Monday, September 26, 2016

CSA #18, Week of August 29, 2016

Push Me, Pull You

Through this newsletter, our farm tours and our everyday conversations, we are dedicated to informing our shareholders about the value of consuming organic foods. We describe the biological systems at the foundation of farming systems, including the various methods of managing nutrients, with the hope of connecting your personal values and health with your little piece of the earth. The methods you use to choose your food are a vital part of a sound food system. Little decisions about what food to eat may seem trivial, but there is nothing further from the truth.

All the stars are lining up about the health benefits of consuming certified-organic foods. Be it pesticide-free fruits and vegetables or grass-fed meat and milk, the medical community is getting on board with the message. Not one Saturday farmers market goes by without at least one customer coming to the booth looking for these foods on the advice of his doctor. Please do not wait for a diagnosis of the need; avoid the diagnosis altogether. Food is medicine!

The decision to eat compromised foods because organic foods are expensive or hard to find no longer holds water. What could be easier than picking up a box, or bag, chock-full of wholesome, organic veggies once a week, with pastured meats and eggs right alongside? The CSA farm-share business model works for the farm, yes, but it also works for the consumer. If you want more of a certain item in your CSA share or something not in your share, we are always at the farmers market on the weekend, year round, or just a phone call away. Good Foods Co-op and Whole Foods Market partner with local, organic growers like us to ensure you have access, as well. They go the extra mile to source organic foods from other organic farmers across the country to stock the shelves during our off-season, because it is that important. Think of the millions of pounds of toxic, synthetic fertilizers and the thousands of gallons of toxic, synthetic pesticides that are no longer being thrust into the environment because each of you made the decision to eat organic food.

The idea that organic foods in the grocery are somehow less organic than local-organic is wrong. The integrity of the regulated organic-food system is beyond reproach. The documentation and inspection methodology is the same for them as it is us. Trust it! The organic lettuce farms in California and the organic peach farms in Colorado we know have developed very sophisticated methods of growing these foods for the wholesale market, and we seek them out any time we don’t have those items from right here at home. I doubt any of you would walk into CarMax and ask for the cheapest car on the lot without consideration of the dependability of the engine and drivetrain, braking systems, emissions, fuel economy and safety features—much less comfort, sound systems and air conditioning. Please do not be misled by “no spray” or “organic methods” signage you might see at a farmers market. You will not see this kind of greenwashing in retail outlets for a reason: It cannot be verified. The more people who make food choices with the same level of scrutiny as they do vehicle choices, the more these foods will be available.

The Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK) is dedicated to making more organic foods available in Kentucky by helping farmers transition their farming methods to be compliant with organic regulations. The OAK Board of Directors (of which I'm president) has obtained funding to train and hire consultants to go farm to farm to make this happen. OAK’s mission also guides us to educate consumers about the value of organic eating. These two objectives come together at Whole Foods Market in Louisville on August 31, and in Lexington on September 7, as OAK is the beneficiary of their “5% Day,” which means 5% of their net receipts for those days will go to OAK. What a wonderful way to close the loop on a local and organic food system right here in the Commonwealth.

Your support of Elmwood Stock Farm has allowed us to create a viable food-production system. By buying local, organic foods, your investment not only helps us, but also the local economy, improves public health and curbs the use of toxic chemicals in the Bluegrass Region. You are a valuable part of developing a sound food system right here in the Bluegrass. By purchasing organic foods at retail outlets, you are developing systematic supply chains that support organic farmers of other crops in other regions. As you pull our products into your kitchens, we will push more out there for you. —Mac Stone

In Your Share

Brussels Sprouts
Collard or Kale Greens
Spaghetti Squash


Bruschetta, adapted from Chowhound

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 T. olive oil
6 medium Roma tomatoes (about 1 ½ lbs.), cored, seeded, and small dice
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. salt, plus more as needed
¼ tsp. pepper, plus more as needed
8 ounces crusty Italian bread, cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices
2 T. olive oil
1 medium garlic clove
6 to 8 basil leaves

Place balsamic vinegar in a medium, nonreactive bowl, and whisk in olive oil in a slow stream. Add tomatoes, garlic and measured salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Set aside at room temperature. Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high (about 375 to 425 degrees F). Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Very lightly brush the tops of the bread using 1 tablespoon of the oil. Flip over the bread and brush with the remaining oil. Generously season one side only with salt and pepper. Place the bread on the grill (reserve the baking sheet), and cook until grill marks appear and the bread is toasted and crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Return the grilled bread to the reserved baking sheet, seasoned-side up, and rub the seasoned sides with the garlic clove. Divide the tomato mixture evenly among the bread slices. Tear the basil leaves into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle over the bruschetta. Cut bread into smaller pieces, if desired, and serve.

Potato-Leek Soup, adapted from EveryDay with Rachael Ray

This soup is the quintessential leek dish, and Rachael Ray’s addition of zucchini turns it into a perfect cold soup for the summer.

1 lb. potatoes, cut into ½-in. pieces
1 bunch leeks, white and light-green parts chopped
½ lb. zucchini, sliced
½ c. plain yogurt
2 T. chopped chives

In a large saucepan, bring 5 cups water, the potatoes, leeks, zucchini and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Using a blender and working in batches, purée the soup. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of chives.

Braised Cucumbers with Dill, adapted from Food & Wine

1 ½ T. unsalted butter
1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, cut into 1/2-in. dice
3 pounds cucumbers—peeled in stripes; halved, seeded and cut crosswise ½-in. thick
2 T. chopped dill

In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add leeks and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until tender, 4 minutes. Stir in cucumbers, the remaining butter and 2 tablespoons of water. Season with salt. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the cucumbers are crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Uncover and cook over moderately high heat until liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl, stir in dill, and serve.

Potato, Tomato and Onion Casserole, adapted from Memorie di Angelina

If you have a terra-cotta baking dish, this is the recipe for which to use it!

½ lb. potatoes, peeled and sliced
½ lb. onion, sliced
½ lb. tomatoes, sliced, seeds discarded
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt & pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking dish with a bit of olive oil. Place a layer of sliced onion in the bottom of the dish, and drizzle with olive oil. Place a layer of potato on top of the onions, then a layer of tomatoes. Sprinkle with garlic, oregano leaves, salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Repeat until you use up all the ingredients—but for the top layer, mix potatoes and tomatoes in a decorative pattern. Add enough water to fill about halfway up the height of the ingredients.  Sprinkle the top layer with breadcrumbs, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake, on convection heat, if possible, for about 45-60 minutes, until the ingredients are cooked, most of the liquid evaporates and the top is nicely browned. Let cool 10-15 minutes before serving.