CSA – Week 2

Last year’s box – don’t worry, kale’s on its way!

This week brings new box additions of radishes and chard, with romaine lettuce. Only a few years ago I learned about the french connection of sliced radishes, butter and a little flakey salt on a baguette (or forget the bread and dip your radish in soft butter with a dash of salt). I remain intrigued, and can’t wait to try this recipe I found of butter braised radishes with sorrel! Here’s a roasted preparation that includes both radishes, turnips and their greens. As for the chard, if you’re looking for something hardy, try this one-pot meal that brings chard, lentil and kielbasa together with onions, tomatoes and smoked paprika (the recipe gives the option of regular paprika, but trust me – it’s not optional!)

With salads such a mainstay this time of year, here’s a wilted salad with ginger sesame dressing to try with your Tatsoi. As for the romaine – you know what to do: Caesar salad anyone? Enjoy! Got good recipes? Add them to the comments below!

CSA – Week 1

Our inaugural week’s boxes host a medley of greens, including mustard, Tatsoi, Pac Choi, salad turnips and New Red Fire lettuce. Together, these can be torn and tossed as a bed for our favorite salad topped with soba noodles, and the protein of your choice. Individually, the Pac Choi can be marinated and grilled as a side, as we did above, while mustard greens are a classic pairing with sausage and chunky pasta. The first local lettuce salad of the year is always a treat, simply dressed, and the salad turnips can be treated like a milder cousin of the radish, a crisp and crunchy salad topping sliced raw. Enjoy!

Organic: It Ain’t What You Think

Recent years have seen a progressive weakening of the standards regulating what it means for food to be certified as “organic.” The corporations that now control the USDA certification process have so weakened the definition of organic that today “organic” bears little resemblance to what was intended when Congress passed the Organic Production Act (OPA) in 1990.  Despite the fact that the OPA required that organically certified produce be grown using soil improving practices, last week a judge ruled against a group of true organic farmers, bizarrely and erroneously stating that food doesn’t even have to be grown in soil to be certified as organic. This is another good reminder to be skeptical of the “organic” produce you see on the store shelves, and to build relationships with local farmers you can trust to grow your food sustainably and truly organically, in fertile, healthy, biologically diverse soil. To learn more about the lawsuit check out the email below:

https://mailchi.mp/realorganicproject/john-tester-5223880?e=a98f288347

Plant Sale Starts April 10!

We’ve been busy on the farm lately, starting all sorts of plants from seed. In a few weeks, they’ll be ready to go into your garden! Details on our Grow Yer Own webpage, including plant list and prices. Start planning your dream garden and we’ll see you Saturdays and Sundays, 9am-2pm, starting April 10.

The Dorito Effect

Modern industrial agriculture has done an amazing job of increasing yields.  Today we produce more than enough calories to feed everyone on the planet. Unfortunately, the single-minded focus on yield and calorie production has come at the expense of flavor and nutrition.  Compared to the foods our grandparents ate, the foods we consume today are flavorless and devoid of the full range of vitamins and minerals our bodies need to thrive.

The reduced nutritional value of the foods we eat today means we wind up eating more calories than we should in pursuit of the nutrition our bodies need, a direct cause of growing epidemics such as obesity and diabetes.  Complicating matters, the corporations that control our food supply have used cutting edge research to develop thousands of chemical compounds designed to trick us into eating more than we should, as we seek out the flavor and nutrition that has been intentionally bred out of our food,  A vicious circle if there ever was one!

Author Mark Schatzker addresses this problem head-on in his exhaustively researched, well written and highly entertaining book The Dorito Effect – available through our very own Timberland Regional Library System.  As a farmer, an eater and a citizen I believe this is one of the most important books that has been released in recent years, and it stands among the top tier of titles that have influenced my thinking about our food system.

Here at Urban Futures Farm we have always challenged ourselves to grow vegetables, herbs and fruits that not only produce good yields, but which also provide the maximum flavor and nutrition for our customers. Believe it or not, this is pretty unusual among today’s farmers.  Even among so called “organic” farmers, a niche market increasingly controlled by a handful of multinational corporations, many of whom don’t even bother growing crops in actual soil any more, a focus on flavor and nutrition is the exception rather than rule.

Read The Dorito Effect.  Then start to ask questions.  Ask yourself: Where does my food come from and what’s in it?  Equally important, what’s not in it (hint: flavor and nutrition). Ask the produce managers at your local grocery store how the produce on their shelves was grown – where and by whom?  Ask your elected representatives why they continue to vote for legislation that subsidizes agribusiness corporations that undermine human health, impoverish small local farmers and exacerbate climate change and environmental degradation.

Wendell Berry once wrote that “eating is an agricultural act”. Michael Pollan took that notion a step further, writing that eating is also a political act.  In 2021, lets embrace our role as eaters/citizens,  and transform our food system from today’s corporate focus on yields and profits to the more important human concerns of flavor and nutrition.