I believe we tend to fear what we do not understand. How often in life have we overcome a fear once we learned more?

Recently a friend of mine was excited about a new peach flavor of a family favorite cereal. To share this new treasure, she posted a picture to Facebook.

Very quickly someone posted this comment, “The worst part of [cereal name removed by me to not slander the company] is trisodium phosphate. It’s an industrial cleaner that’s not even safe for household use, but they put it in our food!!!” A few others joined in on the negative comments to which my friend ultimately posted, “I fed this cereal to my kids their whole lives! I feel like such a bad mom now!!!” Yikes! My friend went from excitement to thinking she’s a bad mom! Is she really a bad mom?

An ingredient IN something does not mean that the ingredient IS that something. In addition, the same ingredient in more than one thing does not mean those things are the same either. Sodium bicarbonate is also used in heavy-duty cleaning just like the compound mentioned above. Other uses of sodium bicarbonate are to de-tarnish silver and to put out fires! If that’s the case it must be awful for us and we should never ingest it, right?

Not quite. Sodium bicarbonate is also known as baking soda. We add this to our foods because when it reacts with something like vinegar, lemon juice, milk, or honey it produces carbon dioxide gas which bubbles in your dough and causes the dough to rise. But wait, isn’t carbon dioxide toxic? Technically, yes, it is. People have died from carbon dioxide inhalation so are you a bad parent if you do any baking in your house? OK, this is clearly a ridiculous question so please do not send me angry emails. I’m being extreme to make a point that we need to understand more about substances in our foods and when we do understand more we can make an educated decision about the safety of the foods we eat.

There are just 92 naturally occurring elements, with just 25 of those being found in living things. Everything we come into contact with is made of elements that come together in amazingly different ways to make compounds with amazingly different properties. It’s glorious. (Please forgive my chemistry lesson. It is one of the things I love, and I could probably drone on for hours, but I’ll attempt to keep it brief.)  Just as these elements come together to make incredibly different compounds, compounds will come together to make incredibly different foods or materials that we use in every-day life. So now we need to understand the properties of the different compounds. Does it matter if they are combined with other compounds? And how does concentration come into play?

Concentration is HUGELY important. A quick example: would you willingly consume something that has been known to cause liver damage or even death? Would you give it to your children? If you thought no, you might want to think again. I’m talking about acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. A wonder drug when you have a headache or muscle ache. In low doses it is extremely helpful (and almost seems miraculous to a crying toddler with an ear infection!) but in high doses it is very harmful. So it’s not an easy answer. We need to have more understanding.

The short answer about trisodium phosphate is it’s not something you want to ingest in high concentration but in low concentrations it is safe for us and it actually provides food benefits. Food-grade trisodium phosphate is often used as a leavening agent for baked goods, an emulsifier for processed cheese, a flavorant for certain beverages, and to control the pH of processed foods. If you would like to read more, here’s a link to the Tennessee Poison Center’s post on the safety of this compound in your food: https://ww2.mc.vanderbilt.edu/poisoncenter/50686

I admit, it’s scary trying to read an ingredient label. And I don’t want to tell you that you should eat something you’re not comfortable eating. Just because I’ll continue eating said cereal, doesn’t mean you should if you choose to make that decision. I just wish we would focus more on eating less processed foods and eating more fruits and vegetables. Yes, I’m biased to that idea because yes, I’m a farmer and therefore I profit if you eat more produce. So of course I vote that you should add more apples to your diet! But it’s still the truth that choosing more fresh produce and reducing processed foods will be a far better way to improve your health than boycotting a cereal for having an ingredient that can also be used in a different way. Hopefully my friend doesn’t throw the box in the trash and take her kids to the nearest fried food venue or candy isle of the grocery store. Come on over to the orchard…we’ll be happy to help you pick out some “great-for-you” foods! :-)

The Pros and Cons of Working in the Kitchen at Paulus Orchards

No this isn’t the kitchen … it’s the cow train, but keep reading and it will make sense. I promise.
This past Wednesday, I was working on a project and I got a text from my kitchen manager. “Have you seen the list in the kitchen? Apparently some of the staff decided to make a list of the pros and cons of working in the kitchen.”
OK, put yourself in my place. What’s your first thought? I immediately dropped what I was doing and made a beeline to the kitchen. As I approached I could see a list carefully taped on the glass window opposite a menu item — opposite a menu item so customers couldn’t see the list. It had multiple types of handwriting so quite a few people were adding to it. Oh boy. I was nervous.
Would you read the pro or con list first? I went straight to the con.
Here are just 5 of the cons, with the last being my personal favorite:
  • When there’s no customers.
  • When someone orders 2 scoops of ice cream in a cone. (Note: our scoops are big)
  • When you’re working by yourself and wish you had someone to talk to.
  • Spending the money you just made on food you want to buy.
  • When one of the Pauluses orders something and you’re all of a sudden paranoid that everything you’re doing is wrong.
Having a good laugh is the best. It really makes a big impact in your day. OK, I can live with these cons. Not one of them was “bad.” I felt much better.

 

Here are 5 of the pros, again the last being my personal favorite:
  • Little kids who are excited to ask for their own orders.
  • Nice customers.
  • When there’s a new ice cream flavor.
  • There’s air-conditioning (Note: the rest of our staff don’t get this luxury!)
  • Those days in the fall when you get scheduled to drive kids around in the cow train instead of having a nervous breakdown in the kitchen.
I hope this made you chuckle too. If you’ve been to the farm on a fall weekend it can get a little crazy so you might be able to understand how driving the cow train sounds like a great idea! Ha! I don’t know who started the list, or who has since added to it, but I left the list on the window. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I really love our staff.

There’s a lot of good in this world. There’s a lot of good in our local community. I bet you know people who volunteer, and maybe you also volunteer. Maybe with coaching a children’s sport, or tutoring children or youth who need extra help, or helping adults learn how to read or speak English, or serving meals to the homeless, or donating supplies to shelters, or helping with animal rescue shelters, or helping fix or build homes for those in need, or visiting with the sick,  or…or…or….the list goes on. They’re all worthy. They’re all doing good. They all need financial support.

It’s truly no exaggeration that our farm receives about 100+ requests for donations every year. I never want to say no. Every request is for the good of our community. I want to help each organization. But how is that possible? Imagine if we donated $100 to each of those requests….$10,000. My heart says yes…my wallet says wait a minute…

We WANT to help! We truly do. Much thought has been put into a plan to find a way to help as many of these worthy groups as possible. And here’s that plan – we say YES to partnering with non-profit or not-for-profit organizations in a way that is mutually beneficial. There’s several options listed below. Check them out and then contact us (karen@paulusorchards.com) for more information and to see if you qualify. We truly look forward to helping you help others in need!

October Volunteers:
October is by far the busiest month of the year at the orchard. How do you hire enough people for 3 crazy weekends when you need half that amount of staff for the rest of fall? It’s a blessing to have people come and visit us…it’s also hard to adequately staff for the first 3 weekends. So…your group can help us by volunteering. Duties may include handing out u-pick bags, returning wagons to the pumpkin patch, greeting guests at the corn maze, helping at admissions, washing dishes, helping serve food, changing out trash bags, etc. Volunteer shifts will be 4-hour shifts over the last weekend of September and the first 3 October weekends [Sept. 29, 30, and Oct. 6, 7, 8 (Columbus Day), 13, 14, 20, or 21]. We request a minimum of 16 total hours per organization and can accommodate a maximum of 4 volunteers per shift. Minimum age to volunteer is 18. Volunteers will earn $60 for your organization for each 4-hour block of time. In addition, each person who volunteers will receive a free PlayLand admission pass, valued at $9, for every 4-hour block volunteered. In the event of rain we will not need your volunteers, but we appreciate the commitment you have made and we will still make a charitable donation to your organization in the amount of $15 for every assigned shift.

Summer Festival Volunteers:
We hold two annual summer festivals – Blueberry and Peach Festivals on July 14th and August 11th, respectively. We believe passionately about healing and helping the worlds poorest children as well as feeding the hungry right here in our local community so our summer festivals benefit CURE, International and Harrisburg Ecumenical Food Pantry. These wonderful organizations provide tremendous help for these festivals to run smoothly, but each year the festival grows and we are in need of additional support. Volunteer shifts and donations work the same as above. You help us help them, and in return your group is helped too!

PlayLand Ticket Sales:
Take pre-orders for admission tickets for PlayLand (our fall fun area) which includes corn maze, jumping pillow, pedal karts, cow train, tube slides, duck races, straw bale play, rat rollers, little log houses, hippity hops, apple binazium, playground, rope spider web, corn shed, jumbo checkers, dress the scarecrow, & tether ball. Collect the money for the tickets ($9.99/ticket) and turn in your order form and payment. We will give you a check made out to your organization ($2 for every ticket sold) and admission tickets that are good for the remainder of the current season. We require a commitment to sell at least 50 tickets to receive a check for your organization.

Fruit Sale:
You take advance orders from your friends and family for peaches or apples (1/4 and 1/2 peck are most common size and biggest area of profit for you). We will provide you with the crates of fruit as well as the drawstring bags for you to package the orders. You sell the fruit at retail cost (or even slightly higher to increase your profit – we will provide you with guidance on this) and we sell you the fruit at wholesale cost. Minimum order is 10 crates of fruit. Estimated profit for 10 crates is approximately $250.


Think you know a lot about the farm? Take our Silly Farm Quiz to see just how much you know! Answers are at the bottom!
1. Approximately how many fruit trees do we grow?
  1. 1,000
  2. 10,000
  3. 30,000
  4. 50,000
2. What is the *biggest* job/activity on the farm in the winter months?
  1. Rest – trees are dormant
  2. Cleaning/general maintenance of the building and equipment
  3. Trimming trees
  4. Filing receipts/invoices for the year
3. What did Dan do before purchasing the orchard?
  1. Fruit tree salesman
  2. Chicken salesman
  3. Carpet installer
  4. Chemistry teacher
4. Which of the following items are made from scratch at the farm?
  1. Chicken Corn, Ham & Bean, and Beef Vegetable Soup
  2. Apple Dumplings and Apple Pies
  3. Apple Cider Donuts
  4. Pork BBQ
  5. A and D
  6. A and C
  7. All of the above
5. How many people (other than Dan and Karen Paulus) work full time at the orchard?
  1. 0
  2. 2
  3. 5
  4. 10
6. All of the following are available for pick-your-own except:
  1. Pears
  2. Strawberries
  3. Apples
  4. Blueberries
  5. Blackberries
  6. Pumpkins
7. Dan gets nervous when he hears me (Karen) say…
  1. I have an idea…
  2. All you have to do is…
  3. I saw this online….
  4. All of the above
  5. None of the above – Dan never gets nervous! ;-)
8. Why is there more than 1 farm with the name Paulus?
  1. What? There is?
  2. Dan and Jim (brothers), jointly own and operate 2 locations
  3. Dan and Jim, each own and operate a farm independently
  4. There’s actually lots of farms with the name “Paulus” in it because Paulus means “Farm” in German.
9. Which of the following thing(s) have actually occurred at the farm?
  1. Marriage Proposals in the apple trees and in the pumpkin patch
  2. Spring Wedding for a previous staff member by the log cabin
  3. Tornado with multiple acres of destruction
  4. 4-wheeler Race as part of a fund raiser
  5. A & B
  6. A & C
  7. A & D
  8. All of the above
10. The earliest we’ve ever had someone call to ask if they could come pick their own apples was:
  1. May
  2. June
  3. July
  4. August

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13626489_10209757846441399_7235135554412877580_nThe Blueberry Festival was a big success and we thank everyone who came to the event! With over 30 craft vendors, live entertainment by the Jazz Me Band, pick-your-own berries, free tractor rides, and so much more there was plenty to keep people busy. Approximately 650 people came for the pancake breakfast which is about double the attendance of last year! Your support helped us raise $3,000 for CURE, International. Thank you!