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Train Your Taste Buds

You can train your body to crave healthy food. First, get in touch with how healthy food makes you feel.  Nutrient dense food gives more energy, helps with mood, aides in gut health, makes you less sluggish, improves quality of sleep, and helps with weight management! 

Eating healthy also helps prevent, delay, and manage heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. The more conscious you become of how healthy eating literally fuels your body and brain, the more you will want it.

Don’t burn yourself out, you don’t need to switch your eating habits 180 degrees overnight. Start to incorporate new healthy habits to eventually create an overall healthy lifestyle. I am a big proponent of stating goals in the affirmative. I never thrived in a “buck up, buttercup” regime.

Save your will power for when you really need it. Take a few minutes and write down a list of things you know will be better for your health. Drink more water or eat an apple or veggie snack every day rather than a processed treat. Make meals with veggies or salad each day. Eat clean and lean meats, and whole grains. Eat meals between noon and 6pm to give your body a break, intermittent fast.

The list can be as long or short. I would encourage you to keep it short and specific, something that you can easily check off in your head. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is overly processed and filled with sweet, salty and sugary foods, and it can be so hard for your taste buds to get past all those, dare I say addictive, flavors. Which is why I am encouraging you to add in, on purpose, foods in their preprocessed form. It can be hard to retrain our taste buds, but it’s possible!

If you are feeling the need for change, start small, be kind to yourself and don’t give up. Adding healthy food is always a win and if you find yourself eating the old way, take a deep breath and assess why, and then start again.

Your health is so important.

We’re all in different places and our lists will look different. What’s on my list? 1. Drink a fruit/veggie smoothie 5x/week, 2. Drink herbal tea 5x/week, 3. Eat between noon and 6pm most days, 4. Create meals that are made up of 75% fruit, vegetables and salads.

Thank you,

Tristan, Joelle and The Box of Good Crew

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A Look Back

When we moved to our current farm, it was about as close to heaven on earth, as one could get. It had a great building where we could pack all of our produce, and use it as a home base. The initial 23 acres that came with our farm were idyllic. The kids had so much room to roam. You might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned the farmhouse. 

Funny story about that, the land and out buildings were the jewels of the 130-year-old homestead. We had been hunting for a farm to buy for 5 years. Land is so critical for a farm. It literally will define what type of farm you are going to be. Dairies and crop farmers staked out claims in the river valleys and beef, chicken, lamb and Christmas tree farmers made the hillsides their homes. We looked long and hard from Okanagan to Goldendale to Montesano, even as far south as Scio in Oregon. 

It was exhausting, everything just out of our reach or didn’t have the right soil type. We finally just paused and prayed this simple prayer, “Lord, if you want us to farm in Snohomish County, you are going to have to provide a way.” It wasn’t more than a week later that a friend of ours was out planting trees on the river banks and had parked across the street in the driveway of what is today our farm. 

I had let all of my farming friends know that we were looking. It just so happened that this particular farm was a rental and the renters had moved out unannounced.. Our friend just happened to be taking a break when the owners, took a break from working and wandered out and struck up a conversation.

She asked, “Do you know anyone looking to buy a farm?” That encounter changed our lives. It had a great building, incredible land, and it was in a part of the flood plain that didn’t have any dikes. Joelle grew up in the Snohomish River valley and she remembered the horrific floods of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and how devastating it was for those families with flood waters flowing through the rafters. We knew we didn’t want to be buying or moving to a farm that was situated behind dikes you can’t see over. 

This farm checked all the boxes, occasional minor flooding, a great barn to work in, and rich soils. The old farmhouse, to quote my mom when we showed her what we had just agreed to buy said, “Are you going to tear it down and put a mobile home on it?” It was in pretty bad shape. To quote another friend of ours, “Fools rush in, where pro’s never tread!” We didn’t know enough to make an informed decision or we didn’t care. WE HAD FINALLY FOUND OUR FARM!

My mom and our dear friend were both right, it was a fixer, but the house had good bones, and we had considerable energy back then (today not so much). 

We no longer use the out buildings for packing, and have since moved that part of our operation to downtown Stanwood. And now the farm is where we grow food for you. It is also where we live. It’s become a place where the third generation runs and plays, recreating many of the same memories that their parents had.

As we draw closer to our 22nd year of growing vegetables, that one prayer back in 2003, changed everything.

-Tristan, Joelle and the Box of Good crew

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Nice and Cold

I must chalk all this crazy weather up to- well – winter! One of our team members commented that she was ready for some warm weather – so am I. I do, however, like winter with its own brand of beauty and its own rhythm. 

I like shoveling the walkways and stacking firewood for the winter fires, but there is one winter chore that must be done in a timely manner or else! It is keeping the snow off the greenhouses, thankfully that is an infrequent occurrence. One of the challenges in our area is that the snow is wet and can flatten a greenhouse quickly. When I, unexpectedly, woke up last week to 4 inches of snow, my first look was out towards the greenhouses. All was well.

We are about 3 weeks away from starting our lettuce and onion transplants and then hopefully, weather permitting, those seedlings will go out into the field at the end of April. This planting schedule is a bit later than normal, but when I look back through the seasons, it just makes sense for us, to start a little later and avoid all the unpredictable weather that is associated with the winter and spring tug-a-war.

Mind you, this is my plan, and it is subject to change. Mostly because we have always started early, and it is so hard to not take advantage of good weather, when it pops up. But, more often than not the early planted crops usually harvest about the same time as the later planted crops, because they struggle in the early weeks. So, my strategy is to skip that first transplant window in early March and wait till the first day of spring to start. I have also asked Joelle to hide the tractor keys till March 21st! 😊 

This week’s Box of Good.

When I look at this menu, I immediately start thinking about roasting vegetables. Carrots, parsnips, sweet onions, green beans and broccoli. Oh my! But I am also partial to steaming all these as well. If I were going to steam the vegetables, I would cut up the carrots and parsnips into ¼ inch rounds and steam them for 10 minutes and then add in the green beans and broccoli and cook for another 10 minutes, drain and add a dollop of butter a pinch of salt and dig in. 

Bon Appetit,

-Tristan, Joelle and the Box of Good crew

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A Little History

Monsanto won, or so one would think. They have controlled the USDA and the FDA for decades. There is a revolving door of legislators, VP’s and consultants that have traveled from Monsanto to the USDA, FDA or even higher places like John Ashcroft, the once Attorney General, and back to Monsanto. It is a game as old as our government has existed, but in the post WW2 era, big business has had way too much influence on our food and farm policy. This is wrong, but I can only do what I can, and becoming an organic farmer and proponent of a different food system, was something I could do. 

The first ‘back to land,’ modern organic farming era, came during the 70’s, coming on the heels of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. Another ‘back to the land’ was brewing in the 90’s. That is where Joelle and I began our organic farming journey, or more precisely, where the seeds of our organic farming journey were planted and germinated.  

I remember it as clearly as yesterday when I met my first organic farmer. We were recently married and were trying to find our way as young adults. We had two children and 3rd on the way. I fortuitously stumbled upon a job as a produce person at a boutique retail produce store in NW Portland called Kruger’s Specialty Produce. At that time, we sacrificed financially, leaving a good job, but with little upside for growth. We needed to subsidize our income, so I started my own janitorial business working evenings to make ends meet. I ended up cleaning the offices at a farm chemical plant. I remember when I started the manager told me, “If you bring in any employees, we do not want any pregnant women working in the warehouse.” I could not get that out of my mind. It was ironic that I had two paths before me, working for a company that sold products that killed versus working for a company that promoted growth and health. I could not stay at that warehouse. 

Almost immediately, at the produce market, I was introduced to organic farmers delivering their beautiful produce. They were working with nature; they were committed to not using chemicals and toxic chemistry to grow food for people. They believed that soil health was of paramount importance and eschewed conventional/chemical practices. It was not easier for them, but it was the only way forward. Many were farmers that were sick and tired of farming with chemicals, who watched their soil health deteriorate, and others were looking for a way out of corporate America. No matter what the path, they were committed to a different food system. 

Their conviction was infectious and that inspired the beginning of our home delivery journey. We started delivering organic produce in 1988 and with every delivery, my passion to find a way to farm increased. It took Joelle and I another 5 years before we planted our family at our Stanwood farm and started to grow food! 

24 years later we are still at it. 

Tristan, Joelle and the Box of Good crew 

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During the winter months we are busy planning and preparing for the upcoming farm season. We look through farm and seed catalogs and choose some tried and true varieties and look for fun, new varieties! This year we’ll purchase seeds from our local supplier, Osborne Seed plus High Mowing and Peaceful Valley. We purchase only certified organic seeds – to support organic farming methods that align with our values and those of our valued customers. 

This warm weather is getting the farming juices flowing through my veins, and as the days get longer, these telltale signs point to the fact that soon it will be time to grow food. For over two decades we have let weather dictate our farming schedule and that has worked well. But the downside is that crops take longer to grow when planted earlier, we often must till and re-till the soil due to sporadic weather, and hope for a good weather window to plant those early transplants.  

When I factor in my desire to farm and the realities of weather, the early spring feels more like running on a hamster wheel. I have winter’s worth of energy and desire all pent up! But when I surveyed the previous 20 farming seasons, I approached John, our main farmhand, about intentionally starting a little later. We decided back in December to not fall prey to the Siren’s Song of early spring. We are going to start seeding crops in trays on the first day of spring! This is a big shift for us, because normally we would be planting out our trays on the first day of spring.  

Our soil is heavy and, while it responds fine to early tilling, it really works up nicely later in the spring. Starting later will also create better seed beds and facilitate quicker crop growth. One major advantage to starting later is there will be less weeding. In the early spring, weeding is more akin to relocating the weeds as we hoe, (moving clumps of weeds around) compared to having them dry out and die off. Starting just a little later we will be able to skip one whole cycle of weeding. 

We are also going to focus on multiple varieties of salad crops this year, and we plan to bring back the pumpkin patch for 2022!  


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Grace Harbor Farms Dairy

We are excited to announce that starting the week of January 31st we will be adding Grace Harbor Farms from Lynden to our mix of local farms we work with. You are going to love their healthy, locally produced yogurts, kefirs, goat, and cow’s milk. Visit our website to order for your family. I am sharing a snippet from their website so you can get to know them. You can also visit their website at

We have been family owned and operated by the Lukens Family since 1999.

All of our products are made without the use of artificial flavors or gums. Our dairy products are true whole milk, 4.5% butterfat on average. We never separate the cream out or homogenize the milk. Because we don’t remove anything, we don’t have to add synthetic vitamins back in.

All of our products are vat pasteurized and ready to eat. Please keep refrigerated, consume or freeze by the “use by” date.

*We have used organic style farming before organic was cool. We still do today. We promise that the animals will have pasture access (weather permitting) and grass to graze on. We believe we are stewards of the land and animals, and we do our very best to keep everyone healthy and happy.

Box of Good Daily Curbside Pick-Up Now Available

And starting the same week, Customers will be able to schedule same day pick up of fresh produce, by choosing “Curbside Pick-Up.” This feature allows customers to swing by our packing facility in Stanwood, and pick up their order, during our office hours of 8:00am – 2:00pm, Monday-Friday.

Thank you for supporting our family farm, our online grocery store, and the other family farms and local producers who we partner with.         -Tristan, Joelle, Alaina and the Box of Good crew  

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Deja Vu

This past week has been all too poignant for me. As a farmer and resident in one of many flood plains in WA state, seeing what was unfolding in the Centralia and Chehalis area last week brought me right back to the mid-December Floods of 2007.  

That year our valley was spared, much like this year, but in 2007 the Chehalis River ravaged that community. It was a freaky event, that was exacerbated by a mudslide caused by a clearcut. With little to no warning the river left its bank. The losses were significant to both livestock and property. Our family helped with cleaning up a few of the farms in that community. So much pain and resilience and community was on display. 

Fast forward a few years and my valley got hit hard. Our farm was spared but, many of our neighbors did not fare as well. It took a week for the water to drain from behind the dikes. It gave the community time to develop a plan and begin the cleanup. Sadly, no, thankfully, what I had learned from helping in Chehalis a few years earlier became important to help my valley get back on its feet. 

Fast forward 15 years. We have not had a serious flood for over a decade in the Stillaguamish River Valley and the City of Stanwood (proper) hasn’t flooded since 1956. But this year has not been kind to Whatcom and Skagit County families that were overwhelmed by a deluge of water. And now Lewis County is getting flooded. Flooding is never easy on anyone, but farm families understand the risks and have lived through many floods. There is institutional knowledge that can span 3, 4 or 5 generations.  

Joelle and I live in the flood plain, we expect it to flood at some point. The folks who live behind dikes have shorter memories and for good reason, flooding is not very frequent. But when a dike overtops, or heaven forbids breaches flooding becomes very scary and quickly. Or for residents of cities like Sumas or Centralia who also live in the flood plain, but they are slightly higher in elevation and/or protected by dikes the flood risk is not top of mind either. My heart goes out to those folks, the flooding that is happening this year is devasting.  

In a strange Irony, I now have two daughters and their families living in the City of Centralia. Both sandbagged their homes. And even though this flood is going to have a significant impact, one daughter commented that it is scary to get a call from the city to evacuate, but still amazing to see the community working together to sandbag and serve one another.  

I know all too well that our valley will have its day and I also know that our community will rally just like in Sumas and Centralia to serve and begin to move forward.  

Life is full of twists and turns and opportunities to serve and build community happen all the time. 


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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays 

Joelle and I wanted to take a few moments and say “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays” to the Box of Good Community. 

Your spirit of generosity throughout the year and this holiday season is inspiring. Together we have made an impact in our local communities. Next week I will recap the amazing amount of “good” accomplished with your support and purchases of fresh organic foods. We are grateful and honored to participate with each of you to extend kindness to those experiencing food hunger, battling cancer and to many PNW local farm families. 

Autumn Frost. Many of you will be getting the Autumn Frost squash in your boxes this week. We are at the tail end of our fall harvest and this beautiful Butternut squash variety is a newcomer to the vegetable world. There are so many choices when it comes to growing vegetables and the Autumn Frost made the cut this past year. I hope you will love it as much as I do. I have made butternut soup, both pureed and with cubes, I have made them into “fries” with feta and garlic and I have also just roasted them and added them to a salad with goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, and an olive oil dressing. Bon Appetit! 

Wishing you the Merriest Christmas and the Happiest of Holidays this season. 

Tristan, Joelle and the kiddos still at home. 

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Why Vitamin D?

Coming off the wettest November in years, I have been thinking about Vitamin D and its importance to the PNW families and our health. I wanted to write about the benefits of it and I thought, “I bet Dr. Chelsea Gordon and the Flourish Family Medicine team in Mill Creek has already covered it.” And I was right. You can find this article other helpful information on their Instagram page. 

 Vitamin D, fat soluble, also called calciferol, labelled as D2 or D3⁣ 
Vitamin D is often low in this part of the country and we often have to supplement for it. That is simply because of where we are located on planet Earth. We do not get enough UV rays hitting our skin for long enough periods during enough times of the year.⁣ 
Can we get enough through food? That depends on the time of year.⁣ In the warmer months, say June through most of September, we may not need much vitamin D from food if we are outside enough.⁣ 
During the transitional periods, say April, May, some of September, and October, if we are outside during peak UV times and eating high vitamin D foods, likely we are doing okay.⁣ During the colder winter months, most of us need some supplementation *not all, but most of us. And that is because we need a fair amount of skin exposed during peak UV times (around noon to 2 pm) for at least 20 minutes.⁣ 
The other part of the equation is food. What foods contain vitamin D?⁣ Few foods naturally contain vitamin D. The flesh of fatty fish (such as trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best sources. An animal’s diet affects the amount of vitamin D in its tissues. Beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks have small amounts of vitamin D. Mushrooms provide variable amounts of vitamin D. Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in American diets, but if we aren’t eating fortified milks, juices, or packaged foods – we are missing out.⁣ 
Eat a varied diet. And get outside in the sun *without sunscreen* for 20 to 30 minutes each day. Let your face, arms, and upper chest, at least, be exposed to the sun, then if it is the summer – put on some mineral sunscreen, if winter – put on your coat, and talk to your provider about a supplement. ⁣ 
~Shelby, RDN  

Gift Cards 

If you are doing any last-minute gift giving for teachers, coworkers, or friends gifting health from Box of Good might just be the ticket (or email). You can email them directly from our site, pick the day you want them to receive it, write them a note and then the recipient can easily redeem it at their leisure. 

Have a great week, 

Tristan, Joelle and the Box of Good crew  

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Gift Cards and Walnuts

I have been walking by our two old majestic Walnut trees admiring their strength, beauty and purpose. I have waxed poetically about these trees and their multipurpose place on our farm for darn near two decades. Walnuts are a super food and we slow dry them in our greenhouses which imparts a softer texture and sweetness to our walnuts. These gems are hand harvested, slow dried and delivered to your door. Make sure to add them to your Box of Good before they are gone for the season. Get out the nut crackers and order some for next week’s delivery.

I copied this excerpt from about walnuts. This entire article is pure gold, but I am just sharing a snippet here.

According to the USDA Food Data Central, walnuts are a rich source of vitamin C, B vitamins (vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folate), vitamin E, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and zinc. [3]

Walnuts are 65 percent fat by weight and 15 percent protein. They are richer than most nuts in polyunsaturated fats (often considered the “good” fats) and have a relatively high amount of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Walnuts are also particularly rich in an omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid.

Walnuts contain other essential nutrients such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, as well as phytosterols. They are a good source of dietary fiber and antioxidants (ellagic acid, catechin, melatonin, and phytic acid). All of these beneficial nutrients contribute to walnuts being thought of by many as ‘power food’. 

Gift cards 

We have just added the ability to send an email Gift Card through our website. Now you can easily send the gift of health for any reason and in any season. The recipients will be notified and gifted through email. What I love about this gift card option is you can send it to multiple people, by simply placing a comma between each email address. They can be delivered immediately, upon ordering, or you can select a day in the future, like Mother’s Day, birthdays, Christmas Eve or for a specific purpose, for Thank You or after a baby is born. Any moms out there appreciate having a Box of Good delivered after introducing your new blessing to the outside world? This is also a great way to bless a family experiencing a health or financial crisis or both. Please make sure the recipients live in our delivery area. 

If you would like to give the gift card in person, rather than by email, simply send it to yourself and write the or include the coupon code in a card. We are excited to make giving health so much easier this holiday season.

Tristan, Joelle, and Box of Good crew.