Saturday, May 21, 2005

Local Harvest -- Best Organic Food Directory

Local Harvest is the best web site I've found for locating nearby farmer's markets, organic restaurants and stores, and especially farmers ready to sell all kinds of organic or naturally grown produce, meats and other goodies. The interface starts with a map of the US where one can click on an area and continue to zoom in or out. Different kinds of outlets are indicated by color coded dots. This site has far more farmers listed than any other site I've seen. Buying local is an awesome way to eat well and save the fuel required for transportation from afar. As oil prices remain high, this should make local produce more desirable. I encourage all organic farmers to get a free listing on the site. Here's the opening from the site:

The freshest, healthiest, most flavorful organic food is what's grown closest to you. Use our website to find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies. Just click on the map below to zoom in, or use our search form for quick results. If you are a farmer, market manager, or run a business related to locally-grown food, you can add your listing to our directory - free.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Stevia, The Amazing Sweet Leaf

Trying to cut down on sugar and calories? Trying to avoid aspartame and other chemical sweeteners? Stevia may be the answer. Stevia rebaudiana is an inconspicuous perennial plant native to subtropical regions of South America. An extract of the sweet component called glycosides is over 200 times sweeter than sugar, but it's OK for diabetics and hypoglycemics as it does not cause swings in blood sugar. It's also virtually calorie free. The intensity of sweetness means you use very little and recipes need to be altered because it doesn't provide the bulk that sugar does. That's why I wrote Stevia Sweet Recipes. Check out some free recipes from the book. You can try your own recipe modifications as well.

If you're a gardener try growing stevia. You can make your own green stevia powder from dried leaves. It's around 10-15 times sweet than sugar, but does have a different taste that takes some getting used to. We like it just fine in many recipes. It's especially good in tea or other drinks. I'm trying stevia plants from several companies this year. I just planted them out two days ago and I am looking forward to finding out which ones taste best and grow best. I'll keep you informed. I'm also continuing research on stevia seed production that I started in college at Northwest Missouri State University with a research project.