Full Circle’s booth at the annual Flower and Garden show, held at the convention center in downtown Seattle last Tuesday through Sunday, was a great success.  Thanks to all of our current members who stopped by for a visit and for contributing some great feedback and encouraging comments. We love to hear about your stories, recipes and Full Circle favorites.

Over 200 people signed up for our raffle and the new faces and interests were great to see. If you’re interested in trying out our Farm-to-Table delivery program, don’t forget to use your promo code and sign up this week to receive a discount on your first delivery. We’ll be sending you an email soon with the promo code as a reminder! We are always excited to have new members on board supporting and sharing the benefits of delicious and healthy food.

Those who hadn’t heard about our green grocery program looked excited to see the variety of meats, cheeses, milk products, dry goods and specialty foods on display at the show. Our display highlighted just a few of the many organic and artisan foods we offer through the grocery program that can be added to weekly orders.  For more information on what we offer check out our web page – (http://www.fullcirclefarm.com/additional.html) or log in and explore on your member homepage.

Members and non-members alike, it was great to see all of you out and about last week. Check out our Facebook page for more special events, weekly updates, fun competitions and great deals.

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Getting outside for a walk, hike, ski, bike, snowshoe, run, climb or whatever the activity of your fancy, is often put on the backburner when the winter months are especially dreary. However, as the days get a bit brighter, longer and warmer, I hope that everyone takes advantage of the extra moments to enjoy some fresh air. Fortunately I have squeezed in some time in the mountains to soak up some snow and sunshine, but the rigor of hiking ridgelines and skiing down has definitely asked more of my body than the short run or yoga class I have gotten in the habit of doing.

Fresh air, exercise and complete healthy exhaustion plasters an irreplaceable smile across my face and is a good way for everyone to keep their bodies strong, immune systems healthy and minds focused. The only problem is keeping enough fuel in the body to make it through the day and to nourish strength and renewal. I know first hand that, as hunger surges through my body, anything seems like good momentary satiation. Cookies, hot chocolate, candy, energy bars and sweet juices or Gatorade provide instant satisfaction but are not the best choice of nourishment and leave me clamoring for more only a few hours later.

Sugar filled foods marketed as energy bars and drinks provide quick results because sugar is burned quickly and creates instantaneous energy. However, sugar does not provide prolonged energy and sends the insulin system on a roller coaster ride in attempt to control the surge. Consistent use of sugar as an energy boost can be an unhealthy habit that deposits empty calories and can have negative effects on your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. Sugar doesn’t adequately replenish the nutrients lost during exertion and fails to re-fuel and nourish the active body. In addition, processed ingredients, preservatives and artificial flavorings are not the nourishment your body needs after a rigorous day.

Home made energy bars are a great alternative to store bought bars and can be healthier, tastier and made just the way you like it. Sugar can be replaced by honey, agave, fruit purees or nut butters. Add protein with nuts or quinoa. Dried fruits such as apricots, dates, cherries and raisins are packed with natural sugars and nutrients like potassium, iron and beta-carotene that fuel and nourish your body.

Here is one of my favorite recipes for you to try, or mix up a batch of your own and get your body outside for a day of fresh air, exercise and adventure. The dates in these conveniently bite sized treats are packed with potassium, which your muscles need during exercise to help maintain normal contraction and to balance potassium levels to keep blood pressure steady. Dates are also a great source of Iron, vitamin A and tons of healthy fiber. Paired with almonds for a bit of heart healthy fat and lots of protein as well as a dash of cardamom for an authentic sweet flavor, these little energy treats pack a healthy and delicious boost of energy anywhere and anytime.

Almond Cardamom Bites

1 cup toasted slivered

¼ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup finely chopped dates

Zest of one orange

½ cup dried unsweetened coconut

Chop almonds into smaller pieces after toasting (don’t do this in a blender because they get too fine). In the bowl of a standing mixer, or by hand,mixthe almonds, cardamom, cinnamon, dates and orange peel. Mix until dates have softened and mixture is combined into a thick paste-like consistency. Form date mixture into ping pong ball sized rounds and roll in coconut (or press date mixture into a small baking pan and spread to a uniform ½ inch thickness and sprinkle with coconut). Enjoy immediately or wrap tightly and save for up to 10 days. Enjoy!

“I hate mushrooms.” I can distinctly recall saying this line more than a few times during my youth. As I picked around even the smallest white spongy specks on my plate I wondered, “why would I eat a piece of fungus that tastes mildly like dirt and squeaks across my teeth when I chew it? Gross !” My mushroom predisposition unfortunately held true until, as a chef, I was literally force fed a mushroom tart. In order to ensure the food I was serving to guests was not going to leave a literal or figurative “bad taste” in their mouths, I swallowed the mouthful of slippery caramelized fungus.  Sweet and earthy, still warm from the oven and caramelized to a melt-in-your-mouth consistency with just a hint of salt to contrast the buttery crust it was served in; it was delicious.

When gigantic portabellas, perfectly golden criminis, brushed white buttons and amoeba like shitakes started filling the shelves of our refrigerator, my like minded mushroom-hating boyfriend gawked with disgust. But, as I gradually and successfully sneaked them into delicate cream sauces, home made pizzas and rainbow chard gratins, it went without discussion that mushrooms were becoming a new staple of our mealtimes. Lucky for us, unlike the soft serve ice cream with chocolate sprinkles and home made Italian style doughnuts that have also been know to become unmentioned dietary staples in our house, mushrooms are one of natures best healing foods as well as a culinary delicacy.

Of the over 14,000 varieties of mushrooms about 3,000 of them are edible and over 700 of them have known medicinal properties. Extensive research in health circles around the world has been published about the healing powers of this wondrous fungus.  In Chinese medicine mushrooms have been linked to body balance and homeostasis, helping align and strengthen energy and immunity. According to recent medical studies the impact mushrooms have on the immune system not only wards off illness but helps relieve more dramatic immune system ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis.  High amounts of Zinc found in most varieties help fortify the immune system, regulate blood sugar, metabolism and inflammatory pain management.

Selenium, essential for the function of antioxidants is also a key nutrient found in mushrooms that contributes to their potent healing qualities. The cooperative work of selenium and vitamin E helps clear the body of harmful free radicals and may contribute to the prevention of age related and degenerative diseases.

Mushrooms are packed with selenium, copper, zinc, potassium, iron, B vitamins and are a conveniently low calorie food that you can consume with complete confidence that every last bite will nourish and heal your body. In addition, mushrooms are one of the rare foods that contain vitamin D, making them a great food to get you through the dreary winter months.

It was a drastic change of heart, you could say, that brought these little tilth dwelling orbs into my highly regarded list of favorites. To the food that has this many nutrients packed tightly into a beautiful natural form with the power to transform health, well-being, longevity and energy, I am sorry for calling you “gross”.

This week I am excited to see local crimini mushrooms as a substitute for the regular contents in my Farm-to-Table box.  Not only will I swap them in, I am also ordering a few extra criminis and four large and beautiful portabellas from Full Circle’s Green Grocery program to make a weeks worth of delicious and healthy meals.   I am thinking a crimini and leek risotto to start the week and spice rubbed roasted portabella burgers to bring it to a close.  Nourishment, flavor and the pure joy of spongy, squeaky fungus, bring it on!

Check out Full Circle’s Good Food Life blog this week for a great mushroom recipe and modify or add to your order for the week to get some great organic mushrooms delivered straight to you.

Sugar laden sodas and artificial fruit juice stand by, Kombucha is taking over and it’s a healthy liquid revolution. Whether you’ve only tried it with your nose upturned to the slightly bitter tang, or take it down by the bottle on a daily basis, it’s hard to ignore the boom that this fizzy, healthy touting tea is creating. As I am discovering with my first home brewed batch, Kombucha is also an easy at home project that results in a great tasting and good for the body refreshment.

Kombucha is an ancient fermented drink that is thought to have originated in Russia in the late 19th century but can also be traced back to ancient Chinese and Japanese cultures. Made from a tea and sugar brew left at room temperature to ferment for several weeks, Kombucha brewing techniques have been passed down through generations of people who have held the drink in high esteem and attributed it with potent health giving properties.

In our modern adaptation of the drink, fruit juice flavorings have been added to the traditional tea base to create colorful, flavorful and popular drinks. However, because of Kombucha’s relatively recent re-popularization and the difficulty of studying a constantly changing food with live cultures that differ depending on the preparation method and huge variety of beneficial bacteria that can inoculate the beverage, It has been difficult for researchers to provide scientific support for what specific impacts Kombucha has on the body. Nevertheless, Kombucha producers list vitality, energy, immunity, digestion and appetite control as some of the benefits of their products and consumers are buying it. The general consensus of regular Kombucha drinkers is positive, linking it to personal well-being and many stories of major health changes and noticeable benefits.

In my own experience with semi-regular Kombucha consumption, I do notice a slight energy boost, a sense of lasting satiation and calming in my digestive tract. But, as an opponent to sodas, Kombucha is mainly a healthier way for me to satiate the occasional hankering for a refreshing fizzy drink and is a healthier alternative to coffee when I need an afternoon pick me up.

Despite the lack of research on Kombucha directly, several health benefits can be confirmed by its probiotic contents that have been researched extensively in other fermented foods such as yogurt and keifer. Because Kombucha is a raw and live fermented food, it is known to contain billions of probiotic cultures linked to a myriad of health benefits. The positive impact probiotics have on digestion, immunity, inflammation, detoxification and nutrient absorption is reason enough to take a few sips of Kombucha on a daily basis.

Brewing your own Kombucha at home, as I discovered this week in my first trial run, is pretty easy. The first, and most necessary step is getting a “baby” or “scoby”. The baby is a round gel like patty that forms on the surface of the Kombucha during fermentation and contains billions of probiotic organisms. You can get a Kombucha baby from a friend or order one online.

To start, brew a large batch of your favorite tea, steep it with a small amount of sugar (1 C. Sugar/3 Qts. H20-sugar is important to fuel for the fermentation process) and cool the brew to room temperature. Pour the brew into a large clean jar, carefully place the baby on the surface and secure a tea towel or cheesecloth over the jar opening and walk away. Kombucha brews best in warm, dark places but will eventually ferment just about anywhere you leave it. The longer you let it sit, the more carbonation and less tang you will get. Just make sure you let it ferment for at least a week so the cultures of beneficial bacteria have ample time to develop.

Bottle, refrigerate, and enjoy!

More Great Kombucha Info!

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can drive to the store, park your SUV, load a grocery cart with soda pop, candy bars, potato chips, and juice in the box, while sporting the latest and most fashionable outfit and still claim to be “green”, “organic” or “sustainable”.  The marketplace that continues to engulf our everyday lives has certainly caught on to the rising demand for a more natural lifestyle.  What started with a search to define food grown without chemicals in a more earth and health-friendly manner has ballooned into a whirlwind of green labeling.  The issue now is, with the words organic, green, natural, sustainable, healthy and eco-friendly plastered across millions of products, how do you distinguish the true ground breakers from the impostors?

Solving this question was the topic of the most recent Sustainable Foods Summit in San Francisco.  The Sustainable Foods Summit is a series of meetings bringing together leaders in the sustainable food industry to discuss top issues concerning sustainability and eco-labeling.  Full Circle’s Frank Paganelli had the fortunate opportunity to attend this round of discussions, focused primarily on what role labels play in the food industry.

In an industry that is looking more and more towards the triple bottom line (taking ecological and social performance, not just financial performance into account) do labels already in place address sustainability from both the business and consumer perspectives?  Or, is there a market for a new labeling system that certifies the sustainable business practices coming into play?  Frank was thoroughly impressed by the number of respectable companies who came together to address these questions and assert a common goal.  In our evolving food system it is a necessity to measure impact, socially, ecologically, locally, abroad and upon all employees in order to create a mission, metrics and labeling system that ensures all measures are properly accounted for and communicated to consumers.

“The fact that so many companies are making the triple bottom line their mission, and numbers are growing, must signify the beginning of a revolution,” said Frank.

The biggest question to address, Frank explained, is how to certify what you are doing as a company.  Numerous bodies and organizations such as the Food Alliance and the Stewardship Index are already in action, but does creating individual mission metrics for your own corporation make more sense and allow you to set higher standards?  At Full Circle sustainability initiatives are well in place; rooted beneath the company from the very beginning, but without labels to quantify success.  To start, Frank has returned from the summit with goals for the upcoming year that will help measure and certify Full Circle’s actions. Measures such as the carbon emissions saved, land conservation, community education and food bank donations.

Companies such as Stone Bird Flour, Honest Tea, Organic Valley, Theo Chocolate and Strauss Valley Creamery have set high standards in the industry and are bounding ahead with new goals and labels to ensure consumers are well informed about the product they are purchasing. Positive energy and motivation is coming from all directions as the food industry revolution continues to evolve.  For Full Circle, Frank noted, it is important to work ahead of the mainstream and continue to make progress, not just with new ways of labeling and ensuring products and services, but with every bite of quality food made available to a growing number of conscious individuals.

Learn more about the Sustainable Foods Summit and take part as a consumer to ensure the companies you support are upholding their claims and making progress to create a more sustainable food system.

A great deal is hard to turn down.  It’s a funny thing to observe people, myself included, make purchases “because its on sale” or “the discount was too good to be true.”  I will be the first to admit, the revolution of discount websites like Groupon and Living social, has drawn me in and I have made more that a few impulse purchases.  Most of the purchases I use; one month of unlimited yoga was blissful for a mere $20 and a round of burgers, drinks and dessert for two went down smoothly at $30 but a good number seem like spur of the moment decisions that will go without impact in the broader scheme of things.

Nevertheless, I am still relentless in my search for better discounts, coupons and sales as the excitement of that ‘possibly the greatest of all-time deals’ lures me on.  Fortunately, what this never ending open eye for deals has led me to is a new site where the discounts are great but the difference you make with your purchase has a positive impact as well.  The new site idealnetwork.com is similar to its competitors but has a humanitarian edge in the game.  At Ideal Network 20-25% of every purchase you make is put towards a campaign to support the cause of your choice.  Yesterday I bought 5 sessions of yoga and chose to give $8.75 of my purchase to the Seattle Humane Society.  Now I am feeling good about the imminent yoga bliss and proud to support a cause I genuinely believe in all in a one-stop shop.

Ideal Network is a great new project to support, not to mention the great local deals that you will surely appreciate.  I know, for me, splurging on a great deal always feels better when the splurge benefits all parties involved.

Ideal’s official launch is today with Theo’s chocolate, a partner of Full Circle Farm and a great producer with a Fair for Life certification.  Never one to turn down great quality chocolate, this will definitely be on my list of purchases.  I can already tell you, a bar of Theo’s Chai Tea Milk Chocolate and Fig Fennel and Almond dark chocolate, a tin of their chipotle spice sipping chocolate and a good amount of my favorite salted dark chocolate caramels at a great discount with portions of my purchase going to The Just Garden Project will make my day.

Check out Ideal Network and make a difference when you get a discount.  Keep your eyes peeled; a great deal on your own Full Circle Farm-to-Table delivery may be headed that direction!

Attention all foodies, eaters, cooks, members, prospective members and anyone looking for a reason to get in the kitchen and challenge your skills or learn something new.  Starting on February 4th Full Circle will be hosting the first Farm-to-Table Meal Challenge; challenging you to make your best meal out of as many Farm-to-Table box ingredients as possible.  Whether you need a challenge to get you learning more about preparation and cooking methods, want a little inspiration to get in the kitchen cooking healthier meals or just plain want to show off your culinary skills and knack for using every last bit of your farm to table box, taking part in the Meal Challenge will be a great inspiration with tasty rewards.

Here’s the scoop:

This challenge is open to all active Full Circle members. (Not a member yet? Click here to become one.) For the week of February 4th -11th place your box order and make whatever changes you normally would to your order contents.  What you get in your box will be the base of ingredients you use for your meal.  If you anticipate needing any other ingredients, add them to your order in Green Grocery as additional points will be awarded for Green Grocery items.

Sometime during the week set aside an evening, or a morning if brunch is your specialty, to prepare a five star meal using as many ingredients from your box as possible.

Submit a list of your Farm-to-Table box contents for that week and your recipes (don’t forget to highlight which items come from your Full Circle order) to us by e mail  – check out our Facebook page for complete entry details  and email address – and our panel of judges will select the first, second and third place winners.

Our judging panel includes a talented chef with 20 years of experience in the industry, a veteran gourmet foodie and baker extraordinaire, and a very special but extremely picky 6 year-old.

Winners will be selected on a point basis.  Our creativity, edibility and simplicity categories will be judged on a sliding scale from 1-10.  5 extra points will be rewarded for submitting a photograph along with 5 points if our youngest judge deems your dish delicious.

A note to those who are tempted to throw your whole Farm-to-Table box in a pot, add water and call it a meal.  Though simple, this will score low in the creativity category. Our simplicity category is intended to keep your recipes from being too extravagant or chaotic, so using your ingredients thoughtfully and simply will be to your benefit.  At the end of the competition we are looking for some great recipes that we can share with everyone; recipes that can be re-created at home and will stand the test of time and ease.

The selection of prizes is well worth the work, check out our Facebook page for complete rules and prize listings.  For me, even without a prize, a challenge that gets me motivated to plan, prep and cook a healthy meal is enough to get me going.  Sometimes a bout of friendly competition can be just what it takes to put your resolution to cook more, eat better and make the best of local and seasonal produce into play.

Not to mention, the collection of great recipes we amass and share with you in the weeks following will come in handy next time you are at a loss for what to make for dinner.

Tie up your aprons and get cooking!

For all the rules, regulations and final details visit our Facebook Page!

“Light” foods have always been a nemesis of mine, conjuring up images of the cardboard-like “light butter” that my college roommates stocked in the fridge.  If I am going to indulge in a bowl of ice cream I am going to eat traditional chocolate-chocolate chip, not the light and tasteless counterpart.  Yogurt, my favorite breakfast food, keeps me full and energized for hours because of its healthy fat and protein content.  I am not about to switch to the lightened version that tastes far more like artificial flavors and sweeteners than any wholesome breakfast should.

“Light” foods, which you would never find naturally growing out of the earth, are not the healthiest or only way to “lighten up.” Instead of spending time and money on diet foods and lifestyle tricks, you and your waistline may benefit from enjoying moderate amounts of wholesome foods and other sources of natural light in your life.  Healthier ways to lighten up, including trying different types and amounts of whole foods, activities and engagements can naturally lighten up your weight, mood, health and energy.  Living a bit lighter can be healthy, tasty, fun and easy to do.

Sunlight

Light, in the form of sunshine, is important for the synthesis of vitamin D, something many of us are deficient in this time of year.  Adequate amounts of this vitamin are important for your bone health, immune system, heart health, brain function and mood.  However, dark winter skies and the limited availability of vitamin D in foods leave many of us feeling lethargic, moody, achy or mildly depressed.  Lightening up by including more whole food sources of Vitamin D as well as spending a few more minutes outside between rain/snow storms every day will benefit your whole body and inspire health, happiness and energy. Some of the best food sources of vitamin D include wild salmon, sardines, organic eggs and organic whole milk.

Light-eating

To “lighten up”, for me, means treating my whole body well, not torturing it with artificial processed foods touted for their low calorie or sugar content.  Even in the midst of winter eating lighter is easy to do with whole foods that are satiating, comforting and easy to make.  Dark leafy greens are in season and will fill you with incredible amounts of powerful antioxidants and nutrients to build immunity and energy.  Heartier winter salads with legumes, nuts, seeds, cheeses and meats will satisfy without weighing you down.  Ovens roasted root vegetables pack in the nutrients, are filled with fiber and stocked with natural sugars that power your body for work or play in the colder weather.  Broth based soups can nurture your health, warm your belly and help hydrate your body.

Lighthearted

Lighten up your mood, physical body and mental state by taking a step back from everyday stressors and letting yourself enjoy a more balanced lifestyle.  Eating lighter quantities, instead of feasting and fasting will help keep your metabolism and mental state on a more even keel.  Bring a bit of light into your lifestyle by taking a walk, practicing yoga or having game night with friends.  Engaging in activities and practices that keep your mind and body active is enlightening.  Nurture your whole body with light that keeps you steady, strong and smiling and just lighten up!

Here is my “light” for the day: a run with the dog before the rain starts, a warming cup of soup, Caesar salad with a vitamin D boost and an extra hour of sleep.

Vitamin D rich Caesar dressing

3 anchovies (don’t skip -they are one of the best sources of D)

Juice of 1 lemon

3 cloves garlic

2 tbsp grated parmesan

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp Worchester sauce

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

Put all ingredients in a standing blender or Cuisinart.  Process until smooth and toss with romaine, croutons and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

This morning I took my dog for a run.  Flurries of lightly falling snow could be seen in traces along the path and on the limbs of trees and the cold gray air had kept the usual hoards to a minimum.  It was peacefully quiet, refreshingly crisp, but oh so very gray!  As we ran along at a slower pace than normal, both of us a bit tired, I couldn’t help but scan my eyes across the horizon, dark gray skies gave way to light gray rooftops, dirty white leafless trees, gray wet roads, snow white blanketed sidewalks and puffs of gray-white breath condensing quickly in front of me.

Looking for a bite to eat later that day I was disheartened to find an almost empty refrigerator with only a half-full bottle of milk, a few potatoes, two parsnips and some Jerusalem artichokes from the previous week’s farm box.  Everything colorful I had stocked on the shelves was quickly eaten leaving behind a white-gray filled, very unappetizing array of foods.

In the heart of January, eating the white starchy foods that are in season, when the season itself seems to be bringing you down all on its own, can feel like locking yourself in a gray padded room and waiting to go crazy.  But once again nature reigns in the creation of things that work symbiotically and, as it turns out, there are numerous reasons why we should not shy away from locally grown foods in all shades of white during this gray time of year.

Cold air, wet weather, less time outside, the flu season, stress, travel and the fewer hours of daylight that accompany the gray winter season require increased immunity, efficient energy production, attitude adjustments and motivation from all sources available.  Luckily, foods like potatoes, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes and celeriac contain an array of nutrients and health building properties you need to help you endure the winter.

Don’t fight the season.  Compliment the weather, mood and environment around you with the best of the season’s bounty. Keep your body and mind healthy, optimistic and strong with these wintry whites:

Potatoes: A good source of vitamin C and B6 as well as potassium, manganese and fiber, potatoes are great for immune system and energy building this time of year.  Potatoes also contain a variety of phytonutrients that produce great antioxidant activity.  To get the most nutrients for your buck buy organic and eat the skins too.

Parsnips: Parsnips are rich in vitamins B1, B2 and C as well as minerals, potassium and fiber, making them a good antioxidant, immunity builder and energy source.  Parsnips have been shown to have pain-relieving properties and to help lubricate the intestines and promote healthy digestion.

Jerusalem Artichokes: This tuber contains a large amount of inulin, which has been linked to intestinal health because of its pre-biotic and good bacteria promoting qualities.  Jerusalem Artichokes help promote healthy and efficient digestion and have high amounts of vitamin C that provides antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.  In the winter months this tuber is especially helpful in nourishing the lungs and decreasing asthmatic symptoms.

Celeriac (or Celery Root): Low in calories and high in fiber and vitamin C, potassium, calcium and iron, this food defies its ugly appearance.  Celeriac’s high water content helps flush the body of toxins while its nutrients help re-build and nourish.  Health benefits include easing digestion, circulating antioxidants, building immunity and helping blood flow.

Beautiful Yukon gold and fingerling potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and celeriac/celery root are coming straight to you from Full Circle Farm this time of year.  Take advantage of the healthy and still local foods you can get your hands on and use these winter weather foods to your nutritional advantage.

Usually, when something becomes “trendy” I try to avoid it at all costs.  Pants that are so tight you can see every muscle flex, boots with toes so pointy they look like lethal weapons, no carb diets… most trends seem like more effort and absurdity than they are worth.  However, one trend I have no “that’s so trendy” qualms about is the popular movement to get involved in the community food system.  Unlike other mass movements that become the latest trend, this one has the potential to actually construct a long lasting positive change that will impact the life and health of yourself and others through education and participation in the local food system.

I have to admit; I am going to jump on this band-wagon but not without a bit of discernment.  As the trend takes flight, it becomes increasingly more difficult to distinguish what is helpful from what is superficial and figure out how to get involved, learn and make a difference in a way that matters.  The necessity and significance of this movement is hard to ignore, but I want to make sure that my goal to get more involved leads me to a genuine outlet where I care about what I am doing, why I am involved, and how the process will make an impact.

For many of us looking to get more involved the first step can be intimidating, but joining tons of organizations, giving huge donations and making extreme commitments are certainly not necessary to get more involved in the community and educated about your local food system. Choosing one simple but meaningful outlet, even if it may not be the most popular or well-known way to get involved, is a realistic and constructive way for every individual to take a step in a positive direction that is sure to make a difference.

Volunteers planting trees out at Griffin Creek Farm

For me, choosing something that I can work into my schedule without feeling stressed, finding something a little off the beaten path that interests me, but does not already have a waiting list miles long, and feeling passionate about what I invest myself in are the most important factors in finding the right opportunity.  When I learned about the new Seattle Slow Food book Club, it seemed to be a perfect fit.

Reading is something I love to do, especially when it is about food, health, sustainability, gardening, and farming.  While it is something I can do on my own time, the camaraderie of knowing that others are out there reading and pondering the same topics draws me in.  Discussions sound inviting, encouraging, and I look forward to the challenge of discussing other interpretations of the text and how to put these topics into play in real life.

Not only can I meet others with similar interests and stretch my brain around new topics and texts, I can also be involved in the larger community movement around slow food, sustainability, health and eating locally.  The education of those who chose to get involved will make a difference in individual lives as well as community progress towards a better food system.

This is just one of many ways to get involved in the community and take action to make a difference in the food system that supports it.  Depending on your passions and skill set you may chose to cook in a community kitchen, join a garden coop, get some friends together to clean up your neighborhood, host a potluck to discuss how you and your community members can take action or take classes on urban homesteading.  Whatever it is, make it your passion and put your heart into it.  Enjoy the learning and involvement process and take pride in your part in making a difference.

For more information on the Slow Food Book Club visit:

http://slowfoodseattle.wordpress.com/books/

Here are a few more ideas to check out:

http://www.northwestharvest.org/Volunteer/Opportunities.htm

http://www.cascadeharvest.org/community/volunteer

http://seattletilth.org/get-involved/volunteer/index_html

http://www.solid-ground.org/GetInvolved/Pages/default.aspx

I would love to hear from you.  Please share information about your favorite community food system organizations or some other ideas you have about getting involved. Thanks!