June 5, 2009

Scrapin' Up the Bits... CSA Style

Ahhhh. That sigh of relief is because CSA season has begun. Picking up some vegetables that had been in the ground just 24 hours or so before is such a welcome change from buying them in the grocery store. There is an extreme difference in freshness and flavor.

For our first pickup of the year - courtesy of Harvest Valley Farms in Valencia -- I chose:

  • Beets, of which I have never been a fan, but I'm going to give them a second chance, hopefully this weekend
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Spring mix
  • Asparagus
  • Eggs (from another local farm, free-range bad boys with bright orange yolks)
  • Bumbleberry jelly
  • Carrots (little 'uns, perfect for roasting, perhaps with the beets!)
The spinach (sauteed, side dish) and onions were used yesterday in a Greek-style shrimp dish, which was excellent.

For those who missed a CSA sign up and are still interested, the folks who put on the local Farm to Table conference every year have launched one. Can't vouch for it, but might be worth a shot.

For those who are concerned about where their food might be coming from, Food & Water Watch has launched the "Global Grocer."

Bonnie at the always excellent Ethicurean has an excellent summary of two recent papers that sound like must reads... and which I actually hope to read this weekend. The papers, as she explains, are the product of a researcher, Don Lotter. In it, Dr. Lotter...

makes a persuasive case that the transgenic seed industry is built on fundamentally flawed science, and that companies like Monsanto have used their vast market power to reshape university research, manipulate public opinion, and coerce regulatory agencies into reckless acceptance of risky technologies. And that scientists have looked the other way while they did so.

I wish I were more informed about the genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, that are masquerading as fruits and veg on grocery store shelves.

But one thing I do know is that they have not been adequately tested. At their most basic, these are food products that have been produced from seeds that had foreign genes inserted into them. Any time you start messing with nature in this way, you'd think that you might want to have some sort of data in actual humans that demonstrates the introduction of said genes -- via consumption of these foods -- into the population at large might not have some, well, unintended consequences. These papers, according to Bonnie, get at this issue and much more.

Based on our own experience as parents with young kids who won't eat anything, I guess this was fairly obvious.

The popular belief that healthy eating starts at home and that parents’ dietary choices help children establish their nutritional beliefs and behaviors may need rethinking, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. An examination of dietary intakes and patterns among U.S. families found that the resemblance between children’s and their parents’ eating habits is weak.

I mean, we literally are awash in fruit and veg in our household, and our dinnertime meals are full of variety, to say the least. Our kids eat the fruit, a good amount, and they both have their moments (my 4-year-old daughter, for instance, loves pesto and various Italian cheeses, and my soon-to-be 7-year-old sun scarfed down shrimp and pork dumplings at Lulu's Noodles and grilled squid in romesco sauce at Dinette) but vegetables have been hard to come by, despite the example mom and dad set. Meanwhile, at a Memorial Day picnic, I watched this 5-year-old kid pounding through carrots and raw cauliflower. Apparently this was not something he had to be coerced into. It just happened.

Then again, I barely ate any vegetables until I was in my 20s, and I turned out mostly all right.

Sadly, it's not even that. We just don't like being short-order cooks at dinner time!

And, finally, a serendipitous find on the Hopkins Web site that I must now add to my reading pile, "Farmacology," about how factory farming is leading to widespread antibiotic resistance. A teaser:

Kellogg Schwab, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Water and Health, refers to a typical pig farm manure lagoon that he sampled. "There were 10 million E. coli per liter [of sampled waste]. Ten million. And you have a hundred million liters in some of those pits. So you can have trillions of bacteria present, of which 89 percent are resistant to drugs. That's a massive amount that in a rain event can contaminate the environment."

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