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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Kick Startin' My Days Ass with Banana Berry Vanilla Oatmeal

I used to like the idea of oatmeal as a kid, but whenever I actually ate it, I really couldn't get into it. Maybe my Mom just made lame at oatmealing. It wasn't until I had homemade avena from my Puerto Rican Mom away from home after coming in from the snow.  I was awoken to my own oatmeal experimentation and started actually giving oatmeal a fair chance.


The very best oatmeal I ever had was in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Baked oatmeal served with cream on the side to pour on as you eat. I do cream from canned coconut milk myself, but what a treat! That's my next experimentation.

This oatmeal has:
  • Hot vanilla cinnamon oatmeal made with whole coconut milk and a little water.
  • Sliced bananas topped with extra cinnamon and ground flax seed.
  • Greek yogurt with raw honey from my local farmers market sprinkled with chia seed.
  • Some fresh blackberries that I had froze. I like to buy them at the end of summer when they're on sale and freeze them for use in the fall and winter when they are not in season. I like throwing frozen berries into hot oatmeal instead of cooking them in there in the first place and turning to mush. Unless its a bit for flavor, raw is best!

I like to eat what is in season so food doesn't have to travel so far to me. I like to practice this because a lot of trucks are on the road, using a lot of gas to bring those berries across the country. That is a lot of energy and pollution being put into shipping berries. The area for which the berries are coming from also use a lot of water in the growing process. So there is not only less local berries for the locals, but also less ground water reserves.

Driscoll is the United States leading distributor of berries. Their farms grow berries all over North and South America because each area reaches peak berry season at different times through the year. Makes sense, because they can now export berries to states when it's not berry season in that area.

Here in New York, the closest Driscolls blueberry farm is in NJ. The next closest is North Carolina growing blueberries and strawberries. Any Driscolls raspberries or blackberries come from California and Mexico.  Since any Driscolls blackberries or raspberries are not local, I don't buy their brand for that and will look for other distributors or local farms. I cannot lie though, if the berries are on sale for an amazing price, I will purchase them. It rarely happens.

Berries (or any produce) in your supermarket come from across the country or another country when not in season in your region. They are picked way before ripeness because they will "ripen" on the trip to you. While they will look ripe, they will be lacking in nutritional value because it never finished taking it all in from the dirt and sun. I never liked the selection of peaches or tomatoes out of summer. They are just so... "meh".

Out of season produce is typically more expensive and not bought as much because of it in addition to the lousy quality. A lot of food get wasted, so there is less availability out of season to not lose a profit. Yet, markets also need to keep them in stock because people need to see them there. Supermarkets are in the habit of buying more produce then will be bought because of aesthetic and psychological reasons. Ever not want to take from the last few spinach bushels, or the last bunch of bananas because you feel like they are the rejects nobody wanted? Ever push a canned food aside to get at the one in the back? People have odd shopping habits. People are not known to buy things when there are not a lot available. It makes them feel like something is wrong with it, or its cheap somehow. There is also a lot of perfectly edible produce rejected by supermarkets because they don't fit a typical standard of beauty. Customers actually wont buy pears with a lump, or a double peach, and it's sad. I think we should get people accustomed to seeing and using misshapen produce so they don't shun it.

Our shopping habits directly effect how things are done, and that can make a positive or negative impact. I choose to buy only produce in season, and produced as locally as possible if available to reduce my eco-footprint. 

http://greenmonger.blogspot.com/2014/09/12-reasons-to-shop-and-eat-local.html

Eating in season also makes you appreciate certain foods and flavors once certain produce starts coming back around again. When I can get a super ripe peach from my local farmers market, that is such a wonderful treat.

Anyway, the oatmeal was slammin'. A punch in the pants of power to really get the day started. 


Some Resources:
Our Berry Growing Regions - Driscolls
http://www.driscolls.com/about/art-of-growing/where-we-grow

Crop Availability / Harvest Calendars by Country, State of Province
http://www.pickyourown.org/harvestcalendars.htm

6 Billion Pounds of Perfectly Edible Food is Wasted Every Year, Simply Because it's Ugly
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/19/food-waste-ugly-fruits-and-vegs-dont-judge_n_7309432.html
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