Reduce, reuse, recycle. It seems simple enough and we have been repeated it for nearly 50 years. How do we reframe the 3 R’s in terms of things we do every day?
How can you reduce, reuse, and recycle during your evening meal?
Reduce (Your Energy Usage)
That saves money and our natural resources – win-win! Not all cooking devices use the same amount of energy. If you just can’t bear the thought of turning on the oven or burners during these dog days of summer, don’t worry! Your microwave, slow cooker, and toaster oven are actually 2-3 times more energy efficient.
Pro-tip: consider grilling outdoors so your A/C isn’t working overtime during dinnertime!
Reuse (Your Leftovers) For those hot days, nothing beats having a nice dinner already prepped from the evening before. “Reusing” leftovers will cut down on your food waste and your grocery bill!
Pro-tip: Try reusable, washable beeswax paper instead of cling wrap to cover your leftovers.
Recycle (Your Storage Containers)
If takeaway is your best friend, you can still do your part. Once those delicious leftovers have been devoured, the container you brought it home in can move on to its next life. Find out if the following are recyclable in your area:
Its Earth Day and we wanted to think about ways to be kind to
our grand blue marble, Earth.
Here are 6 simple things you can do to
drastically reduce your plastic waste.
With all the plastic being dumped into
landfill and floating in our oceans, the time has come for all of us to behave
And that’s actually pretty easy.
You don’t have to be perfect, or completely
change your way of living. Just follow these simple steps and you will cut down
a lot of unnecessary waste.
Change your mindset
It all starts with changing the mindset.
Once you start to actively reduce your waste,
you will realize just how much waste there is everywhere. And then, you’ll be
able to make conscious decisions about what you buy.
You will be better prepared and will be likely
to buy less “stuff” – as you’ll only buy what you need. That, in turn, can help
you save money!
2. Say no to plastic bags
The average American family takes home almost
1,500 plastic shopping bags a year. So if you choose to stop using just one
type of plastic – the plastic bag is a great place to start.
Stock up with a few reusable bags and you’ll
never have to contribute to this waste again.
For example, reuseable produce bags are great to use to
pack your fruit and veggies at markets. Pop your produce straight in the bags,
and when you get home – wash them inside the bag, and pop them straight in the
They are also handy to use while shopping in a
grocery store, or for general organization too.
3. Swap your plastic
toothbrush for bamboo
It’s recommended that we change our toothbrush
every 3-4 months. If these toothbrushes are plastic toothbrushes, that’s a huge
amount of plastic waste that is being discarded every single year.
In fact, over 1 billion plastic toothbrushes
are thrown away every year in America alone.
Imagine if 50% of the American population
swapped their plastic brush for a biodegradable bamboo brush. That would
prevent 500 million pieces of plastic entering our environment every year, and
5 billion every decade!
Check out thesebamboo toothbrushes – they work super well,
have been recommended by multiple hygienists, come in cute colors, and work out
to cost under $1.49 per brush (often cheaper than plastic ones.)
Swapping your plastic for bamboo toothbrush is
another small change you can make, and save money while helping the
4. Rethink the straw
Plastic straws are a one and done event. They
are too small to be recycled, so their only destiny is either landfill or
floating in our ocean.
Ask yourself: Do you really need the straw? Maybe it’s an added
luxury…and you could get used to drinking without one?
Alternatively, you can keep a small pack of
reusable straws in your bag at all times…and whip out in times of need. They are
easy to clean and kind to our wildlife. Whether you prefer stainless steel drinking straws or bamboo straws, you’ll never have to drink with
a plastic straw again.
5. Buy locally
At Cherry Grove Farm, we’re all about
sustainable farming and treading lightly on the land.
When you buy from local markets, you can cut
down your consumption of plastic packaging and will end up throwing less away. We have a small “Sustainable Re-useables”
section in the farm store that makes cutting back on waste a bit easier. Try
our re-useable tea
bags and coffee filters, or reusable beeswax
wraps to keep food fresh without using plastic wrap.
6. Make more at home
There’s nothing wrong with getting take-out;
the problem is the packaging that the take out often comes in.
Plastic lids, cutlery, wrap, styrofoam,
polystyrene… None of it biodegrades which means that even though your meal only
lasted once, the packaging will last forever.
We know it can be difficult to find the time
for home cooking, but cooking meals in bulk can cut down a huge amount of time.
And make enough to last two or three meals and it can be just as convenient as
a take out – but with all the added benefits of being home-made, chemical-free,
But if you must have those pot stickers or tacos al pastor, why not have a handy reuseable bamboo cutlery pack in the car and just say no to the plastic utensils? Reduce waste in your life.
Earth Day is a good day to think
about what we can do to reduce waste and single use disposables. Hopefully these 6
simple steps have given you a little inspiration to reduce your waste today.
And remember – it doesn’t all have to be implemented at once. Just one small
change can make a big difference.
We are considering expanding our “Sustainables”
section in the store to include bamboo reuseables. Tell us if this would help
you reduce waste in your life!
This winter we got a call form the Education Group at Stone Barns about participating in a video that would be used for their Food Ed Curriculum. If you know Stone Barns, you know they are a leader in the promotion of sustainable agriculture, local food, and community-supported agriculture. It was a real pleasure to be a part of the story.
Paul Lawler, our head cheesemaker, and Anna Reinalda, our new dairy manager do a great job of explaining what we do and why it is important.
Our farm sits on 480 acres of land. Sounds like a lot, right? A large portion of that is woodland and wetland. Two sizable sections are leased to Z Food Farm and Cherry Grove Organic Farm, our local organic vegetable CSAs. That leaves about 230 acres to us for pasture land.
A farmer who wants to raise animals on pasture requires a large amount of acreage per animal. Not surprisingly, large animals need a lot of space to find the food they need to thrive. A cow needs to eat 4% of its body weight in nutritious forage each day. A dairy cow requires an even larger percentage to support a calf, and making milk. Pastures must be rested and maintained to support the nutritious greens the bovine herds require. Raising hay for the winter months is also a part of the equation. Good hay is expensive so we try to cut a lot of our own, and that takes acreage away from summer forage, reducing the number of animals we can support. The industry rule of thumb is 4 acres per cow if you also raise hay. (And lets not even get into the winter sacrifice fields.) Smaller critters, like sheep and pigs, can be kept on smaller plots. For example, you can raise 6 sheep on one acre, or 20ish pigs on one acre. But the animals still need to be rotated through the acreage so the grass and forage have time to rest and replenish.
Over the years, we have re-balanced our herds and flocks continuously. With a limited amount of pasture, and a growing demand for grass-fed meat, we have had our hands full determining what animals our pasture can realistically manage. Cherry Grove Farm is primarily a farmstead dairy producing cheese. So, dairy cows are our bread and butter. (Pun intended)
Because we believe in diversified sustainable farming, we raise about 40 pigs each year on 3-4 acres, with lots of room to root and forage. (Pigs consume the protein-rich whey that is a by-product of cheesemaking.) These days, we raise a few more beef than we used to, as the market pushes for that, but we cap it at eight beef per year. Sheep graze grass to its nub, making recovery longer (and problematic in droughty times). Last year we decided to cut back on our sheep production to allow more pasture for raising winter hay.
What can YOU expect to see in our freezer cases? A steady supply of pork and beef, raised here on the farm. Cherry Grove Farm lamb will become a seasonal product. We will be bringing in lamb from a grass-based farm in Delaware to satisfy our lamb customers. The farm we choose will raise sheep the way we have always raised them, on pasture without hormones or antibiotics.
And you can expect lots of cheese… a high quality, farmstead product from our own grass-fed cows’ milk, made by hand and fussed over by our dedicated cheese-making team. Because happy cows make really good cheese.
Earlier this month, we send a survey to our customers asking for their thoughts and feedback about our store, the products we offer, and. what we could do differently to better serve the people who love and support the farm.
There was a lot of positive feedback about how we farm, the variety of products (from our farm and other local makers) that we offer. Many customers expressed a deep commitment to local food and farms. We asked for suggestions about products we could bring in to round out what we already offer, basically what would serve the folks who support the store.
In all that feedback, a few people mentioned prices, and suggested that lowering the prices of the meats, cheeses and items for resale would be welcomed. We thought that was an issue worth talking about because we understand that is where the rubber meets the road.
Our prices are indeed more than what you pay in a standard grocery store. The US has been blessed with very low food costs. Much of that is due to large-scale subsidized commercial agriculture. A small farm (like ours) reaps neither the benefits of subsidies, nor the economies of scale you find on large commercial farms. What the consumer sees in our store is real cost of production.
Moving hay bales.
It might seem like raising animals on grass would be cheap. After all, you just let them out in the field and the grass keeps growing, right? Choosing to raise animals on grass is a quality-based decision, rather than cost-based. Cherry Grove Farm practices intensive rotational grazing. Our animals do not free range the large pastures, browsing at will, rather they are cordoned off in smaller sections of pasture so they graze more efficiently. Cows are moved sometimes multiple times in a day, to make sure the grass is grazed evenly and given time to rest and rejuvenate. This rotation also means that 1000 lb cows aren’t standing in the same place-for a long time, compacting the soils, crushing plant roots, and piling up manure (each of which are hard on plants and soils.) Kept moving, cows spread their manure, and graze, more evenly. Our cows become part time farmhands, doing some of our farm labor. But lacking opposable thumbs, they are not a help with much more than mowing and manure spreading. Moving a herd 1-2 times a day takes hands to move and set up mobile fences, reset water lines, bring out the hay in winter.
We also don’t have one large herd of cows. Effectively, we have three herds, as not all the cows are milked at once, or kept together. Unlike a conventional dairy where cows are kept pregnant and milking almost constantly, our cows get rest periods in between pregnancies (that is the “dry herd”). We have the milkers, the dry herd, and the cows that are too young, or not able to milk, both heifers and young bull calves. That is three herds to be moved daily, all to keep the land healthy and productive. Healthy land produces healthy forage, which in turn makes for healthy cows. The quality of milk (or meat) you get from a healthy grass-fed herd is significantly different from conventional herds and we rely on great milk to make our cheeses.
So, we begin with higher labor costs than a conventional farm, add on labor to make hay all season, minerals and animal health supplies, additional processing costs around cheese making and meat processing/packaging, and then set a price with a reasonable margin for profit, because without profit we cannot sustain the business.
Much the same goes for our resale products, made locally by small-batch producers. None of the makers who are sold through our farm are large scale producers. All struggle with the cost of quality ingredients and valuing their time to make an outstanding, healthy product. They set wholesale prices to cover their costs and labor (plus a little profit) and we mark up on that. We could buy a more mass produced product for less per unit cost, but that would fly in the face of what we believe and what we profess to you, our customer. We support local makers to ensure they are still making clean healthy foods for all of us in the months and years to come.
It seems upside down that a small farm down the road would have to charge so much more than a huge faceless company that ships foods in from everywhere. But our national food system evolved in this way, with the deck stacked for large agribusiness. In order to raise and offer a superior product, and to stay in business, we have to cover our costs with enough profit to pay our staff and keep investing in the business… so that we can be here offering you clean healthy foods in the months and years to come.
It’s a journey and we are glad to have you with us.