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From Wet Dust to Wet Flooding

In August of 2003, Joelle and I purchased our current farm. That seems like a lifetime ago! The 1892 old farmhouse was in pretty bad shape and the bank wouldn’t let us move into until we remodeled it. Having sold our home in Machias, we were stuck in that awkward state of nowhere to live. In hindsight, the bank was right. The old farm had “good bones”, but was in serious disrepair.

It was hard, but rewarding. We were finally on our own farm and everyone was pitching in, both family and friends. So much work but we found amazing treasures too. Treasures that you would never find unless you rolled up your sleeves and got to work! There was so much lathe and plaster and wall paper and more wall paper. The whole place needed to be rewired and replumbed and insulated. I remember when we were started to “attack” the lowered ceiling that was made up of acoustic tiles. As soon as we pulled out those tiles, everything stopped. We were in awe. Untouched and as beautiful as the day they were first installed 10’ up in the air was a 20’ long cedar 1” x 4” tongue and grooved bead board.

We were stuck. We knew it had to come down in order for us to do the wiring and plumbing, but we also knew that you just can’t buy that stuff anymore. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. We just stopped working in that room for a whole month! There was no way to patch it up and do all the upgrades. It had to come down, but yet it was a part of this home, its history, its craftsmanship. Eventually a plan came together. We removed the ceiling and broke boards, but we were able to save lots of good useable pieces. We repainted that beautiful rich dark green cedar bead board the same color and used it as wainscoting.

Why all this reminiscing? Well, October of 2003 was also the first year we were introduced to the Stillaguamish River and from that day on, we understood who the valley really belongs to. And this week we have our first flood watch for the season. Hopefully a nonevent, but in 2003 it was supposed to be a nonevent too but turned out to be the largest flood on record. Thankfully, technology has gotten better, and the forecasts tend to be more accurate, but that first flood, oh my! 

This month we have also been talking about Cancer and asking people to share their stories. In some ways our old farmhouse and the valley we live in serves as reminder of how precious and how fragile life is. That old farmhouse was in need of some love and care and it couldn’t do it on its own. People battling Cancer or any major disease also need love and care. They need a team filled with hope to “carry” them at times and help them win this very real fight.

At Klesick Farms we are privileged to be a part of your team. We believe in you and we want you to be healed. If you would like to share your story or the story of someone you know battling cancer, please click the link and submit a prayer request. It can be anonymous or not. We pray on Thursdays for the prayer requests we receive.

 

Your Health Advocate and Farmer,

 

Tristan

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Hand in Hand

Being a first-generation family farm has been an amazing journey. For nearly 20 years, Joelle and I have been supplying, growing, and delivering our produce and produce from other farms. As we near Fall and the Fall harvest, I am reminded that what was a little seed a few months ago is ready for harvest now. Time flies by.

For Joelle and I, our farm has transitioned from being the young farming family to being a multigenerational farm family. Time has flown by. With each season there are so many rewards and riches to be had, but some of the most precious are the excitement and wonder of children.

Our youngest, Joanna (7), still excitedly reminds us to look at the sunset every night. She hasn’t quite figured out how to remind us to look at the sunrise, though. ? Sunsets and sunrises are spectacular, but seeing another grandson or granddaughter join the family – that is life changing.

Joelle and I are both parenting and grand parenting. The older children have gotten married and are having children and our little Joanna is now an Auntie 4 times over with one more coming in November.

A few weeks ago, we welcomed Nathan Lee Klesick to the world. I haven’t got him on the tractor yet, but it will happen sooner than I can say scalafragilisticespcalldocius. Because, well, time flies by. And before I know it that little guy will be under foot harvesting strawberries alongside his grandparents, just like his older brothers and cousins, and just like their parents did.

Seeing your third generation is a gift. Having them grow up near the farm, spend time on the farm, and experience the farm, that is priceless. Right now, those little ones are more likely to get a taste of the dirt on our farm, but that taste could very well lead to a future taste for farming.

For me, I am going to work a little slower and take a little more time to get the chores done, because I will have the third generation trying to keep pace with grandpa’s footsteps. To hear “Grandpa, Grandpa” and turn around and see a little one toddling as fast as those little legs can go is all the motivation I need to slow down, bend down, and swoop them up!

Maybe it is just me, but I think that locally grown food tastes better, because a local family on a local farm is growing it and quite possibly, as it is with our farm, another generation of future farmers, too.

 

Teaching another generation to farm,

 

Tristan

Farmer, Health Advocate

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Rain – It’s Overrated

Water. Who needs water?

We just passed a record without rain for the Seattle area that has stood since 1951. YES, 1951! My parents were wee lads and lasses back then. I wonder if global warming was the talk of the day. They were probably more concerned with the Russians coming through Canada or maybe it was how North Korea with the help of China and Russia invaded South Korea?

One could conclude that not much has changed since 1951. What are we talking about in today’s local and world events? How dry it is, North Korea, China, and Russia. Hmm, I guess I don’t have to worry about wondering what my grandparents were thinking about in the 50’s anymore. I am reliving it.

 

Oh, and of course the Modern Supermarket got a solid stronghold on the American marketplace. And our cheap food model has been exported all over the world to the detriment of local communities everywhere. What about today? We see a mini renaissance of local food outlets. Victory gardens and eating locally were still widely in use in the 50’s and lots of small farms dotted the landscape. But once again, we see the big getting bigger with Amazon buying Whole Foods and the PCC’s building another new store every year or another local farmer selling out and a larger farmer taking over.

 

But we are not seeing the local farm community keep pace; it is as if the American populace has chosen industrial food all over again, only this time it is even more convenient – you don’t even have to leave your home to get what you want!

 

In 1997, when we started a home delivery company based on a local farm and farm-direct model, quality and convenience was our niche. Back then, we knew that if we were going to make it as first-generation farmers, we needed to serve local families and that’s what we did. We chose to serve one family at a time, to provide the freshest ingredients at competitive prices. We built our farming methods around variety and quality and our business model around customer service.

 

These are the things that Joelle and I wanted for our diet – variety and quality – as well as actually being appreciated for being a customer. We extend these basic tenets to you, our customers, every day, in every interaction, whether it is through email, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, or a phone call or when you get a box of good delivered.

 

The only reason that Klesick Farms is even a farm today is because a local family said we want the freshest, best quality, farm-direct fruits and vegetables. There was no other way for us to be able to farm unless a family like yours said “Yes” to a local farm and our delivery service.

And that is a good thing that I hope never changes, because local food only comes from local farmers and organic food only comes from organic farmers. I have the best of both worlds, I am small family farm serving local families in my community, just like it was in the 50’s.

 

May this never change.

 

Tristan

Farmer, Health Advocate

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Never Plough More Than You Can Disc in a Day

This is sage advice from a bygone era of time. Yet, like most advice that has stood the test of time, it is timeless. Essentially it means don’t start what you can’t finish. Anybody relate to that???? As a farmer in the Stillaguamish Valley who is blessed with “heavy” (more clay and less sand) soils, you learn a lot about patience. If you happen to be travelling through the valley, you will notice that the farmers are busy as anyone can be. Often, they work around the clock or use two or three tractors at a time in the same field. Of course, most are still using humans to drive the tractors, but many are using GPS systems to steer them. It is only a matter of time before driver-less farming takes hold on the mega operations.

But I digress. You might notice on your trip to the valley that the farmers sure spend a lot of time working the soil before they plant. Soil preparation is pretty foundational to what we do. But, if you were to drive by that same field a few days later, you might take a double take. You might even say, “Didn’t they just work all that soil a few days ago?” And you would be right. Because our soil is so heavy, the farmers in this valley work the top 6 inches and get it ready to plant. Then they plow it over and repeat the process. This gives them about 12 inches of deeply worked soil. Then they plant the potatoes or carrots or cabbage.

The only wrinkle in the operation is the weather. If it rains too much, we get to start all over again. And this year, we have had lots of “practice” working our soils and even replanting a few times. The other reason many farmers use multiple tractors is that if you plow too much ground up and let it sit for a couple days, the clods that are plowed up become as hard as rocks and you will spend a lot more time trying to bust up those clods. So, when a farmer plows a field, most of the time we start discing the soil immediately. Better to do a little well than a lot poorly.

Of course, if you have light (sandy) soil, none of this matters. Instead, you will spend a whole lot of time moving your irrigation. 🙂

Good Food Farm Tours

Our first farm tour is this weekend. Tours start on the hour at 10am and 11am. On this tour, we will be focusing on the orchard (apples, pears, plums) and the berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and kiwi berries). Please register for a tour time here, for planning purposes. Every tour this summer will be different and will reflect the changing seasons. Looking forward to seeing you on the farm!

 

Tristan Klesick, Farmer and Health Advocate

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Summer Fun at Klesick Farms

The weather has finally turned in our favor and we are thrilled to get out and work the dirt! It’s the first step in getting delicious, healthy, organically grown produce from our farm to your dinner table! We love what we do here at Klesick Farms and we are wanting to share the wonder of it all with our amazing customers! We would love for you to join us in any one or all our farm events this summer. The great line up of events and farm tours will run from June through September! We have events including farm tours, an on-farm painting class and a local floral design class. It is an eclectic offering of fun on our farm.

June 3rd Klesick Good Food Farm Tours, 10am – 12pm (tours start on the hour) – Free event – Please register for planning purposes: REGISTER HERE!

July 8th 10am –11:30 Good Food Farm Tour with NW Healthy Mama Angela Strand – Free event – for planning purposes, please R.S.V.P. through NW Healthy Mama. Click for more info. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

July 29th ‘Mountain & field landscape’ Acrylic on canvas, 11×14 Painting Class with Nancy Hansen. Limited availability – materials provided Cost: $35/person. Registration required. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

August 12th Good Food Farm Tour 10am –noon (tours start on the hour) – Free event – Please register for planning purposes. REGISTER HERE!

August 22nd 6pm –8:30 Flower Design with Deanna Kitchen from Twig and Vine – limited availability – materials provided Cost: $65/person. Registration required. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

September 30th 10am- 4pm Squash Fest – Free event **CANCELLED**

In addition to these exciting events, stay tuned for more spontaneous adventure! Watch for “Volunteer Opportunities”. We’ll be offering random farm experiences for the entire family. You will have a chance to work alongside us as we cultivate, plant, weed and harvest! Know your farm, know your farmer, and better yet, join your farmer! Consider laying aside the everyday demands of life and come rejuvenate. Experience the quiet thrill of working with nature in all its wonder and beauty!

 

Looking forward to seeing you here on the farm,

 

Tristan and Joelle Klesick

 

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Update: Operation Stem the Tide of Weeds

Thankfully, school is over and a few weeders, pickers, farm hands and all around great people have some time to dedicate to working! Managing a vegetable operation around a school, sports, assemblies, life, etc. schedule keeps me hopping (much like those rabbits that seem to be everywhere!) With school removed from the equation, we can dedicate some serious attention to weeding and other farm chores.

With weather patterns changing we are able to plant a little earlier, but the crops are ready even earlier than my psyche is accustomed to. This makes it a hair harder to manage when school gets out mid-June and the farm is in full production early May. In fact, I am thinking that we should all start referring to June strawberries as May strawberries! And correspondingly, have school get out in May. 🙂 This is a little tongue-in-cheek, of course, as we can’t change our school system to the benefit of the farmers. After all, there are more people incarcerated in America than there are farmers, and the number of farmers who actually grow fruits and vegetables is considerably smaller yet.

But back in the early 80’s in south Everett, a school bus would show up and bunch of middle and high school kids would climb on and head off to the berry fields in Marysville and Mount Vernon. Once they’d finish with berries, they’d start picking pickling cucumbers. Granted that was 30+ years ago, but agriculture was still a vibrant part of our economy; enough so that hundreds of kids from Everett would load up on buses and head to the fields. Many of these kids probably had parents who had done a similar thing when they were in school. Did any of you catch that bus or work on farms when you were in high school?

Sadly, most of that work has gone the way of the dinosaurs – replaced by chemical applications and mechanization. What also happened was a large migrant force of workers replaced the kiddos and the farmers also chose to not grow those labor-intensive crops any longer. Eventually, the school buses stopped coming and good summer jobs for young people stopped as well.

Farming is hard work and growing vegetables organically is very labor intensive. If we could shift our national food policy from corn and soybeans to fruits and vegetables, that would stimulate the farm economy to hire more young people. Eating organically grown fruits and vegetables is so critically important to the health of our nation (think diabetes, cancer, hypertension, etc.) and to the local environment (think salmon, swallows, earthworms, rabbits, trees, etc.).

Farming for you, the environment, and the health of our nation.

Tristan

 

 

Recipe: Garlic Scape and Swiss Chard Pesto

Ingredients: 1 bunch garlic scapes 1 bunch swiss chard, leaves only 1/4 cup raw walnuts (optional) 1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional) Juice from half a lemon 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Blanch the Swiss chard leaves in boiling water for about 30 seconds, just to remove chalky taste. Rinse under cold water and squeeze out the water.

2. Put blanched Swiss chard, garlic scapes, walnuts, crushed red pepper and lemon juice into the bowl of your food processor and process until still slightly chunky. Gradually pour olive oil in to feeder tube and continue processing until smooth.

3. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Serve tossed with your favorite gluten-free pasta, add a little of the cooking liquid from the pasta to loosen up the sauce, if you wish.

Recipe from tasty-yummies.com

 

Know Your Produce: Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the beginning of what would be the garlic plant’s flower; if they’re left on the garlic plant, less energy goes towards developing the head of garlic underground. So, by harvesting these scapes, you cooks get an early taste of the garlic to come down the road, and the bulbs can keep developing.

You can use scapes just like you would garlic; their flavor is milder, so you get the nice garlic taste without some of the bite. Use them on top of pizza, in pasta, and as a replacement for garlic in most other recipes.

Store: Store garlic scapes in a plastic bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator. Store away from your fruit, because garlic is generous with its fragrance, and you may not appreciate biting into a peach and tasting…garlic. Garlic scapes will keep up to two weeks if kept in an airtight container.

Prep: Wash under cool water when ready to use.

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Wow!

One would think that after almost two decades of farming I would have this farming game figured out! I do have the basics mostly down, but every year, around Father’s Day, I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with what? Thanks for asking. WORK! All of the sudden, everything needs to be harvested: lettuce, spinach, peas. Everything needs to be weeded: lettuce, spinach, peas, beets, tomatoes, beans, squash, cucumbers, strawberries. And more needs to be planted: lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, squash, beets, kohlrabi, corn, etc. I know it is coming, but it always catches me off guard, like a sneaker wave at the beach – all of the sudden you’re wet.

A lot of this has to do with timing and trying to figure out the changing climate patterns and the changing availability of willing workers. The climate impacts are just unpredictable. Last year at this time we were burning up and this year we have had huge swings in temperatures and a fair amount of rain.

This year I got out early and planted some summer loving, heat loving crops in early May, expecting it to get hot early, but June is looking more like “Junuary.” Although hitting a high of 58 degrees in early June really slows down the crops, it also keeps things from bolting, like spinach and lettuce, and peas from burning up. This is farming though: I do my best, I get the weather I get, I adapt, then I get to harvest what crops liked the weather best.

But the weeds, well, they love all types of weather. On our farm we are a hand-weeding operation, and it is hard to find people excited about rows and rows of vegetables to be weeded, sometimes with a hoe, other times on your hands and sometimes we just throw up our hands and use a tractor and start over. We have managed to stay almost caught up, but you can see the “tide” of weeds rising. This week will be the week to stem that tide!

As always, we work hard to grow the healthiest, tastiest and freshest fruits and vegetables for you and your family. We want to be that bright spot in your week, where on your delivery day a box of good food brightens your day and nourishes your body.

More locally grown good food is on its way.

Cheers to your health!

Tristan

 

Recipe for this week’s box: Asian Cucumber & Carrot Slaw

Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients:

1 cucumber

2 medium carrots, peeled

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (or other oil of choice)

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Using a julienne peeler or grater, shred the cucumber and carrots into long strips.
  1. Toss the vegetables in a medium bowl, along with the vinegars, water, sugar, and sesame oil.
  1. Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro.
  1. Chill until ready to serve. Best served cold.

Recipe adapted from wayfair.com

 

Know Your Produce: Stonefruit 101

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“Stonefruit” refers to members of the genus Prunus, which includes peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, cherries, and apricots. The season for summer stonefruit is short-lived, and delicious! With the fruit coming and going so quickly, we don’t want you to miss out by having to toss spoiled or improperly ripened fruit. Here’s some info on proper storage in order for you to make the most of these short-season gems.

Care – Store unwashed fruit at room temperature until ripe (usually only 1-2 days), then place in sealed container in the fridge.

Ripeness – Gently press around stem and when flesh gives slightly to pressure fruit is ripe. Stonefruit ripens from the inside to the outside, so if fruit is soft all over it is more likely overripe.

Tips for Preventing Spoilage – Stonefruit’s biggest enemy while ripening is moisture coupled with lack of airflow. Set ripening stonefruit on a cloth or paper-covered countertop or in a place where it gets plenty of airflow. Try setting them stem side down to ripen. This lessens the chance of then rolling and bruising. Once your stonefruit is ripe, it deteriorates very quickly. Within a day of being fully ripe, if left out of refrigeration, you can have overripe/spoiled fruit and some very attracted fruit flies. Check daily and place in refrigerator as soon as you notice the stem area has begun to soften. Take special care when handling your stonefruit – never squeeze to check for ripeness! Even a small bruise will be cause enough to turn into a rot/bruised spot on your fruit as it is still ripening.

Use – Once fruit is ripe, and you’ve placed in the refrigerator, plan to use within a day or two (this gives you a total keeping time of about 4-5 days). Stonefruit is refreshing as a healthy breakfast paired with yogurt or hot/cold cereal, as a topping to a green salad, and as an ingredient in fruit salads. For grilling, or for topping green salads: use slightly less ripe fruit, it will hold up better without breaking apart/juicing. All Stonefruit bakes up fabulously into crisps, pies, and sauces!

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The Bowl Craze Explained

The one-dish meal is having its moment. The bowl craze started with the smoothie bowl and has since become a menu staple in many kitchens and restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even if you haven’t seen one of these protein-packed bowls on a menu, you’ve likely seen one on your Instagram feed.

Though its contents may vary, most grain bowls follow a simple blueprint. It begins with a grain base, like rice or quinoa. Then, you could spoon almost anything over your grains and call the result a bowl (and some do). But the best bowls have a balanced combination of flavors and textures, and of vegetables, proteins, sauces and garnishes. Let your creativity soar in the combination of toppings and you’ll be surprised with the results!

Once you have selected your grains, you then need veggies – preferably something green, like kale or spinach. Raw, cooked or steamed vegetables will work great too.

Now you need a protein. Think of small amounts of braised or roasted meats, whether left over or freshly cooked. Beans are a great option as well. Adding a soft-cooked egg, preferably one with a runny yolk to coat the other ingredients like an instant sauce, is always a great idea.

Once you have the bowl assembled – grains, vegetables and protein – it’s time to think about garnishes, which add character and depth. Something pickled or pungent keeps things interesting, and something crunchy (sesame seeds or nuts) diversifies the textures.

Finally, a sauce on the side for everyone to mix in to taste. Use ingredients that mesh with the flavors of the bowl. Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and rice vinegar or lime juice for Asian-inspired combinations. Pesto goes nicely with roasted red peppers, eggplant or anything else vaguely Mediterranean. A simple salsa works great for a Latin inspired bowl. Bottled hot sauce provides spice to the fire-toothed. And a basic vinaigrette will get along with practically anything else.

Another reason for grain bowls’ popularity is that they’re very customizable. Mix and match. Then mix and match again. If you do it right, you will never serve the same bowl twice – not unless you want to, that is.

Last but not least, bowls can be seasonal! In today’s world of mass production and far-flung distribution, the seasons blend together. Fruits and veggies that used to be available just once a year can now be found 365 days a year. However, thanks to our local farmers we can enjoy ingredients at their prime and find them more flavorful and nutritious than their off-season counterparts.

No wonder the bowl has become a favorite way of eating: out of a bowl, fresh ingredients, bold seasonal flavors, and various textures and temperatures. I’m in – time to mix and match!
Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
peruvianchick.com
instagram.com/peruvianchick
facebook.com/theperuvianchick

 

Kale-Pesto Quinoa Bowl

Ingredients:

2 large eggs

2 cups cooked quinoa

1 avocado ¼ cup homemade pesto

1 roma tomato, chopped

1 cup baby broccolini, lightly sautéed with salt and pepper

1 cup mushrooms, lightly sautéed with salt and pepper

For the pesto:

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1 cup fresh kale leaves

¼ cup parmesan cheese

¼ cup pine nuts + plus a handful for garnishing

1 large garlic clove

3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt + pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook the eggs to your liking. I like mine runny so I cook them for exactly 7 minutes in boiling water.

While the eggs are cooking, add all the pesto ingredients to a food processor. Process until almost smooth.

Prepare your breakfast bowls: Add 1 cup quinoa, broccolini, mushrooms, tomatoes and half of the avocado thinly sliced and pesto sauce to taste.

When eggs have cooled, peel them and slice in half. Add to the bowl and sprinkle with pine nuts.

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NYC

The Klesick family carved out some unusually hard-to-find space during the summer and went to visit Joelle’s sister in Manhattan last week. Mostly, it took a lot of early planning of what crops to plant and when to plant them. It also helped that we have an amazing team of people we work with to keep the farm going.

NYC: what an eye opening experience that was. Of course, I have been to big cities, but nothing quite like New York City. We logged over 60 miles on our feet (Joanna, our intrepid 5 year old, walked every one of them!).

I keep thinking about the story, Country Mouse, City Mouse. We live on 40 acres in the floodplain and they live in a 15 story high rise apartment in Manhattan. We pick berries, apples, kale, cucumbers as we walk the fields and they stop by the grocery store in the bottom floor of their apartment.  Amazing!

I am sure when they come to see us, it is too quiet for them to sleep, as for us, that city never sleeps – it just slows down a notch. We did the tourist thing from Central Park, to The Met, the Museum of Natural History, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. The 9/11 Memorial was intense and beautiful. We even went to a Yankees vs Red Sox game via the subway.  Now that was an experience! Just imagine trying to squeeze twelve more people into a Prius that already has five passengers. Definitely no personal bubble space!

On our way to DC and Philadelphia, I got to see some farmland in NJ, PA, DE, MD and VA. Yes, there is still farmland back east and it is a good thing, because when I was in NYC, I had this heavy thought on my mind: “We have to save farmland, because someone has to feed all these people, FOREVER!”

As a farmer, I couldn’t help but think about what it would take logistically to keep NYC fed. That is a daunting task. No one has a car, let alone a freezer or a garden. Yes, there are farmers markets, but they pale in the need to feed millions of people surrounded by high rises and streets. The city is dependent upon outside resources. In fact, I would venture to say that most New Yorkers don’t even think about it.  Why would they? They have to trust the system.

America has amazing infrastructure in place to grow, harvest, process, and deliver food to people everywhere, but if that chain is disrupted even for a day or two, NYC is in a world of hurt. Imagine what a simple snow storm does to grocery store shelves. What would happen if California and Florida were both in a drought and couldn’t produce their traditional volumes of food?

As your farmer, I am working to not only grow healthy food, but preserve the ability to feed future generations. After my visit to NYC, saving Farmland is of even more paramount importance, every acre everywhere!

 

tristan-sign

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Kale Power

I wish I could tell you that I’ve always liked kale. The healthy-leafy-green vegetable that now seems to be everywhere from smoothie bars to every menu across America.

For the first 30+ years of my life, I didn’t know kale existed. My introduction came about five years ago, when I started to juice, the flavor was “grassy” almost “metallic” like, I just couldn’t take it. I wanted to like it. But it caught me off guard. Kale was not part of my grocery list.

But when you love to eat, and the latest food trend catches up with you, it is almost impossible to avoid this grassy green. So I started to try it in different dishes. I would cook it, use it raw, puree it, and now… I can’t get enough of it.

One of my favorite restaurants in Washington State serves it simply sautéed in olive oil with garlic, golden raisins and pine nuts. That’s it! So simple, it’s impossible not to like it. Now, I feel somehow responsible to defend kale, the misunderstood child of the vegetable family. With its thick, curly leaves, it can easily seem intimidating, as though you’d have to wrestle it into submission before it agrees to be cooked.

Around the United States, everyone is talking about kale. So what’s all the kale hype about? Flavor aside, I love kale for three fundamental reasons: Kale tops the charts of nutrient density, possesses incredible culinary flexibility, and is easy to grow almost anywhere, which means you can enjoy local kale just about anywhere when it’s in season. I recently learned about its power to support brain health, and will be sharing that with you on the Klesick Farms blog.

As explained by doctor Drew Ramsey, author of Happiness Diet, the power of phytonutrients do amazing things. 

Sulforaphane

Sulforaphane is one of the reasons that cruciferous vegetables like kale and broccoli are on everyone’s “superfoods” list. Its antioxidant action helps fight high blood pressure, while its ability to stimulate natural detoxifying enzymes reduces brain inflammation as well as the risk of breast and prostate cancer. These protective effects may also be responsible for the observation that sulforaphane helps improve learning and memory abilities following brain injury. It can kill the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, which is responsible for stomach ulcers and gastric cancer risk.

Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA)

ALA is an omega-3 fat found mainly in plants. It is an essential fatty acid, meaning your body can’t produce it and you must obtain it through your diet. Plants use this fat to convert sunlight into energy, making it vital to our planet’s energy production. In the brain, ALA is converted to the longer omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are particularly important for brain and heart health. Higher intakes of ALA are linked to a lower risk of depression and may decrease anxiety and the effects of stress.

Folates

Plant-based diets are key to brain health, and one reason are folates. At least eight forms of these water-soluble B-complex vitamins exist in food. Folic acid is the synthetic version. Folates, also known as vitamin B9, are needed for a healthy brain and good moods as they keep brain cells healthy, ward off heart disease (drastic risk reductions), and even fight cancer.

So what are your thoughts on Kale? What is your favorite way to enjoy this leafy vegetable?

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
peruvianchick.com
instagram.com/peruvianchick
facebook.com/theperuvianchick

 

 

Kale, Apple and Parmesan Cheese Salad with Roasted Garlic-Lemon Dressing

 

Ingredients

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch kale, ribs removed, thinly sliced

1 apple

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Preparation

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and salt in a large bowl. Add the kale, toss to coat and let stand 10 minutes.

 

While the kale stands, cut the apples into thin matchsticks. Add the apples and cheese to the kale. Season with salt and pepper and toss well.