Category Archives: In Season

Featured Specialty Crop – Spinach!

Spinach Facts & Trivia

Spinach, botanically classified as Spinacia oleracea, has three varieties: savoy, semi savoy and flat-leafed. The savoy spinach has crinkled leaves and is the primary commercial type. Semi-savoy has partially crinkled leaves and is most often processed but can also be found in markets, while flat-leafed is mainly processed. Spinach seeds come in two varieties, round and prickly, the variety of seed having no impact on the type of spinach grown from it. Some trace the name Spinach to a Latin in origin, Spinacia, which translates to “spine” referring to the spiny seed coat found on some spinach seeds. Others say it gets its name from the old Persian word aspanakh.

Spinach is a native to Persia, and today it is still found growing wild in modern day Iran. The domestic cultivation of Spinach goes back over two millennia when it was first brought to China in 647 BC. Trade routes are most likely to thank for its European introduction, when the Sicilians imported Spinach sometime during the ninth century. It later spread to Spain and England and was known by a plethora of aliases such as spinech, spinage, spinnedge, or even spynoches. Spinach thrives in cool temperatures and sandy soil with conservative watering.

Why is Spinach So Good For You?

An excellent source of antioxidants, Spinach has four times the beta carotene of broccoli. Its high lutein content helps to lower cholesterol and aid in eye health. Spinach also contains carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and folic acid. For best nutritional value, eat raw or slightly cooked.

What does it look/taste like?

Spinach is a leafy green producing succulent, dark green, spoon-shaped leaves. It offers a subtle, yet assertive vegetal flavor often with iron or metallic notes. Depending upon variety and maturity, Spinach can be sweet, earthy, nutty and even tangy.

How do you eat them?

  • Spinach can be eaten fresh or cook and stands up well to heat, baking and sauteing.
  • Use as in a salad mix or as a dark, leafy green.
  • It is highly versatile and pairs well with spring vegetables, citrus, berries, eggs, nuts, bacon, pasta, cream and fresh cheeses.
  • Flavor with Indian or Middle Eastern spices, creams, ginger, garlic, shallots, chiles and soy.
  • Spinach will keep, dry and refrigerated, for one to two weeks.

Source: www.specialtyproduce.com

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Featured Specialty Crop – Garlic!

Garlic Facts & Trivia

Garlic, botanically known as Allium Sativum, is the name dedicated to many softneck, artichoke varieties that are commonly found in commercial markets. Softneck varieties are favored as they are easy to grow, less particular about growing conditions, slower to bolt, and produce more cloves per bulb. In general, 98% of Garlic found in the supermarket is one of two types, California Early and California Late. A unique feature of California Early is its ability to be used to make powders, seasonings, and salts.

Garlic has long been used by a variety of cultures such as Greek, Italian, Chinese, Egyptian and European for its culinary, medicinal, and spiritual properties.

Garlic is mainly produced in Gilroy, California, which is known as the commercial garlic capital of the world. Some Garlic may also be imported from China, as China is one of the top producers and exporters of Garlic. The type of Garlic found in supermarkets largely depends on the commercial company and the supplier they choose to purchase the garlic from.

Why is Garlic So Good For You?

Garlic is rich in manganese and vitamin B6, as well as vitamin C and copper, and contains selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and calcium. Garlic contains allicin, a sulfur-containing compound that provides antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Allicin is produced when garlic is crushed and is more potent in raw form.

What does it look/taste like?

Garlic bulbs range from medium to large, averaging anywhere between 5-8 centimeters in diameter, and consist of several cloves arranged in a number of layers depending on the variety. Each clove of Garlic is encased in its individual wrapper, and the bulb itself has layers of thin, flakey wrappers to protect the cloves. Once the cloves are crushed or pressed, enzyme compounds are released, producing a sulfur-based molecule known as allicin, which is responsible for giving garlic its renowned pungent aroma and flavor.

How do you eat them?

  • Garlic can be consumed in both raw or cooked applications.
  • Raw garlic tends to have a stronger flavor than cooked; and crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases even more of its oils providing a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole.
  • Garlic can be used in any dish that calls for garlic such as garlic chicken, spaghetti Bolognese, potato soup, to stews, but it also does especially well as the central flavor in marinades, dressings, sauces, and salts.
  • Roasting garlic will enhance its flavor and add a subtle sweetness.
  • Pair Common garlic with acidic fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, tomatillos, and citrus, meats such as poultry, beef, pork and seafood, herbs like basil, thyme, and oregano, and other vegetables such as artichokes, snap peas, broccoli, asparagus, and Brussel sprouts.
  • Garlic will keep between one to four months, depending on the specific variety, when stored in a cool and dry place.

Source: www.specialtyproduce.com

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A Word About Garlic from China

Before Heading to Wally World for Garlic, Consider This:

  • About one third of the garlic in North America comes from China.
  • Most, if not all of the imported garlic that comes from China is bleached to whiten the garlic and stop sprouting.
  • It is also fumigated with methyl bromide to kill insects and plant matter. According to the UN, methyl bromide is 60 times more damaging than chlorine and is the base of CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons).
  • China is one of the largest garlic growers, producing around 500,000 tonnes a year.
  • Garlic produced in Yongnian County, in Handan, Hebei, the centre of garlic production, is often sprayed by two illegal pesticides called prorate and parathion. This saves the farms time and effort, but puts our health at risk.
  • In 2014, an official government report showed that over one fifth of China’s soil is contaminated by arsenic and cadmium, two heavy metals that have a variety of health consequences.
  • Almost all major rivers in China are tainted by large amounts of industrial chemicals and household waste.
  • Henry Bell, of the Australian Garlic Industry Association, notes that “some garlic growers [in China] use raw human sewage to fertilize their crops…”
  • Garlic can sit in storage for over 1 year before you actually eat it. Buying garlic that has been sitting this long means that you aren’t getting the beneficial compounds, like allicin, which is the main thing in garlic that makes it one of the most powerful antibiotics in the world.

So, what’s the solution? Grow your own garlic, or even better, support your local Farmers and get your garlic directly from them! Yes, Atchison Farmers Market has several vendors who sell local, organic garlic!

To your health!

 

Source: https://livelovefruit.com/how-to-spot-chemical-laden-garlic-from-china/

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Featured Specialty Crop – Beets!

Beets Facts & Trivia

The Wild beet, the ancestor of the beet is thought to have originated in prehistoric times in North Africa and grew wild along Asian and European seashores. Beets prefer a cooler climate although they are tolerant of heat. They can be harvested any time during their growth cycle. Growers say the faster beets grow, the better the flavor.

The Red beet, Beta vulgaris, is a plant in the Chenopodiaceae family. The color of the Red beetroot is due to a variety of betalain pigments.

Why are Beets So Good For You?

The betalin pigments present in beets have repeatedly been shown to support activity within the body’s detoxification process, activating and processing unwanted toxic substances up with small nutrient groups.

What does it look/taste like?

Red beets are made up of both an edible root and edible leaves, 10-12 inch red and green leafy stems ascend from red beet’s ruby red, smooth, bulbous root. Small or medium beets are generally more tender than larger ones. As beets have the highest sugar content of any vegetable, their flavor is typically sweet.

How do you eat them?

  • Red beets are showcased best when slow roasted or steamed.
  • They pair well with a wide variety of proteins, spices and other vegetables including cheese, bacon, smoked fish, walnuts, horseradish, chives and citrus.
  • They can also be preserved by pickling, which offers an incredible flavor profile for the beets.
  • The leaves are commonly used as a pot herb or as a braising green.

Source: www.specialtyproduce.com

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Featured Specialty Crop – Pumpkin!

Pumpkin Facts & Trivia

Native to Central America, growers through the years have cross-pollinated different varieties of pumpkins to create new cultivars. The Native Americans often grew pumpkin and squash with corn and beans, a process they called, “the three sisters”. By growing in this method each plant supports the other thereby producing a better yield. The word pumpkin is derived from pepon, a Greek word meaning “a large melon”. The French called it pompon and the English pumpion.

Ethnic/Cultural Info
The tradition of pumpkin carving dates back to centuries ago in Ireland where they created something called “jack of the lantern” by carving turnips and potatoes with scary faces, then lighting them with a candle and placing them in windowsills to ward off evil spirits. When colonists later arrived in the New World they found pumpkins which soon after became the vegetable of choice for carving.

Why is Pumpkin So Good For You?

The pumpkin’s nutritious orange flesh offers magnesium, potassium, vitamin A and antioxidant carotenoids. Like many orange fruits and vegetables pumpkins are also rich in beta-carotene which helps support healthy eyesight and is beneficial to bone and cell development. Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil offer protein, iron and zinc.

What does it look/taste like?

Encased in a moderately hard shell, the thick edible flesh of the pumpkin harbors a central multi-seed cavity. Pumpkins come in many different shapes and sizes. Their bright orange skin can be smooth, bumpy or vertically lined with ridges. Their flesh is orange and typically offers a sweet mild flavor, however some varieties bread specifically for carving will be bland and fibrous.

How do you eat them?

  • Fresh pumpkin may be cooked in a variety of ways but also keeps very well and may be canned or frozen.
  • Add diced pumpkin to curries and stir-fries or puree and add to soups.
  • They can be sliced and roasted, grilled or fried, or they can be stuffed and baked whole.
  • Use pumpkin puree in quick breads, muffins, cookies and of course, pies.
  • Pumpkin seeds, known as pepitas, may be roasted and enjoyed as a snack.
  • Similar to squash blossoms, pumpkin blossoms can be stuffed and fried.
  • Pumpkin can also be used to make beer.
  • To store, keep whole pumpkins in a cool dry area up to one month, or refrigerate for up to three months.

Source: www.specialtyproduce.com

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Featured Specialty Crop – Chestnuts!

Chestnut Facts & Trivia

The Chestnut is considered an ancient nut which was probably one of the first foods consumed by mankind. The Chestnut was spread throughout Europe by the Greeks and Romans. Most Chestnut trees found in North America are of the European variety, Castanea sativa. However, there were Chestnut trees that were native to North America, Castanea dentata, that were wiped out in the early 1900’s by a deadly Asian fungus. The only native Chestnut trees that survived were located on the west coast, in California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why are Chestnuts So Good For You?

Chestnuts are a delicious treat, either roasted or cooked in soups or other recipes, and have considerable nutritional value.

  • The fiber content of chestnuts, 3 g per 100 g, is higher than that of walnuts, with 2.1 g per 100 g, pecans, 2.3 g per 100 g, and pistachios 1.9 g per 100 g but about half that of hazelnuts. Their fiber content makes them a low glycemic index food — one that raises blood sugar slowly.
  • Chestnuts are high in vitamin C, minerals, such as potassium, copper and magnesium, amino acids and antioxidants.
  • Chestnuts contain high levels of essential fatty acids, including linoleic acid, which are beneficial to cardiovascular health and proper neurological development in infants.
Source: https://www.livestrong.com/article/470050-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-eating-chestnuts/

 

What does it look/taste like?

The Chestnut has a creamy white flesh and crisp texture. The flavor of the Chestnut is sweet and somewhat starchy. These nuts have a round shape and are surrounded by a spiny case when harvested from the tree. Fresh Chestnuts have the consistency of potatoes when boiled or roasted.

How do you eat them?

  • Chestnuts are consumed raw, deep-fried or roasted
  • Chestnuts are dried into flour to make cakes, breads, muffins, soup thickener and polenta.
  • Chestnuts can be candied, steamed, boiled, grilled or used in savory or sweet dishes.
  • It could be tossed in soups or added to salads.
  • The nuts are used to prepare chocolates, pastries, ice cream etc.
  • Chinese use chestnuts as snacks.
  • They are used in the desserts.
  • Chinese chestnuts are added to the lamb and mutton dishes.
  • Chestnuts are used on puddings.
  • The nuts are used a vital ingredient in poultry stuffing.
  • Chinese chestnuts are used to make the chestnut butter–cream.

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A Word About Organic Farming

What is organic farming?
According to HDRA (Henry Doubleday Research Association of the UK), Organic farming works in harmony with nature rather than against it. This involves using techniques to achieve good crop yields without harming the natural environment or the people who live and work in it. The methods and materials that organic farmers use are summarised as follows.

To keep and build good soil structure and fertility:
• recycled and composted crop wastes and animal manures
• the right soil cultivation at the right time
• crop rotation
• green manures and legumes
• mulching on the soil surface

To control pests, diseases and weeds:
• careful planning and crop choice
• the use of resistant crops
• good cultivation practice
• crop rotation
• encouraging useful predators that eat pests
• increasing genetic diversity
• using natural pesticides

Organic farming also involves:
• careful use of water resources
• good animal husbandry

 

Organic Farming Definition from the USDA:

The USDA organic regulations describe organic agriculture as the application of a set of cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. These include maintaining or enhancing soil and water quality; conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife; and avoiding use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering.

Organic producers use natural processes and materials when developing farming systems—these contribute to soil, crop and livestock nutrition, pest and weed management, attainment of production goals, and conservation of biological diversity.

 

USDA standards recognize four categories of organic
production:

+ Crops. Plants grown to be harvested as food, livestock feed, or fiber or used to add nutrients to the field.
+ Livestock. Animals that can be used for food or in the production of food, fiber, or feed.
+ Processed/multi-ingredient products. Items that have been handled and packaged (e.g., chopped carrots) or combined, processed, and packaged (e.g., bread or soup).
+ Wild crops. Plants from a growing site that is not cultivated.

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