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The Energy Crisis and its Role in Agriculture

By Seacoast Eat Local Intern, Samantha

Agriculture is the method of farming which includes growing crops and reproducing animals for food, materials and other products. Unfortunately, global agricultural systems are collapsing because of the increase in the human population and the degrading of land and water which is affecting the energy demand and supply. Many scientists believe the high human population outruns the carrying capacity for the planet. Additionally, there’s a limited amount of space for agricultural land and water. The global agriculture is also being affected by an energy crisis.

windmill

The energy crisis consists of increased demand for energy, but a decrease in supply. Coal, oil, and gas are needed in considerably high amounts for the conventional household and most industries. All of these sources produce high amounts of greenhouse gases which increases the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is a natural process where the sun heats up the planet’s surface. Some of the sun’s energy reflects back to space and is absorbed. The rest of the heat is trapped by greenhouse gases like water vapor, carbon dioxide and methane in Earth’s atmosphere causing the extra heat to raise the planet’s average temperature. Human activities related to unsustainable massive scale agriculture, clearing land, and burning fossil fuels are all contributing to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Conventional agriculture needs diesel for tractors and transportation of produce. Also, coal is needed to produce many fertilizers. Currently, coal is declining which means the amount of fertilizer produced is too. Without coal, there is a decline in crop yields from traditional agriculture. Additionally, electricity is needed for irrigation which is the process of giving water to land typically through a channel. Without the proper drainage and flooding of crops, many can get destroyed. Overall, if there isn’t enough energy for agriculture, then more intense labor is necessary.

All of this doesn’t mean agriculture is going to suffer and significantly decline. As the agriculture industry evolves, a focus on renewable energy sources and more efficient systems will be needed to produce enough food to support the population. Sustainable agriculture that feeds local regions will yield a more sustainable food supply than the global agricultural and distribution systems discussed above. Everyone needs to do their part and support different solutions to the energy crisis. Unlike fossil fuels, there are sources out there that are fully renewable. This includes solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal energy. Also, people need to be more efficient and conserve energy within households by switching light bulbs to LED bulbs for example. Additionally, reducing dependence on gasoline whenever possible and shopping locally will all ensure our planet can support our needs for generations to come.

Three Onion Soup

With the Seacoast of New Hampshire just getting its first snowfall of the season yesterday, I thought focusing on a warming recipe would be appropriate. This three onion soup is versatile, and with onions being so easy to find at farms and farmers’ markets right now, it makes it super easy to throw together for a chilly evening’s dinner. You can also throw this in the slow cooker to get the most out of the flavors.

Ingredients

1 pound yellow onion

1 pound white onion

1 cup shallots

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons butter

4 cups vegetable broth

1 Tablespoon coconut aminos or Worcestershire sauce

2 cups water

1 tablespoon flour

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon ground thyme

1 teaspoon ground sage

1/2 teaspoon rosemary

Your choice of cheese for melting over the top

 

Directions

Heat the butter in a dutch oven until melted and starting to bubble.

Add chopped onion, garlic, and salt and pepper.

Cover and cook until the onions start to brown and are fork tender.

Take the cover off and continue to cook the onions until they are brown and fully caramelized.

Once the onions start to stick add a little water, about a teaspoon to get them off the bottom.

Add the flour and cook with the onions for 2 minutes.

At this point you can transfer to a slow cooker and add all remaining ingredients or continue with the directions as follows.

Add the broth, water, thyme, sage, and rosemary.

Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to get all the bits stuck to the bottom off as it is cooking.

Cook for 30 minutes and then add the Worcestershire sauce, mix well.

Transfer to individual bowls and sprinkle with cheese (you can also put oven safe dishes in the oven to melt the cheese even more if you prefer).

Enjoy!

 

Vendor Spotlight: 45 Market Street Bakery and Cafe

45 Market Street Bakery and Cafe out of Somersworth, New Hampshire is well known for all the amazing treats and goodies they serve at the cafe and bring to local farmers’ markets. The bakery owned by Cheryl Arsenault and Seacoast Eat Local’s very own Celeste Gingras has been in business for over 15 years, but the recent newlyweds have a combined over 75 years restaurant experience! The experience shows when you take a bite into any of the items they have for sale. The bakery and cafe has a wonderful selection of baked goods, but also offers a breakfast and lunch menu. Everything is scratch made at the bakery from the bread for the sandwiches to the sought after whoopie pies that are always flying off the shelf. They have a passion for sourcing local food and often many of their ingredients are purchased from the very farms you see at the farmers’ markets and in our local area. You may have also heard of them before because they were featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, a television show on the Food Network (2016-“Turkey-giving”).

You can stop into their brick and mortar location in Somersworth, New Hampshire, as the name suggests, on 45 Market Street. Upon entering, you will always be greeted with a smile by the knowledgable and talented staff. They are open Tuesday-Saturday, and take call-in orders a head of time too, whether it be for catering or breakfast/lunch. On any given day you can walk into the bakery and find fresh baked cookies, tea breads, muffins, scones, breads, coffee cakes, whoopie pies, and so much more. You can also find them this winter at the Seacoast Eat Local Rollinsford and Exeter farmers’ markets. Make sure you stop by their table to say hello and grab a tasty treat, the cookies and beverages are always very popular!

Online you can find them on Facebook, Instagram, and featured on the Food Network website.

Easy Butternut Squash Soup

This butternut squash soup is super simple to make, and stores great in the refrigerator for the week! The soup is vegan and gluten-free, and can be modified to your tastes. If you want to make this super simple by not peeling the butternut squash, you can cut the tops and bottoms off, remove the seeds, bake and scrape out the cooked squash. However, the taste that comes with roasting the cubes is more flavorful in my opinion.
Ingredients
2 Medium Butternut Squash
1 small yellow onion
1 carton vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
2 tablespoons oil (olive, coconut, or avocado oil)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Directions
Set oven to 400 degrees.
Chop tops and bottoms off of butternut squash off, and peel.
Once peeled, remove the seeds and chop the squash into cubes.
Lay the squash on lined a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil.
Sprinkle salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until fork tender.
In a soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and add chopped onion.
Cook the onion until translucent.
Add the butternut squash, onion, coconut milk, and broth to a blender in batches, blend until smooth.
Pour the soup into the pot and heat for 10 minutes stirring frequently making sure not to burn the soup.
Add salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg to taste.
Enjoy!
This can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.

Vendor Spotlight: Vernon Family Farm

Vernon Family Farm is a family owned farm out of Newfields, New Hampshire. It’s located on 33 acres of conserved land along the Piscassic River. The farm was founded in 2014 by Jeremiah and Nicole Vernon and has a focus on providing the local community with healthy and nutrient dense food choices. Vernon Family Farm sells a variety of products including mushrooms, chicken, and vegetables.
The farm provides food to many local restaurants and you can find their products at these restaurants. The farm also offers flexible debit CSA opportunities that you can learn more about by clicking here. There is an event happening tomorrow, Friday November 1st, on the Wicked Chicken Patio, called Rotisserie and Noodlephant reading with local children’s author Jacob Kramer. Entry only costs $5 per child!
The farm store is open daily from 9:00am-6:00pm year round and you can find them at Summer Exeter and Portsmouth farmers’ markets and the winter Exeter and Rollinsford farmers’ markets. Make sure you stop by their tent at the next farmers’ market to say hello and check out the products they have to offer.
You can find them online one their website, Facebook, and Instagram.

How Does Climate Change Relate to Retail?

Blog post by Seacoast Eat Local Intern, Samantha

There is no doubt that cities around the world produce a high volume of global CO2 emissions. This is why many cities around the world are adapting to new ways of living that help out the world’s environment. Many of the nation’s states are aiming for renewable energy sources by 2040. The cities on the west coast are aiming for zero-emission transportation. Some cities are planting millions of trees while others are retrofitting skyscrapers. However, they need to go deeper than what is directly happening in the city. Tackling emissions from products made around the world, from food to clothes and mobile phones, that end up in our homes and communities is a significant issue. This is how climate change can associate with shopping habits.

Bananas are grown, harvested, and dispatched in Guatemala. Then, they are packaged and transported to the loading port where they cross the ocean with a ship that runs on unclean fuel to an unloading port. Next, the bananas are transported to a ripening facility and placed in environmental conditions that get them ripe within five days, which drastically alters their nutritional makeup. After they achieve the ideal ripeness, they get in an 18-wheeler truck that runs on diesel across the nation. The individual who buys a bunch of bananas from a nearby grocery store in New Hampshire is partially responsible for that very long carbon footprint, simply by making the choice to purchase bananas.

This is why local is best. It reduces one’s carbon footprint outside of the city in which they live. Local farmers’ markets, farm stands, and CSAs are a great way to support the food that is grown by farmers just miles away from your house. Also, thrift shops are a good way to reduce your dependence on newly manufactured products from around the world by reusing items people don’t want anymore. As a kid, many people hated getting their siblings’ hand-me-downs, but this is actually a great way to reduce a family’s carbon footprint and support locally owned “second-hand shops.” Where can you and your family cut down on your carbon footprint associated with shopping and spending?

Creamy Purple Cauliflower Rice

This creamy purple cauliflower rice is vegan and gluten free! It’s a perfect side dish for any meal or it can serve as a meal on its own with a couple additions thrown in. This works just as well with regular cauliflower or broccoli and is both tasty and filling. I chose to use the purple variety because of its vibrant color and availability at the farmers’ market.

Serves: 2 as a side, or 1 as a meal

Ingredients

1 head of purple cauliflower

1 tablespoon oil or butter

1/2 cup of cashews (soaked for 30 minutes or more in water)

1/2 cup almond milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup cherry tomatoes

Kalamata olives

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Wash the cauliflower.

Chop the base of the cauliflower off, remove the leaves, and chop the cauliflower into florets that can be held in the palm of the hand. If you are using a grater this just makes it easier, if using a food processor the cauliflower can be chopped into rough pieces.

Put the cauliflower in a food processor and blend until the texture resembles rice. You can also use a grater if you don’t have a food processor.

Drain the soaked cashews and add to a blender with almond milk and lemon juice. Blend well and it should resemble a smooth cream sauce, if you need to loosen it, you can add more almond milk. Set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of butter or oil in a pan. Bring down to medium heat.

Add the riced cauliflower to the pan and let it heat up, mixing it around so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Do this for 5-10 minutes then add chopped cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives.

Remove from the heat and add the cashew cream making sure to mix well.

Add salt and pepper to taste, if you like garlic you may also add garlic powder at this stage as well.

You can squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top to freshen it up.

Enjoy.

Vendor Spotlight: Doo-Bee-Doo Farm

Doo-Bee-Doo farm is a newer farm, founded in 2018, located in Lee, NH. The farm was started by two friends who met studying agriculture at the University of New Hampshire. It’s located on a 125 acre historic horse farm and Doo-Bee-Doo covers 1-2 acres (they started with 1 acre but are looking to expand in 2019 to 2 acres). They have a focus on intensified organic vegetable production and a passion in growing fresh and healthy food which is also beneficial to the environment. Shelby Anderson and Tyler Murray, the owners, focus on soil health by utilizing cover crops, which builds soil organic matter, and by planting pollinator habitats for their bees. No synthetic fertilizers or pesticides are used and they follow organic growing practices entirely. You can find a comprehensive produce list of their offerings here.

You can find them at the Portsmouth farmers’ market for the remainder of the season and at the Rollinsford farmers’ markets in the winter. They always offer a friendly face at markets and are passionate about the product they offer to customers (they have some really creative a beautiful creations with their garlic and flowers too!). They are a member of the Three River Farmer’s Alliance. They also offer a CSA option for individuals interested and you can find more information here.

You can find them on their website, Facebook, Instagram, and their Seacoast Harvest listing.

Climate Change and Its Effect on Agriculture

Post by Seacoast Eat Local Intern: Samantha

Climate change has been a hot topic in recent years, and for good reason. Climate carries massive importance to agriculture by managing and enhancing crop production. Something people often overlook is how minor changes in the climate can introduce problems for farmers. Some of these problems include the introduction of new pests to a farm. The nation already relies too much on fertilizers and pesticides because of the increase in pest and insect population. Therefore, farms that do not use pesticides and focus on providing quality organic products can be impacted in major ways due to new pests finding a home in their farms. Not only are the insects and pests an issue but they can introduce disease to various crops. If the temperatures remain warmer the disease can spread more rapidly and easily. Temperature and rainfall changes will damage the way the crops grow and how well the crops sustain fruit, vegetation, and nutrition. Future rainfalls are going to be more intense with heavier downpours or even long droughts. Timing of rainfalls and snow are going to lead to uneven water availability and needs across the region. Additionally, changes in temperatures and rainfall increases the chance of wildfires and ozone pollution. Climate change’s effect on farms can even impact the nutritional quality of food. If the plant is not receiving the proper carbon dioxide levels, rain, or is exposed to dangerous pests and disease it can have lower nutritional values.

In conclusion, the number of crops from the country are expected to decline because of increased temperatures, changes in water availability, disease and pests. Climate change is expected to make agricultural goods change in availability and increase in price. Everyone needs to make a change to help reduce climate change and continue to support local farmers’ markets and farms. Understanding how climate change can impact local farms can help raise an awareness of the issue.

Read more about climate change and its impact on agriculture here: https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2019/august/climate-change-likely-to-have-uneven-impacts-on-agricultural-productivity/