The Logistics of Local Food (CSA week 13)

Local foods and buying directly from the farmer has been something I’ve seen grow and grow every year I’ve been in this kind of work. But one big issue that has continued to plague local foods is the logistics. What I mean by this is that it still isn’t convenient for you as an eater to access all the things you would like to get locally…instead, you have to go to 5 or 6 individual farmers to get your stuff. Get a CSA membership for your veggies, contact somebody in the fall to buy a quarter of beef or half a hog, go across town to get that good local bread. I hear this from people too from members and farmers market patrons.
Coordination amongst us small growers to supply people more variety only makes sense to me. It doesn’t add up to have a bunch of growers all driving around with small amounts of food and make the eaters work harder at finding us. This is why we’ve been working on adding other things to the mix of things we deliver. You’ve seen me write about having Organic Valley butters and cheeses available to be delivered with your produce. Also, we partnered with Kendra to offer a flower share and some members took me up on that, getting flowers delivered with their produce for the last 12 weeks. Talking to members and others, I also got a sense of what others are looking for and I have arranged with a grower friend of mine by Fergus Falls to raise some broiler chickens for you. She is raising the chickens to two sizes: some up to “fryer size” (3.5-4 lbs) and others up to “roaster size” (5-6 lbs.) . Fryers will be available starting next week.

We’re finally figuring out some of the logistics of all this and have an ordering system set up at a site called local dirt, where you can easily order up what you’d like on a weekly basis. We will deliver with the CSA box until the end of the season and plan on keeping some things available through the winter as well: http://localdirt.com/ This is a nice tool which makes all this ordering stuff really easy for us as growers and easy for you as eaters. You find what you’ll like and just add into your shopping cart like at amazon.com or something….we’ll keep updating with new things like produce “extras”.
This is not something just for CSA members…if you know somebody who would like to get “on the route” just have them contact me…we’ll deliver for no charge in the area from Pelican to Detroit Lakes or people can certainly arrange to pickup at the farm. We’re really looking for people to see if we can make a go of this…
Put it on your calendars! We’re having our 3rd annual harvest party here at the farm. The date will be Saturday October 3rd, starting at 5:30. Plan on eating dinner at 6:00. We’ll supply the main dish and beverages, you supply yourself and a side dish for a potluck meal. This is a great way for you to meet other members, see the farm, and pick out your jack-o-lantern. Please let us know if you plan on attending.
Every year I put together a box I’m really proud of….this is that box for the year. Lots of variety and things I’m excited to see, especially that celery! I’ve never been able to grow it well before, so I was just beaming this morning harvesting the stuff.
In the box:
Italia pepper: red and green long pepper…really sweet
Colored pepper: some aren’t fully colored, but I wanted something in the box
Poblanos: A really mild hot pepper which look just beautiful. See cornbread recipe below.
Dozen sweet corn
A slug of tomatoes: they are in in a big way, so you get a good half dozen
A small bunch of fresh oregono
One oversized turnip with greens
Carrot bunch mix: there are two varieties here, atomic red and satin (white one). I especially like the satin, which have a good distinct flavor.
Celery
Snap Peas: a variety called Sugar Ann, which is edible pod, so don’t shell.
Yellow Cippolini Onions: A nearly forgot this onion out there, but it’s an Italian variety people really like for roasting or kebobs. Good intense flavor, but still mild.
Athena Canteloupe

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Skillet Corn Bread with Roasted Poblano and Oregano

Bon Appétit | July 2004

This moist bread is best fresh from the oven, but it can also be made ahead and reheated.

Yield: Makes 8 servings

ingredients

1 medium poblano chile* (about 3 1/2 ounces)
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

preparation

Char poblano chile over open flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag 15 minutes. Peel, seed, and finely chop chile.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and black pepper in large bowl to blend. Whisk eggs, milk, and sour cream in medium bowl to blend. Mix in poblano chile and oregano. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and fold in with rubber spatula; do not overmix.

Melt butter in 10-inch-diameter ovenproof skillet with 2-inch-high sides over medium heat, swirling to coat bottom and sides of skillet. Remove from heat. Spread batter evenly in skillet. Bake until corn bread is golden brown around edges and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool bread 15 minutes in skillet. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cool completely in skillet. Rewarm in 350°F oven 15 minutes.) Cut bread into wedges and serve warm from skillet


Lida Farm Journal: Week Six

Whether you know it or not, you are part of a movement, the local foods movement. There has been a trend growing over the last decade or so for folks to get their food locally. The whole idea is that people source what they eat from a local farm, and, in return, they receive food which is fresh, get to know their grower, and support their local economy to boot. People have figured out that shipping substandard food covered in fungicides half way around the world doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense. I call it a movement because it really is a strong trend you’ll find across the whole country; it’s not just something you find amongst only crunchy folks in California…you’ll find the same thing in Des Moines. Not too long ago very few farmers markets existed, and those that did were not what we think of them today. Go to the St. Paul Farmers Market today and you’d never guess that twenty years ago it looked pretty sparse with a dozen or so vendor huddled in a barren parking lot. The market we sell at on Saturdays, Lakes Area Farmers Market in Detroit Lakes, didn’t even exist 10 years ago. The very first CSA started in upstate New York in just the early 80’s. By 1990, only a handful existed, until today when we have between 30-50 in Minnesota alone.

Detroit Lakes Farmers Market, September 2006

Things have progressed to the point where a recent Star Tribune headline read “Too Many Markets or Too Few Farmers?” It described a new farmers market in Bloomington and their challenges getting vendors to fill the stalls. Basically no farmers, no farmers market—pretty simple. This being my sixth produce season and second year as our market’s president, I know what this is all about. Local foods used to be on the fringe, like organic foods in the 1970’s. Now it’s definitely taken hold and things have grown to the point where we have no problem finding customers, but a harder and harder time finding growers. And this will be problem for the near future until guys like myself quit their dayjobs and grow full-time, convention farmers get into produce, or more people are convinced to give up their weekends.

IN THE BOX:

Red Cabbage
Broccoli
: A later variety than we had a couple of weeks ago.
Sweet Onions

A couple Summer Squash:
You may already be getting sick of this stuff, so I took it down to two this week.
Fresh Italian Parsley
Lacinato Kale
: A Italian variety of kale which most call “Dino Kale” since it looks like it comes from prehistoric times.
Mini-head of lettuce: There was an area of salad mix uncut from last week which basically produced some mini-heads of lettuce…
Red Potatoes
Cukes
Chiogga Beets
: An heirloom variety. See recipe below.

Five Minute Beets

From Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

4 beets, about 1 pound

1 T butter

Salt and pepper

Lemon juice or vinegar to taste

2 T chopped parsley, tarragon, dill, or other herb.

Grate beets into coarse shreds. Melt the butter into a skillet, add the beets, and toss with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Add ¼ cup water, then cover the pan and cook over medium heat until the beets are tender. Remover the lid and raise the heat to boil off any excess water. Taste for salt, season with a little lemon juice or vinegar—balsamic or red wine is good—and toss with the herb. If you don’t mind the shocking color, you can stir in a tablespoon of yogurt or sour cream, always a good addition to beets.

Local Foods on the March

I’ve decided that we have really turned a corner with how people view what they eat.

For a long time only a small group of folks were talking about the importance and pleasure of buying fresh and local food. Not only is a local head of lettuce about 100 times fresher than the three-week old head of Iceberg, but you encounter a huge variety of produce, support local farmers, and learn a lot about your local community in the process.

But two articles have changed my view. 1. Wednesday the Star Tribune ran a series of articles on the ethics of buying food http://www.startribune.com/438/story/547730.html 2. Today I read an article on Wal-Mart bringing organic foods to their stores http://adage.com/article?article_id=110482 When Wal-Mart joins in, you know all this talk about organic and local foods is no longer relegated to crunchy people who hang around health food stores! This is big.

In our own small way we’ve seen this at the little Lakes Area Farmers Market. The number of people shopping is up from last year as is the number of vendors selling. Sometimes we just think we’re a backwater–a bit behind the times–but, on this, we are right in the mix. We’re growing our own local food system right here.

Coming to Market:
Peas
Green Beans
Broccoli
Pickling Cucumbers
Summer Squash
Lettuce
Sweet onions
Green onions
Kale
Swiss Chard