Earth Day is the perfect moment to not only celebrate our beautiful planet and all its wonderful life forms, but to recommit ourselves to making more knowledgeable and sustainable choices in our daily lives, and to lessening the impact of our ecological footprint.
When you start to look at the things you eat in terms of a continual partnership – with both your body and the planet around you – food moves from the category of a necessity to a companion in the transference of abundant energy and vitality.
Food that is developed with the use of chemicals and processing procedures (and then transferred thousands of miles loaded with even more chemicals in order to preserve it) may represent a certain number of calories, ingredients, and even a numerical nutrient value – but it is missing the biggest value of all – the inherent energy of all natural living things.
The energy that moves from the sun to the nutrients in the rich soil, from the stalks to the leaves of what we eat, and even back out into the air we breathe – this is the energy and cycle of life we should be allowing to participate in our bodies, growth, and minds.
Most of you are probably familiar with this “fruity” treat as a filling for Pie, or as a tasty Jam – as here in the US it’s most commonly referred to as a fruit and treated as such (elsewhere its considered a vegetable – scientifically speaking it’s actually a herbaceous perennials). And while the leafy greens that top these reddish pink stalks may look delicious it’s actually the stalks that are eaten and give us the traditional “red fruit”. Unfortunately those leafy greens are high in oxalic acid, which can cause severe illness in some people, resulting in the common belief that Rhubarb is poisonous (if the plant is subject to extreme cold, the dangerous acid can migrate into the stalk, so be sure to store rhubarb in a warm or temperate space).
Rhubarb is also a virtual explosion of nutritional value and health benefits, and for those interested in losing weight it’s also one of the lowest caloric vegetables out there. With high levels of dietary fiber, antioxidants, brain repairing and bone boosting Vitamin K, and red blood cell stimulating copper and iron – it’s a great and vibrant addition to any meal plan.
And it’s not just for sweets, like our favorite Rhubarb Pie – there are plenty of ways to get creative in the kitchen and ad it into your diet. It makes a great sweet pairing as a topping or marinade to meats like chicken and pork tenderloin, as a topping to breads like Foccacia, or as a sweet punch to a salsa or ceviche – it even makes a tasty syrup perfect for cocktails, or a tasty addition to your smoothie or juicing recipes. Like some of these ideas? Check out these recipes and more gathered up by the New York Times http://cooking.nytimes.com/topics/our-best-rhubarb-recipes
To share, inspire and rekindle traditional knowledge, values, and ethics of behavior – those that celebrate the intrinsic value and sacredness of the food we grow and eat – is part of the Intuitive Forager’s mission. In honor of Earth Day 2016, we share with you two of the original pioneers who started the movement of protecting the land and small farms from the encroaching and inevitable practice of commercial agriculture – Rachel Carson and Rudolf Steiner.
There is still so much to be learned and applied from both of their works, so whether you are inspired to pick up a copy of Carson’s Silent Spring or read some of the Steiner’s lectures on Biodynamic Agriculture – we hope you at least recognize and appreciate the steps they took that we continue with now…
Rachel Carson (1907-1964), a quiet loner from a Pennsylvania farm grew up to become a renowned marine biologist and nature writer, and was eventually recognized as one of the earliest proponents of the global environmental movement. After publishing several books on marine life with her oceanic trilogy, she next turned her attention to conservation and to the growing environmental issues she believed were being caused by synthetic pesticides.
In 1962 she published Silent Spring, a jeremiad against the spraying of DDT and other pesticides which brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people. By blaming their use for the widespread decimation of bird and animal populations, she is credited for giving the environmental movement its robust scientific underpinnings and bringing it to the forefront of culture.
And although the book was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, leading to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides, and it inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was an Austrian philosopher, author, social reformer, architect and esotericist who gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published philosophical works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, which then bled into other more viable applications of his larger concepts and by the end of World War I Steiner worked to establish various practical endeavors, including biodynamic agriculture.
By 1924, at the request of various farming groups concerned about the future of agriculture, Steiner developed a series of lectures which focused on an ecological and sustainable approach to agriculture that increased soil fertility without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Steiner’s agricultural ideas promptly spread as “biodynamic agriculture” – which is now practiced in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.
In this domain of agriculture, Steiner was the first to point to the danger of synthetic fertilizers, which were just appearing in his time. He was also the first to bring the perspective of the farm as a single, self-sustaining organism that thrives through biodiversity – the integration of crops and livestock and the creation of a closed-loop system of fertility. Steiner also brought forth a unique and comprehensive approach to soil, plant, animal and human health that recognizes the importance of the healthy interplay of cosmic and earthly influences. With this knowledge, he developed a set of homeopathic preparations used by biodynamic farmers on soil, compost and plants that help build up the farm’s innate immune system and vital forces.
In the 1980s, biodynamic farmers in the northeast U.S. used Steiner’s economic ideas to pioneer the concept of community supported agriculture (CSA), which has since been adopted by thousands of farms across North America.
A special relationship started decades ago on the sacred soil on the Oxnard Plains of Southern California at the McGrath Family Farm where Kerry Clasby and Philip McGrath initiated their first agreement to the pursuit of organics. The dedication to the farm field and tractor was their first calling card to one another and a bond of forager and farmer that remains the Intuitive Forager’s hallmark of ‘best of farms.’
What more telling image is there than the sun’s golden cast on forager and farmer’s skin, perhaps mixed with dust of the plains at the end of a hot summer day? A harvest well done. These are the forger’s moments that confirm the authenticity and diligence to both the Farm-to-Table and sustainable eating movement of our company.
In this week from McGrath Family Farms – delicious Viva Patricia Strawberries, Snap Carrots, and Wild Arugula.
The McGrath Family has farmed and preserved over 300 acres to organic and sustainable farming for over 50 years. Join us by celebrating this iconic relationship and the integrity of McGrath’s organic produce at the Markets this weekend with their delicious Viva Patricia Strawberries. With an early to mid-season production, the Viva yields a bright red, large sized berry known for its slightly firmer skin and excellent flavoring and aroma.
You can also pick up some of their Snap Carrots which are perfect for juicing or get your greens on with some light-on-calories heavy-on-nutrients Wild Arugula – this dark leafy green is a favorite for spring salads, and a great addition to smoothies or used for juicing.
To read more about McGrath Family Farm head over to their website here.
Growing over 20 varieties of fruits and vegetables, Dirty Girl Produce is a 40 acre certified organic family farm located in Santa Cruz County, Ca. With a heavy focus on heirloom organics and sustainable farming practices, they are the perfect partner for the Intuitive Forager family.
Farm owner Joe Schirmer grew up in Santa Cruz and began working at Dirty Girl Produce in 1997. He purchased the farm in 1999. Joe is a graduate of UCSC and the UCSC Farm and Garden Apprenticeship Program and has worked on several farms throughout the west coast. Joe currently sits on the board of directors for CUESA (Center for Urban Education on Sustainable Agriculture) which runs the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and is past President of the board of directors for the SCCFM (Santa Cruz Community Farmers Markets).
Joe’s wife Miranda Schirmer has been involved with various aspects of the farm since 2000. Today she updates the DGP website, cooks and preserves the farm’s produce for family and friends, and is busy raising DGP’s three youngest farm-hands and food-lovers: Joe and Miranda’s sons, Charlie and Calvin and their beautiful new baby girl, Pearl.
Originally demoed by Executive Chef Mark Andelbradt last spring and then again for a special culinary event this past weekend – this fan favorite is so amazing we recommend you try it for yourselves. (The recipe below was put together based on the video taken last spring).
ENGLISH SPRING PEA AGNOLOTTI
Make 1 day ahead and let rest in fridge – Roll and fill day of:
2 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
Make according to Basic Pasta Dough
Sauté ½ diced onion (shallot, or leek can be used as well), in 2 Tbls butter until soft
Add splash of wine
Add 1 ½ cup frozen peas
Add 1/2 cup heavy cream
Sauté until soft
Strain the filling and Puree adding cream to loosen if necessary
Add 2-3 Tbls mascarpone and 5-6 ozs goat cheese
S&P to taste
Refrigerate to tighten up before filling pasta
Rolling and filling pasta
Roll pasta down to the last setting
Fill with sautéed pea puree (Pasta shape and size should be approx. 1.5” long by ¾” wide. Use pastry bag to lay down filling).
Cook in a soft boil approx. 5 mins while making sauce
Heat olive oil and butter
Sauté 2 cloves minced garlic, 1diced shallot and/or ramps
Add ½ cup white wine and simmer until evaporated
Add 1 cup chicken stock, shelled English peas and morels
S&P to taste
When peas and morel mushrooms are al dente add strained pasta to sauce
Simmer to coat and add chopped chives and shredded pecorino Romano
Serve with warmed rustic Italian Bread
Note: You can make this recipe using won ton wrappers instead of handmade pasta.
Miners Lettuce can be found particularly abundant this time of year in the wild, especially in northern California, however it’s been cultivated as a food plant since the settlers brought it back to Europe in the late 1700’s and since then in the US. It gained popularity in food circles in Alice Waters & Chez Panisse’s hey-day during the 70’s and 80’s. Maybe even because of its popularity during this previous farm-to-table movement, it fell off the radar afterwards as food trends sifted in other directions. However it has recently resurfaced and once more gained popularity – not only in its wild form (as bloggers have added to the surge of “Wild Foraging” trends) but as a cultivated and popular Farmers Market selection (just as the Farm to Table movement is once again seeing a resurgence as people search for an increase in greens, organics, and nutrients in their daily diets – as well as more sustainable growing practices).
A very popular choice for salads, its large leaves are tender with a slight crunch and a mild pleasing flavor – it’s also packed with tons of nutrients including significant amounts of Vitamins C, A, and Iron. Ready to get your “Wild” on? Try the Kitchen Witch’s spring salad of Chickweed, Violet, Dandelion, and Miners Lettuce at http://kitchenwitch.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/03/chickweed-viole.html
The Surprise Avocado recently came into the markets in a big way – and starred in our own special Guacamole recipe. With a great depth and mix of flavor it’s the perfect blend of sweet, spice, and sour notes.
SURPRISE GUACAMOLE RECIPE:
1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 Red Onion, peeled and cut in 1″ chunks
2 ripe Surprise Avocados
Juice of 1 Rangpur Lime
1 teaspoon Salt ¼ Cup Chopped Cilantro (Optional) 1 Jalapeno (with or without seeds depending on desired level of heat)
Either in food processor or by hand: Mince garlic and onion, then add in diced jalapeno and mince (also add cilantro if using), make sure all are well mixed and minced. Add remaining ingredients, process to desired consistency.
Ramps are a delicacy known as baby wild leeks and the time to enjoy them is now – as their season is short lived!
With Ramps a little goes a long way as both the leaves and bulbs are edible and delicious, and are more pungent and spicy than there grown up cousins, so use them sparingly. Their broad, smooth, light green leaves, often surprise the culinary lover with deep purple or burgundy tints on the lower stems – perfect for the art on the plate lover! Ramp bulbs and leaves may be diced and used just as you would use onions, green onions, leeks, chives and garlic. They pair well with the following, pasta, eggs, chanterelles and other wild mushrooms, potatoes, stir fried and raw greens and even a meat option with pork.
Part of the Allium family Ramps are praised for their health benefits – especially as a blood cleanser or spring time tonic – they are a great source of vitamins A and C, and also boast a significant about of iron, selenium, chromium, calcium and fiber.