Monday, June 4, 2012

Week 5 CSA News

Organic! Really?

We heard a public service announcement the other day on commercial radio that said there was no reason to buy organic eggs since you are only eating what’s inside the eggshell. It went on to say that what a chicken eats does not have any effect on the part we eat. Are you kidding? This ludicrous statement leads us to need to further educate our customers about the value of organic eating.

As we all learned in 6th grade biology, organisms require a unique balance of nutrients to meet their metabolic needs. In all of science to date, the complexity of human nutrition cannot be boiled down into a simple list of inputs to keep us going. The complexities of amino acids, which make up proteins, fats, sugars, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, hormones, & nutrients, are becoming better understood, but the matrix of interactions boggles the greatest computers’ ability to profile the perfect diet. The whole-being-greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts is where the term “wholesome”, pronounced “whole-sum” must have originated. For this discussion, don’t forget the non-nutritive ingredients in foods like preservatives, processing additives that facilitate mechanical handling, flavor enhancers, and colorings. So why is organic different than other foods in the marketplace in meeting the whole of your nutritional needs?

Whether it’s a chicken or a plant, they are what they eat. As we discussed in CSA News last season (now found online on the Elmwood blog), the biological activity of fungi & bacteria in the soil has a direct effect on what nutrients are available to the plant for growth. This is the premise of organic farming. When you purchase “certified organic” foods, you know the food was grown in a manner that optimizes the potential for all the complexities to be integrated in a way to maximize the “wholesumness” of your diet.

Another aspect to consider is the green washing of the organic name in popular media and on-line websites. We see numerous examples of partial organic farms that try to present their products as the same. Local is not organic. Natural means absolutely nothing. Sustainable does not have any standards around chemical use, animal welfare, genetically engineered seeds or any other aspect of farming, for that matter.  Not to mention third-party-inspection, documentation, or USDA backing.  Educate yourself by looking closely at websites that dance around their organic status. Ask the farm who their certifier is. If not certified, why not? What are they doing that would disqualify them from certification status? Do they really know what it takes be an organic farmer? Do they know the process to be certified? Are they using GMO seeds? Who can verify their sustainable practice? If the sign says un-sprayed, do they own a sprayer? Do they know the life cycle of plant pests and the life cycle of the beneficial insects that can eliminate them?

At Elmwood Stock Farm, we try to be open to you, to clearly identify our products as organic.  We are closely regulated and monitored by our certifier and inspector. They can drop in anytime to verify we are following our plan and take samples for residue testing. We welcome the scrutiny on your behalf, because certified organic offers a benchmark for you, and any truly organically produced product can meet it.   Including an organic egg!

In Your Share

Broccoli – organic

Garlic Scapes – organic
A garlic scape is the center stalk of a hard neck garlic plant.  Use this special item any manner as you would use garlic cloves. Chop finely or use a processor.  The flower head is also edible.  You can make pesto; chop in salads; or sauté similar to green onions.  Refrigerate or store in water in a vase.

Kohlrabi – organic  
Use the leaves of your kohlrabi as you would kale or collard greens: steam, sauté, juice, use in soups, or chop finely for slaw.  The ball-like kohlrabi itself will keep well for you when refrigerated.

Lettuce – organic

Sugar Snap Peas – organic   These are edible pod, break off the ends and eat the whole pod & peas (more ready in the next week or so, needing some rainfall to fill out the pods)

Spinach – organic   

Chinese Napa Cabbage - organic
This versatile cabbage is the main ingredient in egg rolls; can be chop- ed into green salads, used in cole slaws, use in any recipe calling for common green cabbage (just reduce cooking time slightly as it cooks fast!), stir fries well with fried rice, and will store refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Lacinato Tuscan Black Kale Greens – organic

Recipe to Enjoy


Beef & Broccoli Pasta Salad, adapted from a Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert recipe, serves 2-4

¼ C water
¼ C soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced (or finely chop garlic scapes)
1 ½ tsp sugar
½ tsp ginger root, peeled and minced
¼ tsp ground red pepper
1 ½ tsp sesame oil
8 ounces cooked beef steak or roast, thinly sliced and refrigerated for 1 hour or more
4 oz linguine, cooked and cooled
2 C broccoli, stems cut into bite sized pieces, florets separated, blanched and cooled

Optional: 1 T diced onion
Optional: 1 T toasted sesame seeds

Combine in a small saucepan water, soy sauce, garlic, sugar, ginger, red pepper and cook until half the liquid evaporates.  Add sesame oil, stir and set aside.

When ready to serve, mix together sauce with remaining ingredients, garnish with optional diced onion and sesame seeds if desired.

Garlic Scape Pesto, our thanks to a CSA member for sharing this recipe found on Serious Eats dot com, if you plan to freeze the pesto, wait until after you’ve defrosted it to add the cheese.

¼ C pine nuts
¾ C coarsely chopped garlic scapes
juice and zest of ½ lemon
½ tsp salt
few generous grinds of black pepper
½ C extra virgin olive oil
¼ C grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

In a small, dry pan set over very low heat, lightly toast the pine nuts, stirring or tossing occasionally until just beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Combine the scapes, pine nuts, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse about 20 times, until fairly well combined. Pour in the olive oil slowly through the feed tube while the motor is running. When the oil is incorporated, transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the grated cheese.

White Bean and Garlic Scape Dip adapted from The New York Times, serve with freshly toasted bread, pita bread and/or vegetables.
1/3 C sliced garlic scapes (roughly 4-6 of them)
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
½ tsp sea salt, more to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
15 oz cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
¼ C extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
In a food processor, process together the garlic scapes with the lemon juice, salt and pepper until very finely chopped.  Add the cannellini beans and process to a rough paste.

With motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil (this is a perfect time to use the feed tube of your food processor) and process until nice and smooth. Pulse in 2-3 tablespoons of water.  Add more lemon juice, salt and pepper if desired.  Place dip in bowl, drizzle with olive oil and serve, makes 1 ½C.

Tuscan Kale with Maple, Ginger and Pancetta, recipe from Fast, Fresh & Green by Susie Middleton, editor of Fine Cooking Magazine, this dish offers a mix of salty, sweet and spicy!

1 bunch Tuscan black kale
1 oz very thinly sliced pancetta
1 T unsalted butter
1 ½ tsp chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp pure maple syrup
2 small lemon wedges

Fill a 4 to 5 quart pot two-thirds full of water.  Add 2 tsp salt and bring to a boil.  Remove the ribs from the kale.  Grab the rib with one hand and rip the two leafy sides away from it with the other.  Cut or rip the leaves into two or three smaller pieces.  You’ll have about 4 oz of greens.  Add the greens to the boiling water and start timing immediately.  Taste a leaf after 4 minutes.  It shouldn’t be tough or rubbery, if it is, cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.  Drain the kale very thoroughly in a strainer in the sink.  Press down on the kale to squeeze out some excess liquid.

In a skillet over medium-low heat, arrange the pancetta slices and cook until crisp and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes, flipping once or twice.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  Add the butter to the pan, and as soon as it melts, add the ginger and stir to soften it slightly in the butter, about 30 seconds.  Remove the pan from the heat, add the maple syrup and stir well.

Lift the kale from the strainer, squeezing one more time to release excess moisture, and add to the pan with the maple-ginger butter.  Put the pan back over medium-low heat and toss the greens until well coated and slightly warmed, 30 seconds to 2 minute.  Remove the pan from the heat, taste, and season very lightly with salt.  Crumble the pancetta over the greens.  Toss briefly to mix and transfer to serving plates, crumble pancetta over the top.  Serve with lemon wedges.

Roasted Kohlrabi, from Cook’s Illustrated Perfect Vegetables

1-3 medium sized kohlrabi bulbs; skin peeled away and cut into ¾ inch cubes
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ to 1 T minced fresh parley

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 450°.  Toss the kohlrabi, oil and salt and pepper to taste together in a large bowl until combined.  Spread the kohlrabi onto a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast, shaking the pan occasionally, until the kohlrabi is browned and tender, about 30 minutes.  Transfer the kohlrabi to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the parsley, adjust the seasonings to taste, serve immediately.