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June 29, 2017
It Takes a Village
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
If you live alone, hang out by yourself most of the time, or feel lonely even when people are around, your risk of kicking the bucket in the next seven years increases to about 30%. This startling statement in a Wall Street Journal
article this weekend caught my eye. According to Susan Pinker, author of "The Village Effect" (is she married to the guy who wrote the Dorito Effect?) our social habits more accurately predict how long we will live than our eating and exercise habits.
For many of us this news makes us think of aging parents or other elders we know who no lack the gumption to get out and connect with friends or even family. Is it possible that the sky-rocketing rate of dementia in this country connects to a growing isolation of our elders? Is a nursing home the answer? Even residents of retirement facilities can feel very alone, perhaps even more so if they grieve the loss their familiar turf.
"Isolation is the beginning of disease." So stated Malidoma Some, West African shaman and author or several books. Indigenous cultures have known since ancient times the value of a supportive community.
How does this connect to the CSA? First to my mind springs the satisfaction of a shared meal. Does your family sit together and begin the meal together? An article in the Washington Post
highlights a myriad of benefits for families that sit down to a meal together. Young children learn more vocabulary at family dinners than they do from being read to, teens are more likely to get good grades in school and suffer less obesity once they are on their own. Families that eat together tend to eat more fruits and vegetables - have you ever subbed a bowl of cereal for a meal as a loner? Even medical conditions such as asthma were improved by eating together.
The article stresses that the atmosphere is essential. No TV while eating together and parents should be "warm and engaged" versus stern and controlling. I suppose this research has finally put to rest the old adage, "Children are to be seen and not heard."
One of the most interesting and frequent comments on our 2014 survey highlighted the social connection our members get from picking up their box at a communal location. This may vary from site to site, but I was surprised and pleased to see how much people value connecting with other dedicated vegetable eaters. In the flurry of business that seems to be part of everyone's lives these days, it is interesting to note that this small community building activity of the weekly box pick up seems to be worth the extra effort. Perhaps getting a box of food in the mail is easier, but only lends to the nuclear isolation that is plaguing our culture.
So remember that the acronym "CSA" stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Take a moment to connect with your fellow CSA members, and build the community around you. If you prepare your meal together and sit down together, after socializing at your pick up site, maybe you will live a little longer! Especially if you eat your vegetables!
June 17, 2017
By Charis Lindrooth
Are you getting tired of the color green? What’s coming next ? I just cooked and ate the first golden zucchini. As I drove along the dusty lane that lines the endless row of prickly squash plants, I spotted the flash of gold, nearly camouflaged by the large floppy yellow squash flowers. I jumped from the car and carefully twisted the fruit from it’s vine and happily stashed it between the front seats of my car. Later it became the feature ingredient in a frittata, accompanied by bok choi, rosemary and Hillacres Pride dill cheddar.
The blossoms of the squash plant are also delicious, although we do not market them. The ones on this plant seemed giant, and I noticed the small yellow and black striped squash bug, the early herald of the end of squash season, already setting up house. Since we do not use conventional pesticides, this is not an uncommon sight. Organic sprays do help, but do not have the deadly effect as conventional sprays. This simply means we will savor every chemical-free squash and cucumber during the short season.
While zucchini won’t make the list this week, you can enjoy a bounty of fresh peas. Both sugar snap, with edible pods, and old-fashioned shelling peas are on the list. Another favorite of mine, red beets, complete with lush edible greens, are also available. If you are looking for local raw honey, we have 1 lb jars of crystalized light honey from Stagecoach Honey on the Extras link. I swear a teaspoon of that keeps my allergies at bay... until ragweed blooms.
And for all you cucumber lovers - look what I found this morning!
The order window is open until Sunday, 5PM.
to place your order or renew
your membership - we are happy to feed late-comers!
June 16, 2017
Support Accessible Food! New Bethany Ministries
By Charis Lindrooth
Congratulations to the Ardmore Food Pantry which is fully funded for the 2017 Summer Season!
Would you like to contribute to our efforts to bring fresh produce to those who face food scarcity? Our second partnership is with New Bethany Ministries. This non denominal organization serves over 57,000 meals to over 1700 individuals per year. Recently, Jim, a CSA member and I took a tour of their facilities and were blown away by the services New Bethany provides.
Located in the south side of Bethlehem, New Bethany Ministries also offers a significant food pantry open five days a week. The Lehigh Valley Friends Meeting has generously funded nearly half of the season's bounty, leaving approximately $900 remaining donations needed.
New Bethany Ministries serves a cross-section of the local population and their services are utilized by many people for many diverse reasons. Within the past few years New Bethany has experienced an increase in working poor individuals and families requiring services, as well as an increase in the number of vulnerable populations including children and the elderly.
Red Earth Farm is already providing fresh, sustainably grown produce, ensuring that guests of the New Bethany Food Pantry have access to nourishing produce, recently harvested and grown on a Lehigh County farm. Each week of the growing season the New Bethany Pantry will be able to select items which will arrive in 5 bulk boxes every Wednesday. We estimate that the produce will provide vegetables for approximately 10 families each week, with a goal of increasing that number if the project is successful, and the need apparent.
The cost of this “Bulk Share” is funded in part by Red Earth Farm. The remaining cost depends on donations by individuals and organizations who have an interest in combating food scarcity in our urban regions.
A special thanks to the Lehigh Valley Friends Meeting for kicking off this partnership with a substantial donation!
Tax-deductible donations of ANY amount can be made directly to New Bethany Ministries, tagged with “Red Earth Farm,” or online through the New Bethany Portal.
For over thirty years, the mission of New Bethany Ministries has been to provide opportunities for a secure future to the homeless, hungry, poor and mentally ill of the Lehigh Valley. Our organization’s goal is to help families and individuals who are capable to become self-sufficient and live independently. We also strive to identify and optimize opportunities to improve the quality of life for our guests who cope with mental illness, disabilities, and/or extreme poverty.
As the only comprehensive provider of basic services in a central location in the Lehigh Valley, New Bethany Ministries offers services through the following programs:
· Transitional Housing Program: 13 single room units of short-term, case-managed transitional housing for homeless families (both single and two-parent families) referred by Northampton and Lehigh Counties and with supportive services from providers. Our Transitional Housing Program is one of two programs in the Lehigh Valley that keeps families together as they work towards self-sufficiency and long-term stability (most Lehigh Valley organizations house dad separately from mom and the children).
· Restoration House Apartments: 10 apartments providing long-term, case-managed transitional housing for homeless families requiring enrollment in and completion of an educational program (both single and two-parent families). Additional goals of this program include increasing income via sustainable employment and securing permanent housing.
· Wyandotte Apartments: 7 permanent housing apartments for low-income families, most of whom are graduates of the transitional housing programs of New Bethany Ministries. Apartments are subsidized by the Bethlehem Housing Authority.
· Single Room Occupancy Program:
o Bethlehem: 15 single room occupancy units of case-managed housing in Bethlehem for low-income adult men and women, most of whom suffer from mental illness, disability, or emotional trauma.
o Columbia House: 20 case-managed single room occupancy units subsidized through Lehigh County Housing and one Section 8 apartment in Coplay, PA for low-income adult men and women, most of whom suffer from mental illness, disability, or emotional trauma.
o Grace House: 6 case-managed single room occupancy units in Allentown, PA for chronically homeless adult men and women, in partnership with the Lehigh Conference of Churches and Grace Episcopal Church.
· Mollard Hospitality Center: comprised of:
o The Meal Center – providing two meals daily to about 150 people Monday through Friday; a continental or hot breakfast and a hearty, nutritious lunch which is served by volunteer teams. Breakfast is also served two Sundays and Saturdays a month and special meals are served on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas thanks to generous volunteers.
o Emergency Food Pantry – Three-day food baskets are distributed to households residing in the 18015 area monthly. This program supports about 250 households a month.
o A Day Shelter open 8-4 Monday through Friday, with additional hours from December 1st through March 31st.
o Wellness Services: A twice-monthly primary medical care clinic run in partnership with the Lehigh Valley Health Network “Street Medicine” Program, and weekly life skills and mental health referral services through a bilingual representative run in partnership with Haven House.
o Other services include: the only free, public showers in the Valley, referrals to local services, as well as access to clothing, laundry, mail address services, and case management.
· Representative Payee Program: Homelessness prevention program providing financial case management, including direct bill payment, for low-income adults suffering from mental illness, disability, or emotional trauma.
June 11, 2017
The Art of Eating Seasonally
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
Welcome to the beginning of the summer season! Eating locally means that you are also eating in rhythm with the seasons. Technically it is still spring which means your boxes are full of green things. To the new CSA veggie eater this can seem like a real challenge, trying to finish your box of green things before the next box arrives. Everyone is excited about the tomatoes, cucumbers and snap beans that mark the height of summer, but learning how to eat more greens is one of the most productive ways to support your health.
Let's talk about a few things you can do to make the task of eating greens easier and downright delicious. As soon as you receive your weekly box take the vegetables out of the plastic liner and lay them on the counter. Now you are going to perform something like triage. You want to identify which produce should be consumed first. For example, rate a bag of salad mix before a head of romaine lettuce.The tender and delicate greens should be eaten first. You might want to wash and spin these greens so they are ready to be eaten as soon as possible. I find it very valuable to line are glass storage container with a paper towel, thoroughly spin the greens to remove excess water and then gently place them in the container without crushing or bruising the leaves. With the lid securely on top, place them where they will be easily accessed.
Herbs such as dill and cilantro usually come in bunches too large to be consumed in one week. However these herbs are cool-season friendly, so with a little work now you will be prepared for the hot summer days when you're more likely to use them on cucumbers and tomatoes. My favorite way to store herbs like this is to chop them them in the food processor with a little bit of olive oil or water, salt and lemon juice. Press the mix into ice cube trays and freeze. Once thoroughly frozen pop them out and store in a container or Ziploc bag in the freezer. You'll be surprised at what a timesaver it is when you're making fresh salsa or cucumber salad in August. Cilantro and dill will not be on the list in the hot season because they do not grow well then. That's one of the challenges of eating seasonally.
Baby bok choi is a popular item on our list, but I often discover mine shoved to the back of the crisper drawer, forgotten. Bunches of green onions often wind up with the same fate. Recently I decided to try grilling them. I chopped off the tippy tops of the choi, and about half of the onion greens. A quick toss with balsamic date vinegar and olive oil and they were ready for the grill. I had the grill on low, less than 350 degrees, and placed the veggies on the upper rack. A slow gentle cook yielded my new favorite side dish, warm, tender with a bit of crunch. Fabulous.
When you are short of time, but your refrigerator is still packed with greens, think smoothie. In a future post I will suggest some recipes, but for now try frozen banana, strawberries, Wholesome Dairy yogurt (the perfect consistency) and any green: bok choi, kale, lettuce, cilantro, dill. Whiz is in a hefty blender, like a Vitamix, add cinnamon, cocoa powder, nut butter or vanilla for a quick nutritious way to pack a lot of vegetables into your day.