As a culture, we have anecdotally, though
incorrectly, placed farming and technology at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Particularly with organic farming, our first visuals stem from old black and
white pictures of grandma and grandpa, with one holding a pitchfork, the other,
some corn stalks. Or there was the Back-To-The-Land Movement in the 60s and
70s, where we opted out of most of the modern comforts and efficiencies to do
things “how they used to be done”. They were labeled “Hippies” in that era, and
they still exist today, but now they’re called Recovering Millennials.
It wasn’t an accident that this movement began in
the 60s. As the war ended and troops returned home, the country shifted its
industrial prowess from producing tanks, bombs, and planes, and these talented
individuals turned their sights on the next fastest-growing industry: the
American family. Many of the companies we know and put up with today have their
roots (and patents) incorporated around the forthcoming advancements and
inventions. The deep pockets of the military budget (then, and
now still) enabled the research and development of many things we
hold dearly, but none more so than nearly every invention along the way to
our first digital computers, and even the early Internet, known as DARPANET.
Our modern computer would not be
possible without both the war and women. You see, our computer was simply the
response to very large, technical, and complex problem, and few had the
resources at hand to solve it besides the US military: how do you accurately target
dropping bombs from airplanes, or firing shells from moving ships? Known
as ballistic trajectories, you can imagine all the
variables that go into these calculations: wind speed, type of shell,
angle of the turret, speed and direction of the ship or plane, gunpowder used,
air pressure, distance to target, and the ever-present Coriolis
Force. These weren’t so much problems of war, but problems of
math. With miniscule changes to any one of the variables, each trajectory
needed to be re-computed. As the overall range of the
shells greatly increased in the early 1900s, you could no longer
depend on sight to determine the accuracy. And so we hired computers. No, not machines. Just
like we call people who swim, swimmers, and people that
build, builders, people that computed were computers.
Most notably, women. Teams of women. Entire buildings of women, computing
ballistic trajectories. Talk about war heroes! They would later be hired to
calculate flight trajectories for early space travel, as shown in the
movie Hidden Figures.
As the 50s roared on and machines took over computing,
the American Machine drilled its way deep into the home, then it went
straight for our food. The Back-To-The-Land Movement, and later the organic
label, was simply a reaction to the unnerving trend towards quantity over
quality. We’ve long worshipped at the altar of scale, where the products that
rise to the top of our food system exist mainly because they are long-lasting,
uniform, shelf-stable, processed, transportable, consistent, and cheap.
Unfortunately, there are many hidden and deferred costs
to cheap food, and it turns out scale has
downsides as well. Prioritizing foods that sell well over foods that digest
well might not be very smart in 10 years.
We now have terms for firms that operate at
unprecedented scale: Big Pharma, Big Data, Big Tech, Big Ag, Big Oil, Big
Banks. We even say they’re too big to fail! On the contrary, my peach tree
would argue that when I neglect to trim and thin and it gets too many big
peaches, it fails spectacularly! Snap, Crackle, Pop! 🙁
We have gone through a vicious cycle of scaling
up our homes (cookie-cutter subdivisions), our food (big-box, fast food),
our work (computers, skyscrapers), our sports (TV), our shopping (malls, ecommerce,
China), our travel (freeways), and now we seem to be stuck in a season of
scaling our entertainment, distraction, and notifications (phones, streaming).
When we get bored of one, we move to the next, and there seems to be a lot of
unnecessary suffering created in the margins near the altar of scaling
anything. The low-hanging fruit of endless ramping-up appears to have served us
well, but there are rumblings and groanings that the consequences are coming
back to balance out the scales.
The organic movement was simply a conscious
choice or discipline to do things how they should be done, rather than how they
could be done. Plenty of our technology exists simply because we can, with
precious little thought as to whether we should. But just like our need for
organic labeling came about, we’re now seeing our technology wrestle in the
same arena with things like the Center for Humane Technology and Time Well
Spent. Organic farming and now our technology are together, oddly, pushing back
on similar encroachments.
When a system is too big to fail, that’s a good indicator that something is broken, deeply, at the root. And a broken food system can hardly be fixed by calling your senator, attending a conference, choosing a diet based on book sales. Sometimes, all that’s left is to simply opt-out. By getting your Box of Good, you are opting out.
This week’s recipe was created and submitted by our very own Susan O’Connor, in Everett. Despite not being fond of zucchini or pear, there she was with both in her Box of Good. Combining her creative juices and some orange juice for the dressing, she whipped up this delicious mixture of colors, perfectly balancing the tension between salad items and fruit items. I tested it out on my in-laws last week (always a risky move!), but it was an immediate hit. The dressing really completes the whole thing.
To make the quinoa, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the green onions (the oil might splatter!) and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the dark green parts wilt but do not turn brown, about 2 minutes. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grains start to crackle and turn dry, about 3 minutes. Add the water, the currants, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, finely grate the zest of the lemon until you have 1 teaspoonful, and then squeeze the lemon until you have 2 tablespoons juice.
To finish, remove the pan from the heat. Stir the zucchini, lemon juice and zest, 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons of the dill, and the pepper into the quinoa. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Cover and let sit for 3 minutes.
Transfer the quinoa to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons each of sesame seeds and dill, and serve.
Coming out of the holidays can be brutal on the waist line and leaving many of us feeling less than stellar.
Is it time for an emotional and/or physical reset? I know that for myself, when I eat mostly fruits and vegetables, I just feel better and have more energy.
On Saturday January 14th, Klesick Farms and 30 other health-minded businesses will come together to share about healthy living and healthy healing. INSPIRE: A Community Be Healthy Event has been a dream of mine for a while. Last May I booked the Lynnwood Convention Center–yes, in May, during the craziness of the local growing season, I carved out some time to put in motion the framework for a health fair.– Looking back, that was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
I have met several wonderful people who are passionate about being healthy and helping people be healthy. And I am excited to introduce them to you! There is also an incredible slate of speakers, who have personally and passionately made the life changing decisions to improve their health and quality of life. And they know you can too!
* Hazel Borden, with the Alzheimer Association, will be sharing about brain health, the Mediterranean diet and Alzheimers.
* Marilyn Mckenna, Author of Eat Like It Matters, will talk about her amazing 120lb weight loss journey and how she has kept it off for over a decade.
* Maria Rippo, Author of The Green Smoothie Challenge, will talk about how to reset/restart your health with Green Smoothies.
Lastly, I will be talking about organic farming and the trials of the current food system. For more information visit www.inspirebehealthy.com.
Mark your calendars, bring your family/friends and come, learn, and leave inspired!
Broccolini is not a form of baby broccoli but actually a hybrid between broccoli and Chinese kale. It can be cooked much the same way as regular broccoli but is more tender and takes less maintenance. Simply cut off the ends (I like to take a good inch or two because the ends can be tough and chewy), and either bake in the oven or toss in a stir fry. Try sautéing along with chopped garlic in a about a tablespoon of olive oil. Like other vegetables, these are often blanched first, before adding to the frying pan. Do this by adding to boiling water and simmering for about two minute then drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Return your pan to the stove and sautee the garlic, then add the broccolini back in to reheat. To bake, toss in olive oil and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake at 425°F for 10-15 minutes until tender.
Kiwi is most commonly eaten as is by cutting in half and spooning out the inside, but it can also make a great addition to breakfast food or dessert. They can be used in smoothies (try with bananas, yogurt and avocado), as a topping for granola and yogurt, or with dessert (I like topping meringue with a little whip and a slice of kiwi). Kiwi can also be added to ice water with mint and lemon for a refreshing drink.
Carnival squash is a hybrid between sweet dumpling and acorn squash. Try roasting your halved carnival squash seasoned with a little butter and brown sugar. It tastes nutty and sweeter than butternut squash but not as dry in texture as kabocha squash. Carnival squash is at its best when roasted which really brings out its flavors, but it can also be steamed or pureed. The seeds can be roasted and eaten just like with other winter squashes. I like its small compact size, which makes it easy to cut through and is great for serving one or two people. They are also great to throw into stews, curries, soups, or even veggie chilis. Use them in any recipe calling for butternut or acorn squash.
Celery root or celeriac is prized for it’s distinctive flavor which is somewhere between celery and parsley. Although cooked celery root is excellent in soups, stew, and other hot dishes, it can also be enjoyed raw, especially grated and tossed in salads. Raw celery root has an intense flavor that tends to dominate salads, so pair it with other strongly flavored fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, beets, and apples. Before using celery root, peel and soak briefly in water with a little vinegar or lemon juice to prevent cut surfaces from darkening.
It was not until recent years that I discovered the magic of frozen bananas! Peel, break them into pieces and place in a zip-lock bag and store them in the freezer. Next time you’re making a smoothie, use them instead of ice, add a dollop of nut butter, a couple of dates, almond milk and sip away! Reduce the amount of milk in your smoothie and you have instant soft-serve ice cream. Add cocoa powder and now you have chocolate soft-serve ice cream!
Red Bell Peppers
We eat red bell peppers almost every week (within season). We love them raw, stuffed and baked, or in stir fry’s. A household favorite, fried rice: 3-4 eggs scrambled (set aside), chop 1 red bell pepper, 1 onion and mushrooms or any veggies you have available. In a hot pan, add a splash of sesame oil along with your veggies and sauté for a few minutes until cooked. Then add cooked rice, eggs, salt, pepper and 1 tsp of honey (shhh… this is my secret!). Sprinkle with chopped green onions and serve!
Most of my dishes start with onions! Our go-to soup during the week is “Sopa a la Minuta” or what we call “The Soup”. My husband likes it so much, he learned how to make it himself! Sauté 1 finely chopped onion in a little bit of olive oil until golden brown. Add 2 cloves minced garlic. Add 1 ground meat of your choice and cook until brown. Add 1.5 cups of diced tomatoes. 2 tbs oregano, and cook until tomato turns darker in color. Add salt and pepper. Taste. Add 6 cups beef broth and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Add 2 diced potatoes. Boil until potatoes are tender. Rectify seasoning and dinner is ready!
I recently came across the concept of Bio-individuality: that each person has unique food and lifestyle needs. Even though I’m still learning and determining where I stand on the subject, I am intrigued by the concept; that there’s no one-size-fits-all diet – each person is a unique individual with individualized nutritional requirements. Personal differences in anatomy, metabolism, body composition and cell structure all influence your overall health and the foods that make you feel your best.
I am a firm believer that if we listen to our bodies, we will know what we need to eat. It’s the brain that makes mistakes. When we get stuck in dietary dogma, we tend to not listen to what our body really needs. As we age, our bodies require different foods, vitamins and minerals. Different cultures eat differently, and different geolocations require different nutrition. But even though each one of us have specific needs, most diets around the world (if not all of them), have the same basic recommendations at their core:
Eat whole foods and use the colors of the rainbow as your guide. This ensures a natural diversity of vitamins and minerals.
Crowd out the bad food, with good food. Eat vegetables and healthy sources of grains, protein and GOOD fats (avocados, coconut oil and salmon oil). By getting the actual nutrients your body needs, you feel more satisfied… and cravings lessen.
Avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, also known as trans-fats. The oil is made by forcing hydrogen gas under extreme heat and pressure into vegetable oil. This creates a moist, fatty substance which is inexpensive and placed into many cakes, cookies, cereals, breads and drinks to prolong shelf-life. Our bodies do not know how to break apart this unnatural molecule and it accumulates in the body.
Drink plenty of water, earlier in the day. It’s like filling up your gas tank, early on. Being well hydrated benefits the skin, the health of the spine and brain, and all the body processes.
Hitting January 2nd is like going from 60 to zero in one day. The mandatory cheer, cooking, visitors, glitz, glitter, toys, a million chores — have drowned out the drumbeats of our normal day-to-day routines for a couple of weeks — then, over, nothing. What now? In the midst of panic, I tend to turn around and immediately start writing my resolutions for the year, the first one: eat healthier, 2. work-out, 3. read more … did you notice the common denominator? They are all vague. By January 15th, I have already lost the napkin where I wrote them down on and back to old habits I go. This year I have resolved not to resolve. It’s simple, if I eat good, I feel good. If I go for a walk in the morning, I feel more relaxed during the day.
Achieving goals starts with small, daily steps. As you eat better, you begin to feel better. It all starts by being aware of what works best for you and your health, because being the best version of ourselves benefits us and all those that surround us as well.
The bottom line, the closer we stay to nature, the better. The human body was designed to sustain on whole, GMO-free, organic foods, just as nature intended. The occasional cookie won’t hurt, but getting back to your healthy habits will pay in the long run and let’s face it, isn’t nature amazing? Those bananas right off the tree are sweet as dessert and full of potassium; red bell peppers, a vitamin C powerhouse, so crisp and juicy we can just eat them raw, and the humble onion, your immune’s system bff, that can add flavor to any dish in a matter of minutes.
My final thought on bio-individuality? I believe that as humans we all have the same basic nutritional needs. I agree that different people have different food needs up to a certain point. I think that our health is our greatest barometer. But most importantly, I believe that nature provides us with everything we need to sustain a healthy, vibrant lifestyle!
So, would you join me in resolving not to resolve? Let’s encourage each other to eat better and feel better. To be grateful for what nature has to offer and to protect the very thing that provides us with life!
If it were up to me I would put yams/sweet potatoes in the boxes every week! 😉 They make one of my all-time favorite snacks and are also a great side for any meal. I like to slice them into quarter inch rounds or strips (a mandolin comes in handy here), toss them in a little olive oil and any desired seasoning (sage, rosemary, and thyme are great with yams) and bake at 400° for about 30 minutes, until tender. You can also bake them whole. Make sure to thoroughly clean first and pat dry. Prick with a fork and bake for about 40-60 minutes at 425°.
Beets can be cooked just about any way you like. They are great boiled or baked, sautéed or stewed. Usually I cut them into bite size pieces to bake in the oven because I love roasted beets! Simply coat in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 375° for about 35 minutes (try adding some parsley when they’re done). But they can just as easily be cooked in a frying pan along with other veggies. The beet greens are great sautéed as well so don’t throw them out! Try cooking the greens in a little olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper on medium heat until bright green. Don’t let cook them too long though or they’ll get ‘slimy.’ Check out this recipe for sweet potato and beet chips!
Try adding pears to a salad this week! Cut into wedges or cubes they would make a great addition to this week’s salad mix. For dressing, try mixing a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar with a little bit of Dijon mustard and about an eighth cup of maple syrup. Mix together with a wire whisk and beat in an eighth cup of olive or avocado oil. I would probably double the recipe if serving more than 3 people. Can also be topped with Gorgonzola, feta, or goat cheese and pecans (or walnuts).
Mushrooms are in a class all their own. Literally, they are quite distinct in nature and classified as their own kingdom, separate from plants and animals. But, they are packed with nutrients and make a great addition to a healthy diet. Mushrooms are good raw on salads or in an array of cooked dishes. You can dice them and sauté with onions as a base for scrambled eggs or stir fry or in soup. They also blend well with ground beef, enhancing the flavor and making the meat go farther. Great for tacos or in pasta.
Parsnips have an almost peppery sweet flavor to them that comes out nicely when roasted. They make a great addition/alternative to the more traditional baked or sautéed root vegetables! Try these diced into bite size chunks or julienne, drizzled with olive oil and tossed in a bowl with a little salt and cayenne(or other spices). Bake on bottom rack at 450° for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until edges are browned and crispy.
Papayas are ready to eat when they take on a yellow/orange-y color and are slightly soft. Leave on the counter in paper bag for a few days to ripen. The skin looks like it is going bad when ripening, but don’t throw it because it looks bad. Opening a rough-looking papaya often reveals a perfectly good piece of fruit. Once ripe, store in the refrigerator but try to eat within day or two for best flavor. Unripe/green papaya can be eaten it green salads or cooked dishes. After washing this fruit, cut it lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and eat with a spoon. For a little extra zest, squeeze lemon or lime juice on top. Cut papaya into smaller pieces for fruit salad or recipes, but first peel it with a paring knife. You can also use a melon baller to scoop out the fruit of a halved papaya. If you are adding it to a fruit salad, you should do so just before serving as it tends to cause the other fruit to become soft. (Thanks to all those good-for-you enzymes.)
While most people discard the big black seeds, they are actually edible and have a peppery flavor. They can be chewed whole or blended into a creamy salad dressing.
Try a mix of diced papaya, cilantro, jalapeno peppers and ginger together to make a unique salsa that goes great with shrimp, scallops and halibut.
Or try adding papaya to your smoothie. Combine with strawberries and or other fruit and yogurt in a blender. The papaya gives it a wonderfully creamy texture.