Living The Turkey’s Dream

I got up early, dressed in several layers of clothes and gathered my large cooler, homemade ice and large baggies before heading out to the LTD Farm. I gave myself plenty of time to get there on the icy roads. I drove east on 94 to Baldwin, WI and took a left. After making several left and right hand turns on a dozen slippery and hilly dirt roads I found myself in front of a home being greeted by a dog. Parking in a very small driveway I got out on the foreign soil of a Wisconsin farm. Khaiti came out of her house. Seeing her photograph several times reassured me I was at the right place.

We made introductions and Khaiti brought me out back where I met Andrew who was hard at work. She gave me a quick overview of the farm and brought me over to meet the turkeys I have been watching grow on facebook. The turkeys were broad breasted white turkeys, a common domesticated turkey grown for Thanksgiving.

Khaiti and I talked about their 39 acre farm, while Andrew fought with the water hose in 20 degree weather. I wanted to take in as much in as I could, asking questions about what the animals ate and how the harvesting process worked. I knew how the basics worked. I saw an awesome video of turkey harvesting at LTD Farm done by The Perennial Plate in 2010. The way things went that day was very similar to the video.

I was able to choose a turkey, I got one of the black ones and it was a boy. Khaiti covered the bird with a heavy paper bag that had a small hole cut at the bottom so the head could stick out. She walked it over to a small patch of hay started to lay the turkey down, calming it. She didn’t give me a choice in cutting the turkeys neck and I didn’t ask to do it. I was able to hold the turkey. Khaiti held the turkey’s head and very calmly and respectfully cut its neck. Khaiti continued to hold the turkey’s head and I held the very powerful bird until all the life went from its body.

Andrew then brought the turkey over to a small building and hung the turkey up by its feet so we could all pluck the feathers. I was the only customer there the whole time, which was such a treat. I was able to ask questions and get to know the couple a little bit. I let them know I’d love to have a small farm like what they had; they were very encouraging. Plucking the feathers was a long process. By the end we were standing in a large pile of the dark feathers.

Andrew then took the bird down so they could gut it. They asked if I wanted to, and I hesitantly said sure. They were ready to go, having done this several times. I quickly said they could do it and they got to work, showing me what was what in the turkey. Khaiti pulled the heart out in about two seconds and put it in a bowl. Andrew took off the head, leaving the neck. Khaiti then pulled out the liver showing me how healthy it was from the vegetables and organic feed the turkey ate.

I helped wash off the turkey and put it in a cooler to lower its temperature. I grabbed my good innards and put them in a baggie along with the turkey’s feet for stock.

While the turkey cooled down Khaiti took me to see the rest of their animals. They have goats for milk, ducks for eggs, pigs for meat and the turkeys. I have rarely been on a farm and it was nice for me to watch the animals. I couldn’t help but to smile when Khaiti and I walked up to the pigs and they got really excited to see her. The pigs were pretty young and the looked really cute and cuddly. The pig’s ‘pen’ was very clean and littered with large holes the pigs were taking turns digging.

Khaiti and Andrew are trying to be as self sufficient as they can be. They have vegetables and perennial plants they give to their CSA share holders. What they don’t use themselves goes to the animals. Then the entire farm’s waste is composted and put back into the soil. All their animals looked very happy and had plenty of room to be animals.

Khaiti and Andrew are a young couple living the dream. They are both hardworking and they have a passion for what they do. They have a respect for their land and a love for their animals. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to see their farm.

Khaiti helped me load my turkey into my car. I shook both of their hands when I said goodbye and left the farm with a very quiet spirit.

On the way to the farm I couldn’t stop questioning our culture’s view on food. On the way home my questions were silenced. I felt at peace. I understood that what I have been longing for is a connection with ethical small businesses. I have been fighting the Monsanto’s and the Purdue’s in my head. It was time for me to see people live my ideals I only hope to achieve someday.



A video of animal cruelty popped up on my facebook feed today, three times! Here it is. It shows a factory farm where McDonald’s gets their eggs. A lot of the comments on the post have been anti-McDonald’s, some of the have been pro-vegan.

I am not pro-McDonald’s, but they are not the problem, I am; Most of us are. All restaurants that sell animal products, unless you know they buy from sustainable and ethical farms, treat their animals like products and not animals. I don’t buy ALL my animal products from local farms. Because of that I am indirectly promoting the abuse of these animals by buying that Egg McMuffin, or that fancy breakfast at the upscale place in my town.

Do I like the abuse of animals? Of course not. But it’s not that big of a priority of mine when I am hungry or when I want to have a nice sit-down meal with my family. It’s easy to turn my head to the treatment of animals because I don’t see it.

By not buying my animal products at a farm where I have a relationship with the farmers and where I am able to go see the farm, I am lowering the animals worth. I am not viewing the animal as a gift, but as a right. I am not thinking of the animal’s sacrifice, I am thinking how cheap I can get my meal.

I have killed two animals in my life, both chickens. One of them went to the farm where I went through the chicken processing class and one, from that same class, has been in my freezer for months. I am still too emotional to eat it.

I am scheduled to harvest my Thanksgiving turkey this Sunday at a small, sustainable and ethical farm. I have been thinking about cutting that cute little animal’s neck for the past six months. I absolutely do not want to drive one hour to Wisconsin to kill a turkey with a knife in 20 degree weather early in the morning. But it is not a choice of mine. I have eaten meat guilt free for 32 years. That turkey deserves my respect. I will look it in the eye and give it my absolute thanks for giving my family a very special meal before I take its life. It is a huge gift for this small farm to open its doors and have their customers help harvest animals.

I haven’t seen that many suggestions for preventing the abuse of animals. McDonald’s said they are not buying eggs from this farm anymore. But where are they going? How many eggs does McDonald’s sell a day? Will the farm they are going to, be able to keep up with the demand for eggs without lowering the animals worth? And if they are able to keep up with the demand, that means they are a large scale farm that is already selling to large companies. So is the animal an animal, or a means to make a product? And, where are the beef cows, dairy cows, broiler chickens, fish and pigs in all this?

Can our culture not eat as much meat, and spend more money on the meat we buy? I can buy a whole broiler chicken for less than $7.00. That’s crazy! How can farmers make a profit? Can we give up multinational companies that treat animals like products and support small businesses that have soul? Can we be accountable for gathering a portion of our own meat; hunting and/or raising and harvesting?

I eat meat and it is hard to transfer to eating locally, sustainably and ethically. I need to eat less meat. I need to cook more and I need support. I want you to come out to a farm to help me harvest a chicken or a turkey. I don’t want to feel weird telling people, “I am killing my own Thanksgiving turkey this year!” Can we form a supportive community that loves our land, animals and culture?

Neighborhood Eggs

I have not been buying eggs at the store lately. The last three dozen eggs I got- I bought from people that have chickens in their backyards. (I just found out you do not need a license to sell your own chicken’s eggs.)

I bought eggs from a guy today that lives in South Minneapolis. He has a sign outside his house and I drive by it on the way to work. “Eggs $3.50 dozen.” I have seen the sign for months, he never takes it down, but today was the first time I stopped. I had $3.50 ready and knocked on the door. An older man with a long graying beard answered. I ask if he had an eggs and he responded, “A Dozen?” like he had done this several times before. I nodded and he walked in the house and came back out with a dozen eggs and I gave him the cash. He told me they were gathered an hour before. 

He looked like a nice guy so I asked about his chickens. He told me he has 30 in his yard! I told him I am interested in getting some and asked if they are a lot of work. He told me they are and you need a good coop. He said he has a very nice coop with heat and running water. I could have asked several more questions but I didn’t want to take up too much of his time. I thanked him for the eggs and went on my way.

The first lady I bought eggs from I found on Craigslist. She lives close to me here in Saint Paul. She didn’t seem so comfortable talking about the eggs so I didn’t ask questions. She sold me two dozen for $4.

If I can give small farmers $2-$4 for a dozen eggs from chickens in their yard it is well worth it.

Romaine In Our Lawn

As a young homeowner I was excited about my land. I would take the girls out to the lawn in the evening, just to lie in OUR grass and talk. This is my spot in the world. The first year of owning our home I mowed the lawn twice a week. Since, I have mowed a lot less. Now I get upset when my neighbors mow every two weeks and I have not, it makes my lawn look worse. These past few weeks have been different though. I have not mowed because I don’t have the time or that I am lazy. I have not mowed because I have been eating plants from my yard; Dandelions and Greater Plantain.
My view on foraging has changed since we started our garden four years ago. Before that I never viewed plants as food. Even plants that are food I never viewed as plants. For example: corn on the cob, potatoes, sunflower seeds, apples and lettuce. I thought they were magically and safely made for human consumption. Plants that you eat seemed wild and risky. Not something you would do unless you had to.
When I started learning more about types of beneficial plants that we could grow from our land, I came across medicinal plants. Mainly herbs, very similar to cooking herbs, which you could use in teas. Things like mint, chamomile and echinacea. We have tried growing different herbs and using them in teas. This seemed safer than foraging for food in the wild. We always bought chamomile tea at the grocery store now we can grow it just like squash or tomatoes.
My gateway foraging plant was the raspberry plant. I have raspberry plants in my yard and there are wild raspberry plants that grow in Saint Paul. Picking berries out of plants in your yard is very similar to picking them in a park. Last year I took Aurelia to help me pick so we could get more berries. We had quart mason jars and filled them to the top. Our hands were stained with the color and smell of the berries. We were able to bring them home and cook them into a jam.
I bought foraging books and dreamed about going to foraging lectures. The more I learned about our food system and the more my views on how I eat changed; the more I became comfortable foraging for my dinner. Here are some of the main reasons I enjoy it: Self reliance, knowledge of your environment, sustainable, low cost, a connection to our ancestors and being disconnected from our industrial food system.
I have mowed my grass once this year. We went through and weeded the gardens, pulling up dandelion roots for roasting. Last week something clicked for me while I was looking at the dandelions in our front yard. My thought was, “We have hundreds of lettuce plants in our grass. We don’t have anything from our vegetable garden yet and I want to live off our land.” I went out and picked a salad bowl of dandelion leaves, cleaned them and tossed them in with our store bought lettuce.
Earlier this week I learned about broad leaf plantains. I had sandwiches on the menu for dinner and I wanted a vegetable besides salad so I went out and picked plantains. This weed is more common in my yard then dandelion and I never knew it was eatable or medicinal. I picked a bowl full that I cooked up and served with dinner along with a couple dozen fried dandelion blossoms. It made for a great meal.
I am a very novice forager. For some people this is crazy, to other people I am a complete poser. I am comfortable eating plants that I am very familiar with and if I have the foraging spirit. Plants are food. We should be appreciative of what we have and what is around us.
I want to give a couple easy recipes. Cooking is not always technical and you don’t always need instructions in front of you to do it. I wing a lot of stuff. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but most of the time it does. Both of these dishes are a good starter foraging dishes because they are cooked or fried with oil and topped with salt.

Broad Leaf Plantain Crisps:

Pick a bowl of young plantain leaves, maybe 4-6 cups. Your compost will be hungry for what you don’t cook.
Clean them real good. I use a salad spinner and rinse them three times.
Put them in boiling water for 15 minutes.
Drain them and let cool.
Spread them out on a cooking sheet and sprinkle with oil. I use coconut oil; you could also use olive oil.
Bake them at 350 until they are crisp. Do not overcook.
Salt and enjoy.

Plantain Crisps

Fried Dandelion Blossoms:

Pick at least 2 dozen good looking blossoms
Rinse well with water.
Crack an egg into a bowl and beat it.
Pour 1/2 cup to 1 cup of flour into another bowl depending on how many blossoms you have.
Heat a small pan with oil to medium. I use my 8″ cast iron skillet with 1/4″ of coconut oi at the bottom.
Dip the blossoms into the egg than the flour.
Shake off any extra flour before frying.
Fry blossoms around 12 at a time.
Fry on one side till golden and flip. 2-3 minutes per side.
Take out when golden, put on plate with napkin to soak up extra oil.
Salt and enjoy.

Fried Dandelion Blossoms


The Yard

On a romantic May weekend in Rochester, Kristina and I found a dead grape plant that has changed our lives. Looking for something to do in Rochester we took a trip to the Home Depot so we could walk hand in hand down the aisles. It was to enjoy the freedom of not having the kids with us; it’s what we happily refer to as being “kid-less!” We came across a grape plant in the garden center. We were thrilled because we didn’t know you could grow grapes in Minnesota. We picked up two and went to ask a team member about buying them. She told us the two sticks poking out of the soil were dead and brought us to the live plants. We grabbed two beautiful plants that had two foot green vines and large leafs. By the time we came across a Honeycrisp apple tree there was no stopping us. We grabbed a tree and a dozen packets of seeds. We paid for our magical plants that grew fruit and took them out to the parking lot not knowing how we were going to get a tree back up to St. Paul. We were able to jam the tree in the van and take it home safely.
I will explain the 99’ Ford Windstar. We paid $2000 a few years ago to get it off a couple of good friend’s hands. We don’t have a truck so the van does all the hauling for us. We have taken that thing to the nursery and packed it with trees, plants and our kids. I took it to the country and found a REAL farmer and loaded it up with straw.
A few years ago we drove city kids to church events in the van. That’s the nice way of putting it. Everyone else that volunteered to drive kids to our church events were single, had cars and said they could take no more than one or two kids to the events every week. We were more easygoing and took all the kids that needed to go. So we would drive to the homeless shelter downtown Minneapolis, load up a dozen inner-city kids, have half of the kids had to sit on someone’s lap- including our kids. We would drive through North Minneapolis hoping we would not get pulled over.
The van got vandalized one night and got all the hub caps stolen, it was broke down in our back yard for six months, I rolled on a flat down Lake Street stuffing my face with Popeye’s chicken, it lost a wheel while I was driving down the road, it got stuck in our garden…We lovingly refer to it as: Ghetto. Ass. Piece of Shit, Van.
At the time we found the grape plant and Honeycrisp apple tree I was parking my work truck straight in our backyard, redneck style. I was planning on making it into an official parking spot, but it turned into a perfect garden space.
We knew very little about gardening. We tried to buy a dead grape plant! We bought a few books and decided to make a 12” deep vegetable bed. So I dug it out by hand, it took a few days. We planted corn, peas, pumpkins and lettuce; your typical Burpee vegetable seed mix. Our lives were consumed by gardening. Not no ornamental garden either. We were gonna we live off our land. If we could grow it in our zone, I wanted to buy it. We went to Home Depot every other day just to look at plants and buy whatever else we could pack into your yard.
Kristina had this crazy idea. She told me I couldn’t go “overboard.” She thinks when I get into something I’m 110%. She wanted the garden to save us money on our grocery bill. Yeah… that didn’t happen. I went to Wal-Mart and found a pear tree I couldn’t pass up for $18. We found out that you need to have a fruit tree to pollinate another fruit tree. So we had to go out and buy another apple tree and a pear tree. We went to the real nursery where they had older fruit trees for $60. By that time we had 5 grape plants, 4 fruit trees, dozens of strawberry plants, 6 raspberry plants, and 3 dozen packs of seeds… That first year we had 60 different types of edible plants growing in our yard. Overboard my ass!
In St. Paul we have a lot of Hmong immigrants. They are authentic. They know very little English, dress funny, walk around the neighborhood talking to themselves, pick weeds in other people’s yards, forage for dinner on the side of the road, squat in open lots to build community gardens, making real basic garden fences with dead sticks and snow barrier mesh; real, rural Asians.
We have several Hmong families on our block. One of these families has kids our kid’s age. The kid’s parents are my age and the kids grandparents live with the family too. We call the grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma is cool, her real name is June. She doesn’t know too much English and she used to farm for a living in Thailand. She has several well kept garden beds in her yard. She butchers whole pigs in her kitchen and makes a super good egg roll.
When we planted our garden we walked down and got Grandma to ask her for advice. She walked down to our yard not knowing what we were talking about; she saw our garden then understood us. I felt very American and white. I feel like I have two strikes against me being a white American. It may be because I grew up in a prejudice town or because people from two different cultures don’t always live well side by side.
Grandma looked at out under kept yard and told us to put a fence around the garden. Her beds are totally enclosed. At that time we just had tilled soil. I was sort-of let down. I was hoping for some good Asian gardening secrets and a fence is all she told us. Grandma walked back up the alley and I told Kristina I was gonna put up a Hmong fence. I went out and got mesh snow netting. I almost bought the neon orange one but decided it was best to get the green. I put up the fence. Made a gate for the fence and a grape arbor by hand. It was my way of showing respect and support to the Hmong community in St. Paul.
Our yard was changing. Just to the east of us we had a neighbor whose house was in the same family for decades. In the past the North End neighborhood of St. Paul was a European- American working class neighborhood. Our neighbors were good people but had a harder time dealing with the diversifying of their neighborhood. I flat out told them I support our diverse neighborhood and I was very accepting of our kids marring outside of our race. Her young daughter was expected to marry a white guy. That year we had a shooting on our property by our black neighbors on our west side. The white neighbors on our east side moved the next year.
By the end of that first growing season we had over twenty pumpkins! We got some corn and lettuce, zucchini. I packed some Asian vegetables in there too. But our enthusiasm about garden work slowly died. Our backyard looked like the Amazon. We had 14ft tall sunflowers, 20ft long pumpkin vines, several tomato plants, 3ft long Asian pea’s pods, zucchini plants… It was awesome! We got noticed by the neighbors. Most people said they liked it but I think they were being polite. Our garden took up most of our back yard open space. I made a large compost bin I threw all our yard crap in. We started to kitchen compost. I would have Kristina cut my hair in the backyard and throw the clippings in the compost; Asian immigrant style!
By the second year we started to understand what a perennial plant and an annual plant were. We have had chamomile growing in the same spot in our garden for the last four years. Perennials are easier. The raspberries, trees, strawberries, some herbs, and bushes- they are less work. We extended the main vegetable garden the second year and bought more plants to add to our collection. We have rhubarb, blueberries, black currants, more grapes and a family rosebush. We tried growing potatoes and onions. Again, whatever we could pack into the yard and was edible we would try to grow.
I started thinking more about medicinal plants: dandelion, types of mints, different herbs and traditional medicine. Then I began to get upset I couldn’t grow weed. Screw the government for telling me I can’t grow medicine in my yard and responsibly use it. I have only smoked maybe six times and not in twelve years. But I want my freedom to do it if I want. Obviously there is a huge gray area there and I haven’t ever needed to use weed but I support the use of traditional medicine.
The second year we wanted to grow watermelons but were running out of space for more plants. I read we could make “watermelon mounds” on our lawn and grow the seeds in there. So I made 4- 150 pound manure piles in our front yard and planted watermelon seeds. The watermelon plant vines along the grass and grows in the lawn. Our mounds have been growing the last three years, but I have only got one small watermelon from it. I just like telling people I am growing watermelon from four mounds of shit in my front yard.
At the beginning of our third year we had a bad incident with our Honeycrisp apple tree. Aurelia and I went on a walk and left Annika and the punk neighbor boy out in the yard playing. It was real early spring and the trees didn’t have their leaves yet. Annika and the boy were playing with sticks. We got back from our walk and I didn’t notice anything at first but then I saw the destruction that two- six year olds could do. They chopped down our Honeycrisp apple tree. Cut it in half! They were hitting other trees too, but the Honeycrisp took most of the beating. I almost threw up I was so sick. I knew it was the punk neighbor boy but Annika helped. For her punishment I told her she had to help me plant a new tree and she was not to play with sticks for a year. And I was STRICT with it. 11 ½ months later she looked at a stick and looked at me and I would shake my head no but then allow Aurelia to play with the stick. I laugh thinking about it. I love Annika, she’s a wonderful kid.
I ended up moving the Honeycrisp to the front of our yard near the side walk and transplanting two of our fruit trees to allow more garden space. Then I went out and got an heirloom apple tree and Annika and I planted it in the front yard. That leaves a total of 5 fruit trees: 3 apples and 2 pears. The Honeycrisp grew that year, but we still haven’t got any fruit from it. Hopefully this year we will.
We have wanted chickens and a couple of goats. We would get eggs and milk. I never had a farm fresh egg or had goat’s milk so it be a change for me. But I could make cheese, yogurt and ice cream. In order to do this we would need four things to happen.
First, we would need to get our trees trimmed. We have three mature trees in our yard. We have two in the back. The good tree in back we would trim the branches a good way to the top. The bad one is half dead and we would cut it down to the top of the trunk. In the front we have an overgrown Silver Maple, we just found out we can get syrup from. But it is clobbering the house and it needs a heavy prune. That would give us a lot more yard space to garden. Second, we would need a fence. Third, we would need a permit for the chickens and one for the goats. To get the permits we would need permission from our neighbors. Fourth, we would need more discipline.
Half way through our third year we let our garden go. There was a couple week period we didn’t weed because it was too hot and there was too many bugs. I didn’t want to weed by hand. I ended up going to Sears and spending $300 on credit and got some gas powered yard tools. I got a Mantis. It is a small tiller and cultivator. I love it. But by the time I took it to the garden it was too late. Our garden was the typical overgrown jungle our neighbors have come to expect and we just let everything grow to see what fruit we would get; Not much from the vegetable garden. We got a lot from the perennial plants. We made a lot of jam and got a good crop of heirloom tomatoes. I told myself in order to bring animals on our property we would have to keep the garden up for a year.
We have been learning how to use our crops too. We never had a zucchini before we planted the garden, now we love them. It‘s great to eat fresh salads from the garden. We have learned to can pickles and green tomatoes. We have come to a spot were the garden is not as much for show but to make a stand against our food system. We were a lot of talk and not a lot of walk. We are starting to come around. The first year we didn’t can anything. We planted all Burbee seeds and didn’t save seeds. We have started to use more of what we grow, plant heirloom vegetables and save seeds. This year we have put $110 into the yard, which is way down from previous years.
We have dreams for our house. We have a 1 1/2 story with 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. We want to make it a two story, four bedrooms and three bathrooms. Replace the garage with a two story garage to have a greenhouse on top of the first floor. Turn it in to a true Urban Farm. Dreams! It will never happen.
This year has brought changes. We are in the middle of a short sale on our house. We bought in 2005 for 170, we now owe 160 and our house is worth around 55. We want to go back to school and can’t have our cake and eat it too. So we decided to give up the house. We are not sure when we will be moving. I was going to put down grass seed after taking out the Hmong fence but I decided to plant the garden. We used the whole garden. We have a total of 1,288 square feet of garden. Our lot is a total of 6,944 square feet. We didn’t pack plants in, giving everything its appropriate space. I planted a lot less veggies this year; pumpkin, zucchini, cucumber, summer squash, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, dill, a lot of basil, cilantro and greens. The garden looks very nice. The perennials are doing great. I added to the manure mounds in the front and planted some watermelon seeds.
We threw around several ideas where to move; Oregon, California, to a farm in Wisconsin… We are planning on staying in the Twin Cities. Probably in the city and hopefully a house with a yard. We are tempted to take all our plants with us. We have dozens of raspberries and strawberries, 7 grape vines, 9 blueberry plants, 2 black currants, 5 fruit trees, perennial herbs and flowers, and a family rosebush. At the least, we will take the Honeycrisp tree which was cut in half; it’s about three feet tall, and the family rosebush. We have spent hundreds of dollars on the plants but we have had them 2-4 years and they have matured. To start over would be hard due to the amount of time the plants need to grow. But who digs up five trees and throws them in a G.A.P.O.S. van when they move? Tom Miller does, along with his super nice toilet! Overboard my ass!
I don’t know what this year will look like. I might have to trespass on lawn after we sell to harvest fruit and veggies. We are not sure the extent of gardening we will be doing next year in a rental house. I can say we have more experience, patience and discipline. I love to garden we hope have chickens and goats someday. Our view on self reliance and our culture has changed. It’s not about our half-assed effort with our yard. It’s about respect for culture and our community.

A Simple Step

By January 2010 I was exposed to the Whole Foods Diet and I appreciated the simplicity of it. That is having a diet that would be more similar to someone who lived 150 years ago versus today. A diet with food from a sustainable farm: fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meats, herbs and medicinal plants. All organic, homemade, grass-fed, free range and humanely treated. A process of a living farm that took knowledge and love to run.

As I got further into the diet I started to realize how I was romancing this image and how much different it is in our culture today. I have been challenged by lots of questions and issues ranging from: industrial organic farms, cage free chickens, medicinal plants, seed saving, food foraging, guerrilla gardening, dumpster diving, Monsanto, cannabis, food market co-ops, local food, supermarkets, animal slaughtering, cultural respect, urban farms, convenient foods, restaurants, raw food and seasonal eating… The list is very long! What I eat is something I am thinking about several times a day. It has been challenging to my values and challenging the reasons I have been eating the traditional American diet.

This is a blog to let out some of that frustration and to help keep me accountable to myself. I am the stereotypical overweight American. With a standard American diet, I will continue to gain weight, gain more heath problems, continue to dislike my weight and I will eventually be overtaken by heart failure. I am looking to take a stand against that part of our culture and to enjoy a long healthy life with my family. I am looking for support and for people to let me know I am not alone.

For the name Rubus-Raspberry, that is what was available from this site. One of my favorite experiences from 2010 was picking raspberries. We have several raspberry plants in our yard I got fruit from. I decided to make a simple jam with the fruit and turbinado sugar but I came up several cups short from what I needed. My oldest daughter and I went to a park here in Saint Paul and foraged several pints of wild black raspberries. We came home and made a large batch of jam, we saved a few jars but we gave most of the jam to our friends and neighbors. It was a learning experience I was privileged to share with my daughter.