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A Foodie's Guide

02/15/08 5:55PM By Mary Barrosse-Schwartz
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(HOST) Commentator Mary Barrosse Schwartz is a policy and communications consultant. She's also a part time farmer, who says that "doing it yourself" can be well worth the effort when it comes to producing many foods.

(BARROSSE) Recently we started a small farm and it's changed the way we view the possibilities for home made food. There are certain foods you'd never consider making yourself - like saltines and soda - which seem best left to the experts. But even if you don't make the following foods yourself, it's well worth finding someone local who does, because they truly out-perform the grocery store options in both taste and nutritional value.

Raising meat for your family isn't difficult, especially in Vermont. We raise a few hogs each summer, and then have a local butcher process and freeze the pork. The meat is the best we've ever had. And there's the added benefit of knowing exactly how the animal was raised. It's reassuring. And some say that meat raised on grass is lower in the bad kinds of fats.

Raising chickens for meat is also easy, and it only takes 8 weeks for them to grow to maturity. The meat is much better than the best store bought chicken - much juicier and far more tender. Chicken eggs from your own coop are very rich in taste, but also lower in the bad kinds of fats, if raised on grass or with flax meal added to the feed.

Raising bees is like having a very cool science experiment going on all the time. The hive is fascinating. The honey is light and lovely, and can help you tolerate local pollen better if you have allergies. Growing certain kinds of vegetables in my garden was nearly impossible until I started raising bees.

We have a couple of kitchen cows. Their milk is delicious, and from it we make home made yogurt, butter, cream, half and half, ice cream and skim milk. Some say raw milk is great for allergies. Some say it's lower in bad fats. I love it because the taste is completely superior to regular milk.

Pickling cucumbers is easy, and the crispy crunch of a pickle pulled out of a vat in the fridge is a delight. All through the summer I toss in ripe cukes and add kosher salt. And then we snack on them all fall and winter long.

We buy green coffee beans online and roast them in a countertop coffee roasting appliance. Then I grind the roasted beans in a conical burr grinder. It takes 45 minutes to roast 2 batches - and that's enough for us for a week. Coffee is just so much better when you buy great organic or small farm beans and roast them yourself. Just add a splash of your own cow's half and half for a taste of pure foodie heaven!
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