goat life. Without them they would die and become extinct. That is why mother goats are important.
What's for Dinner? It's Pie Night!
It's high spring and life is good! The garden's full of vegetables, herbs and berries, the chickens are cranking out eggs, the milk tap's on full force in the goat herd and I'm inspired to cook again.
Pie Night has become a May tradition at our house. While some folks are out dancing around the Maypole, others sipping mint juleps at the races, I'm busy looking for new and tasty ways to showcase all this fresh food (and use up lots of those eggs). What better way than in a pie! Just blend up your favorite pie crust and filling; something savory for supper and, of course, a sweet one for dessert. Add a fresh salad on the side, et voila! It's as easy as.....well, you know.
Basic Quiche Formula
Cheese. About a cup or more, grated or cubed, will do depending on your preference. Spread the cheese on the bottom of your unbaked pie crust to form a barrier between the filling and the crust. This helps keep the crust from getting soggy.
Filling. Steam or sauté your vegetables for the filling. Spinach, broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, herbs, onions, garlic, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, just about anything can go in a quiche.
Custard. The proportions can vary with the size of your pie, but beating 4 eggs with 1 1/2 cups milk works well for a straight -sided quiche pan, or 3 eggs to 1 cup milk for a regular pie plate. Pour over the filling and cheese.
Bake at 375º for about 30-45 minutes until the pie is set. Check by giving it a little jiggle.
Grandma Elma's Chess Pie
- 1 unbaked 9" pie crust
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
- 5 well-beaten eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
CREAM butter and sugar;
BEAT in flour and cornmeal;
ADD eggs, milk, vanilla and lemon juice;
POUR mixture into the pie crust.
BAKE at 350° for 55-60 minutes (or until a knife comes out clean).