Last week, as we received news from the UN Climate Summit, and heard young activist Greta Thunberg’s powerful speech, we may have felt simultaneously moved and hopeless. The state of the climate is a tough pill to swallow, especially when there are not systems in place for us to switch rapidly to clean energy. Most of us can’t very well stop driving our cars and powering our homes. We may find ourselves wondering what more can we possibly do in our everyday lives to reduce carbon emissions?
There are obviously no magical solutions, but one of the choices we can make as consumers that could – especially in the long run – make a substantial dent in our atmospheric carbon, comes back to diet.
Agriculture is one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions, but it doesn’t have to be. What’s more is that agriculture can actually sequester carbon. The concept is simple, really: Perennial foods. The more plants and trees we have in the ground year round, the more carbon those plants and trees will breathe in from the air and store back in the soil. The foods we eat are directly correlated with whether carbon is released or captured. For example: Processed foods often contain ingredients such as wheat, corn and/or soy. These are all annual grains grown in staggering quantities and only remain in the soil for a few months of the year, often times leaving the soil bare for 8 or 9 months. Imagine a world where wheat flour is ultimately replaced by hazelnut flour. Hazelnuts are highly nutritious perennials and full of protein. In addition to sequestering carbon, they – like most all perennials – hold soil in place, and aid in keeping water on site. Additionally, they provide habitat for native wildlife, year round.
Grass is another important perennial that aids in carbon sequestration and, coincidentally, choosing to eat grassfed meats can help you directly reduce your carbon footprint. Proper pasture management has the potential to create large carbon sinks and the more demand there is for pasture-raised meats such as lamb, beef and pork, the more farmers we will have choosing to raise animals on pasture, which means more potential as a society to capture carbon, rather than release it.
Carbon Farming could be a major solution in the climate crises and if you are interested in learning more about how carbon farming works, this article by The New Food Economy is a great place to start!
This week in Local Choice CSA
Bifrost Farms – Feta
Essence Homestead – Onions
Hexagon Projects & Farm – Carrots, turnips, salad mix, winter radishes
Mary Dirty Face Farm – Apples (two varieties)
Towering Heights Farm – Beef links
Valley Pasture Farm – Leg of lamb and delicata squash
Winnowburrow Farm – Heirloom cayenne peppers and eggplant
Digging deeper into nutrition with Johnne Smalley of Towering Heights Farm
Winter radishes (Watermelon, Black Spanish)
Because they grow over a longer period, similar to turnips, winter radishes offer a greater harvest and are much more versatile in the kitchen. Texture- and flavor-wise, winter radish greens are similar to Swiss chard, tender and mild, and you can use the tops in recipes that call for chard or beet greens. The younger, smaller leaves are excellent in salads and stir-fries, while the sturdier, larger leaves cook down beautifully in soups and sautes.
Winter Radishes are in this week’s share. So what’s the difference between winter radishes and those other ones we’re so familiar with? Well, radishes like cool temperatures and soil, but don’t like much sun. When the first signs of warm sunny days arrive, radishes bolt and make seeds. The faster growing ones give us spring radishes. You need long, cool spring weather or be quick to enjoy spring radishes. Winter radishes are slower to develop, so are planted mid to late summer. They can then have time to mature during the shortening daylight hours and the longer cooling temperatures of fall going into winter and are ideal for winter storage, hence their name.
The roots themselves can be harvested when small and immature for immediate eating, but they’re just as good two or three months later — fresh and crisp, without the bitterness or pithiness that often plagues their overripe spring cousins. The roots are great sliced or grated in a salad or as an addition to a lunch or cheese plate. They provide an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, and other nutrients, particularly when eaten raw. Winter radishes such as Black Spanish and Watermelon are heftier and have starchier roots than spring radishes. They also remain crisp longer and store longer than spring varieties.
Radishes may seem spicy — but they’re not. They don’t have any spicy flavor compounds in them, the way chili peppers do. The molecules that give us a peppery jolt when we bite into the radish are allyl isothiocyanate, which do not exist inside whole radishes. Instead, the radish’s cells have glucosinolates (being studied for its potential use in the prevention of cholesterol gallstones) and myrosinase (an enzyme) stored in separate compartments. When someone bites into the radish, or slices it, or crushes it up, the damaged cells spill out myrosinase and the glucosinolates which mix together and make allyl isothiocyanate, which gives the spicy kick that we taste when we eat radishes.
If you like your radishes less spicy, here are some things people do:
- Soak in very cold water.
- Cook. Just like the cold, heat mellows the flavor, but in a different way. …
- Pair with Something Sweet. …
- Add Salt and Vinegar. …
- Reach for the Cream.
Winter radishes crave the cold, so they keep nicely in cold basements and refrigerators for months at a time. On the flip side, spring varieties only keep for a week in the fridge — a trade-off for that instant gratification. To keep them firm in the fridge, remove the greens and store the roots in plastic bags or wrap them in damp towels. Of course, for maximum flavor and nutrition, you should eat both types as soon as you can.
Most American lambs today have been fed grain and protein supplements, and unless the lamb is organic, the grain has been heavily sprayed with chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Australia and New Zealand have also recently started including grain in the diet of the lambs they export to us. And as grain and supplement amounts in lambs’ diet increased, lamb consumption in the U.S. has decreased.
Lamb that has been raised and finished on natural grasses develops a wonderful flavor while lamb finished with grain and other supplements not only lacks this flavor, but tastes greasy. Even organic lamb of this type lacks the natural flavor of grassfed lamb as organic corn and soybeans are still corn and soybeans and are still not what lambs were intended to eat. No wonder most Americans don’t like lamb.
Giving lambs corn and soybeans also reduces the nutritional value of the meat. The omega-3 fatty acids (an essential fatty acid that lowers the risk of mental disorders, cardiovascular disease, and cancer) and the conjugated linoleic acid or CLA (blocks tumor growth and breaks down fat in cells to be used as fuel by nearby muscle cells) are greatly decreased while the fat and calories are greatly increased.
While it is difficult to tell what the lamb from the grocery store was fed, the lamb from Local Choice Cooperative Producers comes from Valley Pasture Farm where they have been fed a corn and soy-free diet.
Like grassfed beef, grassfed lamb is leaner, denser, less watery, and more flavorful than its conventional counterpart. It must also be cooked differently. Shannon Hayes and Stanley Fishman both include many tips and recipes for cooking grassfed meat in their books.
Week 18 meals plans are provided by Rachel Henderson of Mary Dirty Face Farm
Spicy Roasted Squash with Feta and Herbs, from How Sweet Eats
total time: 50 MINS
- 1 large or two medium Delicata Squash, seeded and cut into slices
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, brown sugar and chili garlic paste.
2. Place the sliced squash in a baking dish and pour the mixture over top. Season with salt and pepper then toss well to coat. Roast for 20 minutes, then toss a bit and roast for 20 minutes more. Remove the squash from the oven and immediately cover with the crumbled feta and herbs. Scoop out any extra sauce from the baking dish and place it on top Serve!
Shanghai Homestyle Eggplant, by Fuchsia Dunlop
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp cooking oil
- ¼ cup chicken stock or water
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- A few slices of peeled ginger
- 1 green onion, finely sliced
1.Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise then into three sections. Now cut each section lengthwise into about three chunky strips. Sprinkle lightly with salt, mix well and leave to drain for 30 minutes of so.
2. Heat a wok over a high flame. Add the oil and heat to 350 F. Add the eggplant in a couple of batches and deep-fry until tender and golden. Set aside to drain on paper towels.
3. Combine the stock, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl.
4. Pour all but 1 tbsp oil into a heatproof container and return the wok to a high flame. Add the ginger and sizzle briefly until you can smell its fragrance. Give the stock mixture a stir and pour it into the wok. Return the eggplant and stir briskly until the liquid has largely evaporated. Then stir in the spring onions and serve.
Pan-Seared Thyme Lamb Steaks
- 2 Lamb steaks
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder (granulated onion)
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
- 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
- Season the lamb with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Place a cast-iron, stainless steel, or other heavy-bottomed frying pan on a burner over medium-high heat. Add the oil and allow to become very hot (a drop of water should sizzle).
- Lay the seasoned lamb in the skillet and let sear or 2 minutes to develop a golden-brown exterior.
- Flip the lamb over and sear the other side for an additional 2 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium and return the steaks to the first side.
- Cook the lamb for 4-6 more minutes, occasionally spooning some of the pan juices over the top of the lamb to add more flavor and to expedite cooking.
- Flip the lamb steaks over again and continue to pan-fry until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees, about 4 minutes.
- Insert an instant-read thermometer into the middle of the thickest part to check the temperature.
- Transfer the lamb steaks from the pan and onto plates or a cutting board. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving so the internal juices settle.
- To serve, garnish with the fresh thyme.
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