January 27th-29th 2020 – Welcoming the month of Shvat!

Tu B’Shvat celebrations:

Melissa of Mipri Yadeha is offering 2+1 special: order two fruit leather rolls or dried fruit/crunchies and get the third free.

Ish Shel lechem Bakery is baking a unique Tu B’shvat loaf:  Made of 70% whole wheat organic flour and filled with dried fruits and nuts – Yummy!

Happy birthday trees of Israel!

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…and then the sun came out for a minute and a rainbow just stood there, and I remembered returning once from weeding the vineyard, my hands spongy and heavy with black mud.

I said, “Mom, look at this filth.”

I was a kid, you know, and that’s how kids talk.

And she looked at me with her unsleeping eyes and said: “Mud is not filth.”

Yehonatan Geffen

It’s been raining almost nonstop over the past two weeks in a steady sheet of little raindrops, not too heavy or rowdy, just calm, happy rain. There were times when the showers took a one or two-hour break, with an occasional visit by sunrays through the clouds that washed the field with light. But other than these interludes, it’s been wet, wet, wet.

We try to schedule our work according to the rain forecast, and many times we pick most of the vegetables a day before the predicted rain. Still, there’s usually no recourse from picking in the rain, even in heavy showers. We try to dress accordingly: high boots, rainproof pants, storm jackets and umbrella hats, in a hearty attempt to somewhat protect ourselves from the raindrops that keep falling on our heads.

Working in the rain, or a day or two or even three after the rain, means rolling in the mud–and when I say rolling, picture boots loaded halfway with sticky, brown, wonderful, heavy mud. And when I say heavy, picture us walking only by contorting every muscle from hip to toe to be able to lift each foot to take baby steps towards the next garden-bed. On the way back to the packing house, we try to shed as much mud as possible by jumping around, dancing (tap-like), rubbing against flora on the road, and trying to leave as much of the brownness around us. Removing the boot at the end of such a workday is like growing wings. You lose your sense of gravity and get ready to fly…

The entry to our packing house is protected by an awning on top and a concrete-covered pathway, thus some of the mud that used to accompany us into the packing house now remains in clusters at the doorstep. That is also the spot where we pack the boxes into our delivery cars which we cover in cardboard on rainy days. And yet, as we load the vehicles, our delivery people get their share of muddy boots as well…

The carrots, beets, daikons, radishes, fennels and onions come straight from the earth all brown and muddy. Some are eligible for long baths: we soak these vegetables in a tub for an hour or so and then wash them off and let the water drain in netted plastic containers. However, we do not wash off the onions and fennel. Their layered composition makes these vegetables vulnerable to excess water which can penetrate their skin, accumulate, and cause damage. Hence, you receive them covered in mud. The solution is to allow the mud to dry up, after which it crumbles off easily. Whatever’s left, you can safely wash off.

Yet while there is no getting out of thoroughly washing the vegetables, there is an added bonus. Chana, who volunteered here a few winters ago, taught me that mud is a great grease remover. Just as sand is used for cleansing, the muddy globs can rub off stubborn stains, especially from metal utensils. So if you have a pot with black, hard-to-remove stains inside, try this: place the muddy vegetables you receive in your box (carrot, beets, kohlrabi, radishes, celeriac, parsley root, etc.) in the stained pot and cover with water. Now prepare yourself a cup of tea and relax while you choose the recipes on your menu, and let the water do its work, softening the mud and separating it from the vegetables. After some time (a couple of hours or so), go back to your muddy vegetables, remove from pot, and wash under running water. Allow vegetables to dry thoroughly on a towel, then place in air-tight containers and refrigerate (or drop them straight into your caldron bubbling away on the stove). Meanwhile, back to the stained pot: Carefully pour out the water. We promise there will be a lot of mud accumulated on the bottom, but don’t spill it out. Use it to rub the sooty parts of the pot and then rinse out. The result will be a surprisingly brilliant one.

This week’s temperatures were rather low, in the 15-16°C range, but the break in rain that is supposed to last from now till the weekend will allow the field to breathe, absorb its newly-received moisture slowly and moderately, and store it in reservoirs under the roots stretching out their shoots to drink the water and its nutrients. Sunny-after-the-rain days are so much cleaner and better. Everything is shiny, and you get the feeling you can actually enjoy the bright weather, as the field has already quenched its thirst.

And it is during these post-rain sunny days we bid farewell from the month of Tevet (Tebitu in Akkadian, meaning “sink in water“) and happily welcome the month of Shvat (Shabatu, “hit, strike”) that received its name from the end of winter rains that strike and hit the earth as they fall.

Hoping for a month of good strikes filled with gentle, dousing taps of raindrops,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Orin, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team in their muddy attire

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/totsoi/New Zealand spinach/kale, baby radishes, broccoli, scallions/onions/leeks, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley/mizuna/arugula, lettuce, cauliflower. Small boxes only: Jerusalem artichokes/peas/green fava beans.

Large box, in addition: Kohlrabi/fennel, daikon/turnips, red cabbage/beets, celery/celeriac

FRUIT BOXES: Pomelot, bananas, kiwi, clementinot

Wednesday: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach/kale, broccoli, scallions/onions/leeks, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley/mizuna/arugula, lettuce, cauliflower/potatoes, celery/celeriac. Small boxes only: Jerusalem artichokes/peas/green fava beans.

Large box, in addition: Kohlrabi/fennel, daikon/baby radishes, cabbage/totsoi, beets.

FRUIT BOXES: Pomelot/avocado, bananas, kiwi, clementinot/oranges

January 20th-22nd 2020 – CELEREEE, CELERAH, CELEREEE, CELERA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA…..

It is a great joy to prepare another newsletter as raindrops keep falling on our heads, on the once-parched soil – thirsty since summer and still harboring memories of pre-2019 winter droughts. Likewise, those of us who worked this craving earth remember how our heart ached as we pined for wet winters. After last year’s very rainy winter, it felt almost disrespectful to ask for another one, but hey – we really do need these blessed showers year after year. And the best part after their plentifulness is that they are spread out and not aggressive enough to cause floods. Together with our fields, we feel our hearts swelling and our body and soul relaxing to the rhythm of raindrops on our packing house. This is the best symphony in the world!

Our winter veggies are having a ball in the good rain, evidenced by their somewhat muddy but cheerful arrival at your doorstep. We do wash most of the vegetables in bathtubs-refurbished-as-sinks, except for the onion. Too much water can permeate its layers and cause damage, which is why your onions arrive in a very muddy state. The solution is to let the mud dry, thus crumbling off easier.
For this week’s Newsletter, I will share the great secrets of an enduring winter guest who adores wet weather so much that it actually makes him plump around the edges… Ladies and gents, I’m pleased to introduce the star of the week… CELERY!

Its name carries the exotic origins of the French “céleri,” derived from the Greek “Selinon,” of the Apiaceae family. Celery is distinguished by the fact that all of this versatile vegetable’s parts are edible: the round root, its crunchy stalk, the nutritious leaves and its teensy, tiny seeds. Today, we will primarily discuss the leaves.

All celery varieties have tiny, miniscule seeds that take their sweet time sprouting. If you ever attempt to seed them in your garden, do not despair! Make sure they are plenty moist and that you have a very long book to read while you wait patiently for some sign of life. Mr. Celery is even slower than his cousin the parsley, taking at least a month till he feels he’s ready to sprout. We cannot wait so long with the seeds under the earth, specifically since ruthless weeds are liable to cover the bed five times before allowing one little celery shoot to peek above earth. This is why we start with actual plants that have already grown in a nursery, at the prime age of two to three months.

And here they are, the young ‘uns in our field (to their left, the red lettuce; to their right, the scallions)

Although celery is a native of the Mediterranean Basin, it has been carried upon the wings of history to reach almost every place on earth. Today the vegetable can be found in Southern Sweden, the British Isles, Egypt, Algeria, India, China, New Zealand, California, and even unto the southernmost parts of South America. Celery has a long history as a wild plant, and a relatively short one as a cultivated specie.

Celery is first documented in literature dating back almost 3000 years (making it evident that celery has been around for even longer). It is first noted by its Greek name Selinon in Homer’s Odyssey, circa 850 BC. Probably the ancient celery was collected from the wild to be raised in private gardens for a variety of medicinal uses (see below), but not for edible consumption. In the Mishnah, Tractate Shvi’it, it is mentioned as a wild plant (and therefore does not require a tithe) “… and the celery in the rivers… exempt from tithe.”

Only in the 17th century did celery begin to be used as a food and spice. It was cultivated by selecting the full and solid plants (not the hollow variety) with a milder, more subtle taste. The celery’s growing season was carefully chosen in order to produce celery leaves and stalks more suitable for consumption, with a less dominant taste. Growing celery during a cold season refines its taste. In the 19th century, the Europeans tried tempering its flavor by shielding the stalks from the sun, thus preventing the development of chlorophyll. To do so, they would mound earth upon the celery, thus whitening it (sort of like whitening a leek or white asparagus). Today there are species which are independently whitened and produce yellowish celery, however, modern green celery is, in fact, mild-tasting.

There are actually three subspecies of the celery, each grown to take advantage of a different part of the plant: The subspecies dulce is celery grown for its crunchy stalks, and is the most refined in flavor. The second, rapaceum, is grown for its root, making its stalks and leaves sharper tasting and more suitable for seasoning. And last comes the secalinum, resembling the wild species and grown in order to produce the strong, spicy-flavored miniscule celery seeds. This variety is also grown for its leaves, which – together with the seeds – are the most nutritious, useful parts of the celery with the greatest amounts of concentrates. Hence their strong flavor.

 

Back when it was a wild plant, celery was sanctified in classical Greece. Celery leaves were used as wreaths for the champions of the Isthmian Games. The Egyptians, too, revered the vegetable, as evident in braided bunches of celery that have been found in Egyptian tombs. The Romans, however, felt that in certain circumstances, celery can bring bad luck.

And yes, all those beliefs are well-rooted (sorry…..), as this vegetable is indeed a powerful one. It contains phytochemicals (yup, them again) called phthalid which can relax the small blood vessels, reducing the excretion of stress hormones and therefore contributing to the balance of high blood pressure. In addition, celery reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood. Research shows that celery seeds are helpful in reducing blood sugar levels and may be useful in treating diabetes. This is probably due to celery’s ethereal oil content, apiol, derived from the seeds and promoting urination, thus relieving edema, disinfecting the urinary system and easing rheumatoid arthritis. Celery also contains a good amount of Vitamin K, folic acid and potassium.

There are those who are allergic to the psoralen contained within celery, which can cause damage to DNA and become carcinogenic if one is exposed to sunshine after consuming the celery. This allergen is probably not diminished by cooking or baking. And though I found contradictory opinions regarding celery consumption during pregnancy– including the Talmud which states that a woman who eats celery during pregnancy will bear beautiful children (Ktuvot 61) – I think it would be more responsible to refrain from eating celery during pregnancy due to its tendency to cause uterine spasms.

I would guess that most of the celery stalks in our world fulfill themselves and their true calling in vegetable soup, and that’s how I used to use it as well… That is, till I moved to a moshav populated by folks of Kurdish origin, where I was exposed to the Riza Hamusta, the sour Kurdish rice. Since then, it has been hard to convince me to save some celery for the soup… But there are so many other uses for it. Celery’s great when fresh and crunchy in a salad or in an invigorating, cleansing vegetable juice. Be creative! In our recipe section we even have a recipe for celery pesto.

Tips for using celery:
To keep celery fresh (this holds true for any bunch of seasoning herbs):
– Wash and dry completely, or don’t wash at all. Wrap in a cloth towel and place in a plastic bag or sealed container.
– Clean under running water, remove all loose leaves or unattractive stalks, and place in a large vase with lots of cold water. Within a couple of hours, the stalk will look like a beautiful bloom. This way you will be surrounded by freshness, and you’ll remember to use the celery instead of letting it wilt in the fridge.

Wishing us all a great week, with some rays of sun on Wednesday and Thursday for which we give yet additional thanks.
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai, Orin and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/totsoi/New Zealand spinach/kale, daikon/baby radishes, broccoli/peas, scallions/onions/leeks, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery/celeriac/parsley root, carrots, parsley/coriander, lettuce/mizuna/arugula, cabbage/cauliflower.

Large box, in addition: Kohlrabi/fennel, beets/turnips, Jerusalem artichokes/potatoes.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, avocados, green apples, clementinot

Wednesday: Swiss chard/totsoi/New Zealand spinach/kale, daikon/baby radishes/cabbage, broccoli, scallions/onions/leeks, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery/celeriac, carrots, parsley/coriander, lettuce/mizuna/arugula, potatoes/cauliflower.

Large box, in addition: Kohlrabi/fennel, beets/turnips, Jerusalem artichokes/peas.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas/lemons, avocados/pomelo, green apples, clementinot.

January 13th-15th 2020 – Sun(roots) er

Our field is completely wintery. A stroll among the vegetable beds reveals the many farewells we’ve bade over the past month to last of the summer veggies. Their dry plots in their final days have been transformed to rows of tiny sprouts, young plants and green mature plants infused with power from the winter crops now commanding the field.

But at the center of our field, one last jungle-like plot remains. Its tall tangled plants, most bent by the recent strong winds and showers, are a faded green with dry yellow flowers, and its longer leaves bear a brown hue. But don’t be fooled –just below it, the vibrant world of the underground is bursting with life – thickening, filling out, ripening, and for the past weeks sneaking into (most of your) boxes on a weekly basis. And I suddenly realized that we forgot to give them their well-earned respect this year!

I hope by now you’ve all figured out that although it looks like ginger, it is certainly not ginger!

Introducing the star of this week’s Newsletter, the incredible sunroot, aka Helianthus tuberosus, or better yet the very confusing moniker Jerusalem Artichoke.

This great photo from Gal’s blog, Ptitim

We waited for them over six months, till the bushes dried up and wilted. Only then could we chop those down and begin extracting the secret treasures buried beneath – delectable, satiating bulbs that will enhance every soup, quiche, antipasti or salad. And you don’t need a lot — just a touch adds a phenomenal  seasoning to any dish.

Here at Chubeza, sunroots are one of our newer products. After an experimental crop five years ago, we were pleased with the outcome. Actually, more than pleased. And ever since, they have been steady and delicious autumn-to-winter tenants.

In America, they’re commonly known as “sunchokes,” but actually the title “sunroot” is an accurate description, for the Jerusalem artichoke is in fact a species of sunflower which develops an edible root bulb. The origins of this delectable bulb are in the North American East Coast from Georgia to Nova Scotia, where it has been both growing wild and cultivated in Native American vegetable gardens for years on end. The bulb fully enjoys the American sunshine and rich, fertile earth, yielding farmers and gleaners its rich roots abounding with energy and sweetness.

The Europeans, who came to visit and stayed to conquer, tasted the sunroot and loved it. First to describe the bulb was French explorer Samuel de Champlain, who noticed it in a Cape Cod vegetable garden in 1602. He sent some sunroots to France, from where they meandered to England, Germany and Italy in the 17th century. The Italians termed it girasole, Italian for “sunflower.” Somehow the pronunciation was distorted to “Jerusalem,” and it stuck. The “artichoke” part came from the fact that it somewhat resembles the artichoke in taste.

Like any sunflower, the sunroot adores the sun and thrives during the summer. For Chubeza, this is the fifth summer we’ve watched its growth. I say “watch,” because from the moment we placed the bulbs in the earth until we plunged the pitchfork in to extract them, we really did not have much to do (aside from occasional weeding and watering). We were rather amazed at the beautiful strength of its growth, at its ability to joyfully grow wild and dare the weeds to even think of coming close. Thankfully, in our field the Jerusalem artichoke is free from pests (moles and rats are their natural nemesis), which is why we could just step aside and simply watch it grow. Patiently.

Here it is going wild, blooming, growing. The Jerusalem artichoke in Chubeza:

And yes, it required much patience. The plant took its sweet time for at least seven months, growing, wilting and clandestinely swelling up its unique roots below. Only at the beginning of October when the foliage had dried up did we insert the pitchfork to examine the situation, just to discover that we needed more patience. So we waited a bit longer, regularly sampling some to gobble up for lunch. Now, several weeks later, we are finally beginning to pull out all these yummy, distinctive bulbs, with hope they stay with us through February.

Though it grows underground like the potato (even if it is more stubborn and recalcitrant than the spud) and has a similar caloric value, the Jerusalem artichoke is low in carbs. Instead of starch, it contains inulin, a fruit sucrose carbohydrate, soluble in water (which is how it stores its energy in the root bulb). Inulin aids in lowering blood sugar levels, making it recommended for diabetics (contrary to potatoes!). Inulin feeds the friendly microbes in the intestines and reduces the threat of a variety of diseases. These bulbs are an excellent source of thiamine (B1), iron, niacin, Vitamin B3 and potassium. Chinese medicine classifies the Jerusalem artichoke as a warming vegetable which strengthens the digestive system. A great winter vegetable!

Tips:

Jerusalem artichokes must be refrigerated, preferably in a closed plastic bag or sealed plastic container, to prevent them from growing soft.

Conventionally, the Jerusalem artichoke is eaten peeled, which can be a tiresome task to prepare. But, you don’t actually have to peel off the skin. You can certainly scrape it off, cook or bake it unpeeled. You may also steam the bulbs for several minutes to greatly ease the peeling procedure.

The Jerusalem artichoke turns black quickly after being peeled, so it is recommended to place it in a bowl filled with water and lemon juice.

And what about the bulby elephant in the newsletter? In this case, the gas issues (making this wonder veggie known in America as “fartichokes”). The gas is created from the breakdown of the inulin, the fruit sucrose as mentioned above. So if it makes you gassy, start by consuming small quantities. Two additional gas-reducers: cook the sunroots separately, drain, and then add to your dish; or cook/bake them seasoned with cumin which assists digestion and reduces gas.

Check our recipe section for a variety of ideas for cooking and serving the amazing sunroot, but feel free to add it to other familiar and favorite recipes in your own creative way. It truly enhances the flavor in nearly every dish. Bon appetite!

Wishing everyone a good and healthy week,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai, Orin and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/totsoi/New Zealand spinach/kale, turnips/baby radishes, Jerusalem   artichokes/potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli/peas,  carrots, parsley/dill/coriander, lettuce/mizuna/arugula, cabbage/cauliflower. Small boxes only: scallions/leeks.

Large box, in addition: Kohlrabi/fennel/daikon, beets, onions, celery/celeriac.

FRUIT BOXES: Pomela, bananas oranges, kiwi.

Wednesday: Swiss chard/totsoi/New Zealand spinach/kale, turnips/baby radishes, Jerusalem   artichokes/potatoes/peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli/cabbage, carrots, parsley/coriander, lettuce/mizuna/arugula, scallions/leeks/onions, celery/celeriac.

Large box, in addition: Kohlrabi/fennel/daikon, beets, cauliflower.

FRUIT BOXES: Pomela/pomelit, bananas/avocado, oranges, kiwi.

January 6th-8th 20120

This week we’re a bit under the (winter) weather, so we’re slowing our pace, postponing this week’s Newsletter, and simply sending you the list of the vegetables in your box. Wishing you all good health!

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/totsoi/kale, kohlrabi/turnips, beets, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower, carrots, parsley/dill/arugula, lettuce/mizuna, celery.

Large box, in addition: Daikon/fennel, peas/Jerusalem artichokes, scallions/New Zealand spinach.

FRUIT BOXES: Green apples, red oranges, pomelit, bananas.

Wednesday: Swiss chard/totsoi/kale, daikon/turnips/small radishes, beets, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli/cabbage, carrots, parsley, arugula/lettuce/mizuna. Small boxes only: scallions/New Zealand spinach.

Large box, in addition: Kohlrabi/fennel, cauliflower, celery/celeriac, peas/Jerusalem artichokes.

FRUIT BOXES: Green apples, red oranges, pomelit/clemantinot/lemons, bananas/avocado.

December 30th 2019 – January 1st 2020 – Happy new dacade!

This week marks the end of two new months, one year and one decade, with Kislev making way for Tevet, December for January and good ol’ 2019 for 2020, launching a new decade in the process. This is always a good time to contemplate the situation – what last year was like, and what type of exciting things the new year holds. So this week I shall resume our discourse on variety, diversity and their each individual importance (other than the beauty of it all).

In our previous newsletter, we looked at the development of agriculture and the cultivation of various plants over the globe, till reaching the pastoral state of millions of farmers tending to their small plots to grow species which, over time, developed into crops customized to local soil, climate and pests. In the process, thousands and tens of thousands of sub-species of plants were created for food and other uses. Unfortunately, this is no longer the situation…

A major part of this alteration is related to “The Green Revolution,” a process that occurred between 1940-1960, specifically in Mexico and India. This revolution included growing new species, using chemical and machine-controlled fertilization and pesticides, and developing monoculture (the agricultural practice of producing or growing a single crop, plant, or livestock species, variety, or breed in a field or farming system at a time). The project emerged when Mexico turned to the U.S. for help in the face of looming   mass hunger resulting from a major population expansion (and the slowing down of food production). Together with the Rockefeller Foundation, they developed a practical research center aimed to accelerate wheat production in Mexico. Headed by American agronomist Norman Borlaug, the researchers succeeded to develop new wheat species that produced double the yield, were easy to mechanically cultivate, and maintained resistance to diseases and pests. After the Mexican success, these methods were adopted by India where elite species of rice were developed. Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

Green Revolution researchers and farmers had good intentions, and the crops they developed were indeed “elite species.” But in their wake, the byproducts of this accelerated pace and expansion of food production quantities were the widespread use of chemical pesticides, vigorous growth which diminished the soil’s fertility, and, circling back to us, a decline in the variety of seeds. For example, thousands of wheat, rice or corn species that had grown over the world prior to the Green Revolution were reduced to several dozen elite hybrid species grown industrially worldwide. These new hybrids could not be kept from one year to another (hybrid species do not yield identical offspring), thus control over distribution and production of seeds was completely altered. From millions of farmers individually saving good seeds from one year to another, the global seed market is now controlled by several generals.

Israeli wheat is a prime local example: wheat was probably cultivated in this area some 10,000-12,000 years ago. A century ago, Aaron Aaronsohn discovered the wild wheat near the northern settlement of Rosh Pina, and over the years traditional wheat was consistently grown. Customized to the soil and specific micro-climates, thousands of traditional species developed in villages of the area with no notable differences in characteristics, etc. The local species consisted mainly of Durum wheat – hard wheat from which pitta bread and pasta are produced. The Zionist pioneers who came from Europe in the 20th century changed the picture…. They, who came to Israel to “build and be built” and create the “New Jew,” still found it hard to give up the food they were accustomed to, and the local wheat just didn’t produce their beloved European-style loaves of bread. Thus, the seeds of bread wheat they imported to Israel eventually took over the majority of the local yield, with most of the traditional types being lost in the process.

Luckily, there were agronomists who insisted on keeping the traditional species, believing that even if not all species are grown industrially, it is important to preserve them. Over the years, wheat and other seeds were gathered from across the country, both cultured and wild species, and kept in research labs. An equivalent process took place (and still exists) in the world, where seeds are gathered from wild plants and traditional culturized yields to be stored in seed banks at deep freeze (-18°), stringently dry conditions. The world’s most famous seed bank is on an isolated island north of Norway, hewn in an iceberg with approximately one million seed swatches from across the globe. Take a look:

But other than the need for nostalgia and blasts from the pasts, what is the importance of keeping millions of species, some of which are not even industrially grown? Why put so much energy and effort into collecting and preserving them? Shouldn’t we just let bygones be bygones and move on to 2020?

The answers are – of course – varied, but truth be told, the need is all the more powerful in 2020.

Medical scientific research is largely based on botanica. Much of the medicine we know today is a product of plant material, thus the genetic decrease of plants also diminishes the chance to find the next plant-based medicine. Frequently the active component exists in larger quantities and potency in wild plants, and less within the hybrid and/or cultivated plants. A wide variety of plant species allows the continuation of researching and utilizing the non-edible virtues of plants.

Unfortunately, the modern era has been riddled with natural disasters (tsunamis, earthquakes, forest fires) and man-made wars. The result is always serious damages to plants and fields. In the Malaysian and Indonesian tsunamis, rice fields were severely injured, resulting in the loss of traditional, locally-acclimated species. The seed banks came to save the day: seeds that had been kept for emergencies were removed to be reseeded the damaged fields. Warfare in Iraq and Syria also caused harm to the variety of seeds, in this case due to looting and vandalism of the local seed banks. The Syrian War caused the demise of the important Icarda seed bank, an organization that researches and works to preserve agriculture in countries across the non-tropical dry areas. Eventually, this seed bank was moved to Morocco and Lebanon, after being replenished from various seed banks worldwide where Icarda collections were preserved.

Plant epidemics, too, are a serious danger in the era of monoculture unvaried planting. The great famine in 19th-century Ireland damaged most of the Irish potatoes, already scarce species, causing massive starvation. Then there is the Panama Disease that damaged banana roots, nearly eliminating the banana industry after the major specie was badly injured. And today, wheat is being threatened by a violent strain of Puccinia.

Lastly, the climate changes hovering up the road will be accompanied by high temperatures, low precipitation and new species of pests. In order to confront these changes, plants will need to acclimate, develop tolerability and an ability to withstand ever more difficult conditions. The solution to these epidemics and climate changes lies in genetic research dedicated to locating the resilient characteristics (to those diseases), and thus attain the ability to create hybrids of new, vigorous species. And for that we need… you guessed it, genetic variety that exists in traditional and wild plants.

In order to create a new species, the developers choose wild and traditional species with adaptive, resilient characteristics, and create new species from them. This type of development can take between seven to 10 years. We wish them good luck and anxiously await the final product!

Wishing you a week of continuing light, and a 2020 full of great surprises, variety and abundance, respect for the past and hope for the future!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Orin, Yochai and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/totsoi/kale, kohlrabi/fennel, fresh onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower, carrots, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce, daikon/baby radishes. Small boxes only: peas/Jerusalem artichoke. Special gift for all: mizuna/ arugula

Large box, in addition: Celery/celeriac, beets, scallions/New Zealand spinach, turnips.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, oranges, pomelit, avocadoes.

Wednesday: Swiss chard/totsoi/kale, kohlrabi/fennel, fresh onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower, carrots, parsley/dill, lettuce, peas/Jerusalem artichoke, celery/celeriac. Special gift for all: mizuna/ arugula

Large box, in addition: Beets, scallions/New Zealand spinach, daikon/baby radishes/turnips.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas/avocados, oranges, pomelit/clemantinot, granny smith apples.