CSA pick-up #5

Let’s hear it for this past weekend’s rain and for happy, happy plants!  Your CSA share this week contains the following:

1/2 lb bag of salad mix -OR- 1 lb of broccoli
1 bunch of broccoli raab -OR- 1 bunch of Red Russian kale
1 head of lettuce
2 lbs of zucchini/summer squash
1 bunch of turnips -OR- 1 bunch of beets
1 bunch of chard -OR- more (1 lb) zucchini/summer squash
1 pint of sugar snap peas -OR- 1 pint of snow peas -OR- 1/2 bag of shell peas
1 lb of beefsteak tomatoes
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
1 bunch of herbs: Choose cilantro -OR- dill

Bread shareholders received a loaf of John’s Daily Bread this week, the “flagship” bread of the 2010 bread armada.  My goal with the Daily was one-bread-for-all:  simple, light but healthy, solid but not flashy, ever-so-slightly sweet, perfect for sandwiches, excellent for toast, all-purpose, hot or cold, etc., etc.  It contains a mix of organic white and whole wheat flours and local honey from Tom’s Honey and More (and we mean local…Tom keeps a dozen or so hives at the farm, so some of that honey could have originated right here!)

Beets are new this week, and boy are we happy about that!  They are so good for you, packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  Try them roasted or shredded raw in salads and wraps.  Don’t forget to eat the greeens, too!  Broccoli raab makes its first appearance this week, too.  This green is excellent steamed and even better sauteed.  We love to sautee it with olive oil and garlic, then toss it with fresh pasta, along with grated Romano cheese and chopped walnuts.

Nothing says “summer is here” quite like zucchini, and with the recent hot weather, the stuff is going crazy.  My dad had a veggie garden for a couple of years at our house in Georgia when I was a kid.  I remember that we would go away for a couple of weeks in the summer (usually up to Vermont to visit my grandparents), and when we got back we would inevitably find a few 2-foot zucchinis we’d overlooked before leaving.  Now imagine much of an entire bed like that!  Alas, it’s true.  A zucchini/summer squash planting waaaay back at the end of Field 2 somehow escaped our notice until today, and I discovered a section of mega-zucchinis, enough to fill a bin.  These big fellas are really only good for one thing, and that’s zucchini bread.  You won’t be disappointed if you choose to take one of these monsters home!

Potatoes have been on my mind lately, for a number of reasons.  First off, our potatoes here at the farm are coming along nicely.  They are just past the flowering stage, which means the tubers under the soil have been set and are growing steadily.  The potato bugs have been out in force, but so have Rachael and Corey, unflinchingly collecting into buckets the yellow and black striped adults plus the slimy, rust-colored larve PLUS any egg sacks hiding on the underside of the plant’s leaves and delivering the whole mess to the enthusiastic chickens.  New potatoes will be coming soon…

I’m also thinking about potatoes because of my aunt and uncle, Meredith and Tom Hughes, who I’ve written about at some length on this blog in the past.  They started The Potato Museum in Brussels in the 1970s, took it to DC in the 1980s, and expanded their research and activities into The Food Museum in the 1990s and beyond.  This year, the potato once again takes center stage with them as they present “Spuds Unearthed!” at the US Botanic Garden in DC.  The exhibit opened in May and runs until October.  Some photos and video of potato activities from Summit Springs Farm…cutting seed potatoes, planting, harvesting, etc…are included in the exhibit.  If you’re in the DC area, stop in and check out this entertaining and informative exhibit (and the rest of the Botanic Garden, too…it’s quite something).

But the MAIN reason I’ve got spuds on my mind is because of a potato controversey here in Maine.  This season, we applied for and received permission to accept WIC checks at out farmers’ markets.  WIC stands for “Women, Infants, and Children”.  As described on the USDA WIC website “WIC provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.”  It’s a great program, but it’s taking some heat because it has banned potatoes from its approved list of foods.  When we received our informal training session here at the farm on how the WIC program works, I was surprised by the potato’s exclusion.  It’s off the list because it’s considered too starchy and fattening.  I’m not alone in my surprise, it seems.  A few weeks ago, I noticed a front-page article about the controversy in the Portland Press-Herald and read a follow-up editorial about it in last week’s edition.  Maine is, of course, a major player in the potato industry, and the major potato producers up in Aroostock County are outraged by WIC’s exclusion.  So are many consumers and health advocates, who argue that the potato gets a bad rap because of the uses to which it is put rather than any inherent faults.  For many, many people, a serving of potato takes the form of a bag of chips or a basket of fries.  Even something as healthy as a baked potato quickly becomes something else entirely when slathered with butter, sour cream, and cheese.  In and of itself, however, the potato is quite healthy…not too high in calories and a good source of protein, vitamin C, and dietary fiber, especially when eaten with their skins.  If folks can get their potatoes fresh from the farmers’ market, along with some helpful preparation advice from the farmer, then I see no reason why spuds should be excluded.  Do you?

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