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rainbow swiss chard

photo via Hogs Back Farm

Isn’t this just one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen? This bunch of Rainbow Swiss Chard is just one of the fresh picked vegetables coming in my CSA box today, via Hogs Back Farm.  I’ve written before about my love affair with my CSA, but in case you missed it, here’s the link.

I can’t wait to eat it! All of those colors? That indicates TONS of nutritional value.

David, who lives on the farm with his beautiful family, educates us about the foods we are eating, provides access to a storehouse of delicious recipes and keeps us really informed about the state of agriculture in our region:

HogsBackFarm logoChard is one of the favorite crops to pick on the farm, not because it’s particularly easy or quick, but because it’s the most beautiful.Standing in a field of it and selecting each stem for its color is a feast for the eyes. Each plant has it’s own unique color, we don’t get multiple colors from one plant, so we pick from several plants to get a bunch that has a nice range of color to it. There never seems to be enough yellow, so that you’re always looking for just a little yellow to add. My favorite is the very bright pink, almost a fuschia, but some of the oranges are also very nice. They all taste the same, so don’t worry about that.

The beautiful colors are not a new fad, multiple colors of chard have been around for a couple thousand years. The interesting colors were lost for many years because they just weren’t as productive as the red and white chard. The genetics were still there, however, and large scale chard growers would still get pesky off-types of these beautiful colors in their fields. At some point someone in New Zealand thought it might be a good idea to select for some of these colors and combine them. In order to grow the seed for it they have each color in separate fields and then mix the seed together to come up with a mix of colors.

There’s a yummy looking recipe below that I think I’ll try tonight and I thought you might like to have it too.

But I also wanted to draw your attention to some concerns David shared with us in his newsletter today. If you feel inclined, please call your senator. These small local farmers are working so hard to bring us healthy, diverse foods and to preserve the natural order of things climactically in our region. Large scale mono-crop agriculture has led to less diverse and nutritionally-dense food options for us as human beings, which leads to sensitivities and allergies to the few foods we consume repeatedly. We really need to support those who are providing what we need for optimal health.

Thanks for reading,

Rachel

xo

 

 

 

I wanted to get on my soapbox this week and urge everyone to take a moment today or tomorrow and call your senators to encourage them to support more conservation programs in the FY2012 budget.

The house has passed a 2012 budget that guts conservation programs and leaves in place bloated entitlement programs for conventional agriculture. They’ve also zeroed out funding for local food programs that the USDA has been supporting. And, in my mind, the most egregious wrong is that they’ve eliminated funding for something called the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, also known by it’s old acronym ATTRA. You may not be familiar with ATTRA, but if you’ve ever bought food from a local farmer, like me, than you’ve bought food from someone who has used their vast pile of information and publications to solve real world problems on the farm. It’s the single most functional non-convoluted program that the USDA supports. There would be no resurgence of a local food movement without ATTRAs invaluable expertise and information.

With commodity crop prices at record levels it’s just silly that we as taxpayers are subsidizing crop insurance for commodity farmers, and at the same time pulling the plug on so many valuable programs to preserve and protect our resources.Urge your senators to drop the funding for the subsidized crop insurance instead of gutting conservation. The commodity crop farmers have more than enough resources to subsidize their own insurance when prices are so high. Thanks.

chard wild rice salad recipe

Swiss Chard and Wild Rice Salad (click image above for a printable recipe)

1 cup wild rice
1 bunch Swiss chard,sliced thin or chopped Swiss Chard
stems,sliced
1 cup shiitake or other mushrooms- diced
2 green onions,sliced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts,toasted
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Salt and pepper

(Vinaigrette)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup chopped basil,thyme,or oregano

In med saucepan,cover w/ 3 c water and simmer,covered until soft but still has a bite- about 45 min.

Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Add 2 Tbls olive oil,add chard stems and shiitake mushrooms,cook just until lightly browned. Add chard leaves and cook just until wilted. Add walnuts and cranberries- Cook,stirring frequently,another minute and remove from heat and cool.
In large bowl,combine rice,chard mixture,green onions. Whisk together the olive oil,raspberry vinegar,honey,and herbs in a separate bowl. Combine,toss and serve.