CSA Pick-up #11

Another summer and another nationwide food recall.  The culprit?  Eggs.  According to CNN.com as of mid-afternoon Monday, around half a billion (!!) eggs have been recalled after about 1000 people in 17 states were sickened by salmonella.  The outbreaks have been traced back to two massive producers in Iowa, one of whom, Wright County Egg, is owned by the notorious DeCoster family.  You might remember them from the big to-do a few years ago concerning their “farm” in Turner, Maine, after a local animal rights group managed to get a record of the conditions there via hidden cameras.  Jack DeCoster is now facing 10 civil counts of animal cruelty, and he’s in trouble with the Labor Department, too, for the sweatshop-style working conditions at the facility.  Getting back to the latest egg troubles, I love this quote from FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg:  “We have a very complicated network of food distribution in this country.  You start with a couple of farms in Iowa and you can get nationwide exposure.”  Madness.  It’s the same reason why it seems a year can’t go by without a beef recall of some sort, as the flesh from one sick animal winds up in ground beef packaged and shipped all over the country (I read somewhere…perhaps in Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation?…that the average hamburger patty contains bits and pieces from around 1000 animals).  Does buying local guarantee that your food is safe?  Of course not.  However, if a problem arises at a specific farm, it can be contained and addressed without massive, nationwide efforts and uproar.  Think of the resources and logistics involved in a recall of this size!  As panics like this keep on happening…remember the spinach recall 4 or 5 years ago?  The issue with salsa a few years after that (was cilantro the culprit?)  The frequent recalls of ground beef?…I hope more and more people will see how ridiculous and potentially dangerous our “very complicated network of food distribution” is and turn towards local options.  Many of our news-following egg fans at the Saturday farmers’ market in Portland’s Deering Oaks Park last weekend talked with Rachael and I about the recall and expressed how happy they were that they can support local farmers and buy their eggs (and much more) locally.
Our happy hens.

Our happy hens.

Eggs from Da Girls not DeCoster.

Eggs from Da Girls not DeCoster.

I stepped outside this morning, checked the rain gauge, and shook my head.  What happened?  All the indications were that Monday was going to be a wash-out.  Instead, it was a tease…brief little showers that never amounted to much.  What we really need is a good soaking!  Here on our hill in Poland, we feel we’ve been generally less dry this summer than folks to our south and west and our soil holds onto the water it has quite well, but still, this dry spell is worrisome.  All yesterday’s wee bit of moisture will do is help keep the dust down for a day or two.  Wednesday may bring some more rain.  That would be wonderful for the farm as a whole and especially helpful for a number of fall crops we’ve planted in the past couple of weeks, including more lettuce and brassica mix, daikon radish, French Breakfast radishes, turnips, spinach, and kohlrabi.

This has been a phenomenal growing season so far, but alas, we have had some problems.  A handful of our Tuesday on-the-farm CSAers have had the chance to grab eggplant this summer, usually as a choice with bell peppers.  There hasn’t been much…we’ve harvested perhaps a dozen fruit all season so far.  It’s really maddening because the plants themselves look fabulous.  The problem is that this year has seen an explosion in the population of little critters called tarnished plant bugs.  They are generally not an issue but can cause damage to lettuce, strawberries, and (the kicker) eggplant and peppers by eating the buds.  The result has been gorgeous eggplants with no flowers, and with no flowers, there’s no fruit.  This has effected our pepper results, too, but not as drastically.  Again, the plants are healthy and look great, so we hope that perhaps a break in the life cycle of the plant bugs may open the door for some flowering in the weeks to come.  Eggplant fans, keep your fingers crossed!

Sonya wanted me to share with you all our new favorite zucchini recipe.  I’ll post it here and try to get it into our “Recipes!” archive in the near future.  This dish was introduced to us at a farm potluck by CSAers Jeannette and Ed Watt, and we discovered later that the recipe is actually from a cookbook we own, Food to Live By by Myra Goodman.  It’s a simple and refreshing summer dish.  Sonya made it recently with yellow summer squash instead of zucchini, and that was great.  I would imagine a combination of the two would be very pleasing to the eye.

Marinated Zucchini Salad

1 lb small zucchini
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons finely sliced basil
Coarse salt and ground black pepper
Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 sprig of fresh basil, as a garnish (optional)

Cut the zucchini into paper-thin rounds using a mandoline or vegetable slicer.  Whisk the olive oil and lemon juice together in a medium bowl; add the zucchini and toss to coat.  Add the sliced basil and toss to mix evenly.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover the bowl and let the zucchini marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour but no more than 6 hours.  Before serving, stir the mixture again.  Use a veggie peeler to shave very thin slices of cheese on top of the salad.  Garnish with the sprig of basil, and serve.

On to the veggies…  Your CSA share this week contains the following:

2 lbs of Sangre potatoes
2.5 lbs of zucchini/summer squash
1 lb bag of carrots
1 head of lettuce
1 musk melon -OR- 1 pint of husk cherries -OR- more potatoes (1 quart)
1 sweet onion
1 green bell pepper
5 cucumbers
1.1 lb bag of beans (green, wax, and purple)
1 bulb of garlic
5 lbs of mixed beefsteak and heirloom tomatoes
1 bunch of parsley -OR- 1 bunch of basil

Bread shareholders received a loaf of Cornmeal Wheat bread this week.  The goodies for sale at pick-up this week include the following:  eggs, flowers, pizza dough, pancake mix, John’s ever-popular corn muffins, choc. chip walnut cookies, zucchini relish, bread and butter pickles, and more!

Corey and Rachael setting up the barn for today's pick-up.

Corey and Rachael setting up the barn for today's pick-up.

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2 Responses to CSA Pick-up #11

  1. Jean says:

    John, What a disappointment to hear that the forecast good soaking rain didn’t materialize on Monday. As I drove away back to southern PA on Sunday (driving through some of that soaking rain!), I was feeling reassured that my garden would get a good watering after I left. Drat!

  2. John says:

    Well, we made up for it on Weds. Could use more, though…maybe this weekend?

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