Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Garden Science, Food in America & a Raisin Bar Recipe

I have been reading a lot of books about gardening and food.  Oh my, I've learned so much about our food sources...  I went on for so long, I pushed my thoughts/rants down to later in this post.

Anyway, I told LD that he could have his own plot in the garden and he could choose whatever seeds he wanted to plant. He is SO excited and wanted to start immediately.  We've been talking about how to get the garden ready, fertilizer and so forth.  We saw in a book from the library, Kids Garden, that we could create our own worm compost right in the (plastic bin in the) kitchen and LD was all for it. That was right up the kids' alley! So, we dug up a bunch of earth worms, put shredded newspaper down at the bottom of the bin, and mixed some kitchen scraps with dirt.

As you can imagine, we've then studied the earthworms, looked online as to how worms move, grow, and help the soil. Lots of earthworm learning!

One thing we learned is that earthworms are not native to America and that they take some of the nutrients deeper than some of the native plants can use (they showed a picture of ferns, but I don't know if they meant ferns specifically). It has altered the way native plants grow in the undergrowth. Since we live in the woods, I found this particularly interesting.

 Now back to what I've learned lately...  I was reading a number of books about gardening and organic gardening.  From there I learned about GMOs.  Having lived abroad, I didn't may the debate about genetically modified foods much mind. (That and I was busy with infants, you know how that goes!!)   If you haven't seen 1) The Future of Food, 2) Food Inc. and/or 3) Food Matters, they sure make compelling arguments as to why we should be concerned about why our food is not labeled as genetically modified. (These movies are available at Netflix and I watched them while running on the treadmill.)  Over in Australia (and also in Europe) food has to be labeled as Genetically Modified (GM), but here the large corporations have managed to avoid having to do that. That, despite the fact that these foods include slices of genetic material from viruses, bacteria, and other organisms (pigs, etc.). Now the majority of American corn and soy beans are GM (and that trickles down to mean that at least 60% of the products in our grocery stores were made with GM foods).  Did you know, the safety of these GMOs are tested by the companies that make and develop them (not our government or a government agency!!)??!!!   These movies also show how many government officials in FDA and Dept. of Agriculture posts have been taken straight from companies such as Monsanto which develop and produce these genetically modified seeds. As recently as couple weeks ago I saw in the New York Times that the government re-approved GM alphalfa despite calls for further study as to the safety of these seeds which had halted planting.

Anyway, that's what I've been doing -- trying to read up and be aware of what our family eats.  I mentioned some months back that I also have done some reading about the problems with high fructose corn syrup (I have a couple links to some videos here)... The thing that I remember most about that video was that drinking a can of coke is as toxic to your system and makes your liver work as hard as a can of beer.  Having had a close relative die of alcoholism -- and knowing that her liver was probably destroyed by alcohol it sent up huge warning bells for me.  YIKES! 

In an effort to know what ingredients are in the (junk) food my kids eat I've been trying new recipes.  These raisin bars are so good!! My kids absolutely loved them... even more than the Homemade Nutrigrain Bars that I've been making.

Raisin Bars:

Here's how I made them:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat (wholemeal) flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats (I used the non-instant oatmeal I had on hand)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup butter (softened)

FILLING:
in a saucepan combine 3/4 cup water, 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 2 tsp. corn starch. Add 1 1/4 cup raisins. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. (I wasn't sure how long and I did mine for nearly 10 minutes.)

Press a little more than half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of a greased glass pan.  Spoon on the raisin filling. Then sprinkle more oatmeal mixture on top.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book

1 comment:

  1. oh those bars sound yummy. You could also try replacing the sugar with Coconut Sugar, a healthier alternative and so far I have had good results with. :-)

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