Eat Your Veggies & Have a Meatball

I can’t be the only one who excitedly buys a bunch of veggies only to come back to the fridge after a few days and see them starting to wilt.

They’re a little mushy, definitely not crisp, and definitely not very flavorful.

You might be tempted to throw them right in the trash, but there’s another solution for the waste!

So here’s the tip:

Use your leftover, on the edge veg for meatball add-ins. Just chop them finely or grate them, and give those meatballs a little extra bulk and nutrients. Much better than having your money go straight into the trash instead of your stomach where they belong.

Let me know if you try this out 🙂 the soil that grew those vegetables will thank you.

That’s all for now.

As always,

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

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A Cabin In The Woods

This Labor Day weekend I’ve had the pleasure of spending time in Northern Wisconsin with my family. My stepdad has a perfectly lovely cabin right on Chain O Lakes.

Here’s a few things the stars, trees, water, and crisp air have taught me:

Keep your head up and shoot for the stars. (Yeah lame, I know. But true.)

Be grateful for what holds you up. The ground has always got your back.

Calmness is exuded from trees. Be near trees.

My personal favorite- We all have a little kid in us. Don’t forget to let that part of you let loose once in a while. Your adult self will thank you for canon balling into the lake for the fifth time.

We all succumb to the grind of life. That’s okay. But when we take time to watch the stars twinkle, we remember we are just little mini life forms hanging out on a giant marble.

Are you the type of person who gets happy looking at the sunset?

That’s all for now!

As always…

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

All Magic Has It’s Price

I had a conversation with my mom the other day, and she was telling me about a documentary she watched that slammed renewable energy like wind and solar.

I’ve written before about all of the issues with renewables. They are definitely not perfect. Yet, neither is conventional coal or natural gas by ANY means.

Energy works like magic. It gives the ability to do the once unimaginable. All magic has its price, and all energy has its price, too.

I don’t know if we will ever find an energy source or system that does not cause negative ramifications in some way.

Water energy impacts aquatic life immensely, natural gas hydraulic fracturing impacts our water table, solar electric requires lots of land and extraction resources, and coal and oil pollute the air and waterways with all sorts of toxins. I really can’t think of a 100% no mess energy system that exists. Even biofuels impact our soil quality.

Anyways, just thought I’d share this experience and thought process.

If you could design the energy system, what would it look like?

As always,

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Don’t Abide by the Pesticide


Who doesn’t enjoy biting into a
juicy strawberry or slurping on an orange
slice? The sweet yet sour flavors make
these fruits a staple in most American
diets, and they are especially popular
among youngsters. 🍓🍊

Yet, the mass
production of these delightful fruits
comes at a cost – the usage of herbicides
and pesticides.

For most conventional (and even some organic!) produce, this is a very familiar sight.

At this point in time, the
dangerous, life-threatening effects (especially for agricultural workers) of using chemicals on the produce we eat is well-known. Cancers, disruptions to our endocrine (hormonal), nervous, and immune systems, and more are all exacerbated by sprayed chemicals. These “cides” are also a burden to our environment.

So, these are the dangers. But what can we do?

Well, first off, we can grow these yummy berries or citrus foods right in our own backyard! That way, we know exactly what is being applied, in what quantity, and for how long.

If this is not possible, then consider buying organic if that is within budget (I have found organic is sometimes cheaper, especially when selecting in-season fruits or vegetables). You can also reach out to you state and local representatives urging them to support legislation against heavy chemical use on our food. Finally, consider eating some of the “Clean” (or least contaminated by fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides) fruits and vegetables, like pineapples, papayas, or kiwi.1

Our gut microbiome can stay resilient to harmful bacteria or viruses when it is not inundated with pesticides and other chemicals. A healthy gut means a
healthy and happy life!

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany


Resources: (1) https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php

Food Animal Concerns Trust

Hi all.

Just wanted to take the time to share this message from the Food Animals Concerns Trust.

If you care about your health, animal welfare, or the environment, then you should totally check out this organization!

Enjoy 🙂

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Miraculous Abundance

– a book review-

Two farmers in France share their journey in creating a lush, bountiful microfarm with the potential to feed hundreds, even thousands, of people on only a few acres. Truly revolutionary and what many believe to be the future of agriculture.

Mainly, they give a brief overview of some of their methodology and challenges. Since they only really scratch the surface and never get specific about how other land stewards can tend to the garden – I give this one an 8/10.


Here are some of their practices!

  • Mandala Garden. (Layout garden in the shape of a mandala to promote proper rotational cropping and honor thousand year old tradition.)
  • Go Slowly.
  • See problems as a resource. See waste as a resource. (When turning thin soil into vibrant soil, you’ll need tons, TONS, of “waste”.)
  • The Hotbed Technique.
  • The Forest Garden.
  • Diversify, Diversify, Diversify. This is the most important point that the authors continually go back to. If you have an orchard, add chickens to munch on the tree scraps, aerate soil, and you can also use them for profit. If you have chickens, add cattle because the chickens will aid in spreading out their dung, thus helping in soil productivity (and another profit stream).
  • Be wary of the end of oil. They spend a decent amount of time on this. When developing your farm, try to stay away from relying heavily on anything with a fuel tank that is not a mouth.

These are really only a handful of the dozens of techniques mentioned throughout the literature.

If you’re a beginner to regenerative farming, I’d totally recommend this. They do a nice job of showing you what’s out there and what you may be able to utilize. They are trusted and successful land stewards.

If you’re looking for detailed and concrete explanations of how to garden or farm, check out some of my other posts for recommendations!

Before I leave, I’d like to share only *one* of my favorite quotes from the book (although there were many lines that made me smile, laugh, and/or cry).

You think you can stamp on that caterpillar?

All right, you’ve done it. It wasn’t difficult.

And now, make that caterpillar again…

Lanza del Vasto

Thanks for reading! Comment if you’ve already read or are planning to read this wonderful book. Books like this give me incredible hope – I bet it will for you, too.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

A Merciless Tale of Monarchs and Maize

These is something fulfilling about waking through a field of grasses and flowers, all a slightly different shade of green and brown with pops of color, while a butterfly floats past into the abyss. This scene is all too familiar in the Corn Belt of America. Although, this melodious image is too quickly transforming into barren fields of nothing but corn rows.

Before the corn takeover, this region in Central America was (and in some places still is) composed of a compilation of ecosystems like wetlands, prairies and forests. The lush natural landscapes are home to an abundance of species, all working together to provide humanity and the world with services like sustaining, provisioning, regulating, and cultural services. However, hundreds of acres of one crop (monocrop) fail horrendously to produce such accomplishments.

The Corn Belt supports a wide range of species. The most iconic, arguably, is the Monarch Butterfly. Elementary children of the Midwest likely recall watching these little critters bloom from caterpillars to beautiful flying creatures as they released them from their classroom. But, most kids – and adults – likely do not totally grasp the importance of monarchs.

Outside of their beauty, monarch’s are most well known for being pollinators. We all know pollinators are important. They provide us with our plump juicy tomatoes to chop up and put in our salads or blend with garlic to spread on fresh bread (1).

Plants rely on pollinators to fertilize their female organs from their male organs. Unfortunately, monarchs and other pollinators are losing their resources for reproduction, like milkweed and other plants. Corn is taking over pollinators resources, making it harder (and more expensive!!!) to grow fruits and veggies that give us pizza, BLTs, and pasta sauce.

In the last 160 years or so, Illinois has lost over 90% of its wetlands, 99% of prairies and 80% of forests (5).

What’s the problem with corn replacing these lands? Well, maize fields lack regulating services (atmospheric carbon sequestration, stabilization against soil erosion), is unstable (it is readily ravaged by pests and invaded by exotics), steadily loses nutrients (in the absence of legumes), lacks many cultural services prairies provide (aesthetic and inspirational value), and comes up short on most other ecosystem functions and services even though it gets high marks for food production (4).

So, the previous wetlands, forests and prairies that once serviced us in wastewater treatment, stormwater management, recreation, aesthetics, and habitat are practically gone (2).

Fields of one species may appear profitable and serviceable, but this is unnatural and has deep ramifications for ecosystem function.

The United States produces approximately 40%–45% of the world’s corn supply and is responsible for 70% of the total global exports (3). Corn is a major resource to our modern world. Everyone who uses batteries, consumes packaged foods, and eats conventional meat is supporting the saturation of the ecosystem.

Ecological fate has three choices. We can either attain a life-sustaining equilibrium, oscillate between harsh and equitable conditions, or collapse to sterility.

A wise man would likely strive for the first option. But, at least for now, maize trumps monarchs, and that is the merciless truth.

What are your thoughts on this subject?

Thanks for reading.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Resources

(1) Andrés, José. (2014, Sept. 23). Why We Need to Protect Monarch Butterflies. National Geographic. Retrieved from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/jose- andres-why-we-need-to-protect-monarch-butterflies
(2) Childers, D., Cadenasso, M., Morgan Grove, J., Marshall, V., McGrath, B., & Pickett, S. (2015). An ecology for cities: A transformational nexus of design and ecology to advance climate change resilience and urban sustainability. Sustainability (Basel,
Switzerland), 7(4), 3774–3791. https://doi.org/10.3390/su7043774
(3) Kucharik, C., & Ramankutty, N. (2005). Trends and variability in U.S. Corn yields over the twentieth century. Earth Interactions, 9(1), 1–29. https://doi.org/10.1175/EI098.1
(4) Levin, S. A., & Carpenter, S. R. (2012). The Princeton guide to ecology. Princeton University Press.
(5) University of Illinois. (2021). Ecosystems and Habitats in Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey, Ecosystems and Habitat https://www.inhs.illinois.edu/outreach/habitats/.

welcome to the blog!

Hi all. My name is Tiffany, and I am stoked to be sharing my knowledge and passion with the world. I am a farmer, graduate with a BS of Science in Sustainability, and an avid reader.

My journey in living a sustainable lifestyle peeled open about seven years ago when I took an English course my first year of college. The entire semester we had to read and write about perspective problems in society, like social media, technology, fossil fuels, and food. The food one really sparked something in me. The next semester, I volunteered as a note-taker for a lower level English class. In that one, the entire semester was focused on the food industry. That spark in me really began to spew.

While before these experiences I had heard about factory farms, the entire reality of them never really struck through to me. I loved, and still love, meat. But, our meat does not have to be produced and processed the way our government and the industry seems “necessary”. A massive goal in my lifetime is to eradicate CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). My hope is that the people I reach will aid me in this goal.

A few months later, one of my coworkers – who I now consider a spiritual guide in my life – commented on my acne. She alluded to the idea that the craters on my face could be from eating processed meat. The next week, she brought me a book titled Skinny Bitch. I was on the very last page of the book when I called my boyfriend sobbing to him that I would never eat meat again. The next day, I went vegan – cold turkey. My dedication for food and the planet quickly became my life’s purpose.

A few years later, after much more education and experience on land and climate management, I’m no longer vegan. But, I still believe, and have an overwhelming desire to share, that the food we grow and eat is vital to the survival of human existence – both in the present and in the long-term future. We have SO much power. I whole-heartedly believe that with food we can and will overcome the cumbersome threats to humanity.

This is Daisy. She’s one of the ladies I have the pleasure of working with on a regenerative farm in Northern Illinois.

Now that that little debrief is over… In this blog, you can expect plenty of reviews and briefs of my recent reads. These will mainly be regarding regenerative farming, homesteading, the magic behind nature, sustainable lifestyles, and soil. You will also find studies and research on all things sustainability, from agrivoltaics to cows, and from nuclear to pollinators and more.

I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I love writing! If you ever want any information on a specific topic, or just to chat, please reach out!

All the best for now.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Reach me at tiffany.hoffmann@icloud.com