In this week’s share:
- Collard greens
- Green beans
- Summer squash
- Sweet bell peppers
- Jalapeño chili peppers
- Tomatillos & pineapple tomatillos
- Cherry tomatoes
- Basil, cilantro, dill and parsley
‘Eating is an agricultural act”
CSA member Jamie was kind enough to give me a book of essays by farmer, writer and environmental activist Wendell Berry. I wanted to share one of those essays with you, titled “The Pleasures of Eating,” because it strikes to the heart of our food philosophy. Berry’s thesis is simple: eating is an agricultural act. As eaters, we are (quite literally) “consumers” that carry out the final act in a long process that begins with the planting of a seed or the birth of a living, breathing animal. To be conscious and knowledgeable of that agricultural process enriches the eating experience. Food that you grow yourself, or at least know where it comes from and how it’s raised, makes eating more pleasurable. Instead of being mere “consumers” of calories, we learn to appreciate our place in a complex and fragile food system that depends on healthy soil, clean air and water, and the humane treatment of animals.
I encourage you to read Berry’s entire essay (linked above). As CSA members, you have made a conscious decision to purchase locally grown food from a small farm. I’m sure each of you have your own motivations for connecting with a local grower. Maybe you’re concerned about the pesticides and other chemicals used in industrial agriculture. Maybe you like the idea that your food has only traveled a few miles from field to fork. Or maybe you just think that freshly harvested vegetables taste better. Whatever brought you to us, I hope that your participation in this odd little exercise has brought you and your family a little closer to your food.
It’s been another surprising and bountiful year in the garden and I’m glad that many of you have been able to come out and see the field where these vegetables are grown, transplant some seedlings, weed and water growing plants, and harvest the fruits of each unique stage of the season. After this week, there are only two more CSA shares left. If you and your family haven’t had a chance to visit the farm, I encourage you to take advantage of these final weeks to come and see us. I know how insanely busy life can get, especially with young children, but I firmly believe that eating is only half of the CSA experience. The other half is knowing firsthand where your food comes from, understanding a small part about how it’s grown, and meeting the person who grows it. Email me and I’m sure we can find a time to see each other at the farm.
I’ll finish with another quote from “The Pleasures of Eating”:
“The pleasure of eating should be an extensive pleasure, not that of the mere gourmet. People who know the garden in which their vegetables have grown and know that the garden is healthy and remember the beauty of the growing plants, perhaps in the dewy first light of morning when gardens are at their best. Such a memory involves itself with the food and is one of the pleasures of eating. The knowledge of the good health of the garden relieves and frees and comforts the eater… A significant part of the pleasure of eating is in one’s accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes. The pleasure of eating, then, may be the best available standard of our health. And this pleasure, I think, is pretty fully available to the consumer who will make the necessary effort.”
Cookin’ Collard Greens
In our house, we treat collard greens like kale or any other dark green leafy thing. We remove the stem, slice it thinly and add liberally to everything: soup, stews, eggs, pasta, taco filling, etc. But for many folks, collard greens are inseparable from Southern cooking. The traditional method is to simmer the greens for a long bath in an aromatic broth of smoked ham hock, garlic, onions, chili flakes, vinegar and a pinch of brown sugar. This is a good recipe that uses bacon instead of the hock:
Collard is also a fabulous choice for our family’s favorite beans and greens with a side of cornbread.
Pineapple tomatillos (for real this time)
A couple of weeks ago, I teased you with the prospect of pineapple tomatillos, the tiny husked fruit also known as ground cherries or husk cherries. I finally convinced the kids to help me harvest a nice bucket-load (small hands are better suited to the job). So everyone should be getting a solid two handfuls along with some more green tomatillos. I recommend snacking on the pineapple tomatillos raw or adding to your roasted tomatillo salsa for a fruity kick.
Feta Green Beans
Thanks to CSA member Joann for her favorite green bean recipe:
- Place beans in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil and cook uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes until crisp-tender.
- Drain beans and rinse with cold water. Place beans in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- In a jar with a tight lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, dill weed, salt and pepper and shake well.
- Add nuts and onions to beans. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Serve immediately.