Real Food
Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.

The Secret to Affording Organic Food, Part 1

Organic Food 

My solution is this: A Grocery Expenses Chart. You can print it here or on my website, or you can simply use a good old fashioned notebook with lines. I use a chart every week to track my expenses and budget for the next week. It helps my family live a healthy lifestyle within a reasonable budget. We buy very high-quality raw ingredients, versus processed expensive organic food. We also will be growing a lot of food this upcoming year, so hopefully our grocery bill will go down a lot.

Chart Example

How to Use My Chart

Set a monthly goal at the top of the page.

Mark the Trip # in the month (so, if this is your first trip to the store in February, mark down #1). This helps provide a visual so that it’s easy to break up each month’s spending. Also, if you forgot the date you went to the store, you will know what trip # it was. It’s not a necessary feature, but one I find that is helpful. Mark down the date that you went to the store.
Save your receipts so that you can mark the subtotal down after each individual store run (even if you only spent $20!).
Don’t forget to add any Amazon or other online food purchases!
In the Notes section, comment on what items were indulgences or treats. In other words, where can you improve for next time? What items are over $10?
Add up the totals as you go in the Running Total section (so each trip in the month is added to the previous subtotal). Once you finish the month, start noting Trip #1 again for the next month.

Why Track $10 Items?

Did you know that if your organic butter costs $10 per pound and you buy 2 every week, you spend $1,040 on butter alone every year? This also means that you have to earn about twice that in your job just to pay for the butter (due to taxes taking roughly half of your earnings). Something that is seemingly low-cost can really add up over time. It pays to focus on those $10 indulgences, because if you get two $10 treats each time you go to the store, you are then spending that same amount on a treat instead of for something that is really necessary for the family’s survival.

Other Ways to Save

We also buy our meat, grain, sugar, and some dried fruit in bulk (25lb or 50lb bags) straight from a grain mill in our province. This way we spend drastically less than buying little cute packages of dried fruit, chia seeds, or rice. You pay for that pretty packaging!

Sprouting seeds in winter is my favorite way to grow salad greens and save on my fresh produce bill. No sense in paying $4 for a bell pepper when you can sprout your own seeds for a fraction of the cost. In my newest book, I teach you how to sprout seeds, which I call “No-Fail Gardening”, because it’s so easy!

Here is a chart you can print off! If it doesn't print properly, you can go to my website and download it in PDF format.


In Part 2, I’ll cover the top cheapest organic products you can buy on a budget and still feed your family healthy nutritious meals!

Rosemary Hansen is an author, homesteading Mama, and a chef. She has spent the last 10 years “homesteading” in the city. She and her family have just started their off-grid homestead in rural British Columbia, Canada. Her books, Grow a Salad In Your City Apartment and Rosemary’s Natural Cosmetic Guide are a great way to ease into a healthy, pure lifestyle. You can connect with Rosemary at her website: or on her YouTube channel. Read all of Rosemary's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Convenient Small Kitchen Appliances

small kitchen appliances

Modern pressure cookers offer plenty of options in addition to cooking under pressure. Photo by Carole Coates

I recently wrote about some kitchen tools I wouldn’t want to be without. Today I’m sharing two more. To be honest, if you’ve never had them, you’ll never miss them. That said, in my opinion they make cooking much faster, easier, and more versatile. These two modern inventions are the electric pressure cooker and the air fryer.

Electric Pressure Cooker

If you’re afraid of pressure cookers, you may not know how much they’ve changed over the years, whether electric or stove top. Today’s cookers have multiple safety features built in. Your job is to become familiar with the appliance and follow all the instructions: clean and check the vent hole and gasket, don’t use too little or too much liquid, use a trusted recipe.

What I like about the electric pressure cooker is how easy it is to operate. It’s basically a ‘set and forget’ appliance. The second thing I like is its multi-functionality. Depending on the model you purchase, you can even use it to make yogurt. I love that I can cook up large batches of rice or dried beans to store in the freezer in appropriately sized containers for quick and easy future meals. I can also prepare scrumptious one-dish meals in it. No muss, no fuss. Some people even take their pressure cookers on camping trips, business travel or vacations. Yes, you can prepare a hot home-cooked meal in your hotel room with an electric pressure cooker.

From start to finish, cooking with pressure may take about as long as using your stove top; however, using a pressure cooker frees up the cook’s time, since there’s no stirring, no watching the pot. Like I said, set it and forget it. That’s no small bonus. It also uses less energy and keeps the kitchen cooler than using a stove’s burner.

Like most things, if you don’t make a real commitment to it, you’ll probably find your pressure cooker gathering dust. After all, it’s a whole new way of food preparation. But there are some excellent resources, both online and hard copy, to help you turn it into an everyday convenience. If you invest in one, be sure to invest in a good pressure cooker cookbook—and use it. Registered dietitian Jill Nussinow is a pressure cooker advocate and has several excellent cookbooks out there. 

Air Fryer

What a contradiction in terms! It never made sense to me, so I ignored the hype. But once I entered the world of pressure cooking social media groups, I heard as much about air frying as pressure cooking. Some folks love their air fryers so much they own two, three, or more of them. I don’t have that much space. In fact, my biggest complaint about air fryers is the room they take up. I’ve had to make an exception to my clutter-free-counter rule for this gadget. But since I use it most every day, I’m not complaining.

With an air fryer, you can prepare foods you’d typically fry, except you use very little or even no oil. I’ve stayed away from lots of foods I love because deep frying doesn’t happen in my kitchen. Now, I can have some of those special treats. Imagine french fries without the fat calories!

The air fryer is also faster and less messy than conventional frying or roasting. Yes, you can use the air fryer to roast. You can and also bake cookies and (small) cakes. My air fryer is easy to clean, too. Like pressure cookers, air fryers use less energy and keep the kitchen cooler than a stove top—and especially an oven. You heat a much smaller space with an air fryer.

Aside from the counter space it requires, that’s the other complaint some folks have. Even though my air fryer has a pretty big footprint, it doesn’t cook a lot of food at a time. In my family of two, that’s not a problem, but for a large family, you’ll want to upsize.

Again, social media and a good cookbook will help you out. JL Fields, founder and culinary director of the Colorado Springs Vegan Cooking Academy, is a super resource. I use her cookbook on vegan air frying regularly. If you join an air fryer social media group, you’ll learn all sorts of tricks and short cuts, and you’re almost guaranteed to become addicted to air frying.

Some people think of meat when they think about pressure cooking and air frying, but both appliances are just as useful, if not more so, for vegetarians and vegans, perhaps bringing much more variety into the diet. The air fryer works wonders with tofu!

If you’re looking to change up your food preparation and eating habits a bit, you might want to look into the worlds of pressure cooking and air frying. You can pay anywhere from $35 - $200 for an electric pressure cooker, with most falling in the $60-$120 range, but you can often find them on sale. Air fryers are generally a little less pricey.

Carole Coates is a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog posts here. You can also find Carole at Living On the Diagonal where she shares her take on life including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

7 Natural Foods for the Inspired Kitchen: Spiced Water, Dessert Hummus, Jackfruit and More


Having an assortment of staple foods for cooking on your homestead is excellent for when you want to cook crowd-pleasing dishes you can make almost without thinking about it. However, it's also fantastic to regularly learn to cook new recipes instead of always eating the same things.

By doing that, you'll become more confident in the kitchen and realize you're more than capable of diversifying your methods. Moreover, the learning and exploration processes encourage you to venture outside of your comfort zone.

Once you test some of the items on the list below, you may realize you're ready to learn other new things in the months to come, too.

At first, change may feel intimidating, but in this case, it's the best way to learn about new things you can create in the kitchen. Some of the seven ideas mentioned here may become your new favorites.

1. Seed Butter

Most people have heard of options like almond butter, but there's an emerging trend of individuals branching out beyond nuts when they make spreads. More specifically, they're turning to seeds.

Sunflower seeds are a popular option, and that's partly because almost 90 percent of the fats they contain are unsaturated. Plus, these seeds have more Vitamin E and magnesium than peanut butter.

Pumpkin seed butter is another possibility, especially after carving pumpkins to celebrate Halloween. Some people also add cinnamon to the mixture for a flavorful kick.

You can even make watermelon seed butter, which is exceptionally high in protein. Consider adding it as a condiment if you or someone in the home is a vegetarian or an athlete who needs higher-than-average amounts of protein.

2. Pegan Recipes

The pegan diet combines some elements of the Paleo diet and eating vegan. But, it's a bit more complicated than merely adding aspects of both of those popular diets together. For example, you can eat meat, fish, vegetables and fruits but should avoid legumes, sugar, dairy and processed foods.

The pegan way of eating became known in 2014 but has rapidly gained momentum since then. If you're interested in giving it a go, consider picking up a few cookbooks with pegan recipes. Then, you can spend more time working with tasty ingredients that blend well together instead of engaging in potentially frustrating trial and error.

3. Spiced Water

Pinterest is typically a go-to place to find out about trends, and statistics show a 353-percent increase in searches on the site for spiced water. Ginger is one of the frequently used spices for the beverage due to its anti-inflammatory properties and the fact it's an antioxidant. Also, consider adding lemon if you want to tone down the punch of the ginger a bit.

Alternatively, if you have some fresh cucumber, think about combining up to eight slices of it with three to four mint leaves and one to two teaspoons of cumin. Then, add all that to eight cups of water.

Those are just a few possibilities for how you could make water less boring without depending on artificial additives.

4. Jackfruit

The jackfruit tree is related to the fig family, and when eaten raw and ripe, jackfruit tastes similar to pineapple or mango. However, you can also use the versatile jackfruit unripened in your recipes. Then, the flavor is more neutral, like a potato, and makes dishes more savory.

Many people who eat plant-based diets know jackfruit as a meat substitute often used in sliders that mimic pork barbecue. It also works well as a filling for tacos or burritos. In case you needed more evidence that jackfruit is set to take the mainstream by storm, Trader Joe's announced a jackfruit cake as one of its first products of 2019.

5. Dessert Hummus

People often spread hummus made from chickpeas or beetroot onto crackers and veggies or plop dollops of it into bowls of salad. But now, there are options for chowing down on hummus as a way to end a meal. People are becoming increasingly interested in dessert hummus, thanks in part to a pitch on "Shark Tank" a few years ago.

Once the first brand hit the market, people started experimenting to create their own. You could make snickerdoodle dessert hummus, featuring cookie dough and cinnamon, or go with the always-pleasing flavor of dark chocolate.

6. Sri Lankan Cuisine

There was a time when most people only saw Sri Lankan food grouped with Indian fare on a menu. However, it has recently distinguished itself. Curry is a staple dish, served on a bed of steamed or boiled rice. There is even a curry made from jackfruit. It's called polos, and you might feel ready to try making it once you become familiar with jackfruit-based cooking.

Otherwise, there's a dish called kottu. It's a stir-fry made with shredded roti bread and vegetables. You can also add eggs, cheese or meat.

7. Ugly Fruit and Vegetables

When you look at the produce section of a supermarket, the fruits and vegetables there probably look much different than the stuff taken from your garden. That's because stores often only use the pieces that are most attractive.

But, there's a push toward using every piece of produce possible, no matter how misshapen or "ugly" it is. Some stores package it together and offer it to shoppers at a discounted price. Some delivery services are even starting up in major cities that specialize in sending boxes of ugly fruit and vegetables to their customers.

Such a service might not serve your area, but it shows how people realize that ugly fruit and veg still taste good despite their appearances.

Research New Recipes Today

This list is a great place to start as you diversify your recipes this year. Now is the time to try some of these suggestions and see which ones you like best!

Photo Source

Kayla Matthews writes and blogs about healthy living, sustainable consumption, eco-friendly practices and green energy. In the past, her work has also been featured on Grit, Mother Earth Living, Blue And Green Tomorrow, Dwell and Houzz. To read more from Kayla, follow her productivity and lifestyle blog: Productivity Theory.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Inspiring Children To Appreciate Real Food

Child Gardening

Real food has become a high priority in our lives. We want our children to understand the difference between food and food-like substances. We want them to choose real food. As a result, we’ve given much thought to integrating an appreciation for real food into our family’s culture. Below is a list of some thoughts we’ve compiled on ways to teach children about truly nourishing food. We’ve done each of these suggestions to some extent and our children are more knowledgeable about food than their peers, and even if they find a dish unappealing, are swayed to give it a try knowing that we would only serve them what is best for them. Though they still let us know they don’t like it!

Educate yourself first

We’ve watched, listened to, and read material by people whose goal it is to promote sustainability and real food. We scour these resources for ideas, inspirations, and tips. Having knowledge about the topic gives us plenty of material to offer curious children when a teachable moment presents itself.

When the atmosphere of a home includes books, magazines, podcasts, and videos about sustainability and food production, the children can’t help but pick up on the fact that this is something important to their parents. The print material is available for them to pick-up; they hear the audio played in the vehicle; and when suitable, watch how-to videos and vlogs. In our home, we all like to watch the vlogs from Abundant Permaculture because they show an entire family working together to raise their own food. I must confess, we share these vlogs with our children in the hopes of inspiring them to pitch in and help more.

Take advantage of teachable moments

Plenty of opportunities to discuss food come about when you go shopping with children! The list of possibilities is almost endless: why we choose not to buy a given product, why we choose non-GMO, why we buy the produce from the local market instead of the chain store, why we seek out and travel for certain items, why we buy in bulk and in-season and store or preserve the abundance.

An area in which we struggle in getting the message through is candy and chocolate. We’ve got a sweet tooth! For the most part, we are replacing refined white sugar with natural sweeteners and exploiting our local honey and maple syrup. But the purchased candies and chocolates still make their way into our home. The silver lining is that we have an opportunity to teach our children moderation and restraint. And to remind them that the only people to really gain from the consumption of that treat are those who profit from its sale.

Highlight the quality of the food you serve

Parents are notorious for telling their children what to do, but then doing the opposite themselves. Sharing a meal together is an opportunity to talk the talk AND walk the walk. Both parents and children are eating the same food and sharing in the benefits that food provides. So why not discuss it over the meal?

This could be the time you tell the children why you serve salmon (from a sustainable fishery, of course) instead of fish sticks. You can highlight what it is salmon provides to help growing minds and bodies. If nutritional science is something that interests you, tell them some more precise nutritional values of the food. At a minimum, you could acknowledge that you are eating real food, not food-like substances produced by the industrial food chain, and that you’ve chosen to serve it to them because it provides essential nutrition.

Grow something and eat it

I’ve heard it said before that growing your own food is a revolutionary act. By growing something to eat, a person learns to appreciate where their food comes from. For them, quality becomes important. When purchasing food, the story behind the food begins to have meaning and through his or her food choices, a person is gaining the power to influence the food culture for the better. Even though children likely won’t be buying their own food, if they can witness something nutritious being grown and then eat it themselves, they will have a memory of that taste as a benchmark to compare to in the future.    

When we sit down to a meal we like to point out all the items which we produced ourselves that went into preparing that meal. “We’re eating our eggs, spinach, onions, and garlic in this omelette. Do you want a slice of homemade sourdough bread to go with it?” It has become a sort of game we play: how many things in this meal did we produce ourselves? The downside to this is realizing how much more you wish you could produce yourself. Like, a dairy cow, so you could spread your own butter on that piece of homemade sourdough toast?

Even better, have the children grow something and prepare it themselves

If children can experience for themselves the work that goes into growing something to eat, they are going to have a deeper appreciation for what it takes to produce food. They’ll also be more likely to try the dish prepared with the item, especially if they helped to make it. My daughters once surprised me with an experimental cake they called Max Cake with ingredients they kind of knew I used for baking. The result was edible, technically. They, however, thought it was amazing and ate far more than I was able to. I’m sure that if they did not make the cake themselves, they would have refused to eat it. Of course, a homegrown item would receive more care in its preparation and may even convert a finicky eater to “be willing to eat that vegetable again.”

In the end, the exercise of growing, preparing, and eating something they grew themselves should impress upon children the amount of work that goes into food production. Ideally, they would value the taste of fresh food and will want to try growing something again. Or, they will want to try cooking more dishes themselves and develop an appreciation for real food from the preparation angle. In the end, the hope would be that by putting children in contact with producing and preparing the food, they will inherit a deeper appreciation for the true cost of food.

Preserve in-season fruit and serve it during the off-season

Take advantage of the bounty when fruits are in season and put some up for the coming dearth. Peaches work well for this. When they arrive at the farmers market you can purchase them by the basketful. Involve the children in part of the process too, so they feel a sense of ownership. Opening those jars of peaches during February can be a cause for celebration. And the grocery store peach will pale in comparison forevermore. And that, my friend, is the whole point.

What do you do in your home to celebrate an appreciation for real food?

Rebecca Harrold homesteads and homeschools on a 23-acre property in rural Ontario, where she is engaged with all types of wiser living skills. She believes that restoring the land to its healthy, sustainable state will increase its resilience, and in turn, the resilience of the people who depend upon it. Connect with Rebecca at Harrold Country Home and on Instagram. Read all of Rebecca’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Teriyaki Farm Greens

 Teriyaki Farm Greens

After a bountiful harvest with our CSA, we’ve stored up some farm greens in our freezer and also are growing kale in the garden this mild winter. So, I wanted to use them up and add a little spice kick to them! This recipe makes Teriyaki sauce from scratch, which in my opinion, is far superior to bottled Teriyaki sauce. All it takes is some fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce, honey, and a few other easy ingredients.

I love serving these leafy greens with white rice, and the sauce is strong enough that you won’t need to put soy sauce on your rice.

My recipes are very flexible, as I know most busy cooks don’t have the time to pick out exact ingredients or go back to the store for one particular thing. You can substitute with any number of vegetables, which I will list below. Feel free to use up pantry items in here too, such as white beans, lentils, and quinoa or millet in place of rice.

Finished meal

Teriyaki Farm Greens Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes; Cooking Time: 10-30 minutes

Yield: 9 servings (if including meat), 4 (if just greens)


2 tbsp butter
½ large white onion, chopped
1 big bunch of kale/chard/spinach/collard greens torn into small pieces
½ cup cooked white cannelini or navy beans (optional)
1 pound ground beef or pork, thawed (try to find Certified Animal Welfare Approved meat)
cooked organic white jasmine rice or quinoa

Sauce Ingredients

1 tbsp ginger, fresh minced
1 tsp garlic, raw minced
½  cup soy sauce (organic)
¼  cup water
¼  cup honey or maple syrup
¼  cup green onions cut fine (optional)
squirt of hot sauce (optional)
1 tsp chili flakes


1. Melt the butter in a medium frying pan.

2. Add your chopped white onion and cook on medium low until onions are translucent.

3. While onions are cooking, combine the teriyaki sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until it is combined.

4. Add greens to the onions and spoon about ½ of the teriyaki sauce over top.

5. Add optional meat, beans, and any other veggies that you have in the fridge.

6. Break up the meat into bite-sized pieces. Cook, covered, until veggies are tender and meat is thoroughly cooked (180 degrees Fahrenheit) between 10-30 minutes. Stir occasionally to spread the juices around.

7. If you are using hard vegetables, such as carrots or broccoli, cook those separately first, and then add greens about 5 minutes before the end of cooking.

8. Turn off the heat and serve over a bed of cooked rice and spoon extra sauce over top. Garnish with corn relish or kimchi.

Other vegetable options:

Thinly sliced celery
Thinly sliced carrots
Broccoli cut into small chunks
Bell peppers, chopped
Green beans
Green onions
Beet greens
Mustard Greens

What are your favorite ways to use up extra greens from the garden?

Rosemary Hansen is an author, homesteading Mama, and a chef. She has spent the last 10 years “homesteading” in the city. She and her family have just started their off-grid homestead in rural British Columbia, Canada. Her books, Grow a Salad In Your City Apartment and Rosemary’s Natural Cosmetic Guide are a great way to ease into a healthy, pure lifestyle. You can connect with Rosemary at her website: or on her YouTube channel.



All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Dehydrating Food at Home

Anyone who knows me knows that I, for some reason, have always been deeply interested in dehydrated food, which as I child (and occasionally as an adult), I just referred to as “space food.” I can’t help but associate dehydrated food with the souvenir dehydrated ice cream sandwiches I used to buy at the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. on school trips. Today though, I know that more than just astronauts get to reap the benefits of a dehydrator.

This year, I finally was able to make my own “space food,” and it was a much different experience than I thought. I went to the grocery store and bought a combination of obvious and weird foods to dehydrate. I went for the typical bananas and apples and strawberries, but I also ended up with a big chunk a mozzarella cheese and Oreos in my cart, too. I completely admit that when I grabbed the Oreos, I was 100 percent picturing the souvenir dried ice cream sandwiches again, and I was thinking I could finally make my own.

I used the Weston 6-Tray Digital Dehydrator from the Mother Earth News store. One of my primary concerns was that it’d be difficult to figure out how to use — I kept thinking about how if NASA was behind “space food,” it had to be complicated.

Luckily, it was anything but. The directions included a chart of common fruits and veggies to dehydrate, with suggested times and temperatures for each, which made my life a lot easier. I was a little surprised though by how long it suggested putting some things in; I left most foods in for over 9 hours! When I first imagined dehydrating food, I have to admit that I thought it would be instantaneous, so that caught me off guard.

The 6 trays were able to fit most of the foods that I bought in the first round. I even used some of the leftover mango pulp to create a mango-strawberry fruit roll up. I tried to add in a mix of things, so I could get a good feel for how the Weston dehydrator dried everything. I pretty much knew I didn’t have to worry about the fruits, but some of the other items — especially the mozzarella cheese — worried me more.

I kept checking on it every hour, until eventually my boyfriend dragged me out of my apartment just to stop me from staring the dehydrator down. When we came back at the end of the day, everything had shriveled up to half its original size. Instead of taste testing everything (which I was desperate to do), I rounded everything up to bring to work the following day, to get an honest opinion from my co-workers how everything came out.

Some opinions were obvious, but some really shocked me.  As I suspected, the bananas and apples went over very well; both were nice and crunchy, and made great snacks for the office. The kiwis and mangoes were a pretty big hit to, but neither of these were as crisp as the bananas and apples. Most of the fruits were well-liked, which surprised no one.

What did surprise me were some of the vegetables; I made a lot of zucchini, because I thought that it’d be an automatic hit, but that wasn’t the case. Turns out, they didn’t retain much flavor, and never fully crisped. The carrots turned out the exact same way; they didn’t retain they’re veggie flavor, and became a bland and chewy snack.

One of the biggest disappointing surprises was the Oreos; instead of the creamy center drying out as I imagined, it completely melted. I decided to leave them home for the day, and when I came back, the cream had returned to normal, and the cookies look like they’d never been touched. This is one thing I think I’ll experiment more with; I have a feeling that if I can get the correct temperature, these Oreos will turn out exactly as I pictured the… eventually.

The biggest surprise was the mozzarella cheese; it ended up being everyone’s favorite, and I mean that literally. People were fighting over the last few pieces, and I was constantly told that the dehydrator dried it out just right. It’s funny to me, because I was so skeptical of dehydrating it at all!

Overall, the Weston dehydrator performed well. It dried out almost everything, and what it didn’t full dehydrate I suspect had something to do with me not setting the temperature correctly. Since I mixed fruits and veggies in one round, I set the dehydrator to a temperature that best suited the fruits, and may have hurt my veggies.

The one down side I found with this was the cleanup; it was difficult to clean out all the little cracks and spaces in the trays, and I eventually ended up soaking them for a few hours just to save me the hassle. But the actual performance was worth it to finally have a crack at making my own space-ready dehydrated food.


You can purchase the Weston 6-Tray Dehydrator at the Mother Earth News store.

The Growing Indigenous Food Movement

Sean Sherman, the Sioux Chef, signing my new copy of his book! 

“Food should taste like place you are
-Sean Sherman, the Sioux Chef

Coming Full Circle

As we realize just how unsustainable our American food systems are, people across the map are incorporating Indigenous Foods into their diets. On the surface, Indigenous Food is what grows or lives on the earth around you. But, if you dig in just a bit deeper, you’ll uncover a rich and delicious history of how the Indigenous people of your area used to grow, hunt, preserve and prepare their food.

The use of Indigenous Food is gaining momentum because it inherently comes to the table with many of the values we are looking for in our food:  Delicious + Local + Unique + Healthy + Environmentally Sound. I think we all have much to learn from the ingenious “food-ways” of the people who inhabited the land we now live on- wherever that is.

The Sioux Chef

There is one man at the helm of this movement telling that story with a humble passion that has caught fire across the globe. Sean Sherman, The Sioux Chef is making eating the foods that grow and live where you are accessible to us all. He had his ‘aha’ moment when after years as a chef in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he realized there were restaurants that served food from all around the world, but no restaurant that served food native to Minnesota.

This realization lead to his research of ‘pre-colonial’ foods. His searching has been rewarded with a deep understanding of Indigenous people’s food-ways. Sean can weave his passion for 2,000 years of ancestral heritage while simultaneously tackling the modern-day diabetes epidemic and soil regeneration. Yes, this is why people flock to hear him speak!

Sean’s James-Beard-Award-Winning cookbook, The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen is a joyful celebration of delicious foods where sustainability is effortlessly cooked into every bite.  As Sean stated, “Every plant has a purpose” for food, medicine or crafting; often a plant can be used for all three purposes. Many of you will notice similarities between his words and the basic tenants of permaculture design.

The Original Local Food Movement

Shifting how we look at our food; as something that we are ‘a part of’ instead of ‘apart from’ is truly eye opening. As Sean travels and spreads the good food news for what’s already growing under the listeners feet, he is truly manifesting one of his beliefs that; “We should be the answer to our ancestors’ prayers.”

His next bold step forward is bringing the “Indigenous Food Lab” to the Twin Cities metro. This space will have many purposes; restaurant, see through kitchen exhibition, classroom and community gathering space.

Many public libraries have The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen, which is where I first found it. I upgraded to a signed copy at Sean’s “(R)Evolution of Indigenous Food Systems in North America” talk at Century College. The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen has found its way into the hearts and homes of people who are making these recipes and bringing history to life. People are experimenting with citrus-like Sumac and the earthy flavors of timpsala. Whether it means eating rabbit stew, or cattail buds, finding the foods that are native to your region opens up a new world of flavors. And once you try it, you’ll keep coming back.

Take a Hike!

So, what can the average home gardener do to start cooking with Indigenous food? It could be as easy, and enjoyable as taking a hike. Many of the ingredients may be foraged from your neighborhood’s open spaces. As with all foraging follow a few simple steps to ensure everyone’s safety.

Foraging basics: Ask permission if it is private land, find out if the land has been treated with anything, take only what you need, if possible, harvest sustainably, leave at least half of what you find.

Foraging also tunes you in to the seasons like nothing else can. Even with outdoor veggie gardening, the gardener controls much of the timing. With foraging you’ll find yourself paying attention to weather patterns in anticipation of the first everything of the season. We can always use ways to help us sync up more with Mother Nature, right!

One of the absolute easiest things to make around me is Cedar Tea. Find a cedar tree, trim a few branches, wash and double the water to cedar ratio, and boil for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten with local maple syrup. Delicious and restorative too. *Bonus if you tap your own trees! šŸ˜‰

Heritage Seeds

Another step would be to start growing some of the Indigenous seeds. Sean Sherman is on the board of the Seed Savers Exchange and works with the Indigenous seeds stock they have there. There are many smaller Indigenous seed suppliers popping up as well. As the need increases, Mother Nature is ready to provide.

There is an intriguing book that I am currently reading called  Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden: Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians and even though it was first published in 1917, it holds wisdom invaluable for today’s organic gardeners.

You can also look for Indigenous growers and suppliers at your local farmers markets. In Minnesota, we have the Minnesota Grown organization that helps connect the public with growers. If you seek out these growers and suppliers, your taste buds will thank you.

Celebrate Your Land

Food is a celebration of cultures no matter where you are. There is something truly singular about enjoying a meal when the land it came from was meant to provide all the ingredients. These meals can grow community, appreciation for the earth and strong healthy bodies all at once. Like Sean says, “food always tells a story.” What do you want your next meal to say?

Mine will say I'm from Minnesota and loving it! Please share any Indigenous Foods you've found and love!

Michelle Bruhn is a local food advocate in Minnesota, where she runs Forks in the Dirt, a website that supports local farmers with interviews, social media, and other promotions. She also keeps chickens, gardens, and a few boys. Connect with Michelle on Facebook and Instagram.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

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