Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bags for the People

I met the women who sell pickles for Hawthorne Valley at the Union Square Farmer's Market. They're concerned about all the plastic being used at that market, and wanted to find a way to avoid using plastic at all. It was like looking in a mirror, except that these lovely ladies were younger and hipper than myself, and had figured out a stylish solution: make quick cloth bags out of fabric scraps, and give them to market customers for free. Meet Bags for the People (dot org, of course). They're now spreading the word about the danger of plastics through teaching and social events called "sweatshop socials."

Monday, May 25, 2009

What People Want

wintergreen's first weekend at the Cold Spring Farmer's Market was a hit! We sold out of pickled veggies entirely, and created an instant following for our fresh tofu, handmade seitan, and aged cashew cheese (made by our friends Dr. Cow in Brooklyn).

And I learned something that I'd never known before: Everyone on the planet worships ginger beets.

I think fermented beets are amazing, but I didn't expect them to cause market stampedes. Note to self: make more ginger beets.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Produce Prices

Like gas prices, prices in the grocery store are going up. I spent $100 on produce today. A hundred dollars! And I didn't need a cart to get my bags out of the store.

There were several things I didn't buy because of the price. One single head of organic cauliflower was $5. I'm still flabbergasted.

This is why it's exciting that summer C.S.A. seasons are starting soon. At my farm, the weekly take is more than I carry, and I've only spent about $20 per week.

I can't wait to be eating only what's in season, and not worrying so much over my wallet while I'm doing it. Thank the lucky stars for C.S.A.s! (Better yet, join one to be sure small farms survive.)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Market Season

wintergreens is going to market. To the Cold Spring Farmer's Market, to be exact. Beginning Saturday, May 23rd and every Saturday until Thanksgiving, we'll be there selling babygreens (the Hudson Valley's only local baby food), fermented and aged foods, quick pickles, and more.
Come say hello, learn what we're all about, and support wintergreens' efforts to buy a walk-in freezer! See you there (8:30 to 1:30).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wild Food

People are confused about and intimidated by wild food. We've been an agricultural society for a long time, and that makes it difficult to comprehend great food growing without attention, even though all food was once wild. There are a few exceptions, such as truffle mushrooms, which people know are rare and valued.

Trusted sources for food varies for different people: for some it is a supermarket they are familiar with, for some, health food stores, and for a growing number of people, local farms and home gardens.

When I told my family I had gone out harvesting rhubarb from along the railroad tracks, each had their own reaction.

To my mother, who hails from an agricultural community in North Dakota, it sounded uncontrolled. She wondered (reasonably) if chemicals were sprayed there. Would this rhubarb be safe? DANGEROUS.

My father was a skilled gardener and forager as a child in West Virginia. To him, this rhubarb was appealing as free, fresh food. He wistfully reported that he would no longer recognize the wild plants that used to make up many of his meals. FREE.

My sister in California considers herself a foodie. If "foodie" means "eats anything," then she truly is. She likes the sound of wild rhubarb, too, assuming that it will have stronger flavor than its cultivated cousins. She doesn't remember particularly loving rhubarb's tartness, but she likes the word "wildfood," much like she likes "biodynamic" and "probiotic." FANCY.Two out of three people in my family (test group!) thought my newly harvested rhubarb sounded like good food. Why, then, has no-one in Beacon harvested this huge amount of rhubarb?

I grew up eating out of grocery stores. When I first saw a carrot growing, I pulled it up to confirm that it was, indeed, a carrot, then stuck it back in the hole thinking it could continue on. I've only learned about various wild foods in recent years, and only because of a shift in my own focus. I moved into a house that is host to black walnuts, mulberries, and blackberries. I joined a C.S.A., and my eating became much more locally focused. I've never been a fantastic gardener, and so what comes easily, naturally, makes me all the more grateful.

I think that nobody is harvesting that rhubarb because most people aren't even seeing it.

Now that I'm concerning myself with local food, and the local lack of food (hunger), wild food is that much more important. If you're at all open to it, I suggest taking a look around. (A little guide doesn't hurt, either!)

Thanks to Pickle Girl for the rhubarb picture.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rhubarb Snack

Time for pie and wine!

I've had terrible luck growing rhubarb, with my plants staying scrawny. Perhaps I've fussed over it to much, since it flourishes with huge leaves along the railroad tracks and at the base of telephone poles. Rather than worry over what I'm doing wrong, I'm just harvesting along roadsides. I even enjoy rhubarb the old-style way: a nice tender stalk raw and dipped in sugar.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Springing Sprouts

I'm a Metro North train commuter, and not home during daylight for half of each week. This past week, an awful lot happened in those few days without me seeing it! From when the sun set Monday evening to the sunrise on Friday morning, leaves appeared on the trees, wooded areas became jungles, and there are so many blossoms I'm drunk with giddiness. Plus, my outdoor seedlings appeared! Here are chilies, tomatoes, squashes, basil, dill, and much, much more.

Spring, and spring seedlings, remind us of all the power of plants bursting forth. Sprouts are literally seeds bursting with all the energy they've held through dormancy. Sprouts are one of the most nutritionally packed powerhouse foods. So small, so flavorful, and so good for you.

What's great about sprouts is that you can eat them year 'round. In the dead of winter, I like having them grow in jars on my windowsills not only because they're tasty, but because they remind me that spring will come again.

Here are the most simple instructions on how to sprout beans, seeds, and grains. There are far more uses for sprouts than just salads—you can put them in pretty much anything.