17 June 2008

Chef Aja T. Marsh News - June Newsletter

Hello Friends!

Summer is finally here and it actually feels like it up here in New York, and everyone seems happier and smiley, which is contagious! The Greenmarket is getting very colorful with the first of the harvest: strawberries, sugar snap peas, herbs and greens of all kinds, tomatoes, rhubarb, and new potatoes! I personally, am really looking forward to doing some canning and pickling this summer. I've never done it before, and I'm super excited about the adventure-- stay tuned to Stem+Leaf for those developments! (If you are an experienced, or aspiring, canner-- I'd love to hear from you!)

Canning and pickling are a just a couple of ways to stretch today's dollars into meals for the weeks and months to come. In the wake of the steady rise of food, fuel, and utilities prices, there is no better time to look into other ways to cut and reduce overall costs...

Shop at your local Farmers' Market
With exception to prepared and baked goods, I haven't noticed a big increase in food prices at the farmers' markets. Sure, prices often seem higher than at the grocery store, but they more accurately reflect the cost of growing food and help to pay farmers' a living wage. Market prices are reasonable, and you know what you're getting is super-fresh, and didn't have to be shipped across the country, or around the world, to get to your plate. Most markets can provide you with most of the produce you need as well as meats, breads, cheeses, milk, eggs, and condiments-- usually at a superior quality to what you find at the grocery store.
Don't know if you have a Farmers' Market near you? Check here.

Buy in Bulk
While prices in basic commodities like grains and beans may have gone up, it is still cheaper to buy in bulk than it is to buy individually packaged items. Most health food stores have a self- or assisted-serve bulk section where you can load up on basic pantry items, cereals, cooking oils, and sweeteners. Many stores also have a bulk beauty section, with cut-your-own soap, bath salts, and other body products. One-up it, and bring in your own re-usable containers (or re-use your plastic bags from the last time) when you fill up-- this will save you a step when you get home!

Re-use Your Bags
Plastic bags are produced with petroleum products, which we all know are in short (and expensive) supply. By re-using the plastic bags you've already accumulated, and/or using fabric bags to carry your goods to and from the market, grocery store, big box shop, or just for lugging things to and fro, you will help to decrease the demand for the plastic bags! And many stores even give you money back for each bag you re-use! For city-life, I love totes that have a strap long enough to hang from my shoulder-- makes schlepping around town with my groceries a breeze!
Check the right hand side of this page for links to retailers who sell reusable bags!

Carpool, Walk, Bike, and Use Public Transportation
Gas is now over $4/gallon in most parts of the country. I'm still pretty young and I remember when it was 99 cents. Driving less is one thing, but there is probably more you can do to reduce your use of gasoline-- which will help both your wallet, and the air you breathe! Look into neighborhood carpools, or take turns carpooling to the grocery store, etc. with friends and family. Plan your errands to be done in one outing to maximize your time. See if you can 'Park and Ride' to city destinations, parking near a bus route, and taking the bus most of the way. Walk or bike as much as you can, when you can. Instead of having to fit a work-out into your day, make your commute the workout by jogging to or from work or your carpool.

I'm Running the Half-Marathon!
That's 13.1 miles! Continuing with my running streak, I'm competing in the Nike NYC Half-Marathon next month for charity.

I'm on The Fresh Air Fund's team and am looking for sponsorship-- anything you can give will help to send 10,000 low-income NYC kids on summer vacations in the country. This is a super-cool organization, and I'm excited to be involved.

I'm hoping to raise $1,310. Or, $100 per mile!
Though I think it would be great to raise a bit more- $1,600, which is the cost of sending one child on a great summer vacation. I would be really grateful for absolutely any contributions you are able to make-- every little bit can and does make a difference

You can donate online!
My donations page is: http://freshair.kintera.org/ajamarsh
(There are also instructions there for how to donate by mail)

Now More Recipes: Keep an eye out here on the blog-- I'm gearing up to post a bunch of recipes, that will carry on throughout the next few months at least. Now that I'm moved and settling in, and the Greenmarket is so inspiring, I anticipate a lot more on-the-fly recipes to share.

Guest Blogger Opportunities: I am always looking for interested individuals to write guest blogs for Stem+Leaf about green and healthy-lifestyle related subjects, or maybe you have a great summer recipe to share, from your own perspective. No need to be an experienced writer-- just enthusiastic with something to say! Please contact me for more information.

Breathe in the sunshine and be grateful for the day!

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