Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Carrots & People: What Really Matters?

By Andrea Yoder

Andrea motoring around the cooler!
Waste…it’s hard to face, for some, yet in my day to day work it is inevitable.  Yes, I’m the one scrounging through the bin of vegetable waste and trimmings on the wash line trying to save every last vegetable with thoughts like these rolling through my mind:  Why are there so many carrots being discarded?  These look just fine!  This crew is being too picky….and then I pick them up and realize the crew is doing just fine.  The vegetable may look fine on one side, but was discarded because maybe it had a split, a small bad spot, was shaped funny, maybe slightly discolored, too short, too fat…the list goes on.  Throughout the year, but especially during fall/winter root crop season, my days are filled with tracking inventories—How many bins of carrots do we have?  How many more do we estimate we’ll be able to harvest?  Where will we store them?  How many do we need to reserve for CSA boxes?  Who will buy the extras?  Do we have enough or do we need more?  Along with tracking inventories, I do a lot of forecasting, anticipating what we’ll need for CSA boxes, reading the minds of our buyers to anticipate the items and quantities they might buy between October and the end of December.  Of course, in the midst of inventories, forecasting, packing CSA and wholesale boxes, I’m tracking yields.  This lot of carrots is only yielding 500# per bin instead of the usual 650#....why is that?  Wet harvest day and we brought in a lot of mud?  Too many forked carrots that have to be discarded?  Too many splits? 
Bin of 'funny' carrots.
Earlier this week as I was motoring around the cooler on my forklift pulling bins for the crews to wash, carrots was the subject matter that laid heavy on my mind occupying my brain space.  The pallet of ‘funny carrots’ (the name we lovingly give to odd-shaped carrots) is getting pretty big.  Where are they going?  Will I ever find a buyer for them?  We’re generating more than the food pantry can take, perhaps I should just compost them.  But they’re good carrots!!!  They’re sweet, delicious, and well—they’re interesting and have character!  In the course of washing tons (literally) of carrots, we have to face the sobering fact that they are not all perfect.  Despite the fact that they are perfectly wholesome, delicious, sweet carrots, they are considered of lesser quality and value in the marketplace!  I can’t say I like this reality, but it’s not a bias I can change singlehandedly.  Of course, our goal is to maximize yields and get a favorable return on the crop.  But what do you do when no one wants these less than perfect carrots?  Are they truly worthless?  Who decided the “perfect” carrot is long & straight?

You know, carrots and people have more in common than any of us may ever have taken the time to reflect on.  Carrots, just like people, come in a rainbow of colors…yes, there are more colors of carrots than just orange.  We grow beautiful bright orange carrots, but we also grow some stunning dark purple varieties as well as bright, golden yellow carrots, red carrots and even white carrots!  Carrot seed is produced all around the world, with some seed coming from Oregon state in the US while other seed is produced in France and even South Africa to name just a few locations.  But when someone looks at a carrot or takes a bite of it, does it really matter where that carrot came from originally or what color it is?  I might choose to use purple carrots for roasting and orange carrots to make a soup because these are the preparations where each color will shine the most, but aside from that the color of the carrot doesn’t matter as long as it’s a delicious tasting carrot!   

In the vegetable industry, there is a classification system for sorting vegetables.  Straight carrots are sorted as “number 1,” carrots that are slightly less than perfect end up labeled as “number 2,” really crazy looking carrots are called “number 3,” etc and with each class ranking the value of the carrot decreases.  The reality is that every crop of carrots is different and the perfect, straight, number 1 carrots may only be a small percentage of some crops.  Of course these perfect carrots are what every buyer and customer wants, they’re obviously more desirable and more valuable…is that true?  And those less than perfect carrots that are left behind?  What are we supposed to do with all of those?  Does an imperfection in the shape of how a carrot grew make the carrot bitter or somehow inedible?  In my experience these carrots taste just as good as the straight ones, we just haven’t grown to the point as a society where we can willingly accept and embrace their uniqueness.  Yet every carrot has a purpose and in the hands of the right person, that carrot can realize its purpose. 

'Funny' Shaped vegetaables are beautiful in their own way!
As with carrots, so with people.  We’re not all “perfect,” but we all have purpose and value.  Is it fair to toss aside those people/carrots that aren’t perfect and deem them “less valuable” than the others?  Perhaps they require a little more care and attention to trim them up and make them usable, but if you make a pot of delicious carrot soup, when its done you won’t know if it was made from a straight, perfect carrot or a funny shaped carrot.  If it was a good tasting carrot, that is the characteristic that will leave the lasting impact.  Those funny shaped carrots demonstrate the harsh realities of life in a field.  Sometimes you hit a rock or a hard spot in life that might set you back.  You can give up, wither and fade away, or you can push through and overcome the obstacle.  In the case of a carrot with a funny shape, that doesn’t represent an inferior carrot, the shape demonstrates the fact that this is a carrot that came up against adversity and continued to push through, determined to grow and make something of itself.  Carrots can’t get up and choose to relocate to a different field.  They have to do the best they can with what they have.  This year our carrots had some trying times---first it was too dry, then it was too wet.  Yes, all these life events played a role in shaping their final outcome, just as we too are shaped by our life experiences.  Just because we may look or seem a little different than someone else doesn’t mean we’re less valuable.  Yes, funny carrots require a little more time and attention to trim and clean them, but on the inside they are still sweet and delicious!  Funny and broken carrots that might be tossed to the side, discarded and ignored, may be the most valuable carrots to some.  A farmer might snatch them up…. “Hey I’ll take these.  They’ll be a great source of nutrition for my animals.”  Or another farmer might want them to work into his compost pile to create compost to put on the field to feed another year’s crop.  A chef might spot them and say, “Oh, let me toss these in my stockpot.  They’ll add depth of flavor and a special sweetness to this stock!” 

And so it is with people.  We all have our own purpose in life and while some may seem to have a more glorious purpose than others, at the end of the day it takes all of us to make this world work.    Let us not be too quick to judge, but rather lets embrace the diversity and uniqueness of each person/carrot while focusing on the positive qualities that really matter, offering a little extra time and patience to work with them, and allowing them to become the something beautiful, sweet and valuable that they were meant to be.

No, I never really thought a carrot could teach me anything about life, but there are some important parallels we can embrace.  With open minds, hearts and appetites, I hope we can all move forward into this season of Thanksgiving and a new year with a heart of gratitude and acceptance for all the people of this world and all the carrots of the fields.  Happy Thanksgiving.  

November 16, 2017 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Carrots

Cooking With This Week's Box

This week’s box is another full and bountiful box filled with a wide variety of colors and vegetables.  As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday next week, we realize we have a lot to be thankful for this year.  While this year’s growing season had its ups and downs, our fall harvest has been bountiful and this week we’re sharing some of that bounty with you and your families! 

From a culinary perspective, Thanksgiving is a fun time of year for cooking.  All of the cooking magazines boast beautiful layouts and articles featuring a variety of festive, fall recipes.  Whether you’re looking for recipes to include in your Thanksgiving dinner or not, this is a great time to scout out new vegetable-centric recipes for the fall.  I’ve been poking around the internet at some of my favorite cooking sites to see what they have to offer this Thanksgiving season and I’d like to cast my vote to Food52 for a very nice feature on their website.  They’ve created Food52’s Automagic Thanksgiving Menu Maker.  This is a great one-stop shop feature that is basically a collection of recipes they’ve gathered and categorized based around the typical components of a Thanksgiving dinner.  This is a helpful tool for gathering recipes, tips and suggestions for your Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s also packed with a lot of great recipes that can be prepared at any meal this fall.  So lets get started cooking!

Photo from
Carrots are the topic of this week’s vegetable feature and we have two delicious recipes in this week’s newsletter.  The first recipe is for Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Parsnip and Potato Mash (See below).   I came across this recipe on Food52 where they suggested it as a vegetarian main dish for Thanksgiving.  I think it’s a great recipe for any meal in the fall or winter and it incorporates several of the root crops in this week’s box including parsnips, carrots, onions and garlic.  It also calls for celery, but you can easily substitute celeriac with delicious results.  While there are multiple steps required to put together Shepard’s Pie, the end result is a flavorful, hearty, nourishing meal.  The author of this recipe also comments that it can easily be frozen, so while you’re making a mess consider doubling the recipe and making two pans of this—one to eat now and the other one to go into the freezer.

Photo from
The other recipe in this week’s newsletter is for Sticky, Spicy, Sweet Roasted Carrots and Chickpeas with Date Vinaigrette (see below).  This is another recipe from Food52  and I thought it to be a fitting recipe for the week since we have dates in this week’s fruit box!  This dish is beautiful made with different colors of carrots and can stand alone as a vegetarian main when served, as suggested by the author, alongside couscous, bulger or pita bread.  You can also use this as a side dish to serve alongside lamb or chicken. 

I mentioned using parsnips in the Shephard’s Pie recipe, but here’s another idea for using parsnips that will also make good use of any leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  This recipe for Turkey Hash with Brussels Sprouts and Parsnips would make a great post-Thanksgiving brunch or dinner when served with a fried egg on top.  Speaking of Brussels sprouts, if you’re looking for more ways to put your Brussels sprouts to use, check out this collection of 20 of Our Best Brussels Sprouts Recipes for Thanksgiving featured at

Butternut squash has a wide variety of uses, but I’m going to make two very different suggestions for how to use it this week.  First, I have to honor the memory of my grandmother with Grandma Yoder’s Squash Pie.  This is a light, fluffy alternative to pumpkin pie and is a recipe my grandma always made for our Thanksgiving family dinners.  The other suggestion for butternut squash is from, you guessed it, Food52.  Check out this recipe for Herbed Butternut Squash Chips. Serve these as a snack while Thanksgiving dinner is being prepared, or serve them with a leftover turkey sandwich.

There are a lot of things you could do with sweet potatoes this week, but one of my favorite dishes this time of year is this recipe for Ginger-Coconut Sweet Potatoes.  This is one of Heidi Swanson’s recipes and it’s a keeper.  It’s easy to make, reheats well and is tasty served along with some tangy cranberries! 
Photo from

We’re happy to have some fresh greens for this box!  We took our chances and left the tat soi in the field covered with a double layer of row cover to protect them through several very cold nights over the past two weeks.  When we peeled back the cover we were happy to see they were alive and well!  This will be the last leafy green vegetable we take from the fields this year, so savor its goodness!  Last week I came across this simple soup, Ginger Bok-Choi Soup with Noodles.  Tat soi is related to bok choi and they can be used interchangeably.  You have enough tat soi in this week’s box to double this recipe.  The recipe calls for vegetable broth, but you could also make this using turkey broth if you take advantage of the leftover turkey carcass to make a flavorful broth. 

Richard will be packing up a big box of beauty heart radishes to take with him when he visits his family in South Dakota next week.  Beauty heart radishes are an essential part of the de Wilde Thanksgiving celebration.  We slice them up and serve them with dip as a snack before the meal and with leftover turkey sandwiches.  Richard and I also like to pack slices of beauty heart radishes and some cheese slices to take with us for road food while we’re traveling to South Dakota.  We eat them like cheese and crackers with the slice of radish serving as the “cracker.”  Several years ago we featured this recipe for Beauty Heart Radish and Sesame Seed Salad in one of our winter newsletters.  This is a stunning salad that is super-easy to put together.  If you’re looking for something different to wow your holiday guests, consider using this recipe.

Another one of our favorite fall vegetable salads is this Celeriac & Apple Slaw.  I like to add chopped, fresh cranberries to this salad, so thought I’d mention this recipe while cranberries are available.  This slaw is delicious with a wide variety of meals.  I’ve served it with ham and pork chops as well as roasted chicken.  It is also good with a simple cheeseburger!

Now that it’s cold, it’s time to make more soup!  Several weeks ago this recipe for Vegetarian Cabbage Soup was posted at  This is a simple, yet hearty soup that makes a complete meal when served with some crusty bread and butter.

Well, that covers nearly everything in the box except for the sugar dumpling squash.  This week I’m going to try Andrea Bemis’s recipe for Sweet Dumpling Eggs in a Nest.  Eggs are our go-to quick fix, so I’m always interested in ways to pair them with vegetables to make a quick meal.  You can bake the squash in advance and then just reheat them before adding the egg.  Serve this with a piece of toast or a biscuit and a bit of fruit for a simple dinner or breakfast.

That’s a wrap for this week.  I hope you enjoy your cooking adventures over the next few weeks.  If you stumble upon a good recipe or take the time to try something I’ve suggested here, please post pictures in our Facebook Group!  Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at HVF!
—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature:  Carrots

As we move into the heart of winter, carrots become an important staple food for Midwesterners who eat a diet based on local foods.  Carrots are packed with important nutrients, specifically beta carotene which is an important antioxidant and vitamin for our bodies.  It’s important for vision, immunity and a whole host of other health benefits.  Because they are a staple vegetable, we try to include carrots in as many summer and fall boxes as possible.  Carrots aren’t always an easy crop to grow.  The varieties selected for winter storage are planted in the summer when growing conditions can be hot and dry.  It takes an observant farmer to get enough moisture to the seed so it can germinate.  Once they are up, it’s a battle against weeds to keep the crop clean and make sure they have enough nutrients to produce a healthy plant and a tasty carrot!  This year we grew several different colors of carrots.  In the last box we included red carrots.  This week your bag includes purple carrots and we hope to send some of our new white carrots before the end of the season. 

The carrots in your box this week can are storage carrots meant be stored for months if you keep them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  They are a bit more dense than some of the earlier season varieties that are more tender but have a shorter shelf life.  Carrots are versatile in their uses and can be eaten raw, roasted, boiled, baked, and even fried!  They can be added to soups, stews, braised meats, root mashes, pancakes, bread, cookies and a whole host of other uses.  Since they are such a common vegetable, I think sometimes they get overlooked and we forget that there are so many more things you can do with a carrot aside from the traditional carrot sticks in dip.

I’d like to challenge you to think “outside the box” this winter and try some different ways to use carrots throughout the winter months.  I love making carrot salads for something fresh, light and crunchy.  Carrots pair well with a variety of herbs & spices as well as fruits such as apples & citrus.  You can make a very simple, quick, and easy salad with just a few ingredients.  Soup is another great way to use carrots---either as the main ingredient or as part of a mélange of vegetables in say, chicken soup.  Carrots are also delicious in baked goods such as carrot cake, carrot cookies, apple-carrot muffins, and carrot pancakes.

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Parsnip and Potato Mash

Yield:  6-8 servings

2 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
6 medium parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy option of your choice)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, medium diced
2 ribs celery, medium diced (may substitute celeriac)
6 oz baby bella, cremini, or button mushrooms, sliced
1 ½ cups brown or green lentils, dry
1 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tsp dried rosemary
¼ tsp dried thyme
  1. Place potatoes and parsnips in a large pot and submerge in cold water (there should be at least 1 inch of water over the vegetables).  Salt water well.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and allow potatoes and parsnips to cook for approximately 25-35 minutes, or until both vegetables are very fork tender.  Drain, return the vegetables to the pot and add ⅔ cup milk, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mash well with a potato masher.  If you need more milk, add the remaining ⅓ cup.  Set the mashed potatoes and parsnips aside.
  2. While potatoes are cooking, bring 1 ½ cups lentils and 3 cups water to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until lentils have absorbed all liquid, and are soft (about 30 or 35 minutes).  Set lentils aside.
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan over medium.  Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent and golden (10 minutes or so).  Add the carrots and celery and cook till both vegetables are tender (another 8 minutes).  Add the cremini mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes before adding the lentils, the rosemary, the thyme, and ½ cup vegetable broth.  Simmer the mixture, stirring well to incorporate flavors.  Add more liquid as needed:  you don’t want there to be too much broth or liquid in the bottom of the pan, because you’ll get a runny shepherd’s pie, but you do want it to be quite moist.  When everything is warm and well mixed, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a large casserole dish, pour the lentils into the bottom and then evenly spread the vegetable mixture on top.  Spread the mashed potatoes delicately and evenly over.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are browning.  Sprinkle with extra rosemary, if desired, and serve.
Recipe featured on

Sticky, Spicy, Sweet Roasted Carrots and Chickpeas with Date Vinaigrette

Yield:  4 servings

Date Vinaigrette:
5 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped into small pieces
1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
¼ cup sherry vinegar, plus additional to taste
Finely grated lemon zest plus 2 Tbsp lemon juice, from 1 small lemon
Salt, to taste
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 4 Tbsp warm water

1 ½ pounds carrots, cut into even pieces ( ¼ inch thick coins or cut lengthwise)
1—15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp Aleppo pepper (may substitute ⅛ tsp cayenne and ¾ tsp sweet paprika)
1 tsp cumin seed, lightly crushed
1 tsp coriander seed, lightly crushed
Salt, to taste
Coarsely chopped dill or cilantro, for serving
  1.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. First, make the vinaigrette.  Combine the dates, garlic, sherry vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt, stirring a few times to ensure the dates and garlic are fully submerged.  Do this step in the blender jar if using a standard blender, or a glass measuring cup or other suitable container if using a stick blender.  Let macerate for 20 to 30 minutes while prepping the carrots and other ingredients.
  3. After 20-30 minutes, add the extra-virgin olive oil and the warm water (starting with 2 Tbsp) to the macerated dates and garlic in the blender jar.  Blend until the vinaigrette is smooth, adding a few more teaspoons of warm water at a time to thin the vinaigrette.  You’re looking for a slightly thick vinaigrette, but one that can still be drizzled or poured.  Add salt and sherry vinegar, to taste.  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the carrots & chickpeas with ¼ cup of the date vinaigrette, Aleppo pepper, cumin seed, coriander seed, and a few large pinches of salt.  Toss to combine and ensure everything is evenly coated.   It may seem like too much vinaigrette, but it’ll reduce down and coat the carrots and chickpeas—so don’t skimp! 
  5. Spread the carrot mixture on a sheet pan or baking dish lined with parchment that’s large enough to fit them in a single, even layer.  Roast until the carrots and chickpeas are golden and the carrots are fork-tender, stirring 4 to 5 times to ensure even roasting and to avoid the vinaigrette from burning in open areas of the pan (but don’t be too concerned—it’s why you’re using parchment!).  The roasting time will depend on the size of the carrots—anywhere from 25 minutes to 45+ minutes.  If the carrots are browning too quickly but aren’t tender, lower the oven to 375°F and continue roasting until tender.
  6. Scatter the dill or cilantro over the carrots and chickpeas, ad adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve warm, making sure to drizzle more of the vinaigrette over the carrots and chickpeas before serving.
This recipe was featured at  The author of the recipe recommends using any leftover Date Vinaigrette to drizzle on greens or roasted Brussels sprouts!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Glyphosate: An Important Update

By Andrea Yoder

We’ve included reports about glyphosate in our newsletters in previous years, but sadly this chemical and its issues have not miraculously disappeared from the headlines or from our lives.  We all have reason to be concerned about this chemical as it is now the world’s most widely used herbicide and can be found extensively throughout our environment, our food supply and in human bodies across the country and world.  Glyphosate has been in the headlines recently, including just last week when the European Union held their initial round of votes on October 25, 2017 regarding the proposed 10 year re-license for glyphosate use within the European Union, which expires on December 15, 2017.   The majority voted against the re-license and has voted to ban glyphosate completely by 2022.  Additionally, they have voted to impose restrictions on its use starting in 2018.  While we could write volumes about glyphosate and the controversy and health & environmental impacts it has caused, we wanted to provide you with a brief update.  For those of you who are not as familiar with glyphosate, its use, etc, we’ve also provided several resources for you to further your own understanding of this dilemma we’re all in, whether we like it or not.  As consumers, we need to practice our right to make informed decisions regarding our purchases, and in this case specifically food purchases.  The choices we make can have great implications on our own health and well-being as well as casting a vote in the marketplace.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, patented in 1974, is now the world’s most widely used pesticide.  When it was initially introduced into the market, farmers used it as a pre-emergent herbicide to kill weeds before planting their fields as well as for weed control in non-crop areas.  In 1987 6 to 8 million pounds of glyphosate based herbicides (GBH) were applied in the US.  The first genetically modified (GMO) seeds were commercially planted in 1996 and were made to have resistance to glyphosate, thus the two were meant to be used together.  By 2007, the amount of GBH being applied in this country rose to 180-185 million pounds.  In more recent years GBH have been used as a pre-harvest desiccant for small grain crops including wheat, barley, oats, lentils, flax and dried beans with the intention of accelerating the dry down of the crop before harvest.  Because the chemical is applied so close to harvest, high levels of the chemical are found in the crop and the food products made from them.  GBH are now being used quite extensively on both GMO and non-GMO crops which has led to even more chemical being applied on US agricultural land.  In 2014, approximately 240 million pounds of GBH were applied in the US alone.

While the manufacturers of GBH continue to claim it is harmless, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.  In 2015 the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen to humans.  On July 7, 2017, California’s Environmental Protection Agency added glyphosate to their Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer.  The IARC’s classification of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen prompted many to file lawsuits against Monsanto by people alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop cancer.  There are currently more than 50 lawsuits pending in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.   

There are many problems with the use of glyphosate, making it overwhelming to even know where to start.  The use of GBH as a desiccant so close to harvest has led to a significant increase in glyphosate and its primary metabolite in food products including seemingly benign foods like Cheerios!  While food products are not being extensively tested for glyphosate, Food Democracy Now in coordination with the Detox Project requested testing of some food products at a FDA-registered food safety testing laboratory.  They found extremely high levels of glyphosate in common food products including Cheerios breakfast cereal, Ritz Crackers, Oreos, Doritos and even Goldfish crackers.  Glyphosate has also been found in honey, beer and wine.  Last week a research letter was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) regarding the findings of increased levels of glyphosate in urine specimens collected from participants in a prospective study being conducted in Southern California.  The mean glyphosate levels in urine specimens increased from 0.024 ug/L in 1993-1996 rising to as much as 0.449 ug/L in 2014-2016 for 71 participants with detectable levels.  This was a very small study, but nonetheless it raises concern for the rest of us in the population and demonstrates a need for future research to study the relationship between chronic glyphosate exposure and human health impact.

Monsanto has laced the industry with lies and deceit in exchange for economic gain.  They’ve influenced governments to make regulations, or drop regulations based on their proprietary studies which are not available for independent review and the credibility of which are very questionable. Last week a German publication, Spiegel Online, released an article reporting on the recent release of the “Monsanto Papers” which included internal emails, presentations, and memos suggesting they have participated in ghostwriting, scientific manipulation and withholding important information from government regulatory agencies and the public. 

So, where do we go from here?  Do we really know and understand the full impact glyphosate has and is having on human health and our environment?  If we continue on the current trajectory, where will we be in another 10, 20, 30 years?  Cancer, allergies, birth defects, endocrine disorders and the list of possible health concerns associated with glyphosate goes on.  I mentioned the Detox Project earlier.  This is an organization that has set up a means for testing glyphosate levels in participants all across the nation.  Anyone can participate as long as you’re willing to purchase a test kit and submit a urine sample.The purpose of their study and testing is to start tracking glyphosate levels in the population, but also to help individuals understand what their personal exposure is based on the levels found in their own body.  The Detox Project website also has a lot of informative resources for the general public as well as links to scientific research and papers.

The research group that published the research letter in JAMA mentioned above is expanding their work at the University of California, San Diego.  They have initiated the Herbicide Awareness and Research Project to conduct research in the areas of how glyphosate exposure might have changed over time since the introduction of GMO foods and to set up longitudinal epidemiological studies to look at glyphosate exposure and human health. 

A picture of one of our CSA share boxes.
This has become our medicine!
All of these things are good moves in the right direction, but do we have time to wait for the research?  What can we do in the meantime?  Organic food has become our medicine now more than ever.  For those who do not feel comfortable wondering if the foods they eat have herbicides and pesticides in them and/or don’t want to wait to find out if there really are negative health consequences, choosing to eat certified organic food may be the best choice.  Taking it one step further, knowing more about your food and where it comes from is more important now than ever.  Sadly, there is corruption within the organic industry as well and the organic credibility of some companies, both domestic and  international, have been questioned.  “Know your farmer, Know your food” is not just a catchy phrase to support a feel-good campaign to support local farmers.  It’s an important tool in your tool box to help you make informed food purchasing decisions.

I’ve included several resources below and encourage you to do some further investigation into this topic on your own. There really is something for everyone here.  If you’re interested in health and want to read the scientific papers, I’ve included a consensus statement published in Environmental Health.  If you’re interested in the legal issues, policy, etc you might find it interesting to look into the “Monsanto Papers”.  If you just want some easy to read documents to bring you up to speed and guide you in making decisions for your family, I’ve included several good resources for that as well.  I hope you’ll take the time to become more informed, if you are not already, about the realities of glyphosate in our food and environment today.  It’s an issue that impacts us all and we all have the right to know about it.

November 2, 2017 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Brussels Sprouts

Cooking With This Week's Box

Today marks the first day of November and we are into our final two months of CSA deliveries.  Where has the time gone!  This week’s brisk, cold temperatures are a reminder that winter will be coming soon.  We’re scrambling to harvest the remainder of our root crops before the ground freezes and is covered with snow.  Even though our growing season will soon be coming to a close, we have a lot of delicious cooking yet to accomplish!  This week we’re excited to be sending one of our farm favorite vegetables, Brussels sprouts!  They are best after a frost…which they got over the weekend and earlier this week.  There are many things you could do with Brussels sprouts.  Often I don’t get any further than a quick saute in butter or bacon.  However this week I’d encourage you to try the Spicy Asian Chicken with Brussels Sprouts featured in this week’s newsletter (see below).  I don’t often equate Brussels sprouts with Asian flavors, but it works!

Have you checked out our Facebook Group lately?  There have been some tasty recipes shared by members lately including this one for Thai Curried Butternut Squash Soup.  If you receive the Butterscotch butternut squash in your box this week, I’d recommend using them to make this recipe.  If you receive the sugar dumpling squash, consider trying this recipe for Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash that was recommended by another member who made this recipe using the sugar dumpling squash from a previous week.
Photo from

Another recipe that was recommended in the group was for a Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burger.  I can’t wait to try this--it looks delicious!  I’m telling you, there have been a lot of great recipe suggestions in the group lately.  If you haven’t joined our Facebook group yet, I’d encourage you to do so.  It’s a great place to share recipe ideas and ask questions.  This would be good with a few slices of avocado from this week’s fruit share!

Speaking of the avocados in the fruit share, our fruit newsletter features a recipe for Avocado & Beet Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette that was borrowed from one of Alice Water’s cookbooks.  This will be a great way to use the beets in this week’s box…regardless of whether you have the baby beets, medium sized beets or the muy grandes (BIG ONES!). Just vary your cooking time….everything else will be the same.

The bunches of Red Mizuna and Tat Soi in this week’s box are gorgeous!  I love these greens this time of year for both their flavor and color.  Both may be eaten raw or cooked, but since we don’t have any other “salad” greens anymore, I think a big salad is in order!  I’m going to make one of my “catch-all” salads using some of both the tat soi and red mizuna, partly because it will taste good and partly because it will be beautiful!  This Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette will be the dressing for the greens and I’ll top it off with toasted almonds, shredded carrots and some thinly sliced, seared flank steak.  With the remainder of the greens, I’m going to make this Turmeric Roasted Carrots with Seeds recipe.  This is kind of a “composed” salad that has a base of greens.  The red and orange carrots in this week’s box will be so sweet and delicious once roasted and will look stunning on top of a bed of tat soi.  Eat this salad with a bowl of lentils or roasted chicken for a warm, comforting meal. 

This week’s spaghetti squash and lacinato kale will come together in this Roasted Garlic, Kale and Spaghetti Squash dish. Hopefully there will be leftovers of this one for lunch the next day!

Well, that’s it for another week of cooking with the box.  We don’t have vegetable CSA deliveries next week, but we’ll be back for another vegetable share delivery the week of November 16/17/18.  This is the week before Thanksgiving, so if you haven’t planned your menu yet, it’s time to start!  We’re planning to send more sweet carrots, although the next bag you receive will have another pretty color to go with the orange carrots.  We’ll also have more sweet potatoes, winter squash and hopefully more Brussels sprouts.  That’s by no means everything that will be in the box, but just a few items to get you started!  While I haven’t seen the list for our next fruit share delivery yet, I am pretty certain we’ll have cranberries in that box.  Ok, the rest of the shares will have to be a surprise.  Have a great week!
—Chef Andrea

Featured Vegetable:  Brussels Sprouts

“Brussels sprouts are the only vegetable I cannot eat unless the weather is cold.  No frost, no sprouts.  I am not alone …Frost makes the sprout.…Eaten at the wrong time of year, cooked too long, or served with too much else on the plate, the sprout is hard going.” –Nigel Slater in Tender

Brussels sprout harvest.

Brussels sprouts are a highlight of fall and its transition to winter in the Midwest.  They grow on a tall, thick, sturdy stalk.  The sprouts spiral up the stalk and are shaded by a tuft of leaves at the top, but also down the stem.  Chef Deborah Madison describes them like this:  “There is something so silly and Dr. Seuss-like about a stalk of Brussels sprouts with its little hat of leaves that it makes you smile and want to eat the sprouts.”

There are several important points that are very important when it comes to Brussels sprouts.  First, as stated in the opening quote from Nigel Slater, frost and cold temperatures contribute significantly to the eating quality of Brussels sprouts.  After a frost, the flavor of the sprouts is sweet, slightly nutty and pleasant.  California is a major Brussels sprouts producer for the United States.  While Brussels sprouts do grow well there, there are many who are of the opinion that the mild California coastal climate just isn’t quite cold enough for Brussels sprouts.  Thus, consider yourself lucky that you live in Wisconsin & Minnesota where we can grow some delicious, sweet sprouts!

The second point of importance is DO NOT OVERCOOK THEM!  When the color fades from bright green to a dark olive color, the flavor fades too.  Overcooked Brussels sprouts go from crisp & tender to soft and mushy in texture and their sweetness is traded for a strong, unpleasant flavor with a pungent smell to accompany it.  Larger sprouts should be cut in half or parcooked if left whole.  Smaller sprouts may be left whole or cut in half.  When you are ready to use them, simply trim the end and remove any spotty leaves.  Rinse and then you are ready to use them.  They can also be shredded by cutting them in half and putting the cut side down and slicing them thinly with a knife.  Brussels sprouts may be sautéed, roasted, or lightly steamed just until the color is bright and they are tender to slightly al dente.  While most frequently eaten cooked, Brussels sprouts may also be eaten raw.  This week’s boxes include 1 pound of Brussels sprouts.  One pound of Brussels sprouts is equal to about 4 cups halved.

Brussels sprouts pair well with smoky and salty foods including bacon, ham, aged or sharp cheese, and blue cheese.  Additionally, preparations often include mustard, walnuts, pecans, lemon juice, onions and garlic.

They are definitely worth eating from a nutrition standpoint.  They are high in fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K and are packed full of powerful, cancer-preventing properties as well.  Store your Brussels sprouts in the fridge in the bag we packed them in.  You should open the bag a bit though and let them breathe.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple Walnuts

Yield:  3 to 4 servings

Maple Walnuts
¾ cup walnuts, raw & unsalted
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 pinches of flaky sea salt

Maple-Mustard Dressing
3 Tbsp cold-pressed olive oil
1 ½ tsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Pinch of fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 ½ tsp coconut oil, ghee or butter, melted
2 pinches of fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup pomegranate seeds
  1. Prepare the walnuts:  Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Place the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet with the maple syrup and salt.  Toss to coat and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, tossing once after 5 minutes when the walnuts begin to bubble.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  2.  Prepare the Dressing:  In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, mustard, and vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper.  The dressing will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 1 week.
  3. Roast the Brussels sprouts:  Slice the sprouts in half lengthwise.  Place them on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the coconut oil to coat.  Roast until the sprouts are tender but not overcooked, about 15 minutes.
  4. While the sprouts are roasting, roughly chop the cooled walnuts.
  5. When the Brussels sprouts are cooked through, remove them from the oven and immediately drizzle them with the Maple-Mustard Dressing, toss to coat, and season with salt and pepper.  Place them in a large bowl or serving platter, then scatter the pomegranate seeds and Maple Walnuts on top.  Serve warm.
This recipe was borrowed from Sarah Britton’s book, Naturally Nourished.  She recommends serving this recipe over cooked lentils for a vegetarian dinner.

Spicy Asian Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

Yield:  4 servings

1 cup long-grain rice
Photo from
½ cup cornstarch
1 large egg
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 large), thinly sliced
3 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus more if needed
½ pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced OR red pepper flakes, to taste
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp chopped roasted peanuts, almonds, or toasted sesame seeds
½-¾ cup chopped cilantro
  1.  Cook the rice according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, place the cornstarch in a shallow bowl.  In a large bowl, beat the egg;  add the chicken and toss to coat.  A few pieces at a time, lift the chicken out of the egg and coat in the cornstarch, tapping off the excess;  transfer to a plate.
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in a large nonstick skillet or a wok over medium-high heat.  In 2 batches, cook the chicken, turning occasionally, until golden 3 to 5 minutes (add more oil for the second batch if necessary);  transfer to a plate.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet.  Add the Brussels sprouts, ginger, and garlic and cook, tossing occasionally, until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and ¾ cup water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are crisp-tender and the liquid begins to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes more.
  5. Return the chicken to the skillet, add the chili, and cook, tossing, until heated through, about 1 minute.  Toss with the sesame oil and cilantro, serve over the rice and sprinkle with the peanuts or almonds.
Recipe adapted from Real Simple: Easy, Delicious Home Cooking, edited by Allie Lewis Clapp, et al.