December 15, 2007

Week 15

This week our guest farmer, and columnist, is Robert “Rob” Jackson who shares with us his insights on organic farming, the benefits of eating fresh and healthy, and he provides some information on whole grains and flour.

My name is Robert David Jackson and I’m married to Sarah Elizabeth, my lovely wife of 20 years. We are tree fruit farmers in a line of six plus generations of farmers on my father’s side. We have 5 children and we have always loved to eat healthy. Understanding what “eating healthy” means has been a growing endeavor. For me it began as a child as we ate fresh fruit and vegetables all the time. Some of my fondest memories as a child were the days we would “put up” corn or green beans or make cucumber pickles. Those days were family events where we would go out early and pick the produce, (corn was always the worst) then we would bring it back to the house where grandparents and great grandparents would be waiting to work together to shuck the corn or snap the green beans, blanch and then bag the produce for freezer storage.

Fresh ripe fruit has always been the norm around our house and because gardening vegetables has not been our habit we have especially appreciated the service cousin Vernon has provided in starting Abundant Harvest Organics. Salads were always a necessary chore to eat in my culinary game plan but since August I literally crave eating salads. In fact last night I had a third helping of salad and decided to finish off the whole bowl since everyone had finished eating. It is no joke, and I’ve been eating well for 42 years, since I’ve been eating all organic vegetables, I crave the taste and flavor of the many “greens” and carrots we’ve been getting.

Growing produce using organic methods has never been economically motivated on my farm. It has always had a deep spiritual meaning. The simple fact is: God created all plants, soil and insects and we, especially over the past 50 or so years have done an incredible job in altering God’s way of agriculture. Amazingly today, science is finally coming back to understand the incredible complexity and worth of organic growing methods. Briefly, as I was saying, the spiritual motivation for using organic methods for farming is based on the fact that God created everything including the highly complex systems of living soil that along with a symbiotic relationship with plant roots best harvest the minerals from the rocks of the earth. As a country and as a world we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on exploring space yet we hardly understand the oceans, our bodies and most amazingly soil and the interdependency we share between our health and soil and plant vitality. Soil is fascinating not to mention the partnership that organic growers have with trillions of our “friends” called “beneficial” insects. It is funny, organic growers like me get so excited when we find our insect friends flourishing. We are actually beneficial bug nurseries and day care providers and we do all of this in partnership with God’s original plan and methods for caring for and managing “the garden”.

O.K. now that I’ve taken up way too much space let me mention a few things about whole grains and flour. Bottom line, we are literally killing ourselves and our children by eating processed flour and baked goods from processed flour. According to one study conducted using mammals in Germany, a diet consisting of 50% protein and carbohydrates derived from white processed flour or 15 day old whole grain flour led to the infertility of a whole population by the fourth generation. Grains and bread have, since ancient times, been called the staff of life. In all our wisdom and in our pursuit of convenience and ease of profit we have directly contributed to the demise of our posterity. But who thinks about the next generation let alone four generations that follow us? Today is what is at the top of our “to do” list. My great grandpa Tays, from Cookeville, Tennessee used to razz my grandpa (his son-in-law) when he would sleep in till 4:30 am by saying, “Hershel, you’re going to sleep yourself to death.” We wonder why we battle obesity and all its resulting health complications in America; it is because we are eating ourselves to death. Just like when we mess with God’s way of agriculture, when we mess with God’s way of processing grain the ramifications are far reaching and serious. There are many advocates for fresh ground whole grain flour but rancid whole grain flour is just as bad as white processed flour, SO, bottom line, fresh, whole grain flour is always best. Grind only what you will immediately use. Second best is to store unused freshly ground whole grain flour in an airtight container in a cool dry location for no more than one week. By immediately freezing unused whole grain flour you can safely extend its nutritional life for up to a month.

What I recommend is to keep fresh and cleaned white and red hard winter wheat, barley, rye and yellow and white corn in stock in your pantry in small enough quantities that you would be sure to use them in 6 months and purchase a small “slow grind” stone mill to make your own flour and freeze until use. NO MORE FLOUR STORED IN THE DRAWER! Do it for your posterity and maybe for your posterior! An excellent well researched article on grains and fresh ground flour that I highly recommend reading is found at By the first of the year you will be able to order from Abundant Harvest a wide array of organic, cleaned whole grains for storage and processing at home as well as Noah’s fresh stone ground whole grain frozen flour.
That’s all for now folks, Shalom!

Don’t let kohlrabi be intimidating! It tastes like fresh, crunchy broccoli stems accented by radish. The round bulb is a swollen stem that grows above ground. Kohlrabi is widely used in Central Europe and Asia. Trim the leaves from the bulb and store the bulb unwashed in a plastic bag. They will hold for about a week in the refrigerator.
Kohlrabi is delicious eaten raw. Peel the outer skin with a paring knife. Slice, dice or grate and add to salads. Use on raw vegetable platters or serve with creamy dip. It can also be steamed or boiled. If you are cooking kohlrabi don’t peel it until after it is cooked. Steam or boil until the bulbs are tender, peel the skin, and season with butter, salt and pepper, a cheese sauce, or just enjoy plain.
The leaves may be enjoyed as a cooked green. Wash the leaves, remove the ribs. Blanch in boiling water until just wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze excess water from the leaves, chop and then sauté in a little olive oil or butter. Season with salt & pepper and add a splash of vinegar.

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-Butternut Squash
-Red Onions
John Tobias, Hollister
-Pink Lady Apples*
-Fuji Apples
Ridder & Son, Watsonville
-Russet Potatoes
Family Farm, Madera
-Colossal Garlic
Christopher Ranch, Gilroy
-Satsuma Mandarin Oranges
M & K, Caruthers
Troy Huckabay, Kingsburg
-Easter Egg Radishes*
-Nantes Loose Carrots
-Golden Beets
-Red Butterhead Lettuce*
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Abundant Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

We have a very limited number of Mary’s Organic Free Range turkeys available for delivery on December 21 and 22. They are larger than the ones made available for Thanksgiving. Place your order before 9:00 am Monday, December 17, to get yours.

Holiday Butternut Squash Bread
Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, place in a baking dish cut side up and add about ½ inch of water in the bottom of the pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400º for 1 hour
2 cups Flour 1 ½ cups Sugar
1 cup Wheat Flour ½ cup Brown Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder 1 tsp Cinnamon and Allspice
½ tsp Baking Soda, Salt & Nutmeg 2 cups Mashed Squash
½ cup Oil ½ cup Evaporated Milk
1 tsp Vanilla ½ cup Pecans Chopped
Combine all dry ingredients and mix. Combine all wet ingredients and mix. Add the two together. Grease two loaf pans, add the batter and before you bake sprinkle each loaf with approx. 1 Tbls of sugar.
Bake at 350ºfor 50-60 minutes

Arugula, Fennel, Apple, Mandarin Orange & Pomegranate Salad
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 shallot, minced ½ tsp (packed) grated lemon peel
1 large fresh fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, very thinly sliced
1 8 ounce Fuji apple, halved, cored, cut into matchstick-size strips
6 cups trimmed arugula leaves
2 mandarin oranges, peeled, each cut crosswise into 3 slices
Pomegranate seeds

Whisk first 4 ingredients in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Combine fennel and apple in medium bowl; mix in 3 tablespoons dressing. Place arugula in large bowl. Add fennel-apple mixture. Toss, adding more dressing to taste. Divide salad on 6 plates. Garnish with slice and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

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