Alicia Bayer

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since Oct 13, 2017
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I'm a writer and a homemaking, homeschooling mother of 5 kids (ages 6 to 19). Our family does a lot of foraging of wild foods, organic gardening, homesteading and preserving. I am also the author of several books about foraging and nature studies, and I run a number of blogs and Facebook pages about foraging, homeschooling, natural living and living well on less.
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Recent posts by Alicia Bayer

Great thread!  I try to avoid Amazon, Walmart and the other big businesses.  We're in a rural area too but here are some things that work for us.

*  We have a membership to Costco, which is an hour and a half for us but worth it for stocking up on organic staples for our big family.

*  If I see something I like on Amazon, I search for the item on eBay to find an independent seller.  They tend to sell the same things for the same prices and the shipping is generally just as fast if you click to only search US sellers.  Since feedback is so crucial on eBay, sellers also tend to work hard to please you as opposed to Amazon where these days the sellers just rack up fake reviews and then create a new account once enough real (bad) reviews come in.

*  We also buy from Misfits Market.  We've been buying from them for about a year and for the most part I'm happy though the prices are higher lately and there are sometimes issues (for instance, in really cold weeks we've had damaged produce here in MN if it sat in a truck overnight and got frozen).  They are quick to refund bad produce though, especially if you comment on their Facebook page in the comments (do that if you don't get a good resolution from just clicking on their site and they will move fast to make it right).  I do not like their prices much lately on things like fruit but they have a lot of organic options and some seasonal things are very good prices for things like cabbage, zucchinis, daikon radishes, etc. and lots of things that you'd never find organic in the local stores here.  They are also building their offerings into more than produce, with meat and seafood now (with a cold pack) and pantry items.  Some of these are junk though and not organic, so check the individual listings.  If you want to join and get $10 off your first order, here's my affiliate link: COOKWME-IG1HMU.  It used to be that you had to build a box out of just lists of options, but now they let you just buy whatever you want and it's a flat $5.50 shipping fee as long as you meet the minimum order of $30.

*  We have a membership to Thrive co-op, which is an online store for organic and natural foods.  They sell shelf stable stuff and not produce, other than now you can also order frozen stuff if you meet a minimum of something like $100.  I haven't bought frozen but I often shop there for other stuff like healthy mayo, natural toothpaste and cleaning supplies, supplements, organic snacks, mushroom powders, keto and organic baking supplies, organic cereal, etc.  They cater to special diets like vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, keto, paleo, etc. too and you can even set the page to only show you things that meet your dietary requirements. They run fairly regular sales and offer things like this free expensive thing if you spend $49 today and stuff like that.  All of their products are non-GMO and most are organic.  Their prices tend to be fair, though not as cheap as buying in bulk.  If you are low income, they'll waive the yearly fee (I think it's $50?).  Here's my referral code if you want to join: http://thrv.me/pjfqyH.  I order from them fairly regularly, but I do tend to shop their sales.

*  I used to do Azure Standard but lately their prices have been increased and they're becoming a big business that's still trying to sell themselves as a small family business (they are still a family business, just a big one now).  Until a couple of years ago we'd buy cases of organic apples from there for around $22 for 20 pounds every fall and they were great quality, plus things like bulk grains, organic cereal, etc.  Now their apples are almost double the price and I can get almost everything cheaper elsewhere and still shop from ethical places.  They deliver by truck once a month to most locations in the US but you have to go to the drop off point to pick up, which is a couple of hours away from us and often at a really inconvenient time.  It can still be a good option, especially if you want to buy in bulk for things like baking supplies, natural cheese, vegan and vegetarian items, produce, etc.  Here's my affiliate link for them: https://www.azurestandard.com/?a_aid=18c34Y8HiN

*  We buy from local farms and farmers.  We get our beef from a regenerative farm a couple of hours away, and got it when they did a "clear the freezer" sale.  We get produce from a local farm.  It's not organic but it's local and they don't spray much.  We also shop the farmers' markets and such for the few organic vendors.

*  We grow our own and forage.  We forage a ton of wild mushrooms, apples and pears, wild asparagus, nettles, lambsquarters and other greens, elderberries, etc.  It's a large part of our food source and my kids always gasp at the idea of buying asparagus at the store.  :)

*  If you have a buy nothing group in your area, they're awesome.  Same with Freecycle.

*  Put the word out when you need/want things.  If you have any kind of social network like church newsletters or bulletin boards, friend groups, town FB group, etc. those are great for sharing want needs.  I have friends who probably haven't bought hobby supplies in years for instance, because they'll post something like "anybody have perler beads they don't need? my daughter is looking for some" or "anyone know where I can find a bird cage?" and at least one friend is usually quick to post that they'll give them one they have sitting around.  

*  Craig's List is good for used, larger item things.  We've found lots of great furniture through them.

Great thread!  Thanks for starting it.  
1 year ago
Hi!  I'm wondering if anybody has advice for installing outdoor steps/stairs for the entrance to our daughter's house.  She bought a small house very inexpensively but it doesn't have steps to the front door anymore.  It's about 2 feet up and we just launch ourselves up but I'd like to help her put some proper steps there.  Money is tight and we don't have much experience with building.  We've done small things together like installed laminate flooring and she and her ex redid the roof of the garage (he's a roofer and they're still good friends), so we can do some stuff but we're definitely newbies.  :)  

I've thought about wood, stone, concrete....  All of it seems pretty overwhelming, TBH.  We love the look of stone but I don't know of a source around here for flat stones and it's pricey to buy them from places like Menards.  

Any advice, oh wise ones?  Thanks so much!
1 year ago

Heather Aguiar wrote:Thank you for this recipe.  It's exactly what I was looking for in my first attempt at baking with newly made acorn flour.  Simple and highlights the acorn flavor!  Delicious!



I'm so glad you liked them!  
1 year ago
Our family loves nibbling wood sorrel for the lemony tang.  We put it in salads or sandwiches or top soups with a sprinkle, but mostly we just nibble it outside.    I put out a free non-profit nature/foraging magazine for kids and I featured wood sorrel in the March 2019 issue.  It's here if anybody wants to read it or download it.  It's in PDF form and you can read it online or save it and send it to your Kindle or just print it (I print it for my daughter each month so she can do the nature activity pages and such).

1 year ago
Thank you all for such good info and advice!  I'm off to look at links.  :)
2 years ago
I tried searching the forums but didn't see a topic about this.  I'm looking for the warmest socks that folks recommend (especially from small and sustainable companies).  We live in Minnesota and I have a blood condition that leads to poor circulation and painfully cold toes in the winter time.  I frequently have to take scalding foot baths during the days just to warm them up, as they get so cold the pain distracts me from anything else and they turn white or purple.  It also keeps me from enjoying winter sports like ice skating and sledding with my kids because my toes start to ache so quickly even with layers and good boots. Now I'm recovering from covid several months ago and even though it's summer I can't get my feet to stay warm even with socks on (this thing can affect your circulation, blood vessels, blood pressure and more for months).  I am not looking forward to fall if my toes are this icy when it's 90!  I'm also doing all I can to improve my circulation but it's not making a big difference.  I'd love to hear recommendations for brands, materials, etc. of socks that work really well.  TIA!
2 years ago
I'd be interested in testing too.  I tried to click on the link to read the rules but it said I didn't have access.  
2 years ago
We live in town but have a fair bit of perennials that we eat from our land.

Mainstays:

asparagus (some on our land and lots that we forage and then freeze, up to 60 pounds a year)
lambsquarters (use it like spinach, in smoothies, soups, casseroles, etc.)
nettles (used in smoothies, soups and casseroles, also as tea during sickness -- we mostly forage these and get them from my daughter's yard)
elderberries and elderflowers (used for medicine but also baking, wines and liqueurs, elderberry lemonade, elderflower fritters, etc.)
acorns (we forage ours and I would also add that you typically need to soak for far longer than 24 hours to get rid of tannins or do the boiling water method)
mints and herbs
cherries (tree and bush)
rhubarb
greens of all kinds
wild onion
maple sap and walnut sap
walnuts (from the streets in our neighborhood and parks)
apples for applesauce
pears for canned pears
some seeds, though they're not typically favorites and I usually just grind them and add them to gluten free flour mixes and crackers in small amounts

If you have access to cattails, they are great eating all seasons and different parts of the plant are good for different things.  We particularly like the young bottoms of the shoots in early spring, simmered and then served with a bit of butter and salt.

If you're just talking veggies, our standards are greens, asparagus, wild onions and herbs.  Acorns are a big part of our diet though, especially as they are so versatile (I have an acorn foraging book and cookbook that I've written, as we love them so much).  We use acorns for everything from polenta to tortillas to cookies to porridge to veggie meatballs to pie crust to an utterly delicious hot drink (racahout, an acorn based drink, was the original hot chocolate).  Fruits are other mainstays, especially elderberries (I have a foraging book and cookbook for elderberries and elderflowers too).  

Despite having a yard full of hostas and daylilies, I've still not tried cooking those.  I'm not sure why I can't get past the mental block but next year those are on the list to try.
2 years ago
I'm a long-time gardener for spring and summer gardening and have quite a few perennial crops on our property, but I'd really like to plant a fall garden this year, especially as I missed out on some spring crops because we were sick this year.  We're in zone 4 Minnesota and I know to look for really short season stuff at this point and for things that can take some frost.  

Anybody experienced with planting fall gardens in similar climates who has favorite crops to plant?  TIA!
I stumbled onto this resource while researching nature study topics and wanted to pass it on.  It's a free 110 page PDF on how to build rain gardens.  It's designed for schools and organizations and goes into very precise detail with step by step plans, a glossary, pictures of all kinds of rain gardens (at the end), planning info and lots more.  Here's the link.

Hope it helps someone!
2 years ago