Westminster Farmers’ Market Report from Maple Heights Farm
Take up your Forks! You Can Now Begin Eating Seasonally in the Wachusett Region!
Seasonal Maple Syrup: Your Vote Counts! Vote for Local!
Our maple syrup producers are in full production! Look around you: taps are set everywhere, blue tubing running from tree to tree, metal pails hanging on the sides of trees; on my street alone (West Princeton) we have three syrup operations! Driving a bit further on Worcester Road, I see another! Forget those robins; this is really our first sign of spring! So vote local by committing to our own Wachusett Region Maple Syrup! Visit www.WachusettLocal.com where I will attempt to keep an updated list of local food producers. There, you will find the Maple producers that I know about in this area.
Food, Inc. It is NOT cheaper to eat at Burger King! Watch the trailer here!
I realize I’m a little out-of-touch at times, but today it is more obvious to me than most days. I am using the “play” feature on my Netflix account to instantly (after buffering for a long time) watch Food, Inc. again. I really only want to see a few parts, but primarily the family that cannot afford to and does not have time for healthy food while the husband battles type II diabetes and the young daughter is likely to be diagnosed with it. I sit at the ready with the pause button (rewinding only causes another long buffering pause) and I discover that these “Rodeo Burgers” come in a bag that looks like a Burger King bag. Sure enough! A quick Google tells me that these burgers have been sold for more than 12 years! Never heard of them before! That makes my investigation a bit easier…
What I did not like about this segment was it did not ring true to me. This family is very unhealthy and unable to afford good food and they don’t have time to prepare it, yet from Burger King, they order seven sandwiches (five Rodeo burgers and 2 chicken sandwiches) and 3 sodas (not a great choice for diabetes).
Being pretty good at nit-picking and having been accused at times of seeing things as too black-and-white, off I went to Burger King in Gardner. To my amazement, there on the dollar menu was in fact a Rodeo Burger for $1.49 (though I don’t think they paid this much in the movie) and a chicken sandwich (I had to ask if it was a sandwich). Upon returning home I weighed each sandwich and its parts.
The Rodeo Burger weighed in at 5 ounces for a whopping price of $4.75 per pound. Note that the meat and cheese together weighed a mere 1.5 ounces! Note that I did not separate the gooey cheese from the burger, this was the combined weight! The onion rings with sauce on them that topped the Rodeo Burger weighed 1 5/8 ounces with the remainder being bun with a bit of sauce. I did not know a burger could be made with less than 1.5 ounces of meat (makes me wonder why they need to add the “beef” filler that we saw in the movie). Let me just assume (in my own (non) endearing black-and-white way) that the meat was the only bit of the sandwich that had any worthwhile nutritional value. You really aren’t getting much for your money!
The chicken sandwich weighed 4 5/8 ounces with 2 ounces of spicy chicken patty (imagine 100 calories per ounce! I wish I had calculated calories per bite as this was not a large sandwich!). Since this sandwich only costs $1.00, its cost per pound is $3.46. In this case I cannot even go out on the nutrition limb and say the chicken patty may have had any nutritional value (sorry). In my opinion, all those hard to pronounce ingredients along with MSG cancel out any nutritional gain for me.
I estimate that the sodas came to $3.50 plus tax based on the order total of $11.48.
Next, the family walks through a grocery store. They complain about the broccoli being $1.29 per pound and pears being $.99 per pound (a sign that is ignored next to the broccoli is for carrots at .59/lb). The refuse to buy a pear for the youngest (pre-diabetic) daughter because it is too expensive! That scene is probably what bothered me most. You can purchase 2 or 3 pears for a dollar (believe me; I weighed the pears recently purchased from our local Log Cabin Orchard)! They would not spend 40 cents for a pear, but happily spend a lot of money on almost zero nutrients! What bothers me most about this segment is that they could have purchased 4 pears, carrots, cheese (or meat) and freshly baked whole grain bread for about $8.00 and would not have had to prepare anything. They could even upgrade the cheese to pre-cooked shrimp and still been at about $12.00 to feed their whole family. But they choose to go for fast food instead.
While walking through the store, the mom then talks about how cheap it is to buy soda, candy and chips. The soda is advertised as 4 for $5. That is infinitely more expensive than free water that they could bring along from home. And potatoes at 40 cents per pound are a small fraction of the cost of chips at $4.25 to $5.00 per pound (And YES I checked that today too)! How about an incredibly healthy serving of almonds instead for 23 cents per ounce (no kidding! cheaper than chips!). They taste as good (or better) and you aren’t as likely to eat three servings (when is the last time you had one serving of chips) – and one ounce of almonds, alone, will keep you satisfied for hours.
Ok, now, forgive me for seeming like I’m picking on this family for their poor food choices. In my opinion, it is Food, Inc. that missed the boat on this segment. This is not a problem of high food prices; this is a problem of education and horribly poor choices. It’s okay to go for fast food and spend $12 on an inexpensive meal. But please don’t then tell me you cannot afford healthy food! If you can afford Burger King, you can afford healthy food! And if you prepare your food at home (it seems this family doesn’t have time), many homemade meals can cost under $5 for a family of six! I really liked this movie (would give it five stars), but just really object to this segment!
Visit our Westminster Farmers’ Market website…
We have a new (still preliminary and unapproved) website for the Westminster Farmers’ Market. Visit for ideas on how you can help the farmers’ market, participate as a vendor, or get information on our schedule for the season. Visit us at www.WestminsterFarmersMarket.com. Google us too, by clicking here, then click on our farmers’ market. This will help us bubble up to the top of the search page. As of now, we are listed in the middle of the first page, but have tough competition (Westminster, London, being one competitor).
In the Garden…
Spring is in full swing in my house. And outside, Andy has set up a 4x8 cold frame for me on the driveway. It still needs a gasket but so far is holding at 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. In two weeks I’ll move my globe artichokes into it to give them a taste of winter. This is supposed to trick them into producing this year (we’ll see). All my seeds have germinated and moved upstairs into the sun (and florescent lights) and I have since started leeks, cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce. New lettuce gets started every two weeks from here on in.
If you are planting vegetables this year, run into Agway and get yourself a soil thermometer (and some pea seeds). As soon as the frost is out of the ground and this mud dries up, start monitoring the soil temp. When the soil temp is steady at 45 degrees (it does change from day to day, though more slowly than the air temperature) soak your peas overnight and plant in the garden. You can also plant onion sets and shallots as soon as the soil is dry enough to work. I’m not saying you should do this, but I buy my shallots at the grocery store for planting in the garden.
In the meantime, start cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce seeds indoors. Order your broccoli, Chinese cabbage and more lettuce because you will want to start those indoors in two weeks.
All this information is in my garden calendar, but I only have five left. If you would like one, don’t wait too long…
Maple Heights Farm…