Crop Focus: Pea Shoots

When we decided to start growing micro greens for our family, we started with Peas.  They are easy to grow, yield well, and taste amazing!  Not to mention, they are an amazing source of vitamins, minerals, and plant based protein.  Our family has a few food allergies, including celiac disease, which destroys the gut microbiome.  When this happens, the body’s ability for nutritional uptake is seriously compromised.  Instead of reaching for vitamins off the shelf, we reach for our micro-greens!

IMG_0282According to Makito Nutrition, Pea Shoots contain 7 times the vitamin C content compared to blueberries, 8 times the folate content compared to bean sprouts, and 4 times the vitamin A content in tomatoes.   That is a ton of nutritional content in a tiny package!  In fact, according to Health Diaries, 1 cup of pea shoots contains 35% of the vitamin C and 15% of the vitamin A daily recommended values.  In addition to the high vitamin content, according to SuperFood Evolution, pea shoots are 20-25% protein!  Thats makes it a great source for plant based protein!

As with most micro-greens, they are high in fiber and low in calories, making them perfect for blood sugar control.  Plus, since they are low in calories and extremely nutrient dense they are perfect for weight control and curbing cravings!

IMG_0044Tasting of a mix of spinach and peas in the shell right off the vine, they are fun to cook with.  For maximum nutrition, they should be eaten raw.  Try them in nori-rolls, sushi, or  add them to your salad mix for a crunch that will remind you of the garden year round!  Historically, they have been popular in Asian Cousine.  Though they are best raw, they can also be cooked lightly in dishes like stir fry or added to a warm soup.  We also enjoy them blended into protein packed smoothies!

Some people have also been warned that they should avoid legumes because of the lectin content.  It should be noted that sprouting reduces these lectins and cooking them further reduces the lectin content.


An eye catcher on the farm stand, pea shoots should be on your shopping list.  They have a longer shelf life than other micro-greens, making them a great thing to keep on hand in the fridge.   If you grow them at home or purchase our live trays, keep in mind that you can harvest pea shoots a couple times.  We typically see customers getting 3 or 4 harvests, and more if they are potted up or put into the garden!

These crunchy greens make the perfect snack or a beautiful garnish to a lovely home cooked meal.  Kids love them and adults are intrigued by them.  Try some pea shoots today, and know that you’re investing in your health when you choose these tasty micro-greens!img_0163-1.jpg

 

 

Crop Focus : Sunflower Shoots

 

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Sunflower Shoots are seedlings of sunflower plants that are grown from 10-14 days.  The crunchy greens tastes like slightly sweet raw sunflower seeds, making them a popular crop.  Everyone loves sunflower seeds, and not surprisingly, they also love these sunflower shoots.

Similar to sunflower seeds, their shoots are also a great source of good, unsaturated fat.  As you would expect, they are also the most calorie dense micro-green that we grow.  Just 1/4 cup of Sunny Shoots contains 190 calories and 16 grams of fat.  As comparison, 1/4 cup of dry roasted sunflower seeds contains 207 calories and 19 grams of fat.

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In addition to fat, they are also a great source of plant based protein.  The shoots contain nearly 40% protein and 8 amino acids!  Beyond that, sprouting naturally releases some enzymes that make the greens much more digestible than in seed form.  When grown in soil, they also take up the minerals from the soil which boosts the vitamin and mineral content in the shoot form.

Pregnant or Breast Feeding Women should also know that sunny shoots are a great source of folate.  Men should know too, that they are a great source of zinc, which will help your sperm counts.  Nothing better than fresh vitamins and minerals from your food!

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Not only are they amazing for you, they also taste great!  Other than pea shoots, these are the most durable micro-greens that we grow, making them surprisingly versatile.  They are great mixed into any salad mix to provide a sweet nutty crunch or even used as the main ingredient in sunflower shoot pesto!  We really enjoy the taste and texture they provide to a fruit smoothie.  Sometimes though, the simpler the better.  When we have sunflower shoots left over at the end of the week (which rarely happens), our go to is sunflower shoot and nut butter sandwich.  Toast, Nut Butter of Choice, Sunflower Shoots and Honey.   Thats all.  It rivals the standard PB&J.  Its a common snack for us on the ski lift between run, or packed into a cold pack for a snack along the trail.  This sandwich will give you all the energy you need to fully enjoy your next adventure!

Even that simple sandwich is too many steps for many people!  Snacking like they are popcorn works too!  Kids love these tiny greens too.   They are fun, and crunchy, and sweet.  Its hard to find a kid that turns them down, so if you’re looking for a healthy snack that your kid will actually eat….try this sandwich and leave the rest of the box out for your kid to snack on too.  They will be eating greens and not even care, or they may even like it and try others!

 

Microgreen Guacamole!

IMG_0942We have been talking a lot about the versatility of micro-greens in the kitchen.   Really the only thing you need to avoid is heat exposure, so they are really useful in the kitchen.  They go way beyond sandwich and salad toppers.  One of our favorite uses is to wow people with our homemade dips and sauces.  The fan favorite to date is by far the guacamole with our cilantro micro-greens!

Micro-greens are perfect to blend into any sauce, and in this case they smash well into some homemade guacamole.  The huge flavor in these small micro-greens really work well with guac because they are delicate enough to mix into the creamy avocados, but the flavor comes through with every bite!

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Here is what you will need to make this amazing dish:
– 2 Ripe Avocados
– 1 Lime – squeezed fresh
– 1/4 cup Diced Red Onion
– Garlic Powder – just a dash
– Onion Powder – Just a dash
– Salt – Just a dash
– Cilantro Micros – add to taste

Start with the avocados.  Find the most ripe ones and dice them into a bowl.  Then we add some diced red onion.  For the spices we add a dash of onion and garlic powder and salt to your taste.  Then squeeze 1 lime into the bowl and place the cilantro greens (with seed husk) on top and mix all of the ingredients together with a  fork.  We use lots of cilantro micros, but feel free to add as little or as much as you like.  It doesn’t take too long before the guac is creamy and ready to go to the fridge.  This would also be the time to add any other toppers you may enjoy like diced tomatoes or salsa.

Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and place in the fridge to cool.  After chilling, this guac is going to be ready for your toast, chips, tacos, or even to eat by the spoonful.  This simple guacamole is a game changer.  Be a party hero and bring some superfood guacamole to your next get together!IMG_0431

 

 

Microgreens and Smoothies…A Perfect Pair!

A few years back our family made a big push to incorporate more fruit into our diet. Our kids always like snacking on fruit, and due to our food allergies, we don’t have typical snack food in the house. The go to for them is almost always a banana or an apple…or two. We found that my wife and I weren’t eating enough fruit though. We always enjoyed smoothies, so we made the goal of eating one big smoothie each day.

IMG_0409After a while we discovered that microgreens mix perfectly in a smoothie. Their delicate texture and powerful taste blend well with all sorts of smoothie recipes. Their big nutritional value also boosts the vitamin and mineral content too!

Our go to smoothie base is 2 bananas, 1/2 lemon fresh squeezed, and roughly 12 oz filtered water. From there we typically add a cup or two of frozen fruit. Wild blueberries are always in the freezer so that’s what we use most often. If we want to mix things up we may add mango, strawberries or raspberries too. We also like to add an avocado if it’s more like a meal. Then come the greens. A little or a lot.  Its up to you, but we typically use  a heaping handful!

The mild varieties like Kale, Broccoli, Kohlrabi and Red Cabbage all mix well with fruit smoothies, much like spinach or full leaf kale. The Sunflower Shoots have a higher fat content which pairs well with the avocado for a creamier smoothie. The pea shoots really push the flavor with big pea taste. We shy away from the spicier varieties because the taste is so big, but if you want a smoothie with a kick, try arugula, mustard or wasabi!

IMG_1474Microgreens are fun to play with in the kitchen and know that no matter how you add them to your diet, you’re doing your body good! We all could use extra vitamins and minerals, and microgreens are some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet! That’s why their really a perfect pair with fruit smoothie.

Oh, and if you have kids like ours, they love ice cream. Instead of using fresh peeled bananas, use frozen ones and instead of water just just a splash of coconut milk. Throw in the avocado, microgreens and berries and you’ll have a really nutritious ice cream snack. Go ahead and have an extra bowl! It’s good for you!

How To Eat Microgreens

There are a few repeat questions that I get at every farmers market, and they tend to focus on “how do you eat these?” or “are these just for salads?”.  The answer is always “Yes, they are great for adding to a salad, but they are really amazing added to any dish!”

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Microgreens are delicate and they need to be treated with a little care, but they are not hard to cook with or add into any dish.  Because they are delicate, its important to not introduce to heat.  They should be added after the meal is cooked and starting to cool.  We like to serve dinner plated and have good selection of microgreens to choose from at the center of the table, just like dressing or salt and pepper.  In cooler meals, like cold pasta salad or sushi rolls, the greens can be added right into the mix.  Same thing with salads.  Feel free to mix them in with your salad greens or sprinkle on top.

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We like to think of them as a nutritional supplement and use them to meet our daily requirements of many vitamins and minerals.  For instance, broccoli microgreens are likely the most nutritious greens that we grow.  Just 2 oz of these greens have the nutritional density of 2.5 lbs of broccoli flourettes.   When you’re using microgreens at every meal, you’re really just adding a little more nutrition every time you eat.   That adds up!  Just one small package is like consuming an extra 2 or 3 lbs of broccoli by the end of the week.

Plus, after a while, the plate just seems lacking without a splash of green or purple.  Once you get hooked, they are hard to quit.  But who doesn’t need a new healthy habit for the new year?

 

My road to healing part 3: how to feel better

-Guest Blog by Dr. Ann Croghan, PT, DPT, CLC

How to feel better?

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Start small. Do what you can. Have compassion for yourself.

Identify one part of your food habit that you know you should change AND then change it.  For me: it was dairy. Giving up dairy helped me to realize that I was sick and that I could feel better.  Look up the requirements for how long you need to completely avoid that food to know if it is contributing.  Dairy is a complete avoidance for 2-4 weeks. If you mess up, you have to start over. AND you need to know where that food hides. The milk protein casein hides in many things.  Did you know there is such a thing as vegan wine? Or that some non dairy coffee creamers have dairy? Or they use dairy in sausage cassing?

For dairy, there are three main proteins: lactose (which everyone knows), casein, whey. Funny enough, lactose never made me feel sick. So don’t use that as your baseline.

People say to me: “BUT CHEESE? I love cheese!”.  My response? I didn’t love my back pain. I didn’t love my: fatigue, depression, stiffness, hip pain, knee pain, leg pain, asthma, ringing in my ears…… ALL things I didn’t know I could change. My life is so much better without those food choices. And if we continue to advocate for change in the food we eat, we will see more people get better. We will see more restaurants serving food that support healthy minds and bodies.

Ask your loved ones to support you. Staying away from dairy was easier at first because Matt kept it out of the house.

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Living without dairy is easy: there are plant milks, coconut oil, you can make cashews into different kinds of cheese/cream/spread, bananas make the perfect ice cream. All of these choices are cheeper too! Plus I don’t feel terrible anymore.

 

Living without wheat, corn, soy. Read labels. Make your own food. Buy some gluten free bread from Little Red Hen.  On a daily basis I make a choice to feel better. I would rather not eat for the day than have food that will make me sick. Because my body has what it needs to function, I don’t feel terribly hungry any more. I don’t have hangery moments, or hunger crashes, or times where I HAVE TO EAT!!!!!

Add in living, nutrient dense food. You have a lot to make up for. Bananas, blueberry smoothies, lemons, apples, cauliflower, broccoli, peas. Of course: Microgreens!!! Grow your own lettuce, veggies, lemons, herbs.  It’s easy to grow your food. Why take care of a small 4×4 grass space in your yard that serves no purpose? Make it a garden instead.

Support your local farmer.

Support your local restaurant that uses food from the local farmer and not just food from the food truck….. unless it’s The Valley Roots Food Hub.

Don’t let people get to you. We only have this one life. I want to live this life without: fatigue, pain, depression, ringing in my ears, ridges in my nails, sickness. I want to live this life with: energy and laughter.  And for the last few years, I have been doing just that.

Thank you to my wonderful husband Matt for his drive to bring nutrient dense food to his family, to his community, and to inspire other farmers/gardeners to do the same. It’s time to make a change.

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My road to healing part 2: why would food matter?

– Guest Blog by Dr. Ann Croghan, PT, DPT, CLC

Why would food matter?

I always ask my patients: would you put 85 octane in your high performance vehicle?

This is why microgreens are vital toour food system and to our health. They help us to clean out the sludge and waste created by us putting 85 into our bodies. THEN they help us to maintain our health in a world where pollution is in our air, water, ground.

SO – how did I know I was sick? All the symptoms I described in part one, are pretty common. I was still functioning well as a child and a teenager. I did ok in school. I was First Team All Conference for basketball and held the record for average number of steals per game. I rarely missed a 3-pointer. I helped my soccer team make it to state 3 times…… but it was the back pain. The back pain became too much.

In college, there would be days that I couldn’t get out of bed. The pain was so intense that Matt would have to help me up. Then I was literally hit by truck, and the pain improved. A few years later, the back pain returned. For 3-4 years I searched for why. I was put on Vit D, had MRIs, X-rays, more blood tests…… nothing. “You are fine. You need to stand up straight, that will help”. Convinced I had lyme disease or rheumatoid arthritis or Fibromyalgia, I found a physician in Denver that saved my life. She had a specialty in arthritic conditions: her diagnosis? Potentially fibromyalgia. And then she started talking about medication. And I said, “I’d rather deal with the back pain, joint pain, fatigue, depression, brain fog, stomach pain…”

“Well, if you are willing to not take medication, maybe you would be willing to change your diet”.

ummmmmm? What? – “Of course I would.”

“Dairy, wheat, corn, soy are the biggest food allergens that mimic musculoskeletal pain. Which one do you think it is?”

Dairy. It was dairy. Look up dairy allergies. My symptoms as a kid and teenager are well documented as a dairy allergy.

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Matt and I LOVED to stop for pizza and beers after skiing

I COMPLETELY gave up dairy.  Two weeks later AND no cheating, I had no pain. My fatigue, stiffness, tired legs, ringing in my ears, brittle nails, depression, etc all improved by 70% over the course of the next few years. I added this morning drink called RAW Organic Meal from Garden of Life to help get more nutrient dense food in my body.

A few years ago, I switched to a plant-based diet without wheat, corn, or soy. I added more fruit. I added microgreens. My food choices now are: what purpose does this food serve me? Is this food nutrient dense? And guess what? Nothing. I feel great. When I accidentally have something that has wheat or dairy my back starts to hurt, my ears ring,   my shoulder hurts. I’m tired. I feel stiff the next day. I’m not over reacting to the dairy. THIS WAS HOW I FELT 24-7.

Microgreens have helped me make up for all the nutritional deficiencies that were created by a diet high in dairy, wheat, corn, soy, all the other processed food, the standard American diet.

My road to healing part 3: how to feel better.

My road to healing part 1: Normalizing sickness

-Guest Blog by Dr. Ann Croghan, PT, DPT, CLC

Normalizing sickness.

I was sick and I didn’t know it. Most of the life I remember, up until the last few years, was spent being sick. How can one be sick and not know it? Because sickness hides in what we normalize. Sickness hides in plain site and we become so used to it that we don’t realize we are sick.

How did I learn I was sick? One conversation with a physician started my life change over 6 years ago.  My road to healing and learning to listen to my body has been slow.  I made the changes I could, learned a little more, and then made more changes.  Microgreens have made a large impact in my life, and I am so thankful for my husband Matt for learning to grow these powerful plants.

What were some of the signs that I was sick? Looking back on my life, the signs are obvious, although my pictures look normal. But like I said: we have normalized being sick and we have allowed it to creep up on us.

As a kid: ear infections, urinary tract infections, growing pains, constipation, bed wetting, bloated tummy.

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Me at age 3

As a teenager: growing pains, knee pain, constipation, asthma, fatigue, depression, falling asleep at school (especially after lunch), lack of motivation for school, difficulty with endurance for sports, hard time with focused attention for reading, Raynaud’s, random pain in my feet and arms.

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Me at 18 years old in 2001

As a young adult: fatigue, feeling like I was hit by a truck when I would wake up, back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, sleepy after lunch, stiff in the morning, tired after dinner, tired legs with walking up stairs/hiking/skiing, low Vit D levels, ridges in my finger nails, brittle nails, I had a tooth chip while eating soft food, Raynaud’s, depression, heartburn, ringing in my ears, random shooting pain in my feet, arm, wrist, neck, knees, legs.

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Matt & I skiing in 2010, just before I changed my life.

Now: nothing. I feel tired when my two kids (a 4 yr old and an almost 2 yr old) wake me multiple times per night and I only get 4-5 hours of sleep. BUT I would argue this would be a good excuse to feel tired. I eat some breakfast, drink some lemon water, have a cup of coffee, and then I’m no longer tired.

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My daughter and I in 2017

As I grew, my list of complaints got longer. My fatigue and body stiffness worsened. I was completely functional though! Society had normalized my feelings: “Oh, I’m stiff in the morning too!” or “It’s normal to be tired after eating, it means your food is digesting” or “Growing pains are such a bummer – I remember having those!”.  I ate fairly well for our society standard. I ate veggies and fruit, I had my dairy, I had my grains, and I had meat. Why would food matter?

My road to healing part 2: why would food matter?

 

Our Microgreen Menu Entering 2018

We like to grow a wide variety of microgreens that have a wide range of flavors as well as nutrition profiles.  Some are spicy, while some are mild in flavor.   Some are crunchy and some are delicate in texture.  Some are easy to grow while others are difficult.   Most grow quickly while others can take much longer.   Many varieties we continue to grow weekly, while a few we have taken out of rotation all together.   Here is a list of our menu going into 2018.  Keep an eye out for individual varieties as well as mixes.

Radish Microgreens-
Daikon Radish are the first microgreens that we started with.  They are easy to grow and finish quickly.  We now supplement with China Rose, and Purple Radish for some additional color and crunch.   No matter the color, they all pack the full radish flavor into these lovely tall greens.   They are really perfect for your next salad or sandwich that you want a little spicy kick to.  They are a great source of Vitamin C along with many other vital vitamins and minerals.
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Mustard Microgreens-
We love the spicy flavor that these bring.  Any wasabi or horse-radish fans out there?  These extremely potent microgreens are another perfect match for any dish that needs a little added heat.   They will replace your hot sauce!  And since they can replace your hot sauce, they need to be a staple in your kitchen because they go good on everything!  Our favorite is adding them to a nice pasta dish with some colorful roasted veggies.
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Arugula Microgreens-
They have the full flavor that arugula is famous for and are so delicate you can hardly tell they there, if it weren’t for the flavor.  The perfect pair for a baked potato or added to pasta like parmesan cheese!  If your an arugula fan, these micros will be a game changer for you.   They are our lowest yielding crop as well as the most difficult to grow.  Due to this, its hit or miss if this one is available, but when it is it goes fast!
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Broccoli Microgreens-
If you need some additional nutrition of all kinds or you’re healing from an illness or disease, these should be your best friend.  We prefer broccoli Micros for their nutritional content and texture.  They are not as crunchy as radish, but not as delicate as Arugula.  Stack these high on hummus sandwhiches with some avocado and fresh tomato slices for a great lunch sandwich.  We started growing these following many reports of their nutritional punch and we can vouch for that.  Our family eats them daily, and if we don’t we feel the drag.  Great for morning, noon and night!  One small package of our greens is equal to the nutritional content of almost 2 lbs. of broccoli florets!
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Kale Microgreens-
Everyone knows of the superfood status that Kale has.  My problem with kale is that its tough to eat much of it because of the texture of full size kale.  I have even been told by people that Kale tastes “soapy”.  Well fear not!  Kale Microgreens are a perfect way to get more nutrition than even the full size kale.  Use these to top your tacos with these instead of the boring iceberg and you’ll never go back!  We also love these mixed along with broccoli, and red cabbage micros to make a great rainbow micro-green salad!
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Red Cabbage Microgreens-
The deep purple color of these popular greens are a show stopper and perfect for your next dinner party.  Your guests will enjoy the health benefits associated with that beauty!  These greens crush “bad” cholesterol and are being cheered for their nutritional potency by many recent studies.  Not to mention scientists are looking into the cancer fighting ability of all purple veggies!  These micros are so colorful that they will really stand out on your next dinner party or afternoon lunch!  Like Broccoli, these continue to be on our menu not only for the color and taste, but because they are true medicine.
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Purple Kohlrabi Microgreens-
Slightly more delicate than the Red Cabbage, but not lacking in flavor is Kohlrabi!  We grow this one for our daughter.  She has this on her plate with every meal.  It has been her favorite from day one….and she is 3!

Its versatile enough to have at breakfast and to pack away for your lunch on the trail.  They are a part of the mild mix trio that we sell and was the first purple crop that we produced.  It is still requested aside the Red Cabbage so we keep in in our main rotation!
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Cilantro Microgreens-
For the Cilantro lover out there, these are an experience to be had!  They should be a part of your next taco party or blended into your morning smoothie.  The greens are big cilantro flavor while the shell is tastes sharply of coriander spice!  This sweet green takes twice as long as any other green that we grow.  Nearly 2 weeks for germination alone!  But the wait is worth it.   Due to the constant demand, these have made their way into our weekly rotation in a limited quantity.
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Sunflower Shoots –
By far and away our most requested microgreen.   We have not found anyone that doesn’t like these crunchy snacks.  These are great to add to your next salad as it has a great crunch that will stand out amongst the mixed greens.  Our family favorite is adding them to peanut butter, honey, and banana sandwhiches.  They have a great fresh nutty taste that kiddos cannot stop snacking on.   What parent doesn’t love that?  The energy packed into these greens make them perfect to bring alongside your tail mix for a mid-hike snack!
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Pea Shoots – 
Rounding out our menu is the Pea Shoot.  These taste like a summer in the garden.   The tendrils as they are called are commonly used as an interesting garnishment, but is much more capable than that.  We started with Radish and Pea Shoots and still grow both!  We love these long and crunchy greens in wraps.   Their length and texture work perfectly in sushi and their pea flavor works well in any salad!  These hardy greens will last forever in your fridge as well.   We have reported them lasting 3-4 weeks after cutting!
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As you can see, we have a vast selection of flavors to choose from.   In addition to these, we also grow Wheat Grass, Micro-Leeks, Micro-Chives, Celery, Red Amaranth and many more that come and go throughout the year!  We love the variety that nature provides and love to hear feedback on your favorite variety.  Any varieties we arent growing that we should?  Let us know!   We love experimenting!

You can find our greens at Simple Foods Market in Salida, CO and Elephant Cloud Market in Crestone, CO.   Contact us direct for custom orders!  Happy New Year, and may 2018 be very green for your family!

Organic is the only way!

Our house is an organic only type of household.  We only purchase conventional fruit or veggies when there are no other options, which is very infrequent these days.  It’s very important to us that we don’t consume GMOs or Pesticides.  It’s also important to consume sustainably sourced products.   We think of this as the base of our attempt to have a healthy lifestyle.  All of these beliefs are also being put into practice on our growing market garden.

Today there are many books, ideas and styles of agriculture.  We fit into the small scale side of things for sure.  We utilize vertical growing in our micro green production to maximize our year round growing space.   Our micro green soil is from a local Colorado company, Paonia Soil Company.  We also compost all of our micro green waste, which goes directly back into the farm.   This composted potting soil is currently filling our raised beds that are being constructed this summer and fall.  Our seed source is always Non-GMO and it is organic whenever possible.  Due to the shear amount of seed that we require, we always use Non-GMO and search out to purchase Organic.

All of our outdoor and greenhouse gardening uses organic processes as well.   We are following a no-dig format and because were blessed with a host of free large dimensional lumber from a friend, we are constructing wood formed raised beds.   We are then filling the new constructed raised beds with a mix of compost and top soil.   We are using the compost that is coming out of our micro green operation that is supplemented with food scrap from our home kitchen.  We will then supplement with some additional finished compost from our local garden center to make the beds nice and rich.  Next season will be our first full season of our outdoor garden space so we are excited to watch as this area of our farm grow over the years!

Overall organic is the best when you’re purchasing food and other products.  The reality is there are a few areas that lends little to no options to stay the organic line.  When we are forced with choosing a conventional product we will check out the company, insure it is non-gmo, and weigh the nutritional value that is received from that particular item.  For instance, if we want to eat a papaya every once in a while, we have to go with conventional due to our remote Colorado location.  We choose to do this every once in a while when they are in season and we do it as a treat, very sparingly.   We never choose to purchase conventional veggies like carrots, onions, broccoli or cauliflower as they are almost always available in organic form, or will be restocked shortly.

So that’s our long and short about organic in our household, but more importantly how our farm operates.  Our outgoing produce is not certified but always grown organically!

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