From the Land 2/22

food for thought
full share: salad mix, carrots, cabbage, herb mix, I’itoi onions, spinach, red potatoes, and black spanish radishes
partial: carrots, cabbage, I’itoi onions, and spinach

announcements

It’s not too late to sign up for a Beef Share! Just shoot me an email and we can add it to your contract. As in the past, it’s $100 for about 16 pounds of beef, mixed cuts. It will come all at once frozen on March 28. Sign up now – there are limited shares available!

upcoming

Slow Food meeting: Tuesday, March 20
Ariel Ruben will present a slideshow of her 2010 trip to Terra Madre, the annual Slow Food conference in Italy. Hosted dinner (donations requested) with dessert potluck.

Prescott Farmers Market: opens May 12!

veg of the week
Spanish Black radish: Raphanus sativus

Yes, it is a radish, but this spicy and bitter, large, black, thick-skinned Brassica is quite different from its small mild French sister. This CSA season we’ve seen quite the variety of radishes, each with subtle appearance and taste differences: the sweet French breakfast and  Valentine varieties, the spicy and pungent Japanese daikon, and now the Spanish Black (sometimes referred to as the SBR). This variety is known as a “winter” radish variety, in part because it takes so long to mature that those planted in November or December are just now ripening, and also because they store incredibly well when kept dry and cold. SBRs are relatively uncommon in the US and much more popular in European agriculture and cuisine.

Uses: Thanks to Harvest to Table for the following tip: shred the root and marinate it in salted water for two hours to take the edge off its pungency. Drain and press the shredded root dry. Serve as a salad with vinegar and oil. Sprinkle fresh minced herbs over the top. Or you can also grate them into a green salad or a soup – try them in lentil or split pea!

Nutrition: With their high fiber and water content, Spanish Blacks are excellent for digestion and elimination. They are nutrient-rich, especially high in vitamin C (one SBR provides almost 1/4 of the recommended daily allowance of C!), which protects cells against damage from free radicals, boosts the immune system, and forms connective tissue within the body. Cruciferous vegetables, radishes among them, contain large quantities of the phytochemicals “glucosinolates”, which when metabolized create compounds known as isothiocyanates and nitriles which protect the liver against cancer. They also increase gall bladder health because of chemicals that increase the flow of bile. Yum – eat up!

To store: Store unwashed and dry in a perforated plastic bag in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer, and they’ll last weeks, if not months!

feeding the world

video: Michael Pollan on feeding the world

As Michael Pollan states in the video linked above, the world easily produces enough food to feed an even larger population than we already have, but the percentage of hungry and undernourished people throughout the world is still much too high. The reasons for this are many, and are quite complicated and vary in each country, but I’ll focus on three main reasons:

grain fed to animals:
Worldwide, over 35% (and over 50% in the US) of the grain grown is fed to livestock. In the US, this grain is enough to feed almost a billion people! Grain-fed meat production is extremely inefficient, using six kg of grain to produce only one kg of animal protein, and 28 kilocalories of energy to produce 1 kcal of protein. In addition, David Pimental (the Cornell ecologist) posits that Americans could still receive more than the recommended daily allowance of meat and dairy protein through existing grass-fed animals. Grass-fed animals can subsist on land that is not ideal for agriculture, therefore allowing farmers to utilize arable land for food for humans.

grain used for ethanol:
For the first time, in 2012 in the US more corn will be used for ethanol production than for cattle feed, and most of this will be exported…yes, for profit. This further decreases the available grain for human use; in fact, for every 10 ears harvested only 2 are eaten by humans. While the corn for ethanol production is no longer directly subsidized, this system still increases world hunger by using agricultural land for fuel rather than for food.

problems of food distribution.
As just one example, the Green Revolution (the mechanization of food production through widespread proliferation of herbicide-resistant seeds and increased fossil fuel dependent agriculture) increased production in an effort to “feed the world”. Unfortunately, the effect was not the desired parallel decrease in global hunger, because the additional food just went to those that, in short, already had enough because they could afford it. Likewise, the profits from this higher production went directly into the hands of those who could afford to adopt the new seeds and high-fertilizer use. Simply put, the hungry are still hungry because they still can’t afford food, and the landless and peasant farmers are still landless and poor because they couldn’t afford to adopt the new measures in the first place.

One thing the Green Revolution did succeed in was creating an extremely cheap food system in the US. High calorie, high fat, and overly processed foods containing cheap ingredients are prevalent. Unfortunately, the environmental, social and personal health ramifications of this system make it not as efficient as it might seem. Soil erosion, groundwater pollution, fossil fuel dependence, foreign labor dependence, obesity, undernourishment, inhumane animal treatment, slave labor, and farmer debt are just a few of the myriad of ways that this system shows its overall inefficiency.

In its stated purpose of “feeding the world”, our current food system has failed. But in the last decade, movements across the globe are rising up in response to this food inequity. The Via Campesina (peasant) movement, food sovereignty, local food, agroecology, permaculture and other sustainable agricultural practices are popping up worldwide to create alternatives to the dysfunctional yet still powerful dominant food system. Stay tuned for next week when we focus on food sovereignty.

For more info:
World Resources Institute “grain fed to livestock”
Cornell University “U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestock eat”
Daily Tech: Ethanol Production

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black radish, carrot and fennel salad with pecorino cheese
adapted from mariquita.com

  • 4 loosely-packed cups of arugula, spinach, salad mix, or other greens
  • 1 1/2 cup Citrus Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  • 2 black radishes, sliced paper-thin
  • 3 carrots in thin 2″ diagonal slices, blanched
  • 1-2 large bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • long thin curls pecorino or Parmesan cheese

CITRUS VINAIGRETTE

  • 1 1/4 cups mild olive oil
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To make Citrus Vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients together.

Toss the greens with enough of the vinaigrette to coat and place on salad plates. Arrange the radish slices on top, then the carrot and fennel. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and top with the curls of cheese. Makes enough for 4 to 6 salads.

roasted winter vegetables

  • 6-8 cups root vegetables, chopped into 1″ pieces (winter squash, turnips, radishes, carrots, sweet potato, red potato, etc.)
  • olive oil
  • fresh or dried herbs, your choice

Chop veggies and toss with oil and herbs. Bake at 425 for 30-45 minutes. You can even use the leftovers to make soup: just heat with stock, add some curry powder, fresh herbs, or cream, and blend.

potato-cabbage chowder with spinach and catfish
adapted from askinyourface.com

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, sliced thin
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups milk
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 6 small unpeeled red potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes
  • Handful of spinach
  • 1 T. dried sage
  • Cooked mild fish such as catfish or trout

Put a pat of butter or ghee into a large soup pot. Add onion, celery, and cabbage and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until onion is starting to become translucent. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour in broth, water, milk, and sea salt and increase heat to high.

When the soup comes to a boil, add potatoes, spinach, and sage. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes have reached desired tenderness. Serve immediately, topping individual servings with fish before serving.

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