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Posts Tagged ‘buy local’

So what do you do when you have some lean ground beef and no hamburger buns?Well, if you’re like me, I was lucky and had some large grocery store onion bagels.  Both the beef and the bagels were locally sourced, though the bagels are only local in that they were made in my neighborhood Safeway bakery.

The hamburger meat is from the Happy Mountain® Farm in Covington Washington. There, they grow miniature cattle. Cows the size of shetland ponies.They are all natural grass fed cattle and are extremely lean. Lean to the point that you have to add a little oil to the meat so that it stays a little juicy when you cook it.

So I looked at what I had to work with and decided that I would make my burger patty in a bagel shape. Well, try as I might, the meat was just too lean to form a decent patty. So I added a little olive oil and some panko crumbs to give it some structure. Then it made a decent meat tube and didn’t fall apart. Then I set about cooking it.

I cut the bagel in two and toasted the halves.

I cut the bagel in two and toasted the halves.

I fried the burger in my cast iron skillet on medium heat.

I fried the burger in my cast iron skillet on medium heat.

I seasoned the meat with some kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. I also put some mustard and hamburger relish on the other bun.

I seasoned the meat with some kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. I also put some mustard and hamburger relish on the other bun half.

The final product, a juicy, tasty bagel burger! Mmm!

The final product, a juicy, tasty bagel burger! Mmm!

Remember to practice good sanitation! I wore food grade plastic gloves and washed down my cutting boards after making the patty.

I’d change my method by putting down some plastic wrap so the burger wouldn’t stick to the cutting board, and do a normal patty and cut a hole out of the middle with a 1 inch round cookie cutter. That, or use the cutter a mold and form the burger around it.

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Did you know that pancakes don’t come from a mix that you buy in the store? Amazing isn’t it?

Pancakes made from scratch.

Pancakes made from scratch.

Sarcasm aside, making pancakes from scratch is easy and simple to do. This morning I made myself a batch of pancakes using a simple recipe. Not only is it better for you, you control what goes into to your pancakes and into your family. So here’s the recipe:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup low fat milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar (optional)
  1. Grease your griddle with a non-stick spray or vegetable oil.
  2. Preheat your griddle over medium-high heat.
  3. Beat the egg, milk, and vanilla together.
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl, then add the salt and sugar.
  5. Whisk the egg and milk mixture into the flour until somewhat smooth, just slightly lumpy. Don’t over mix.
  6. Pour 1/4 cup dollops of batter on to the griddle keeping them about 2″ apart. Cook until the tops of the pancakes are bubbled.
  7. Turn each pancake over and cook until the bottom is browned.

Makes about 10 4″ pancakes. Unused batter may be stored in the refrigerator. If the batter gets too thick, thin with a little cold water.

If you want to add farm fresh blue berries or strawberries or other fruit, sprinkle them on top the pancakes after you pour them on the griddle. Don’t mix them in the batter.

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Vince Carlson

Vince Carlson

Vincent Carlson is a remarkable man. He has over 20-years experience in architecture, construction, engineering, development, design and fabrication. He also makes award-winning meads as well. His architecture company, Architect for the Environment, specializes in green and sustainable architecture, for residential, commercial, and agricultural needs.

Vince lives the sustainable lifestyle in Woodinville, Washington. Here he’s raising a family in a green lifestyle. He grows his own food, raises his own chickens for eggs and makes mead, a honey wine, for sale through his other business, Adytum Cellars.

Vince’s most current project is the 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living. This Center will be a facility that will be a self-sustaining and energy-efficient and renewable structure built with green principles and materials. The building will include stalls for market vendors and farmers, areas for educational displays and produce sales, dry storage and cold storage facilities for farmers, and sit-down eating areas for families coming to the market. The Center will be surrounded by a vast outdoor patio area that will enable pedestrian traffic to flow in and out of the building as people shop, eat, and explore the atmosphere.

A fine glass of mead.

A fine glass of mead.

Beyond architecture, Vince also makes mead. Award winning mead. His Traditional Mead won the 2007 International Mead Festival Silver Medal. As a personal connoisseur of Vince’s meads, I can highly recommend his products. He used to have his own hive, but it swarmed recently and flew off. He’s currently looking to replace it with a new hive when he gets a chance.

His meadery has a partial green roof with drip irrigation to keep it going in the hot months. He has recently renovated the business with a new tasting room on the ground floor of the meadery. He’s always willing to explain the mead making process and uses natural and organic honeys in his products.

Along wit his traditional meads, Vince also makes several fruit meads:

  • Pyment – grapes
  • Cyser – apples or pears
  • Melomel – peaches, cherries, elderberries and most other fruits
  • Metheglin – herb or spice

If you get a chance stop by his place and try his products. You won’t regret it.

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A story in USATODAY.com talks about how the residents of Clark South Dakota created a new General Store after the older, franchise store was closed by the parent company. A store that is more responsive to the community’s needs because it is own by the community.

[M]ore than 100 people in Clark have purchased $500 shares to finance the opening of the Clark Hometown Variety Store. The store will take the place of the Duckwall store, which was one of 20 underperforming stores parent company Duckwall-Alco Stores of Kansas closed in 2005.

“We had no place in town to buy a pair of shoelaces or buy socks or underwear or any of those things,” says Greg Furness, a shareholder who runs the local funeral home. Residents, he says, had to make a 40-minute drive — sometimes in treacherous winter conditions — to Watertown every time they needed supplies.

This is a great example of a community banding together to provide themselves a service, in this case a general store, that a large franchise deemed unprofitable. So how does this mesh in with the sustainable lifestyle? Well, for one, a community owned store has to answer to its stockholders, the people who invested in it. They have a say in the type of products that the store sells, and they can ask that the store sells locally sourced products. It may mean higher prices for goods and services, but at least the community has a say.

For more information about how to start your own community-owned business, check out the BigBoxToolkit PDF file: How to Launch a Community-Owned Store.

 

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In today’s Crosscut article, Buy Local, Think National, it’s author, Floyd McKay, reports on the upswing of buy local organizations, highlighting the Bellingham, WA, group, Sustainable Connections, as one of the shining examples of a successful organization.

In many ways, this highlights the shortcomings of other regions in Washington state when it comes to encouraging local businesses. Many cities and towns, my own included, need to encourage the buy local ethic, and they need to encourage local businesses, either through tax incentives or by creating a business incubator for new local businesses. 

Now,we do have more than our share of farmers markets in the Puget Sound region, but they are very seasonal so that you only get a window on locally grown produce, fish, and meats. But we could do better. 

One common complaint I hear about my town, Kenmore, WA, is that while you have plenty of choices for lunch or dinner, or to have a drink, you can’t buy new shirt or underwear within a 20 minute drive. And drive is the operating word here. There is only one of two places I could go to without changing buses, the rest either take one or two bus changes and/or switch to a different transit company. 

The problem with that sentiment is that a business that sells clothes like that is typically not a local business, but a chain store. The reasons why are well known: chains can buy in bulk, substantially reducing the end cost of a good to the consumer, while local, mom & pop stores only buy lots of ten or twenty, thus paying a higher cost for the same goods, and passing on a higher price to the consumer. And consumers want low prices, despite the fact that it’s bad for their local economy and way of life. 

Can we turn the clock back to where it was more economical to buy everything locally? No, not unless we experience another major crash of the economy, one greater than the one we’re currently experiencing. 

Speaking of the current economy, one of the big problems most people cite about buying locally is that the prices are higher than for items shipped in from other countries. It’s one of those vicious circles: People don’t buy the local product, so that the local producer reduces the amount of that product he produces. Prices go up because now there’s fewer of the that product on the market and the producer has to cover his costs. People don’t buy the product because the price has gone up…

Eventually the local producer goes out of business because the cost of production just a few items is far higher than the return he gets selling the items.

One solution is to buy more of that locally produced product and encourage the local producer to make more.

That has it’s own nasty side effect. Take produce for instance. The sustainable farmer sells out of all his produce, so he opens up those fields that he had lie fallow or, more realistically, buys new fields and increases his yield for the next season. He may be able to lower prices and if he does well, he may expand again, if he can. And the demand for his produce increases.

The sustainable farmer is now faced with a dilemma: Not expand and maintain his current market or become a commercial farmer and drop sustainable farming in favor of production farming, using chemical fertilizers and non-ecological farming techniques. We all can hope he doesn’t choose the latter.

In the end, all we can do is to try to support those local businesses that we can and try to live a sustainable life.

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