March 22, 2008

Week 29

Let’s spend just a little time talking about Organic farming this week. I think the more our subscribers know, the better able you’ll be to make the best decisions for your families.
First some background for those who have recently joined. Our family has been farming here in Kingsburg since 1893. Poultry have always been part of the equation, so we’ve been organic in our fertility forever. As technology has come along however, we would adapt to stay current and competitive. We also operate a state of the art fruit packing shed on our farm that packages the fruit from about 3 dozen of our neighbors—2 dozen of which haven’t yet made the jump to Organic. It takes 3 years from your last conventional application until you can be certified Organic and the prospect of farming Organic while getting paid conventional for three years is a very sobering prospect for many of our farmers. Personally, we felt like infantry-men pinned down on the beach. “If I get up and run, I may die, but if I lay here, I’m for sure gonna die” We had one year in the middle of the conversion, where I was pretty sure it was over but by God’s grace we’re still around.
I write this therefore, not as someone unacquainted with conventional production tech-niques. Quite the contrary, I’m in the field daily with friends (we only do business with friends, jerks can find somebody else) who are farming conventional. It really gives me a chance to see the trade-offs on a daily basis in an industry with a very precarious profit margin (both conventional and Organic)
That said here’s the deal. FERTILITY. It all starts in the soil. Conventional farmers are chemists, Organic farmers are biologists. I always aced biology, never could grasp chemistry although with 2 tutors and literally 3 hours a day in the library, I pulled a C. Your mom told you to eat a balanced diet and you’d be healthy. It’s the same in the field. When we maintain our crop’s nutritional requirements bio-logically, through various com-posts and manure’s, we end up with a very healthy, thriving, sustainable field. There are several side benefits to this:
1) The plant is usually but not always, better able to resist disease and pests.
2) Nutrient density is greatly improved to the family that eats it.
a) Mark Nakata’s group (the oranges in your box) are doing a lot of research in this regard and finding significant differences.
3) The flavor you are enjoying is a direct result of this biological fertility.
WEED CONTROL. Weeds aren’t all that smart, but there sure is a lot of ‘em. Here’s what happens conventionally. A farmer starts out with a really cheap herbicide that does a wonderful job. He can take a 25 horse tractor and $12 worth of herbicide and spreader & viola, no more weeds! Life just got not only better, but easier while his costs dropped. WHOOPS, out of space. I promise to continue this next week. Until then, EAT HEALTHY! Vernon

What could be more basic than potatoes and onions? We try to have them in each week’s box because we know that they are items that can be used in many ways and are common to most families. Not to mention the fact that they are nutritious. Did you know that a potato eaten with the skin on will provide more potassium than a stalk of broccoli and almost twice as much as a medium size banana? They are also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B and fiber.
Some of you have been asking about russet potatoes and yellow onions.
We went to the source, Jacob Mendrin of Family Farm Organics in Madera. The red and yellow potatoes you have seen the past couple of weeks are early variety potatoes and they have been about as fresh a potato as you could ever hope to receive. You may, or may not know that potatoes and onions are harvested in the spring and summer months. They are two of the crops that lend themselves well to long storage, as long as it is properly done. That is why you see potatoes and onions in the market all year long.
It is almost time for the new crops. Jacob plans to start harvesting yellow onions around June 1, if not a little sooner. They will start harvesting russet potatoes around June 15, and he will have a small crop of shallots that will be ready about the first of August. As soon as they are ready we will bring them to you fresh from the field, all during the harvest season.

Because organic growers to not use pesticides, sometimes one of the little extras you get with your organic vegetables is “critters”. When they do come to visit the question is always “How do I get rid of these little guys?” There seems to be two commonly used vegetable washes for this purpose.
The first one utilizes non-scented, concentrated liquid detergent. Fill your sink or pan with cold water and add several drops of the detergent. Place the loose leaves in the cold water and agitate. Run each leaf under a heavy stream of water to remove the soap. You may also use a vegetable brush to scrub the leaves of the hardy varieties.
With the other option you again fill your sink or dishpan with cold water. Add ¼ cup of vinegar and 2 Tbsp of salt to the water. Let your vegetable leaves soak in this mixture for about 15 minutes. Inspect the leaves to make sure they are clean and re-soak if necessary.
Neither of these methods should alter the flavor of your vegetables, and they will be nice and clean.

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-Navel Oranges
M & K, Caruthers
-W. Murcott Mandarin Oranges
Rick Schellenburg, Kingsburg
-Yellow Potatoes
Family Farm, Madera
-Red Onions
John Tobias, Hollister
Hans Wilgenburg, Dinuba
-Romaine Lettuce
-Green Leaf Lettuce*
Frank Icardo, Lamont
Grimway Farms, Bakersfield
-Bloomsdale Spinach
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Abundant Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

We, like you, love the Nantes carrots that are grown by Tom and Denesse Willey. They are between plantings and do not have them available at this time. We know how much you love your carrots and will bring them to you from Grimway for now.

Garlic Potato Salad
5-6 cups potatoes, cubed
Boil in water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup red or yellow onion, minced
¼ cup olive oil 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp rosemary (fresh), or Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp (dried) *

Combine in a large bowl. Add cooked potatoes and stir to coat. Chill about 3 hours before serving.

*You could substitute Abe’s seasoning for the rosemary.

Artichoke Dipping Sauces
Light Honey Mustard Dip #1 Light Honey Mustard Dip #2
½ cup light mayonnaise ¼ cup prepared mustard
2 tsp honey 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
½ tsp mustard 2 Tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp lemon juice 2 Tbsp honey

Low Cal Dill Dip Creamy Thai Dip
1 cup plain yogurt ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup light mayonnaise ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp minced green onion 2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 tsp chopped cappers 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
¾ tsp dried dill weed 1/8 tsp sesame oil
1/8 tsp ground ginger

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