WHY THE DEMAND FOR ORGANIC FOODS IS GROWING

Organic Farmers are HEROES.
Peter Wendt

If you follow the Organic Farmers Market in Nairobi which I have for a couple of years,you may have noticed that  there are now more places where they have organized for Kenyans to buy organic food as well as more  vendors,  which means there has been an increase in the demand for organic food from the Kenyan market.

You must have wondered about what all the noise is  about Organic farming and why suddenly there has been a surge in the demand as well as consumption of organic produce. I thought this post would be  helpful in helping us appreciate organic farming  as well as  see why the demand for organic food has grown.

Organic farming is a system of agricultural production that involves the cultivation of crops and the rearing of animals using natural ways.

Conserve Energy defines it as a process that involves the use of biological materials,avoiding synthetic substances to maintain soil fertility and ecological balance thereby minimizing pollution and wastage.With a world population that is more than 7 billion and a land size that remains the same yet it is fighting with encroachment from human settlement,the demand for arable land is on the rise and people are looking for all manner of ways to make the most of the available land and animal resources.

One of the ways unscrupulous people have found to get more from their land and animals in order to make a few quick dollars is to pump it with chemicals,pesticides as well as speed up the maturity of farm animals like chicken by injecting them with growth hormones.

The bottom line in all of these endeavors is not a concern for the people who will eventually buy these foods from the supermarkets,it is profit  greed that is the only driver for such practices that puts the lives of other  human lives at risk.

It is true organic food costs more , because of the work involved as it is a very labor intensive exercise.It is also true that you expose yourself to less risk if you choose to go organic.

About 4 years back,I lived on a farm in Nakuru where we grew vegetables and other crops I also took up some organic farming on the side as an experiment project as well as to keep me busy.

My crops of choice were potatoes,zucchinis,carrots , to prepare I read widely and found that potatoes do very well especially if you mix dried manure into the soil and so I went about asking for dung from the farmers that owned cows around where we lived.I got a lot of it as well as a lot of curious looks as to what I needed cow dung it for.

But the venture came with a lot of challenges as well.The area where we lived was infested with moles ,how to get rid of them without using chemicals?

And we set about looking for a mole catcher,they do not exist anymore by the way and before we found we had a village of molehills on the farm as well as lost a lot of potatoes.

Up until the time we harvested the potatoes and carrots I never used a single drop of pesticide on them and they did fairly well.They potatoes and carrots came in all manner of sizes and we lost some as well to pests,but I had done it ,grown something without use of a single pesticide or chemical.

The need for organic farming is driven by the need for more sustainable methods of farming  that ensure we will still be able to produce enough food 50 years from now on when the world population is estimated will be at more than 10 billion.

For those that have tasted organically grown fruits and vegetables you  agree with me that they taste better than what you get from the supermarket shelves.Eggs from free range chicken are also more tastier ,have a yolk with the must delicious yellow color   and just a bit smaller than the eggs  that you get at the supermarket.

We consume a variety of pesticides and chemicals from foods like chicken,beef and other dairy products as well as from fruits and vegetables .The chemicals from pesticides and other  drugs  like antibiotics used to treat these animals have found their way  into our food and we have started seeing resistance to the  most widely available antibiotics used to treat very common infections.

Scientists are having to work very hard to keep up with the microbial mutations  are now resisting the currently available antibiotics.

These resistance is leaving scientists and researchers worried as it means the increased resistance by disease  causing bacteria to these drugs will expose us to infections which currently available  antibiotics will not be able to treat.

The discovery of the latest antibiotic was reported this April and it was done by Canadian scientists,it was the first in antibiotic  discovery in 3 decades 30 years  and the drug is still years away from being available to the public.

The increasing public awareness on what is going on,increasing incidences of disease  and the effects of environmentally unsustainable  decades of farming methods have pushed organic farming  front and centre.

If you are in Nairobi, follow the Organic Farmers Market on Facebook to see where the market  will be next and get to interact with the farmers working hard to ensure we produce food in a more sustainable ad environmentally friendly manner than we are d right now.

Why is organic farming important and why should you care,I have a few reasons  to think about why organic matters and who knows maybe you may take it up or talk to someone about it then we have a  new generation  of organic farmers.We may even meet at the Organic market.

1.Buying organic foods  creates a demand in the market and  will push farmers to be more responsible especially  over the use of pesticides and other chemicals as they grow crops or rear their animals.This is already happening in some countries where consumers are demanding more responsibility over the use of drugs and pesticides.

In this way we are promoting a more sustainable model that ensures the earth is able to feed the future generations that  come after us.

2.Buying organic foods means that you get the foods fresh,these foods have not been treated with any preservatives or had nay additives added to them to lengthen their shelf life.

The shelf life of organic foods is  very short because of their very minimal  journey from the farm to your plate  which is what has encouraged the farm to fork movement  globally and has had people support local farmers by buying local foods.

3.Buying organic has helped  promoted the growth of agriculture as a means of livelihood especially among young people. Across the globe young adults are taking up agriculture and providing us with food.It has  helped stem the increase in the number of the unemployed,helped increase food production as well as seen technology revolutionize farming.Europe has seen the number of its youthful population taking up farming,you may find this article from The Economist really interesting.

In Kenya as well we have several groups on social media platforms talking nothing but farming.See how dailies are falling over themselves to provide information on farming especially in the Saturday paper .

Young people are going back to the farms to ensure there is food for the more than 7 billion of us.

4.Buying organic and consuming organic ensures you know where your food comes from,how it gets produced and what goes into the production process.You are  reducing your exposure to  the  chemical toxins that could put you at risk of developing certain life threatening conditions through the ingestion of chemicals that may have been used in their production ,processing or packing.

5.By buying organic you get to interact  with the farmers that grow your food and there are benefits to that.There is nothing like meeting the person or people that put so much work to ensure you do not go hungry and appreciating the work they do.Human interaction especially in an age where technology is taking over  how we socialize with each other,a conversation with another human being is always  a great way to spend the weekend.I think one of the reasons people in big cities like Nairobi are always angry and stressed is because we speak so little to each to other,yet we know  healthy relationships are part of living a fulfilled and healthy lifestyle.

6.Taking your children with you to the organic market for  grocery shopping and let them feel,touch,sell and taste food.As I mentioned in an earlier post  taking your children grocery shopping is a  way of getting them  involved in meal planning and ensuring they adopt healthy eating habits early in life.

They will get to know how to choose fresh ingredients,how fresh food looks like and most important they will learn to value the hard work of the people like farmers who work behind the scenes to make sure we get fed.

And just in case your children  hardly ever get to travel upcountry,they will know food does not grow in the supermarket :-).

7.Buying organic is an opportunity to increase the awareness on more sustainable forms of agriculture and hopefully this will lead to legislation by governments as well as  push them to develop policies that can protect as well as promote organic farming.

Do you buy or grown organic food?would you love to be featured on our blog,please get in touch with us.

As always your feedback,comments and suggestions are welcome.See you in the comments section.

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCING YOUR BABY TO SOLIDS

Weaning is a really exciting time for both mother and baby.

After 6 months your baby’s nutritional needs cannot be adequately catered for with just breast milk or formula.

That is why a careful choice  of first foods is important

Your little bubba at 6 months is  ready to be introduced to solid foods….gradually.

Breast milk should still remain the main source of nourishment for your baby but she needs some extra nutrients which is why t is very important to make informed choices on what the best foods for weaning your baby are.

You will find a lot of   ready made baby food,ignore them.

Jar of ready to eat baby food
Jar of ready to eat baby food

Nature provides some of the best foods for baby,remember too that you are also setting the foundation for  future food choices.

Always follow the lead pattern of your child when it comes to introducing solids to your baby,introduce a  teaspoon or two of just one kind of food at a time.

Sauteing  or steaming your baby food are the best methods when it comes to preparing your baby’s food.

Here is a guide on foods that are perfect starter foods for your baby.

Cereals

When introducing cereals to a baby when introducing baby porridge always make sure it is of a thin consistency and should be mixed with your breast milk/formula as cereals do tend to be pretty bland.

Cooked green baby bananas not the matoke variety are also a very common and easily accessible first food for babies within the east African region.

Because they are low in calories ,once cooked puree them and add some breast milk till you have a thin consistency your baby can swallow.

With time you can mix your bananas with vegetables like pumpkin ,peas,carrots in order to increase their nutritional value.

There is no need to add any sweeteners to your baby’s cereal at this point.

 

Fruit

This should be added when baby is already used to solids,most babies take to fruits like fish to water.

Fruits like pawpaw,bananas which should be really ripe then mashed  with a  fork and some breast milk/formula added to thin it out,also do try avocado.

Stay away from citrus fruits till your baby is one year.

Other fruits like apples and pears  can be introduced after 8 months need to be steamed to make it easier for your baby digest them.

 

Vegetables

Peas,pumpkin,carrots and even sweet potatoes are a great source of nourishment for baby during the  first months.

Cook then then strain or blend making sure you add milk to ensure your baby is able to swallow them.

stay away from strong tasting vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli till a little later when your baby has formed a consistent eating pattern.

Watch the  stool pattern of your baby  when you start them on vegetables and in case of any loose bowel movements or mucus in their stool omit it and try again after a month.

For further assistance i  can be reached  here.

MY FLEA MARKET COOK BOOK

Living in the most beautiful town in Kenya has some perks.

Nakuru has amazing scenery,weather,great scenery and the best flea market in East Africa.

You get the most amazing finds ,like this cook book i got for 300 shillings  a few weeks ago.

It has so many classic recipes that i want to try,like Irish  Soda bread and filets mignons.

Awesome stuff!!!

 

The Cook book...
The Cook book…

 

PERFECTLY OVEN ROASTED POTATOES

*DRUM ROLLS*

A new oven and i decided to break it with roasting potatoes!

I love potatoes,my kids love potatoes in all forms,fried,roasted,mashed…

Here is a recipe that will make your tastebuds swoon without expanding your waist line.

I had run out of fresh garlic and i replaced it with garlic powder ,feel free to replace that with a clove or two of crushed or minced garlic.

Ingredients

1 kilo of medium sized irish potatoes,peeled,washed and quartered

2-3 tablespoons corn oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 pinches salt

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Roast potatoes are ready.....!
Roast potatoes are ready…..!

Method

1.Parboil your potatoes for 5-7 minutes,then drain

2. Pre- heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

3.Line your drained potatoes onto a roasting pan,make sure all potatoes touch the bottom of the pan.

4.Drizzle the oil on the potatoes,sprinkle the garlic powder and salt on to the potatoes and using clean hands rub the oil,garlic powder ,salt onto the potatoes.Making sure all the potatoes are coated.

5.Once your oven is ready pop your potatoes for 30 minutes,,with kitchen gloves on remove the pan from your oven and sprinkle the chopped rosemary leaves on the potatoes and pop back the pan into the oven for a further 20 minutes.

6.Serve hot with a vegetable salad or a meat dish of your choice.

STORING CHAPATIS

How do your store  your chapatis,especially on those days  when you have made one too many.

I deliberately make twice as many chapatis that we can have for at least 2 meals or for breakfast/tea.

The trick to keeping them in the freezer and having them taste as fresh as when you made them is to wrap them in cling film so as to keep them fresh,then adding foil as an extra wrapping.

This works well for me on those days  when  we are late in preparing dinner ,all i have to do is come up with stew…a real time saver!!! 2013-06-24-097

Wrapping your chapatis for the freezer…

MY FARMING PROJECT

This year i took on a new challenge,i decided i would grow my own vegetables.

I have a little garden where i grow  kales,spinach,spring onions,even tried strawberries but they aren’t doing so well.

On another part of my little farm i have corn/maize and beans ,green peas,zucchini,potatoes ,coriander,butternut and pumpkin.

That does sound a lot but it isn’t.

A few days ago i waded into the stalks of corn and went to work plucking beans and peas to store in my freezer.

There is nothing like eating food you have grown it tastes so good…!!!

You do not have to  have  a big piece of  land to grow  things lie coriander or carrots a pot a large one at that would do.

Here is a picture of the beans and peas that i got 3 hours later…

My loot of beans and peas...
My loot of beans and peas…

MENU PLANNING MADE EASY

Do you spend an hour or more everyday wracking your mind on what to put out for your family during mealtimes.

You are bored with making food the same way every for 7 days a week.

I have a solution for you.

I am going to make meal planning easy.

You do not need special skills to prepare meals your family will love,or be a trained chef.

There are also so many recipe books out there,get yourself one and tailor it to suit your taste and budget.

Here are some ideas to help you in your menu planning.

1.Always make meals everyone in the family is going to enjoy.You do not have to create 3 different menus for your child who loves potatoes and your husband who simply has to eat meat and a separate salad for yourself.

Meals should be the time families come together after a long day at work and enjoy something healthy and nutritious.

2.Plan your meals around foods that are in season.Reason for this is because foods in season are always cheaper than something that is out of season.Be it potatoes,tomatoes,fruits,you can create meals around foods in season and there is no reason to have the same thing monday to friday.

3.Do you have a freezer?Then cook in bulk,portion it out and use freeze proof containers to freeze some of your stews,sauces and gravies.They come in handy on those days when you have absolutely no energy left to make an elaborate dinner.

Also learn how to blanch vegetables like broccoli, French beans/green beans, carrots they will come in handy too.And blanching  makes healthy eating so much easier

4.Cook familiar foods but add something different to jazz them  up.Like adding some desiccated coconut to your rice/ugali.

Does your family love chapatis?add pumpkin/grated carrots/chopped coriander or spring onions to your dough and voila a familiar r food get an interesting flavour added to it.

5.Find different ways to cook prepare familiar foods.Instead of boiled rice,/pasta make a rice salad or pasta salad.

Instead of mashed potatoes ,roast them in the oven with some garlic,olive oil and garlic.

6.Take the unusual root.Discover interesting food items that your family has never had and prepare them in an interesting way.

Prepare matoke with some arrow roots,roast sweet potatoes and have them with some spicy chicken stew,it is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy,sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A,much more healthy than potatoes.

7.When you go shopping ,make a shopping list that takes in mind your meals for the week,it saves you time and worry over what to prepare.

8.Learn how to use left overs.Maybe you had some chicken stew left over from last night,why not make a spicy rice pilaf out of the left over or shred the chicken and use it for a sandwich.

Left over rice/pasta can also be used to make a salad .

Cooking is all about being adventurous enough to try out new ideas,tastes and flavours.