If you are looking for one of the most unique dining experiences in Orange County, you will find it at Future Foods Farms in Brea.
Future Foods Farms is the brain-child of award-winning Chef and urban-garden innovator Adam Navidi. One Saturday a month, Adam hosts a “farm to table” dinner and farm tour of his organic, sustainable aquaponic farm.
Aquaponic farms are on-site food production systems, combining aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water without soil). The fish waste provides food for the plants and the plants naturally filter the water the fish live in, in a symbiotic, closed-loop system.
From the time I first met Adam while writing an article for OC Metro back in January, I wanted to attend one of his farm-to-table dinners. Finally, this past weekend, we made it happen. “Wow”, is all I can say. The experience truly exceeded my expectations.
When we arrived at the farm and entered the first greenhouse, we were greeted with champagne and a welcoming family-style table.
Once all the guests arrived (courtesy of the farm’s white shuttle van), Adam greeted us and took us on a tour of the farm.
On the tour, Adam provided great detail about his aquaponic growing systems and sustainability initiatives. From the reclaimed items used to build the farm, to the multiple-bed gravity flow system and state-of-the-art recirculation system that require little water or energy to operate, Future Foods Farms is truly sustainable from source material to end product. The farm uses no insecticides, pesticides, or chemical sprays. A methane power plant supplies what little energy the farm needs, and a team of 300 goats provide weed abatement.
It is exciting to see how truly passionate Adam is about sustainable, organic food. With a goal of changing the face of agriculture in America, Adam believes “Someday great chefs will be known not only by the recipes and methods they cook their food with, but by the recipes and methods they grow their food with.”
The passion Adam has for growing food is matched by his passion for preparing it. After the farm tour, we were in for the real treat of the night – a six-course meal prepared using food from the farm. Anything that can not be found on the farm (like the meats) is sustainably sourced from other local farmers.
Every course was a work of art that tasted as good as it looked. You can actually taste the creativity and dedication Chef Adam puts into the food in each bite. The salad in the large photo below, was honestly the best salad I have ever had in my life and I am not exaggerating. It was creative, different, and absolutely delicious.
We went with some friends who are big time foodies, and we all agreed, it was one of the best meals we have had in recent memory.
If you are interesting in experiencing this one-of-a-kind dinner, either on a date, with friends, or even for a group, here are some of the details:
Farm-To-Table Organic Farm Tours & Tastings are generally one Saturday a month. The next one is scheduled for November 16th. You can check for other upcoming dates here.
Tour begins at 5 pm in Fall and Winter due to the early sunset.
Cost is $95 per person and is all-inclusive (tour, dinner, gratuity & tax). Groups of up to 40 can be accommodated.
You can bring your favorite bottle of wine or beer (no corkage fee) to pair with your tasting. A glass of champagne and non-alcoholic beverages are provided – the lemon-grass water is delicious.
Wear comfortable, low shoes and bring a sweater or light jacket. Although there is a heater in the greenhouse, it cools off pretty quickly when the sun goes down.
Click here to reserve your date today. You will not be disappointed!
I’m a big believer in supporting local artists and goods made in the USA. At the Harvest Festival, you can do both.
The Festival is the West Coast’s largest indoor craft showcase, offering over 24,000 handcrafted, “Made in the USA” originals at affordable prices. There will be hundreds of exhibits featuring ceramics, paintings, jewelry, hand blown glass, antique treasures, children’s accessories, hand woven clothing, photography, candles, woodwork, sculptures, ornaments, Halloween treasures, and more.
With a Kidzone with interactive play, strolling performers, live music, specialty foods, and more, there is plenty to do for all ages.
You can win a family four-pack of tickets (good for the entire weekend) by leaving a comment below. In your comment, I’d like to hear if you’ve been to the festival before. If you have, what are the “can’t miss” products and activities that you recommend? The winner will be chosen via random.org on Monday, October 7th and notified via email (please make sure the email you provide with your comment is valid – email address is not published).
Here’s the scoop on the festival:
When: October 11-13, 2013
Where: Anaheim Convention Center, Hall E, 800 West Katella Avenue, Anaheim
Hours: Friday & Saturday 10:00am to 6:00pm; Sunday: 10:00am to 5:00pm
Tickets: Adults: $9, Seniors (62+) $7, Youths (13-17) $4, Kids 12 & under are free (Tickets are good for the entire weekend).
I recently went back-to-school shopping with my kids, who will both be in Jr. High this year. Hold me.
How can my kids be that old? How am I going to handle two with the raging tween/teen hormones? When did this happen? How did this happen? (wait, don’t answer that)
Don’t get me wrong, I actually love the ages they are right now. They are funny, and interesting, and opinionated and smart, and finally laugh at my jokes – well, not all of them but at least a few. Also, I can leave them home for short periods of time. I don’t have to drag two kids around with me everywhere I go this summer. Freedom!
Except when I take them back-to-school shopping. For that, they need to come along to offer their opinions – and boy, they have no shortage of those.
I remember fondly the days of grade school.
Those days they would sit together in that over-sized shopping cart – the one that sort of feels like you are pushing a Zamboni around the store – while I loaded the cart with all the items I picked out for them (organic cotton shirts – fine, recycled paper – great, organic shampoo and hand sanitizer – no problem) and our shopping trip went more like this,
“Put that down.”
“Stop touching your sister.”
“No you can’t unbuckle and run around the store…Wait, come back here!”
And while those days were challenging for many reasons, I appreciate that when shopping, I was free to choose and purchase any items that I wanted. They pretty much went with the flow.
Now, it’s all changed. Back-to-school shopping has become an endless series of negotiations.
My daughter Emma asks, “Mom, can I have this notebook?” I answer, “How about this one, it’s made from recycled paper?” She responds, “Yes, but this one is turquoise.”
Over in the makeup aisle, Emma says “Mom can I have this Revlon lipstick?” I respond (not even looking at it) “No.”
She finds another brand I’ve never heard of, “How about this one?” She hands it over and I read the label, “The first ingredient is petroleum. Put it back.”
Not one to give up easily, Emma finds a third and says “What about this EOS lip gloss? You said it was okay last time.” Giving in, I say “Okay, that one.”
This endless series of negotiations lasted through pencils (they want the mechanical ones with the plastic outsides instead of regular biodegradable wood ones), pens (the giant pack of colored ones we don’t really need), binders (do those have PVC in them or not? I can’t tell).
I was at the point of exhaustion when this exchange happened:
Emma: “You know, Ellis (my son) is going to need deodorant for his PE locker. We need to get an extra one for him.”
Ellis: “Mom, can I please, please have some regular deodorant? I promise I’ll still wear the natural one at home, but I don’t want the other boys to make fun of me at school.”
So right there, in the middle of Target, I had an I-really-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing mom moment.
Balancing on the one hand, wanting to protect my kids from chemicals and do the best I can to raise them in a healthy environment. On the other hand, concern about my son, off to a new school where very few of his friends are going – off to the world of Jr. High, and changing for P.E. and tall boys who look closer to men than to anything resembling my son.
Ultimately I said “Yes, let’s pick out some regular deodorant to put in your locker.” I cringed and he smiled.
At the end of our shopping trip, Emma said “Mom, we’ll load everything on the check-out counter. Don’t worry. We got this.” And Ellis smiled. And I got suspicious.
As I glanced over, I saw that they had conspired to hide a big bottle of Dr. Pepper under our items when I wasn’t looking. I picked it up and handed it right back to them. They knew it wasn’t going to happen. But they got a good laugh out of it and so did I.
So I admit, sometimes I’m not a very good “green mom”. I let them get the turquoise binder, and the regular deodorant, and the giant container of colored pens that they really don’t need. But I do know that I am a good mom – and Jr. High will require some balance and compromise on both sides. Peer pressure will be powerful, but I hope that I’ve said things enough times in enough different ways, that they will remember my words later, in the key moments when they need to make good decisions.
Well, that and I made them put back the Dr. Pepper.
If you are headed to the Orange County Fair this summer, consider doing something we don’t normally do here in Orange County – take the bus!
We did. It’s super easy and convenient, reduces traffic congestion and emissions, and is a good experience for the kids too.
You can catch the OC Fair Express any Friday, Saturday and Sunday until the fair ends on August 11th. The OC Fair Express provides direct bus service to and from the fair for just $2 each way from any one of eight locations: Fullerton, Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, Anaheim, Tustin, Laguna Hills, Irvine, and the Junipero Serra Park and Ride location. For route maps and schedule for all these locations, click here.
Tip: Make sure you have exact change for your fare to the fair.
I didn’t read the fine print (“have exact change ready”), so I had to dig around my purse for ones and quarters. I still didn’t have enough, but some nice fellow-rider kindly gave me the 75 cents I was short so the kids and I could board the bus and get to the fair. I love Orange County!
You can also take the Metrolink to the Anaheim Canyon, Santa Ana or Irvine Metrolink Station and connect with OCTA’s OC Fair Express. Just show your valid Metrolink ticket for a FREE ride to the OC Fair. The non-stop bus will drop you off in front of the Fair’s yellow gate.
Best of all, both OC Express and Metrolink customers receive a coupon good for $3 Fair Admission—that’s up to $8 off for each admission! So skip traffic, save on parking and get discounted admission with the OC Fair Express!
Once you are there, relax. Your ride back home will be waiting for you right outside the gates – no fighting to get out of the parking lot. Only downside – no long trek to your car at the back of the parking lot to walk off all that fair food you just ate. But that’s okay. That’s what tomorrow is for right?
When I announced a couple weeks ago to my kids that I was attending an Angels game later that night, they looked at me puzzled. “You mean, just you are going? Without us and even without Dad?” they asked.
“Yep, without you and without Dad. Just me and some friends.”
After the kids recovered from shock, I headed off (for the first time ever to a game without my family) to meet one of my favorite Angels fans and fellow OC Family blogger Jenelyn. She introduced me to Ellen Bell, and Lana Waggoner, who were also guests that night of The Smile Generation, a big supporter of The Angels Foundation.
We headed into Angels Stadium, excited for the game and especially excited because it was Mike Trout hat night.
It was a close game. We thought the Angels were going to pull it off when they tied it up in the eighth inning, but sadly, ended with another loss.
Clearly, I’m no sports writer – for a much better review of this game and the Angels season as a whole, check out Jenelyn’s Rally Monkey Mom blog here at OC Family.
Although the Angels did not win, I still left the game with a big smile on my face. I got to spend some much needed girl-time with some really cool people and talk about family, kids, writing, and of course, Angels baseball. I met Ellen, who is about the cutest person ever, and Lana, who had me cracking up all night. I also was able to spend time with Jenelyn, who is just so genuinely nice, and one of my favorite people.
It isn’t always about the win, but about enjoying the game. Any trip to the Big A is a good day in my book.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the Angels recent winning streak doesn’t have me smiling too.
A “green mom” note:
Although I wore my Trout hat proudly throughout the game – and made many of my Facebook friends jealous with my score of this novelty item – I had to ignore the voice in my head that said, “this is probably made in a sweatshop in China from petroleum-based material and I’ll never wear it again”. Yes, these are the things that run through my head daily. Sad I know.
But hey, at least it didn’t come wrapped in a plastic bag. It’s the small victories.
The Mike Trout hat (which now resides in my husband’s man-cave) and other giveaways make the season fun and put a smile on kids’ faces – or even adults in this case. I further justified, that I can offset all that petroleum-based material and sweatshop labor by making the Angels game a bit greener in other ways, like:
Greening my peanuts and beer – my two ballpark staples. Better and cheaper than buying at the park, I usually bring my own peanuts. I buy them in bulk, fill up a reusable plastic container and toss them in my Angels bag (another giveaway – and a useful one) for the game. For beer, I try to choose beers served in aluminum cans over those in a plastic cup – then make sure I recycle the cans in the recycling bins at the stadium or at home.
Better snacking – for healthier more sustainable ballpark snacks, there is Melissa’s Fresh to You (located at 1st and 3rd base Food Courts, sections 204, 317, 334 and 417) featuring healthy wraps, salads, fruit cups, hummus and pita chips, gluten-free hot dogs, and gluten-free beer. You can also bring your own healthy snacks to the game – eat better, save money.
I’m still waiting for Major League Baseball to give the okay to bring my Klean Kanteen to the game, but I understand why they don’t. For now, they do allow you to bring your own bottled water as long as it is “store bought” clear plastic bottle and no larger than 1 Liter. Make sure you recycle those plastic bottles too!
Thank you so much to the Smile Generation for hosting us that night, for their support of the Angels Baseball Foundation, and for putting a smile on my face.
School’s out for summer! My kids finally get out of school today! It feels like we are literally the last people to begin summer, and the past couple of weeks have been a crawl to the finish line. We have been on total countdown to summer.
Now that school is out and it’s time for summer, it’s time to do something with all the old school supplies lingering in desks and backpacks. But before you toss them in the trash, here are some things that can be reused or recycled:
Backpacks – The American Birding Association accepts backpacks in usable condition for reuse, for scientists to carry their gear in on birding expeditions. Just think, your child’s backpack can go from schlepping lunches and binders around elementary school to holding supplies for tracking exotic birds in the tropics. How cool is that?
Books – If they can’t be donated, paperback books can be tossed in your recycling bin. Hardcover books need to have the cover removed, then the paper can be recycled.
Clothing – of course if it’s usable, donate it to your local charitable organization. For stained, ripped, or otherwise unusable clothing, recycle it at your local H&M store. As part of their garment recycling program, you get a coupon for 15% off one item for each bag of clothing you turn in for recycling.
Crayons – You can recycle broken or unusable crayons through the Crazy Crayons recycling campaign. Check out this page for details and shipping address for the crayons.
Glue – all bottles marked with a #1 or #2 triangle on the bottom are recyclable. For glue sticks that require a special type of recycling, consider encouraging your classroom to participate in the Elmer’s Glue Crew recycling program, where classrooms collect and return glue bottles to Elmer’s for recycling, and in turn receive 2 cents donated to the classroom for each bottle returned.
Paper – of course you know you can recycle paper, but what about those crafts and other handmade items your kids come home with. Here are some general tips:
OK to recycle – You can recycle stapled paper, colored paper, paper with ink, post-it notes with pressure sensitive adhesive, file folders, pendaflex folders (remove metal rod first) and most spiral bound notebooks (just remove the cover if it is plastic and toss in the rest – the recycling machinery will pull out the metal spiral during the recycling process).
Not recyclable – Painted paper; waxed, coated or laminated paper; paper contaminated with food waste; paper with stickers or tape – though you can remove the sticker or tape and recycle the paper.
Plastics – any plastic item (pencil boxes, pens, water bottles, lunch containers) that has a number in a triangle at the bottom can be recycled. If you are a Waste Management customer in Orange County, you can toss all of these numbered plastics in your curbside collection bin.
At a minimum, set aside usable items and reuse them next school year – don’t throw out those half glue sticks and crayons…use them next year. If you really must buy new, donate your old supplies to your local school or charity. Or, like this creative Nevada teen did, start a school supply recycling campaign.
With a little time and effort, you can ensure that this year’s school supplies don’t become next year’s landfill waste.
And then, go out and enjoy the beach. Cheers to summer!
I love to wake up in the morning to farm fresh produce on my front porch. It makes getting out of bed so much easier – well, that and coffee – but still, I was excited to get out of bed this morning to see what good stuff I had waiting on my porch.
I forgot how much I enjoyed it. When I moved a couple of years ago, the company that was delivering my produce said they wouldn’t be able to deliver to my new address. I haven’t found anyone to fill the bill until now.
I opted for an every-other week shipment. The produce is fresh, seasonal, and grown using organic farming methods. It arrives in a box that you return for reuse at your next shipment.
It’s like a little present on your doorstep. Each box is a surprise, including the freshest in-season fruits and vegetables.
Here’s today’s shipment:
Fresh kale, lettuce, leaks, onions, oranges, blueberries and more.
I like that I am supporting local, organic, sustainable agriculture, and buying produce that is in-season. I also like the “surprise” factor of getting some fruits or vegetables that I may not have found at my local store, or may not have ventured to try, like this Romanesco -
It’s like a work of art, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten it. I’m reading all about it now and looking for a good recipe. If anyone has one, please let me know.
I plan to put all this produce to good use in the next week or so. If I can’t use all in time, I wash, dry and freeze it for later use. Like the kale – I’ll use half now, and break up and freeze half later for using in smoothies.
You can also order Tanaka Farms CSA boxes for pickup at the Tanaka Farms produce stand in Irvine or at Whole Foods locations across Orange County. For more information on that program, visit the Tanaka Farms CSA Program page.
Biking is good for your body, good for the environment, and good for your wallet. To see just how much you can save by biking versus driving, check out this cool page, Going Car Free Can Make you a Millionaire, from bicycle universe.
Now, realistically, we aren’t going to give up our cars and become millionaires, but we can all swap out our car for a day, for a trip, or maybe even for a month – while saving money and reducing emissions.
The weather is gorgeous. No better time than now to swap your ride.
To celebrate bike month, OCTA is hosting a bike rally on Thursday, May 16th from 7:30-9:00am in Old Town Orange. The ride will be from the Orange Metrolink station to OCTA headquarters. Metrolink is offering FREE rides that day to anyone who boards with a bike.
OCTA is also sponsoring a month-long Instagram photo contest. Just post your photos with the hashtag #bikeOC and be entered to win prizes like a Trek commuter bike, cycling bags, and other gear.
For the afternoon, the day, or commuting to and from work all month long, swap your ride and give biking a try. It’s a great way to enjoy all the beauty Orange County has to offer.
I recently had the opportunity to check out Green2go restaurant in Brea and meet with it’s founders, Anita Allison and Joulia Kallah. Allison and Kallah are two moms on a mission – “to change the face, the depth and breadth, of ‘fast food’, making healthy eating easy, delicious and affordable for everyone.”
Which should be music to the ears of all busy moms trying to feed their families healthy, organic meals in between homework and driving back and forth for after-school sports and activities.
Today, almost five years after the concept for this restaurant was born, these two moms are on their way to achieving that goal at their current location in Brea.
One visit to the restaurant – whether you are dining in, taking meals to go, or just stopping by for some local organic produce from the Green2go farmer’s market – and you can feel the warm family-friendly atmosphere.
With affordable, kid-friendly meals like pasta marinara, burgers, fish tacos, and even organic mac-n-cheese, there are menu items to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters in your family.
Although many of the menu items are traditional, the difference at Green2go is that each ingredient they use serves a purpose – either because of its nutritional density, health benefits and cleanliness (lack of chemicals and additives); or because it is local, organic, and in season. In addition, Green2go’s ingredients only come from small farmers and ranchers who follow strict organic and humane practices.
Recently, Allison and Kallah partnered with Adam Navidi of Future Foods Farms in Brea. Their combined talents make Green2go the go-to spot for healthy, affordable, family-friendly meals, as well as a market where customers can purchase the local organic greens grown at Future Foods Farms. And from their biodegradable to-go packaging, to their reuse of aluminum foil from the restaurant out on the farm (as a bird deterrent), Allison, Kallah, and Navidi have a shared vision of being “the most sustainable restaurant around.”
In addition to pre-made menu items, which you can eat there or take with you, you can stop by the farmers market to find seasonal, local, organic produce – or even stumble upon unique treats like these mini mandarin oranges I discovered there that my kids are now obsessed with.
Green2go is located at 2435-A East Imperial Highway, in the Brea Union Plaza, at the corner of East Imperial Highway and Shopping Mall Way. The restaurant and market are open Wednesday through Sunday, from 11:00am to 9:00pm.
Use Natural Hand Sanitizers – most hand sanitizers contain antibacterial agents that cause more harm than good. They can lead to antibiotic resistance and the creation of superbugs. Soap and water are usually all anyone needs to get the job done. If you want to send your kids to school with a hand sanitizer, there are lots of good natural ones using a simple solution of alcohol and natural fragrances. I carry this EO Hand Sanitizing Spray in my purse. It smells great, is all organic, and kills germs. You can also make your own hand sanitizer at home – no harsh chemicals required.
Stop germs at the front door. As soon as you enter the house, take off your shoes and head straight to the sink to wash your hands with warm water and soap. Stop the bugs before they get in.
Put down the disinfectant sprays – Instead of exposing your family to potential toxins, try homemade solutions. A simple vinegar and water (50/50 mix) solution does have antimicrobial properties. Various studies have found that store-bought vinegar (a 5 percent acetic acid), in combination with table salt or hydrogen peroxide, can inhibit the growth of some strains of E. coli and is an effective mold killer.
But for fighting the flu virus specifically, it’s safer to go with Chlorine bleach. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t recommend the use of chlorine bleach, due to the potential health and environmental problems. However, when it comes to controlling flu, it’s a proven winner, and you’re better off going with a diluted chlorine bleach solution than a pre-made disinfectant like Lysol. Lysol and other over-the-counter cleaners are not required to disclose their ingredients, many of which may be harmful to your family and the environment. But when you mix a homemade bleach solution, you’ll know exactly what’s in it. You can also reduce bleach’s health and environmental impact with these steps:
Don’t make it too concentrated. Look for a concentration of 5 to 10 percent to reduce your chances of experiencing respiratory and skin irritation.
Always dilute it. You don’t need much bleach to kill the flu virus. Just one-quarter cup of bleach in a gallon of water, or one tablespoon per quart, is all you need to disinfect surfaces.
Make small batches and use right away. Bleach solutions have the most potency when mixed right before they’re applied.
Never mix with other cleaners…like ever. Chlorine bleach could react with unlisted ingredients in commercial cleaners, like ammonia, to form toxic fumes.
The best defense is a good offense – healthy food, lots of water and rest. These are the keys to building up immunity to help you not get sick in the first place, or at least minimize flu symptoms and duration of the illness.
Hoping you and your family make it through flu season without getting struck down, and without bringing hazardous chemicals in your house. Fight the flu…naturally.