December 9th-11th 2019 –  A Tale of a Carrot

Last month we took advantage of the rain’s tardiness and hosted several groups of children who were happy to take a tour of the field, try to guess what vegetable is hiding between the leaves and enjoy the experience of picking cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, kohlrabi and other veggies. And always, in every single tour, there was one charmingly youthful relentless question: “What about the carrots? Do we get to pick some carrots?”

Carrots are usually the highlight of our field tours. Something about yanking the pointed root out of the earth is akin to the discovery of a treasure. And extracting a carrot is not an easy task. It doesn’t hop out eagerly like the beet or turnip, so we must stake out the earth with a pitchfork (another exciting attraction of the life of a farmer!) and then proceed to move the root around while still underground, holding tight to the bundle of leaves adorning its head. Only then will the protracted fella come out in one piece. Now we can be impressed by it majestic features, and the children’s shining eyes prove that despite technology overtaking their cushioned daily lives, the magic of a single carrot can be something tremendously exciting.

So this week we’ll give the full honor due by dedicating this newsletter to His Majesty, The Carrot.

In a ponderous 1904 letter to his beloved wife Olga, Anton Checkhov writes, “You ask, ‘what is life’? That is the same as asking, ‘What is a carrot?’ A carrot is a carrot and we know nothing more.”  Over a century later, we can no longer say that “a carrot is a carrot and we know nothing more.” Countless research studies have been conducted to examine this basic veggie, so common and beloved, generating a wealth of information on the carrot’s healthy components and its ability to maintain our health and to spur healing.

But Chekhov did articulate a hint of the mystery lying in the root. What meets the eye as we stroll by the carrot bed is only its bad-hair-day and the edge of its scalp. But when we tug it out of the soil – voila! Orange happiness retrieved from the dark underworld…

Winter is its season. The carrot does not appreciate warm weather, but adores the cold. It can even grow under a blanket of snow. Now that the weather has cooled off at last, the carrot has finally become a frequent guest in our field and your boxes. We seed several carrot beds every few weeks, and after several months pull out bed after bed of juicy orange corkscrew roots, week after week.

The carrot (Daucus carota) belongs to the Umbelliferae family, home to such vegetables and spices as celery, parsley, fennel, dill and cilantro. Various wild carrot species have grown in many areas in the world, specifically in five continents: the Mediterranean, South Asia, Africa, Australia and America. The origin of certain domesticated species is probably Afghanistan and Turkey. The Arabs introduced the carrot to Spain, where it spread to Europe. Its first domesticated varieties came in a range of colors: red, purple and yellow-green. Later, yellow and white carrots were developed. In the 18th century, the Dutch grew orange carrots, which are today’s most common variety. In Israel, the carrot has been raised from the beginning of the Jewish settlement. The Arabs used to grow dark purple carrots, which can still be found today to a small extent, mostly for aesthetic use.

The wild carrot is known in English as “Queen Anne’s lace,” a name which originated in a fairy tale about how the wild carrot’s flower got its distinctive look: a sort of white lace embroidery, with a dark red-purple dot at its center. Legend has it that Queen Anne (wife of King James I), who reigned as Denmark’s queen in the 16th and 17th centuries, was an expert at lace tatting. One day she pricked her finger in the process, and a drop of blood rolled onto the center to create this special flower. Although the tale only appeared in writing some 200 years after Anne’s death, it could be associated with the 17th century custom for ladies to smartly adorn their hats with wild carrot flowers.

Queen Anne’s Lace

Carrots are usually biennial. At the end of their first year of growth, they develop leaves and a root. When the root is well-developed and the plant has received its necessary dose of cold weather, the next season leads to the development of a stem which grows rather tall. As the stem branches out, it produces peripheral branches which end in an inflorescence resembling an umbrella. The seeds remain in the dry fruit, one seed per fruit. They contain ethereal oil which provides their unique scent. When a carrot is grown for food, we are interested in its taproot, which is why it should be picked before reaching flowering and seeding – for by then the root is too old and becomes grainy.

The root develops in three stages, beginning right after sprouting when a long skewer-like root grows. At the second stage, the root thickens and becomes longer, gaining its orange color. At the third stage, the downward growth stops and the root only thickens.

The root consists of a central stele, the endodermis and the cortex. The endodermis is surrounded by tissue, which creates the inner cortex and the outer phloem. This tissue is rich in color substance and sugars. A carrot’s quality is determined by the thin texture of its central stele in comparison to the cortex tissues. In difficult growing conditions, or as the plant ages, the central stele becomes wood-like and the carrot is no longer fit for human consumption.

carrot cut

The carrot from in and out: the endodermis, the cortex and the phloem.

The carrots in your boxes were seeded three-and-a-half to four months ago. Never one to rush, the carrot sprouted slowly: first its two long ears, the cotyledons, peeked out of the earth. Afterwards the plant actually grew “real leaves,” the type we can identify as carrot greens, a true bunny gourmet treat.

carrots sprouting
The Cotyledons, first sprouts
carrot-sprouts1
First real leaves

The carrot needs a lot of space to breathe and grow, in both length and depth and preferably from all four directions. But its seeds are tiny and hard to seed accurately and well-spaced. Thus, as soon as they begin to grow, we start thinning the plants and pluck out lots of tiny carrot sprouts to allow the remainder to grow nice, bountiful roots. Last week, as I was thinning out the carrot beds in my little Noga’s kindergarten vegetable plot, I found out that children enjoy being bunnies, too, as they happily consumed the tiny carrot plants we tugged out of the earth.

carrot thinning

The orange of the carrot is known for its medicinal qualities: research highly acclaims it as a cancer and heart disease fighter. Carrots maintain healthy eyes, fortify the immune system, protect your skin, and generally boost human growth and vitality. Its healing powers come from the yellow-orange caratanoid pigment group: the alpha carotene, beta carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. 

Beta carotene, the most researched and popular pigment in the carrot, belongs to the carotenoid group, which becomes Vitamin A when consumed. For this reason they’re termed “pro-vitamin.” Vitamin A, aka “retinol” due to its benefits to the retina, plays a crucial role in healthy vision.  A Vitamin A deficiency can impair the function of the photo-pigments in the retina and cornea, causing blindness or night blindness. Vitamin A promotes skin health and epithelial cell growth, and in pregnancy contributes richly to proper fetal development. Current research indicates that Vitamin A is critical to the process of learning and memory, probably by enriching the area of the brain responsible for memory function.

Vitamin A keeps the immune system working, whereas a deficiency can increase the risk of acquiring viral infections. In infectious diseases, a Vitamin A deficiency can aggravate the disease and increase the mortality risk. In Chinese medicine, carrots are known to strengthen the spleen and blood in anemia. Medical research supports this as well, recognizing that Vitamin A is beneficial in absorbing iron and relieving the symptoms of anemia.

Proper Vitamin A consumption has been linked to reducing the threat of many types of cancer, including eye, breast, large intestine, prostate, skin and liver.

Carrots also contain falcarinol, a natural pesticide which the carrot probably develops against harmful fungi by delaying the creation of material which encourages fungus growth. In a like manner, falcarinol hinders the creation of components which foster the growth of cancerous tumors, thus delaying their development.

Carrots are also rich in excellent “traditional” nutrition components: potassium and such B vitamins as folic acid, vitamins C, K, E and dietary fibers. In short, it is full of great stuff. Give the carrot a place of honor in your menu!

Beyond the orange beta carotene, carrots come in rainbow colors. How beautiful are these?

Overdosing on carrots may cause carotenemia – a temporary yellowing of the skin, caused by excessive consumption of beta carotene from fresh carrots. This is not dangerous, only a little strange-looking, and it disappears several weeks after going cold turkey on beta carotene.

Carrot Tips

– If you receive carrots in a bunch, complete with greens, the best way to store them is by removing the greens. Otherwise they will draw water from the root and cause it to shrivel.

– Carrots should be stored in the coldest place in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag or in the vegetable drawer.

– The carrot is best unpeeled. You can lightly scrape the peeling, or not at all. The peeling is tasty and nutritious.

– Like the tomato, a cooked carrot is more nutritious and healthier than a raw carrot. The level of vitamin A rises as the cooking – and even a light scraping – breaks down the cell walls. It is best to cook carrots in a small amount of water, so the vitamins are not diffused in the cooking liquid.

Check out our recipe section for nice diverse ideas for carrot cuisine.

* Adding a small amount of oil to the cooking liquid will increase the absorption of antioxidants.

– It is recommended to combine carrots with foods containing vitamin E, such as peanuts, pumpkin, leafy vegetables and whole grains.

When you purchase carrots in the supermarket, they are already meticulously sorted out with only the right sizes and shape surviving the selection and placed on the shelves. (The rest usually become “baby” carrots…) But in the field, the carrots grow in various shapes, revealing the playfulness and grace of the charming carrot that loves to dance, hug, hang out and make funny faces. Here are some vivid examples:

Wishing you a great orange week – in health, happiness and good living!

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/kale, kohlrabi/turnips, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, daikon/baby radishes, carrots, parsley/dill, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, beets/fennel. Small boxes only: scallions/onions

Large box, in addition: Celery/celeriac, New Zealand spinach/totsoi, broccoli/ Jerusalem artichokes/Lubia Thai yard-long beans, cabbage/eggplant/green bell peppers.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, red apples, pomelit, oranges, clementinas.

Wednesday: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach, sweet potatoes, scallions/fresh onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli/eggplant/green bell peppers/cabbage, carrots, parsley/dill, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, daikon/baby radishes, kohlrabi/turnips.

Large box, in addition: Kale/totsoi, beets/fennel, Lubia Thai yard-long beans/Jerusalem artichokes/peas.

FRUIT BOXES: Red apples, bananas/avocados, oranges, pomelit, clementinas.

December 2nd-4th 2019 – Here comes the rain again

The Breaking of the Drought

Listen! ­—it rains; it rains!
The prayer of the grass is heard;
The thirsty ground drinks eagerly
As a famished man eats bread.
The moan of the trees is hushed,
And the violets under the banks
Lift up their heads so gratefully,
And smilingly give thanks.

-Frederick J. Atwood

On Monday morning we were greeted by fields washed with rain, saturated earth breathing a sigh of relief, and invigorated plants, dotted with raindrops. What a thrill! Three hours of calm rain fell across our fields by night, and 9 millimeters of water accumulated in our water gauge. Very impressive and incredibly encouraging. Naturally we need more rain, and await the arrival of the next round, God willing, over this week, in just a few days. Meanwhile, we’re basking in the beauty of our wet vegetables and the clear, crisp air.

Come enjoy along with us:

And with the blessing of the rain – also a Mazal tov blessing to our English translators – grandma Melanie and auntie Aliza, for the birth of a new granddaughter and niece!  May she be blessed with happiness and healthy growth!

And may we be blessed with a nice wintery week, with more rain to fall, as we breathe deeply of the fresh, clear air. Shavua tov!

Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror, Orin, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team, waiting anxiously to wallow in mud

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach/totsoi, beets/eggplant, sweet potatoes, scallions/celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli/ cauliflower/cabbage, carrots, parsley/dill, lettuce/arugula/mizuna. Small boxes only: Lubia Thai yard-long beans/okra/Jerusalem artichokes.

Large box, in addition: Fennel/turnips, daikon/baby radishes, kohlrabi, red/green bell peppers.

FRUIT BOXES: Red apples, bananas/avocados, oranges/ red pomelit, clementinas.

Wednesday: Fennel/kohlrabi, turnips/daikon/baby radishes, Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach/totsoi, beets, scallions/celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, lubia Thai yard-long beans/okra/Jerusalem artichokes/eggplant.

Large box, in addition: Sweet potatoes, broccoli/cauliflower/cabbage, red/green bell peppers.

FRUIT BOXES: Red apples, bananas/avocados, oranges, clementinas.

November 25th-27th 2019 – Magic spells in the field

Sometimes, when our expectation for rain combines with the anxiety of the rain’s failure to arrive, resulting (yet once again) in a make-believe winter, I get the urge to turn to witchcraft. I’d love to have a book of incantations with instructions for concocting a brew from thirsty clods of earth, dried up-snails, a few strands of tresses turned white from worry, and summer vegetables (who have no urge to return their gear to the quartermaster and head off into the sunset). After mumbling some mumbo jumbo, abracadabra – the heavens would open up and shower us with a luscious, rainy, cold and satiating winter. Or not……

So even though this week’s forecast is looking rather glum and the temperatures are way too high for the month of November, we cling to our hopes and prayers for a blessed, rainy winter. Joining us in our hope and anticipation are the winter vegetables, including the very prominent Cruciferae/mustard family. One branch in its family tree is the lovely Brassicaceae kin, including broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower and cabbage who have already visited your boxes, as well as their close cousins, the very strong roots growing underground. If any vegetables can make magic happen, it’s them! So, in honor of the return of the Brassicaceae family’s radish roots, I am re-posting a well-rooted bewitched and super mustardy newsletter. Cackle, cackle…

Radish, Turnip, Eye of Newt………

In a popular Hebrew book that my daughters love about five witches (by Ronit Chacham), radishes and turnips are major ingredients in the brew concocted for a spell cooked up by five very amusing witches. As it turns out, not only witches crave these vegetables.  Among us mortals and muggles, the turnip and radish (along with baby radishes and daikon) can be just as vital in a potion to ease the common cold, cough, mucous buildup, hoarseness, infections and other winter ills. Winter is the season in which the members of the Brassicaceae/Cruciferae families thrive. They are cousins, not siblings, since the radishes belong to the Raphanus genus and the turnips to the Brassica genus, but today we will sandwich them all together (or stir them in the same cauldron) and discuss their common characteristics.

So we already know that they all belong to the prominent Brassicaceae family, along with such fellow members as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kohlrabi, kale, mustard greens, tatsoi, mizuna, arugula and others. Its former name was Cruciferae, (from the word “cross”) after the four-petal flowers resembling a crucifix. Here are some examples:

 

Wild Mustard

Erucaria

Maltese Cross Ricotia

Wild Radish

The Brassicaceaes are a venerable winter family, and we eat various parts of their plants: sometimes the flower buds (broccoli, cauliflower), sometimes the stem (the thick part, as in kohlrabi) or the leaves (mustard, cabbage, tatsoi, arugula and others) and also the roots, to whom this newsletter is dedicated today: the radish, baby radish, daikon and turnip.

Truth be told, this is a populist division. The good parts of the turnip, daikon and radish are not only found underground – a number of parts of these vegetables can be eaten. For instance, turnip greens are very tasty, and some turnip varieties are grown specifically for their leaves, not roots. Leaves of the large radish are bitter and coarse, but the greens of baby radishes have an esteemed place in the culinary arts. The French add baby radish leaves to potato soup and to add a hint of pungency to salads made of steamed spinach.

Other varieties of radishes and turnips were developed in order to make oil from their seeds. These oils were used in the past, and Maimonides mentions them in discussing oils permitted for Sabbath candle lighting (see Mishnah Torah, Shabbat, 5;11). They love the cool winter climate, which slows down their breathing and expands the quantity of carbohydrates, a process which improves flavor. Unstable conditions will produce woody roots and a sharp flavor, and they will turn bitter in warm or dry weather (which is why we make sure to water them in weather conditions such as the present). This is also why they are winter symbols in Israel – the plants develop thickened roots and fancy leaf inflorescence on their crowns.

And now, some words on each of these vegetables:

The turnip is an ancient domesticated crop that was possibly grown in gardens of old in China, Greece, Rome, Egypt and also here. In kitchens throughout, it was a basic, common vegetable. Assaf the Physician (Assaf Harofe Ben Brakhiyahu who lived in 6th century Tiberias) praised the leaves and seeds of the turnip: “The leaves will be useful for all mental distresses and for malaria, while its seeds will be useful in treatment of pain and all sorts of ailments that lead to death.” However, even the juice produced from the root itself is known in folk medicine as beneficial in treating coughs, hoarseness, mucous buildup, and dryness of the nose and mouth. In natural medicine, turnip juice is used to treat malaise as well as kidney stones. In order to produce juice, one must press the root. Half a kilo of roots makes one glass of juice. Half a kilo of squeezed leaves will make half a glass of juice.

At Chubeza, over the past few years we have been growing the familiar type of turnip, with a purplish stain on top, in addition to a special type – a white, round and very sweet turnip. Even confirmed turnip haters have got to try this one!

The radish, too, is ancient and prevalent like the turnip. It is considered to be an appetite stimulant and to assist digestion. Take advantage of its refreshing flavor by serving a fresh radish salad between meal courses to cleanse your palates and prepare for the upcoming flavor. The radish’s medicinal virtues are similar to those of its cousin the turnip, beneficial in treating both respiratory and kidney ailments. In addition, turnips are friendly to pregnant women, known to intensify fetal movement (and not as fattening as chocolate) as well as decreasing gas. Soak swollen feet in a radish bath and feel the relief!

There are many varieties of radishes, differing in size, shape, color, and degree of pungency. At Chubeza, we grow radishes and daikons – the long, white Japanese radish. Take a look at several radish beauties:

small colorful radishes

Black radish

Daikon radish

Red radish

Instructions for Storing:

  • Radishes and turnips are roots, i.e., their function is to absorb food and water from the earth in order to supply them to the plant as needed. When picked, we disconnect the plant from its current supply, and the roots hurry to transform the material they accumulated to the plant’s leaves in order for them to continue to grow. The root itself will eventually become depleted. Therefore, when you receive a radish, turnip, or daikon (and the same goes for beets and carrots) with leaves attached, you must snip the leaves in order to preserve the root’s contents, to keep it fresh and firm for as long as possible.
  • It’s best to store root vegetables in a closed container to isolate them from the processes in the fridge and the materials secreted from other vegetables and food.

Radishes and turnips are great served fresh in a salad or sandwich, but don’t forget to use them in cooking as well. Yes, baby and regular radishes – as well as daikon – can be baked and stir-

fried. In our home, daikon season hails the commencement of Miso Soup season!

Go ahead then: relish the radishes and turn up for turnips. They will add some freshness to this sultry November and warm your hearts.

Awaiting the rain, which may hopefully arrive at the end of this week. Keep your fingers crossed, like this Daikon fella from our field…

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach/totsoi, beets/kohlrabi, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli/cabbage, carrots, parsley/dill, lettuce/arugula, fennel/daikon/baby radishes. Small boxes only: scallions.

Large box, in addition: Lubia Thai yard-long beans/Jerusalem artichoke/okra, celery, eggplant/red bell peppers, cauliflower.

FRUIT BOXES: Avocados, oranges, pomelit, clementinas, bananas

Wednesday: Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach/totsoi, beets, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli/cauliflower, carrots, parsley/dill, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, fennel/daikon/baby radishes, scallions/celery.

Large box, in addition: Lubia Thai yard-long beans/Jerusalem artichoke/okra,  eggplant, cabbage/red bell peppers/kohlrabi.

FRUIT BOXES: Avocados, oranges, pomelit, clementinas, bananas/apples.

 

November 18th-20th 2019 – Craving rain

TO YOUR HEALTH!

Rose of “Shoreshei Tzion” sends you this easy recipe for pure and tasty Almond Milk using Shoreshei Tzion’s outstanding Almond Butter.

Most of the packaged almond drinks on the market are essentially filled with rice milk, sunflower oil, sugars and other low-cost fillings. The healthiest and purest almond drink is the one you prepare at home!
Try this wonderful 2-minute, super easy recipe today:

Ingredients:
4 T. almond butter (Shoreshei Tzion’s Almond Butter is 100% sprouted and cold-pressed)
3 cups water
2 – 4 seeded dates (optional)

Preparation:
Pour the water into a blender, add the almond butter and dates. Mix until smooth, making certain that the dates are well blended.
Pour the Almond Milk into an insulated container and keep refrigerated for up to four days.
Delicious with grains, granola, chia pudding and/or cashew butter.
This recipe is ideal for use with Shoreshei Tzion’s other spreads, including Hazelnut Butter of Cashew Butter.
For a sweeter, more chocolaty drink, try Shoreshei Tzion’s Hazelnut Chocolate Butter.


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It’s not over till the old man is snoring

The Rain

Pitter-patter, raindrops,
Falling from the sky;
Here is my umbrella
To keep me safe and dry!
When the rain is over,
And the sun begins to glow,
Little flowers start to bud,
And grow and grow and grow!

– Anon

If there was anything we wished to shout out to the strong winds of this past week, it’s Raindrops, please come pitter-patter on our umbrella! Now!!!

Aside from warmer-than-usual temperatures (which have thankfully dropped a bit this week) and a critical shortage of moisture from the skies, the past few weeks have flown by – literally. Everything flew: the plastic crates piled high near the packing house, the crates that collect our harvested veggies, the empty cartons you returned to us. The shade nets still protecting several vegetable beds and the plastic covers over the growth houses sway noisily in the strong gusts, and anything we put down on the ground immediately fills up with dust and sand.  There were moments last week when we felt that the air was so thick that we’d have to physically force it open to walk through.

Aside from the discomfort, these winds are also drying up our greens, most of which are already winter vegetables which desperately need moisture and are painfully grappling with the dryness. Every ounce of morning dew dries up in just moments due to the winds. We open the irrigation system to water those plants who need to grow even if the weather is not cooperating, and pine away for a change of winds (literally!) and the blessing of rain, which unfortunately is nowhere on the horizon of the current forecasts. So far, we have had 18 mm of precipitation, not enough for autumn in the field. W we desperately need hydration. We can only dream of watching little flowers starting to bud “and grow and grow and grow.”

But since we plant by calendar, our fields are switching from summer to winter, with only a few summer crops still waiting to be picked. The eggplants, peppers and lubia black-eyed peas are producing their final yields, the okra is nearly gone, as are the cherry tomatoes whose quantity lessens by the day. The pumpkins from which you receive slices were gathered at the end of summer into our cute little pumpkin shed at the end of the field. Each week we grab another group of them and share slices with you, as the pile dwindles away. Sweet potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes, both of which we began harvesting at the end of the month, have hit the season half-way mark and will join the boxes in month or two, after which they too will bid us farewell for now.

On the other end of the field, the winter veggies are celebrating as they take over the surface in the form of cabbages and broccoli in various states of growth – from baby plants to mature ones that will crown with their beautiful buds or head of tight curls for you to nibble on. Fennel and kohlrabi, celery and scallion – themselves thin and gentle (picture the wild wind blowing a bed of such wispy, delicate plants) while a small distance away their older brothers are thickening and fattening up, rounding and accumulating the crunchiness indicating they are ready to be picked. Meanwhile, six feet under, the various summer root vegetables lie in waiting: carrot and beets, celery root, parsley roots, turnips and radishes. At least they are somewhat protected within the soil as they shoot out their green tendrils to face the winds.

The winds are supposed to die down a tad over the next few days, and hopefully the ensuing silence will allow our cry to echo loud and clear: Raindrops, please come! NOW, ALREADY!!

Although we’ve lacked being showered us with actual rain, unfortunately last week we were “showered” by unheavenly cascades when sirens wailed in the Ayalon Valley preceeded by actual hits. We pray and long for quiet to return, and for only raindrops to descend upon us from the skies.  Wishing everyone a calm, relaxed weekend,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Beets, sweet potatoes/pumpkin, eggplant/red bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower/broccoli/cabbage, carrots, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce/mizuna, scallions/celery, fennel/kohlrabi. Special gift: Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach.

Large box, in addition: Lubia Thai yard-long beans/Iraqi lubia/Jerusalem artichoke, totsoi/arugula, baby radishes/daikon/turnips.

FRUIT BOXES: Pomegranates, apples, clementinas, oranges.

Wednesday: Beets, eggplant/red bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower/broccoli/cabbage, carrots, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce/arugula, scallions/celery, fennel/daikon/turnips. Small boxes only: Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach.

Large box, in addition: Lubia Thai yard-long beans/Iraqi lubia/Jerusalem artichoke, sweet potatoes/pumpkin, totsoi/mizuna, baby radishes/kohlrabi.

FRUIT BOXES: Pomegranates/avocado, apples, clementinas/banana, pomelit, oranges.

November 11th-13th 2019 – Once upon a long time span…

All in the Family

This week we greet with gusto the amazing Broccoli, the last representative of the prominent Brasiccae family (“kings of winter”) to join your vegetable boxes this season. This diverse family runs the gamut of preferences and developments in plants: leaves, flower buds, and thickened stems. They all need fertile and fertilized earth, and in return they provide us with a heaping portion of health, nutrition and flavor. Not to mention beauty: take the cauliflower for example, with it shining white crown, or a purple or green rain-dotted head of cabbage, or Brussel sprouts which seem to be crawling up the stem to reach the top. This stunning pluralistic diversity is heartwarming – look at this family accepting each and every variation and tendency, manner of development, characteristic colors and precise flavor.

Granted, this branched-out developing took some time, during which each member of the family found the right rhythm to beat to. This happened mainly thanks to the curiosity and self-confidence of loyal farmers, during times when everything was much slower and patience was abundant (what other choice did they have?). Changes and developments were achieved by hard work and sweat of the brow, which perhaps led to a fuller, more significant satisfaction with the positive results.

Today’s pace of change and discovery is much swifter than it once was, but even in the distant, primitive past, farmers constantly refined their crops. Actually, many of the most amazing changes in species development came not as a result of structured research, but rather out of the simple act of a farmer choosing and collecting seeds from the plants s/he favored over seeds from less-desired plants. This straightforward action of promoting one plant over another had a profound effect on the improvement and change of a specific harvest or species. Long before wo/man understood the genetics of plants, their actions brought about small, slow variations in the crops, which compounded over time until they generated visible results.

The Brassicaceae family (or “cabbage family”) is a perfect example. All family members derive from one wild plant, the brassica oleracea, which originated in the Mediterranean area and resembles the canola in appearance. At some point after the plant was cultivated, people began growing it for its leaves. Since they consumed the leaves, it made sense to choose the plants that produced the largest leaves. As a result, those leaves became bigger and bigger, eventually creating the plant we now know as kale or collard. Kale’s botanical name is var. acephala, translating to “a headless cabbage.”

Others preferred plants that produced small, denser and more delicate leaves in the center of the plant at the head of the stem, hence advancing plants with those characteristics. Over the seasons, the process of compacting became more and more prominent in those plants, as they yielded a heap of dense, closed leaves on their heads. Over the years, it grew and evolved into a real “head of leaves” which we call cabbage, whose actual title is var. capitata, meaning “a cabbage with a head.”

Around the same time in today’s Germany, farmers preferred short, thick-stemmed kale. They ate the actual stem, and gradually, by choosing plants with a tendency for thick stems, the former cabbage began to alter its greatly-thickened stem. This turned into kohlrabi, which earned the name var. caulorapa, meaning “a stem turnip.”

Over the past thousand years, wo/man also developed a passion for the undeveloped flower buds of the cabbage and chose the plants that produced large-bloom heads. This is how we got cauliflower and broccoli, both different variations of an undeveloped cabbage plant. Cauliflower is var. botrytis, meaning “cluster,” for its resemblance to a cluster of grapes. Broccoli, which was developed in Italy, earned the title var. italica

And, as for the last member of this extended family: we each have our own individual taste, and apparently there were those (most probably the Belgians) who preferred plants that developed an assemblage of dense leaves along the stems. They chose and re-chose plants that produced this sort of leaf shape, and thus brought the world Brussels sprouts, titled var. germmifera “the cabbage with gems.”

In summary, this long, winding familial tale demonstrates that without a systematic education in genetics or plant propagation, but via a simple process of seed selection and a lot of patience, more than six distinctive vegetables have developed over the past 7000 years. Small, everyday miracles. They happen in the best of families.

May this week bring wonder, diversity, determination and faith that despite this very strange November weather we will soon be blessed with abundant rains.

Wishing the entire diverse family of Israel and it’s neighbors peaceful times,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES, ALONG WITH THE CABBAGE FAMILY?

Monday: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach/kale/tatsoi, Lubia Thai yard-long beans/Iraqi lubia/Jerusalem artichoke, sweet potatoes, eggplant/red bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower/broccoli, carrots, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce/mizuna/arugula. Small boxes only: Baby radishes/daikon.

Large box, in addition: Cabbage/beets, scallions/celery, fennel/turnips, pumpkin/okra.

FRUIT BOXES: Avocados, bananas, oranges/clementina, pomelit, kiwi.

Wednesday: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach/kale/tatsoi, Lubia Thai yard-long beans/Iraqi lubia/Jerusalem artichoke/okra, sweet potatoes, eggplant/red bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower/broccoli, carrots, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce/mizuna/arugula. Small boxes only: Baby radishes/daikon/turnips.

Large box, in addition: Cabbage/beets, scallions/celery, fennel/kohlrabi, slice of pumpkin.

FRUIT BOXES: Avocados, bananas/apples, clementina, kiwi.