Monday, September 17, 2012

CSA, Week 20

Organic Showcase

The organic world will convene in Baltimore, Maryland this week to display new products, discuss regulatory issues, share ideas for the future, and get customer feedback at the Natural Products Expo-East.  There are a series of presentations, educational seminars, and the ever-popular trade show.  The trade show for this convention is so large that there are only a few cities with large enough facilities to host it. In addition to all the food processing and distribution companies, exhibitors will include organic certification service companies, consumer advocacy groups, government agencies, and sustainable agriculture proponents.  Being so close to Washington DC, there will be a large number of government watch dog groups and national sustainable agriculture non-profit groups stopping in to educate attendees on the importance of developing a supply chain that is fair and equitable to organic farmers. Groups like Organic Farming Research Foundation, Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and Beyond Pesticides will be working the floor, happy to have some “face time” access with organic product processing and distribution company representatives, all present at one venue.

As the current Vice-Chairman of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), Mac is traveling from the farm to the meeting to give a presentation, along with several staff members of the USDA National Organic Program.  First created by Congress over 20 years ago, and finalized in 2000, the NOSB oversees the organic program including international compatibility issues, new products requested to be allowed, and general guidelines giving certification agencies the tools they need to effectively monitor the operations they certify as organic. Members of the board range from chemists to food manufacturing professionals, consumer advocates, livestock and crop professionals and certified organic farmers.

There will also be lots of discussion about the impending Farm Bill in Congress.  Revisited every five or so years, the federal Farm Bill encompasses things like school nutrition programs, farm commodity subsidies, natural resource conservation programs, agricultural research priorities, and the National Organic Program (NOP).  Many of these programs are authorized by the legislation, yet funding to administer them is a secondary legislative action. While many worthwhile programs have seen cuts in recent years, the NOP has seen its budget grow from $2 million per year just 3 or 4 years ago to over $9 million now.  As organic foods are the fastest growing segment of the food market, there is a need for increased staff at the NOP, and many good organic-thinkers have taken positions within the NOP resulting in improved services to certifiers, and better technical assistance to the NOSB for regulatory changes.

The Farm Bill affects all of us whether in the area of food safety, school lunch, wetland protection, international trade, or even access to credit.  To stay up-to-date on Farm Bill action (or inaction as often occurs in an election year) visit the website for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.  Our representatives in Congress are acting now, so take a few minutes to learn more about the policies that affect our food supply, and how we can ask for changes towards the type of food system we would rather see in our

In Your Share
Garlic - organic
Lettuce – organic

Onions – organic

Peppers - organic

Potatoes – organic

Stripetti Squash

Tomatoes - organic

Okra – organic
Brussels Sprouts – organic

Swiss Chard – organic

Sweet Corn - organic

Recipes to Enjoy

Spaghetti Squash and Shrimp or Scallops
This recipe was such a hit, we have included it again this season. Our thanks to a CSA member who shared this great recipe! She was thrilled that her whole family really enjoyed this one-dish meal.

1 med. spaghetti squash (about 3 lbs.)

¼ C olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

½ pound shrimp, shelled and cleaned (or scallops)

2 T lemon juice

1 ½ T fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

2 sm. tomatoes, chopped

1 lg. bunch watercress or ½ bag spinach, washed

¼ C toasted pine nuts (optional)

1 C crumbled Feta or grated Parmesan cheese

Cut squash lengthwise; bake face down on oiled cookie sheet at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until easily pierced by fork. Cool; scoop out insides. Heat oil and sauté garlic. Add shrimp, lemon juice, and spices. Sauté, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and watercress or spinach and cook 1 minute longer until vegetables are wilted. Add pine nuts and cheese and toss with squash. Serve heaped in squash shells or individual casseroles. Makes 2 generous servings.

Lentil Almond Brussels Sprout Stir Fry, adapted from a 101 Cookbooks recipe

extra-virgin olive oil
6 to 8 very small new potatoes, cut into 1/2 pieces
2 cups cooked brown or black lentils
12 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt, thinned out with a bit of water, and salted with a pinch of salt
2 dates, pitted and chopped

Cook the potatoes along with a generous splash of olive oil and pinch of salt in a large skillet over medium heat. Cover the skillet and let the potatoes cook through, this will take five minutes or so. The water in the potatoes will help steam and soften them. When the potatoes are just cooked through (not mushy or falling apart) remove the lid and give them a good toss. Turn up the heat to medium-high and stir every minute or so (a spatula helps)
until the potatoes look a bit golden. Stir in the lentils, and cook until heated through. Turn the potatoes and lentils out onto a large plate and set aside.

Now cook the Brussels sprouts using the same pan. Heat another splash of olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Don't overheat the skillet, or the outsides of the Brussels sprouts will cook too quickly. Place the sprouts in the pan (single-layer), sprinkle with a pinch of salt, cover, and cook for a few minutes; the bottoms of the sprouts should only show a hint of browning. Cut into or taste one of the sprouts to gauge whether they're tender throughout. If not, cover and cook for another minute or two. Once just tender, uncover, turn up the heat, and cook until the flat sides are deep brown and caramelized.

Add the lentils and potatoes back to the skillet and add most of the sliced almonds. Turn out onto a large platter and drizzle with some of the yogurt. Top with the remaining almonds and the chopped dates.
Serves 2-3.

Cheesy Bacon Spaghetti Squash Casserole, a Marla Meridith recipe, serves 6-8

1 Spaghetti Squash (3-4 pounds) - about 3 cups cooked squash is needed
splash of Olive Oil
a few pinches Garlic Salt
a few pinches Black Pepper
8 ounces Turkey Bacon (or nitrate free Pork Bacon), cook according to package directions
1 large Egg, whisked
1 cup low fat Cottage Cheese
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 cup Gruyére Cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with the rack in the middle. Put whole squash in a baking dish and bake until you can easily insert a paring knife, about 40 minutes to one hour. Remove squash from oven and let cool about 10 minutes. 

Cut it in half from tip to tip (long ways) and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Scrape the sides of the squash with a fork until you have removed all the stringy spaghetti. Toss the strands in a bowl with some olive oil, garlic salt and pepper. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the middle. Prepare bacon according to package directions. In a medium bowl combine squash, cottage cheese, nutmeg, and another pinch of pepper and garlic salt to taste if needed. Add the egg. 
In a 9 inch bake safe pie dish layer squash mixture, then a layer of the bacon, another layer of squash then bacon again. Top with Gruyére cheese and bake for about 25 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. If you want to crisp up the cheese a little more set the broil on low for a minute or two.