Final CSA Week A
Today during box packing our fingers were so cold! The only salvation was the sun rising up above the tree line and the delicate heads of butter lettuce gently nestling into the box.
For those of you with half shares in Week A (all you half-shares receiving this email) this is your last box! Full share members, you have one more week to pick up your CSA.
Fall share members your first box starts on Oct. 20th.
As we come to the close of the CSA I can't help but reflect on the larger issues we are tackling at Big River Farms. I think, after reading this article in the New York Times, I am especially honored and proud to be a part of this small revolution. I hope you feel the same.
We may not be processing 14 million pounds of produce in one week, but those numbers frighten me. The article begins by stating how industrial agriculture has allowed for us to produce the most amount of food for the least amount of money in the history of civilization. I can't help but question, what hidden costs have been absorbed by our environment, work force, social culture and public health. There are costs associated with each of those categories that are externalized and then overlooked when praising the success of a vertically integrated global food system.
It's not as cheap as it looks. But all of you know that. $650 for 18 boxes of vegetables isn't cheap either. But it is closer to the real cost of what it takes to produce those vegetables.
14 million pounds of produce in a week! - photo by George Steinmetz
The food you have eaten for the last four months has returned nutrients to the soil, conserved water, and most importantly supported beginning farmers, most of whom are immigrants, in starting their own business.
If you come to the harvest party on October 16th (4-7pm at the Farm!) you will meet all of your farmers and celebrate the season with them.
In case you can't come, I'll share one success of the season. We are thrilled to announce that Aung Thin, owner/operator/farmer for Karen Family Farm is in the review process for an FSA loan to buy his OWN Farm. He is a fourth year farmer in the program and he is at the verge of graduating into ownership of his own small farm business. That is what your membership has supported. Maybe now $650 seems cheap when you realize how far it has gone.
Aung Thin, bunching green onions at Big River Farms
What's in the Box?
Anaheim Peppers and Butternut Squash from Sebra Farms
(H)Anchotte from Rome Farm
Arugula, Broccoli, Carrots, Cilantro and Potatoes from Karen Family Farm
Broccoli, Lettuce and Radish from 1st Karen Farm
Cilantro, Kale and Onions from The Early Birds
Beets from Mhonpaj's Garden
Kale from Naima and Fagas
Pumpkins from Molly Schaus (farm manager extraordinaire!) and the students from Face to Face Academy who helped seed, plant, weed and harvest all summer long!
In the Kitchen
This week we are proud to present our final specialty crop. (H)Anchotte is a traditional Oromo vegetable. It is a tuber crop, meaning it grows underground much like a potato but it is also somewhat akin to a cucumber.
Kano of Rome Farm is a native Ethiopian and come from the Central Region of Ethiopia where the Oromo people are concentrated. He is the only person in Minnesota, likely in the midwest, growing (H)Anchotte and the Oromo population in the Twin Cities can't get enough! We are lucky to have gotten even the tiniest bit for our CSA.
It is also registered as part of The Slow Food Arc of Taste. YOu can read more about what that means here.
The best way to prepare (H)Anchotte is to boil and mash it as soon as possible. It can store for up to a week in the refrigerator. If you do not cook it immediately, it will start to dry out and become starch.
Boil and mash your (H)Anchotte and then add this Oromo butter for a tasty and traditional Ethiopian delicacy.
- Blend 1 stick of butter with a blend of your favorite spices (cumin, cayenne, paprika, ginger, cardamom, coriander, fenugreek, salt)
- Leave this on your counter for 3 days allowing it to ferment in a closed container. If it smells a little stinky, that is good!
- Melt this mixture until it boils and becomes liquid.
- Cool, but don't let it solidify (you are separating the fat out, much like Ghee or Clarified Butter)
- Filter off the spices ussing a fine strainer. YOu will be left with liquid butter that will last 1 plus years. The Oromo people use this technique so as to preserve butter when they don't have access to refrigeration.
Kano says you can drizzle this on your mashed (H)Anchotte, maybe mix in some sauteed onions and jerky and it is delicious! Or throw it in with your mashed potatoes and taste test!
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Because why not???
- 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
- 1 large butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 7 cups milk
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Roast the butternut squash. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place in roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Place in oven and cook until soft all the way through, about 1 hour. Set aside until cool. When cooled, remove skin and place in food processor. Purée until smooth.
- Make cheese sauce. Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour. Stir to make a roux and cook 3 minutes, stirring the entire time. Add 3 cups milk and stir until thickened. Add the rest of the milk and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add shredded cheese and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper.
- To assemble the dish: Place cooked elbow macaroni in bowl. Pour half of the cheese sauce over and add puréed, roasted butternut squash. Fold together. If it seems too dry, add the rest of the cheese sauce. Place in an ovenproof dish and heat for 15 minutes at 325 degrees.
Hope to see you all on the 16th. We'll be in touch about 2017 CSA share options in the next month so you can start dreaming of vegetables all winter long!
Food Hub Manager
Minnesota Food Association/Big River Farms