September 4, 2008

Week 52

******* Happy Birthday Abundant Harvest Organics! ******

This is the intuitive response of Americans to whatever the food scare du jour happens to be. Look at what we’ve heard just this summer. “Tomatoes are killing people,” “Tomatoes with the green calyx attached are okay but watch out for the regular ones,” “It’s probably just tomatoes from Mexico.” “It’s Peppers.” The public is confused and scared, yet not protected. When any commodity is mentioned, that industry is killed for at least the rest of the season. All the expense of producing that crop is lost. The families counting on harvesting those crops have to look for another job, yet a definitive source of the contamination just can’t seem to be identified. It’s like hunting with Dick Cheney, you just don’t know if your product is going to be next.
Every box of produce is labeled as to the producer and 99 out of 100 are labeled as to the exact field they came from so as to isolate the source, but it’s all for naught if that source can’t be isolated. In addition to our extensive daily sanitation, Lydia spends half her time filling out logs showing we did the sanitation. That same level of protection & paperwork is extending to the field, even though there’s never been a reported case of food bourn illness from stone fruit or table grapes.
Retailers are using these mountains of paperwork to build protection around themselves, yet doing nothing to address their own responsibilities. How about sneeze guards over the tomato display? How about consumers sanitizing their hands before they sort through the tomatoes?
FDA has the authority to yell fire in a crowded theater, but not the responsibility for all the people that get trampled.
Okay, so what’s a responsible consumer to do? I think like usual, it’s just common sense.
1) Processed produce (bagged salad, peeled, sliced etc.) accounts for some 97% of the reported problem, and for good reason. The exterior cell walls of whole produce protect them naturally from pathogenic invaders. When these are removed or violated, that protection is lost. The bagged salads are washed with chlorinated recycled water and sometimes the load is just too much for their chlorine.
2) If you buy your produce from a place where the public is allowed to handle it, it would be prudent to wash it before you serve it.
3) Know what country your produce came from. That wouldn’t have been an issue 20 years ago, because we fed ourselves and a good chunk of the world. We’re now a net food importing country and most of what we’re importing is fresh produce due to our significant labor cost and availability disadvantage. I don’t think it’s biased to say that U.S. farmers do a cleaner job.
4) Your gut instinct that Organic is safer is generally correct. Organic nutrition means stronger cell walls. The Organic certification process has a mandatory food safety component that isn’t always there conventionally.
5) Know your farmer’s heart.
6) Enjoy life with your family and be thankful. There’s just so many other things that are way more important. EAT HEALTHY!!!

Do you have a favorite recipe that, at times, you think you would like to give just a little extra boost? Have you ever thought about changing the herbs called for in the recipe, or even being so daring as to use a combination of herbs or “herb bouquet”? The French are known for cooking with a blend of herbs. The herbs you use in a dish will give it a subtle but distinct flavor. The key is to find the right combination so that one particular herb isn’t so dominant that the flavors of the others don’t come through.
We hope that one of the things you enjoy about Abundant Harvest Organics is the opportunity to try new things in new ways. In your box today is a combination of several herbs giving you just such a chance.
Whether you select certain herbs and bundled them together using a piece of cooking string, add them while you are cooking and remove them before serving, or mince them and use them in recipes we hope you will try something new.
Herbs are divided into groups of either mild or robust. The mild herbs are basil, bay leaf, dill, and marjoram. These herbs become milder when cooked and go well with other herbs. The robust herbs include rosemary, garlic, oregano, tarragon, thyme, sorrel, and sage. These herbs can be combined with mild herbs and are often used for braised, grilled, or roasted meats. They are also a tasty addition to soups and stews. Because herbs add flavor to your food they are great for helping cut back on salt, sugar and fat.
When using fresh herbs a general rule of thumb is to use 3 times as much as you would of a dried herb. Add fresh herbs at the end of the cooking process. Add the delicate herbs like basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley, marjoram and mint just a minute or two before cooking is finished, or sprinkle them on the cooked food. With the heartier herbs like dill seed, oregano, rosemary, tarragon and thyme, add them the last 20 minutes of cooking time.
Store fresh herbs in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator and wash them only when you are ready to use them. You may also trim the ends of the stems diagonally and put them in a glass with about an inch of water, cover them loosely and put them in the refrigerator. Change the water daily and this may keep them fresh longer.
Different combinations of fresh herbs make wonderful flavored oil or vinegar. If you have more herbs than you can eat try using them throughout your house with other flowers and enjoy the aroma.

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-Flame Grapes
Bob & Mona Warren, Kingsburg
-Herb Bouquet
-Arugula & Sorrel*
-Daikon Radishes
-Cherry Tomatoes#
-Italian Frying Peppers
Kyle & Michele Reynolds,
-Green Onions*
-Clip Top Carrots*
California Organic, Lamont
-Yukon Gold Potatoes
-Crookneck Squash
-Slicing Tomatoes
-Cherry Tomatoes*
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Large Box Only
#Denotes Small Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on day of delivery.

Daikon is a large white Asian radish that can be eaten both raw and cooked. This radish will combine beautifully with other root vegetables like carrots, beets, celery root and green onions. Julienne a combination of these vegetables, add dressing and serve as a new and different salad.

Gingered Vegetable Stir-Fry Serves 6
3 Tbsp chicken broth
2 Tbsp rice wine or medium-dry Sherry
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt
¼ pound fresh shitake mushrooms, no stems, sliced 1/8” thick
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
½ pound carrots cut into julienne strips
½ pound daikon radish, cut into julienne strips (about 2 cups)
½ pound Napa cabbage, sliced thin (about 4 cups)
2 large garlic cloves, minced2 tsp minced peeled fresh gingerroot
In a bowl stir together broth, rice wine or Sherry, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until combined well. Set aside

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until hot. Add oil and heat until it just begins to smoke. Stir-fry carrots for about 3 minutes. Add daikon radish and stir-fry an additional 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, cabbage, garlic and gingerroot and stir fry for about 2 more minutes or until carrots are crisp tender. Stir broth mixture and add to the vegetables. Stir-fry for 1 minute.

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