What’s in your DOUBLE Share This Week?
Mixed beets (red, gold & chioggia)
Yellow potatoes (Yellow Finn, German Butterball & Bintje)
The New Stuff: How to chop it, cook it and keep it…
Despite getting a beating from the hail and cold weather this past week, we are hoping to pull off a salvage escarole harvest and include a head in your basket this week. (If you don’t see it in your tote, it’s because they were too battered by hail-balls to merit harvesting…).
I personally love escarole – a heavy-leafed green warrior that holds up better than any outdoor head lettuce at this time of year. Some people don’t like it because it belongs to the chicory family, along with radicchio and endive. These greens have a reputation for erring on the bitter side. Everyone has a different tolerance for bitterness on their palate but when it comes to this variety of escarole, I’ve found that I’m not offended by it – meaning we make regular green salads with it at home. I first wash and spin dry the leaves, then slice them into thin ribbons with a knife (if you're particularly sensitive to that bitter taste, try soaking your ribboned escarole in cold water for a half hour, then spin it dry). Escarole pairs wonderfully with dried cranberries, fresh pears or apples, and candied walnuts – creating a great balance of flavors and texture. I usually make a creamy maple syrup dressing to go on top (it varies every time, but usually involves some combo of mayo/veganaise, olive oil, cider vinegar, thyme, maple syrup and Dijon mustard. Like many winter greens, escarole is sweetened up by cold weather – which we’ve had plenty of this week – which means you may not detect much bitterness in it at all.
You can also cook your escarole, use it for wraps, and many other things. Get online and hunt around for recipes, or dive into your favorite cookbook.
Store it as you would lettuce, in a plastic bag in the fridge.
On the Farm…
Numb hands, muddy boots, and heavy roots – that pretty much sums it up these days! This week is a crazy one for us as we attempt to harvest for and pack 184 totes (because everyone gets a double share) in the same amount of time we usually do 46 totes (because it’s a short week due to Thanksgiving)! Fortunately, we’ve done some proper prior planning and have spent the past 2 weeks gearing up: pre-digging storable root crops like carrots and parsnips and celeriac, cleaning onions and shallots, and stockpiling all of our red and blue totes for the big week!
Our 3-day farm week is going to be tightly scripted. On Monday, we’ll be harvesting and washing all of the last-minute perishables – like kale, escarole, celery and Brussels sprouts.
On Tuesday morning we’ll do our final restaurant harvest for the year, then spend the rest of the day packing all of your totes (imagine two long assembly lines set up in the barn, with red totes going down one line and blue totes going down the other, with different things being put into each color tote). We’re glad we have lights in the barn, cuz it might be a long day! The totes will all get put into our cooler for the night, assuming we can get the door closed at the end of the day!
Bright and early on Wednesday morning, we’ll load up our delivery van and drop off the Farm totes and the Port Orford totes. Then we’ll come back to the cooler, load the van AND the pick-up truck with all of the totes for Bandon and Coos Bay, and head north. Kind of like Santa having to fill every stocking around the globe in one night, we’ll be pulling off our own local version of his feat – all before noon on Wednesday.
And why this frenzy to get everyone all their food by Wednesday? Because eating locally on Thanksgiving is a radical and important act. Why? Because around the country, the food that goes into preparing most Thanksgiving meals will probably have traveled over 1500 miles. It will probably be highly processed, heavily packaged, and funneled through a complex industrial food chain. It will not directly support family farmers, or sustainable agriculture, or local economies. Eating Valley Flora produce on Thanksgiving does.
I have never encountered a more revealing description of the modern, industrial, Thanksgiving phenomenon than that which is excerpted here:
The Corporate Agribusiness Research Project’s Thanksgiving Day Meal
“Every year, Americans sit down with their families to celebrate Thanksgiving, looking forward with mouth-watering anticipation to the bounty that will be spread before them.
But for most Americans, the turkey is not likely to be from Uncle Ray’s farm, nor the potatoes from Aunt Jean’s recipe, nor the biscuits from Mom’s oven.
No, most Americans are more likely to find a Butterball™ turkey or maybe a Cook Family Foods™ ham on the table. There might also be some JackRabbit™ long grain rice, potatoes from Golden Valley Foods™, and bread made from Peavey Grain™. A non-traditionalist might even suggest putting a few Singleton™ butterfly shrimp on the barbecue grill, with the grill heated by JustLight™ charcoal briquettes.
There might also be private label past from the local supermarket, as well as tomatoes from Hunt’s™. The spices might be from Armour Dairy™, with perhaps some Asian seasoning from La Choy™. The salad oil might be from Wesson™, the cheese from Miss Wisconsin™, the canned beans from Van Camps™, and the tomato or apple juice from Mott’s™. For dessert there might be Swiss Miss™ pudding, or a frozen dairy dessert from Healthy Choice™, topped perhaps with some Reddi Whip™.
While watching the traditional Thanksgiving Day football game on television, the family might want to dip into some Orville Redenbacher’s™ popcorn, putting another handful on the Budget Buy™ paper plate for future munching. Adults might also want to enjoy a bottle of Carlsberg™ beer as the watch the game.
All in all, it will be quite a testimonial to the cornucopia of food that Americans have come to take for granted in the land of Freedom and Choice.
Yet the fact of the matter is that all that food, all those products and those brands came from just one company – Con Agra Inc. – the nation’s second largest food processor and manufacturer. Like most vertically integrated agribusiness corporations, ConAgra operates ‘across the food chain’ – from seedling to supermarket – reaping enormous profits at the expense of family farmers, workers and consumers.
Each of the company’s 25 branded foods has annual retail sales exceeding $100 million, one reason that six cents out of every American food dollar today goes to this one company. But that isn’t enough to place ConAgra at the top of the corporate food head: the nation’s largest food business, Philip Morris, takes ten cents of every American food dollar.”
(Excerpted from: Norberg-Hodge, Helena, Todd Merrifield and Steven Gorelick. 2000. Bringing the Food Economy Home. ISEC. Berkeley: International Society for Ecology and Culture.)
I came across this research project a decade ago when I was researching and writing my undergraduate honors thesis in college. In the ten years since it was published, Nestle and Kraft have jockeyed into the number one and number two positions, respectively, for largest food and beverage corporations in the U.S.
Who’s at the top of the corporate food heap is not the point, however. What the Corporate Agriculture Research Project’s Thanksgiving Day Meal does is get straight to the heart of the beast that is our mainstream, industrial food system. Whether you’re naming brands that are owned by ConAgra or Kraft or PepsiCo or Dupont, the point is that most food on our grocery store shelves is the product of a highly consolidated, corporate-controlled, industrial food system. It's a system that routinely exploits farmers and farm labor, wreaks havoc on the environment, jeopardizes public health, and undermines local economies. Suddenly that Butterball™ turkey doesn't look so appetizing after all...
So, by making sure that your kitchen is stocked with a heap of local, seasonal produce from Floras Creek this Thanksgiving, all of us together are collectively saying “no” to corporate, industrial food.
And that’s pretty radical.
By the way, here’s my dictionary’s definition of the word:
1. relating to or affecting the basic nature or most important features of something
2. far-reaching, searching, or thoroughgoing
3. favoring or making economic, political, or social changes of a sweeping or extreme nature
4. excellent, admirable, or awe-inspiring (slang)
I'd like to hope that our farm can be part of sweeping economic, political and social change, but there is one thing that is certain: You all have been a most excellent, admirable and awe-inspiring group of eaters this season! I thank you for your support, your culinary adventuresome-ness, and your ongoing commitment to the farm. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s true: we couldn’t do what we do without you.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we extend our deepest gratitude for all that you eat, and for all that you’ve done to help the farm thrive this season.
We are already looking forward to 2011. In the meantime, eat well, be merry, and be sure to tell Kraft that you made your own homemade roasted root stuffing this year (and man was it good)!
P.S. for all kinds of Thanksgiving-inspired recipes, check out the recipe exchange!