Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Eating Organic Week 5 CSA

Eating Local and Eating Organic

We write about this topic from time-to-time and thought we’d visit it again. Sometimes does it seem that you have just two choices when trying to eat better? Eating local or eating organic. It may be that the subject gets framed that way, but really you don’t have to choose: local and organic are available a lot more places a lot more of the year!

By belonging to a local, organic CSA, you already seek out certified organic, healthy food that comes from a farm in your area grown by people that you know. Many of you attend local farmers markets, or preserve some summer items by freezing, canning, pickling and preserving to enjoy in the colder seasons. Pantry staples are starting to be available year-round. There are enough local protein options available now that you can actually make a choice based on attributes (such as organic, ASH-free, non-GMO, cage-free, grass-fed) rather than only having the choice of local vs non-local. Maybe not all of the protein options are local and organic (wide open market here for organic local cheese and organic local pork!! spread the word!!) but many more than just a short time ago.

Local, sustainable, natural, organic, no spray, ASH-free, non-GMO. Does it all mean the same thing? Food blogs, websites and social media forums give unlimited opportunity for opinions and comments. It can be pretty confusing at times.

USDA funded research out of the University of Connecticut looked at perceptions and misperceptions of local and organic food with comparisons of US and Canadian consumers. Overall, it found that consumer misperceptions regarding organic and local are widespread. US consumers were more likely to believe local was organic. One in four US participants perceived organic to be a characteristic of local compared to one in five Canadians. Another 17% said organic and local were the same thing. Researchers reported “participants in our study often showed naïveté, thinking when they buy local there are no pesticides in the product or that organic is local when it is not.” This is striking because when participants were asked how knowledgeable they were on characteristics of local and organic, the more they thought they were knowledgeable, the more misperceptions they had between local and organic. How do you take someone who truly believes local has no synthetic pesticides and change their mind? It is hard, at times, to see misperceptions perpetuated – but a paradigm shift can take a while.

To help out others, a CSA member shared her top tips of how to incorporate a local food-sourcing plan into your life. These same tips apply to sourcing organic:

Accentuate the positive. Don’t set yourself up for failure by creating ironclad rules. Focus instead on what you are trying to accomplish. Sourcing anything locally is a success, especially if you would never have thought to do so before. Every time you buy something from a local producer, you are creating a positive ripple in the local economy.

Get a reality check. Go to your usual grocery and ransack the shelves looking for locally produced foods. Your cart may have about two items rolling around in it by the time you get to the checkout. Don’t worry; you have just learned something (in very concrete, unforgettable terms) about how far most food is shipped before someone eats it. You have accomplished something.

Ask questions. Produce managers in supermarkets can be a great source of information. Most of them do the buying, so they can tell you the source. You’ll find that some stores are much more committed to localism than others. And if you can make it to a farmer’s market on the weekend, a couple of queries can reveal fascinating details about where your food comes from and how it is grown. Finding out the story makes the process of preparing and eating food far more pleasurable.

Make every choice count, whether it’s local or not. If you commit to eating better, you have to make some decisions about the sourcing of your food. Let’s take coffee as an example. You might take the opportunity to quit your 3-cups-a-day habit, or you might replace your jarred instant with fair-trade organic whole beans that are roasted by a local business. You take something in your kitchen that’s questionable at best and replace it with something that actively does some good.

Of all the attributes one can use when sourcing, USDA organic certification does provide a benchmark. As consumers, when we become more educated on organic, local, natural and other descriptors, we demand more accountability in the products we purchase, appreciate the integrity of third-party verification, and are more confident in the foods we feed to our family. We know that eating organic food is better for our bodies. Locally sourced, high quality food benefits the local economy. We can do both!

In Your Share


Bok Choy

Garlic Scapes




Kale Greens


Spicy Bok Choy and Shrimp Stir-Fry, serves 2, adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe

1 T safflower oil

½ large or 1 medium size bok choy, trimmed and sliced into 1 inch strips

½ lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 large garlic cloves OR garlic scapes, finely chopped

½ tsp Asian chili sauce

1 T agave syrup or other liquid sweetener

2 tsp fish sauce

½ C fresh basil leaves

3 T unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted

Heat 1½ tsp oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and loosely tent with foil. Heat 1 tsp oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook until they begin to turn opaque, about 2 minutes. Flip shrimp and push to one side of skillet. Add garlic to exposed area and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not brown, about 1-2 minutes. Toss with shrimp. Stir in chili sauce, sweetener, and fish sauce. Add bok choy and cook until heated through. Add basil and top with coconut flakes. Serve immediately.

Braised Bok Choy, serves 4 adapted from food.com

2 T oil

1 1⁄2 lb bok choy

4 garlic cloves, minced or several garlic scapes finely chopped

1⁄2 C chicken broth

1 tsp rice vinegar

salt and freshly crushed black pepper, to taste

Wash bok choy and pat leaves dry. With knife, cut leafy green portion away from either side of stalk. Cut each stalk in half lengthwise then crosswise into ½ inch pieces. Stack leafy greens then slice them crosswise into thin strips. Keep sliced stalks and leaves separate. Heat a 12 inch non-stick skillet over high heat, add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the bok choy stalks and cook, stirring frequently, until the edges start to turn translucent (4-5 minutes). Add the garlic, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds. Add the bok choy greens and the broth. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring twice, until bok choy is just tender (4 minutes). Remove cover, increase heat to medium-high and cook for two minutes. Stir in the vinegar, season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Garlic Scape Pesto, our thanks to a CSA member for sharing this recipe found on Serious Eats, 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.

Green Pie with Garlic Scapes, a Vanessa Oliver recipe

1 bunch greens, rinsed and chopped (kale, turnip, chard, collard, spinach, your favorite)

½ bunch garlic scapes, chopped

olive oil

½ lb Ricotta cheese

4 eggs

½ cup + 2 T Parmesan cheese

¼ C bread crumbs

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F. Sauté greens and scapes in olive oil until softened. Mix in Ricotta, eggs, and ½ C Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to 8-inch baking dish. Top with 2 T Parmesan and bread crumbs. Bake until puffy and set in the center.

Kale and Sausage Penne with Lemon Cream Sauce, thanks to a CSA member for sharing the recipe that was a hit with her family! Serves 6 to 8.

3 T olive oil

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

½ tsp crushed red chile flakes

1 pound sweet Italian sausage

1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped

1 C half and half

⅓ C grated Parmesan

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¾ lb dried penne pasta

3 T finely chopped parsley

Heat oil in a 6-qt saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion and red chile flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add sausage, and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it up into small pieces until browned, 16 to 18 min. Add kale, season with salt and pepper, and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add half and half and bring to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally until reduced by a third, 7 to 8 min. Stir in Parmesan, juice and zest, nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper; set aside and keep warm. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add penne and cook, stirring occasionally until al dente, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain, reserving ¼ cup cooking water; add both pasta and water to reserved sauce and cook about 5 minutes more. Garnish with parsley.