January 18th-20th 2021 – The Green Hulk

Two B’shvat Sale at Mipri Yadeha Natural Fruit Rolls

To celebrate the festival of nature next week and to cheer the lockdown with nature’s special sweetness, Melissa of Mipri Yadeha is offering a Two B’Shvat special: 1+2 for fruit leather or her amazing handmade dry fruits.

*limited to two per client, supply allowing.

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Izza Pziza Dairy is back in business!

Happily, the Izza Pziza dairy owners have informed us that the whelping season is going well and healthily, and production of their incredible dairy products is gradually resuming. From this week, you’re welcome to add to your vegetable boxes milk, natural yogurt, Ariel cheese (Labane), Dror cheese (Feta), as well as Dulce de leche.

Additional products will be added gradually as milk production grows.

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This past weekend brought the much-anticipated rains. They came down gradually – sparsely on Wednesday night, with a fancier performance on Thursday night. Following a short respite over the weekend, the showers came in all their glory at the beginning of the week quenching our field’s thirst with more and more water. For us it’s perfect timing – the spring weather over the past three weeks allowed Gabi to continuously plow with his tractor, preparing the soil for the end- of-winter plantings. On Thursday, we were still able to work the land and   even able to seed our spring potatoes (“spring” for the season they will be ready), just before the major downpours.

And as winter has finally arrived, not merely on the calendar, we will clear the stage for an actual wintery vegetable that absolutely LOVES rain, gray skies and most of all – cold weather:

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Eat Your Broccoli…

The Battle of the Broccoli fought between mother and child has been here from time immemorial. But it’s always interesting to note that fathers, too, have paid some attention to their children’s eating habits, even in days of old. Rumor actually has it that Drusus, son of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, loved broccoli so much that he ate broccoli and only broccoli for over a month. After his urine turned green and his father scolded him, Drusus was forced to take a sad leave of absence from his favorite veggie.

Romans have always been the most loyal and ancient broccoli consumers.  The vegetable’s name is derived from the Latin brachium, meaning branch or arm, which aptly describes the way broccoli flower heads branch out. Broccoli has resided in Italy from the 8th century BC, i.e. almost 3,000 years, but it actually originated in Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea region. The Etruski (an ancient nation that hailed from Asia Minor and settled in Italy) farmers in Asia Minor raised crops from the Brassica family. We have no written history about them, which is why their culture and faith remain somewhat of a mystery to this day, save for several facts like their love for the Brassica family… The Etruskis bequeathed this affinity to all the nations in the region with whom they conducted commerce: the Greeks, Phoenicians, Sicilians, Corsicans, Sardinians, and of course the Romans, who immediately fell in love with broccoli and continued to develop its family.

In Roman cuisine, broccoli was a desirable gourmet platter, otherwise known as “the five green fingers of Jupiter.” However, the early broccoli varieties were leaner, forming less of a “head.” They were also purple and turned green in cooking. Over time, the Calabrese specie was developed, sporting a larger flower head, and remaining popular and widely grown to this day.

On the European continent, broccoli proliferation took more time. Only in the 16th century did broccoli stamp its passport at the French border upon entering with the prestigious entourage of Katherina De-Medici who emigrated to France to marry His Royal Highness Henry II. Turns out the French were not impressed with the green immigrant: the esteemed chefs must have turned up their noses, exclaiming (read with a pronounced French accent): “Shame on him, that Levantine greenhorn! No class whatsoever! All those green curls out of control! Mon Dieu!!”

Broccoli is in fact a plant that arrives at the beginning of its blossom, and we essentially eat the young flower buds. If you leave the broccoli growing peacefully in the field rather than harvesting it, it’ll actually bloom. His head will spread open, and yellow and white florets will bloom from the dense green buds we eat. The flavor of these florets is sweet and spicy, but the stalks are fibrous and hardly suitable for cooking and eating. Here’s an example of a broccoli that passed its prime and is about to blossom (thank you, Chana, for all these beautiful photos):

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Not all broccoli flower heads are suitable for eating. Here in the Middle East, it’s not common to eat broccoli leaves, but overseas in Italy or the Far East, for example, there are broccoli species grown for their greens, like Rapini broccoli or Chinese broccoli. Usually they are species which do not grow a dense scalp like the broccoli flower head we know, but rather bloom immediately, a gentle bloom, and their greens are harvested when they are young and tender. They are very popular additions to pasta or stir-fries. The mature broccoli greens are used in a similar way to kale. Their nutritional value is quite high, and they are rich in vitamins (A, B-complex, C) and minerals (iron and calcium). This week, indeed, some Chubeza boxes will contain broccoli greens as an alternative to kale, Swiss chard or spinach.

Meanwhile, back to our initial question: is it really so important to eat your broccoli? Once again, Mom (and maybe Dad) is right. Big time. Broccoli is rich in Vitamin A, i.e. beta carotene, evident in its strong green color, as well as folic acid, calcium (a cup of cooked broccoli is equivalent to the calcium value of half a cup of milk) iron (10% of your daily recommended consumption) absorbed in the body with the help of Vitamin C (one cup of broccoli equals one orange, Vitamin C-wise!).  In addition, broccoli contains Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, magnesium, zinc and potassium.

But aside from its nutritional value, broccoli is gaining recognition for its important contributions to good health. For one, broccoli lowers cholesterol levels in the blood. Broccoli (as well as onion, carrot and cabbage) contains pectin fiber which binds to acids in the body, thus depositing more cholesterol in the liver and allowing less to be released into the bloodstream. Research has found that its effectiveness is equivalent to certain cholesterol-lowering medications. Broccoli is also rich in the mineral chromium which improves the function of insulin in adults who have a tendency towards type 1.5 diabetes.

And there’s more! It is common knowledge that certain members of the Cruciferae family, those responsible for the bitter flavor section of the family, are warriors in the cancer prevention battle. Recent research indicates that when chewing the plant, the Glucosinolates break down to important phytochemicals. Two have been particularly well researched: Indole and Sulforaphane. Both these compounds, which surface upon slicing, chewing or tearing apart the vegetable, have been found to delay the growth of cancerous stem cells. Their course of action is similar to other anti-cancerous components that are used clinically, by actively disturbing cell redistribution. Sulforaphane and Indole are even more prominent in broccoli sprouts. (While we’re on that subject, you can order broccoli sprouts and other excellent sprouts from Udi at Achituv via our order system).

The bitter (and spicy) characteristic of the broccoli and its relatives is also a result of the Glucosinolates, and more accurately – the mustard oil within it. These vegetables most probably developed this feature as a form of self-defense: when a harmful creature or insect attempts to assault the vegetable plant by chewing, cutting or injuring it, one taste of the sharp, piquant flavor is enough to send the aggressor fleeing. The bitter flavor can also send human beings fleeing, including many children who recoil in the face of broccoli (aside from Drusus, apparently). Fortunately, as we grow older, our taste buds develop the ability to deal with bitterness and even enjoy it (coffee, beer, broccoli…) Good thing, too, as broccoli and its family members are super vegetables that are tasty and healthy.

So as not to harm broccoli’s very valuable components, take care not to overcook. Though light cooking does have the advantage of making more broccoli segments edible, it’s best to consume your broccoli raw, steamed or very lightly cooked (3-5 minutes). Check our recipe section (in Hebrew) for excellent broccoli salads.

Hey, listen to your mother sometime.

Tips

  • Broccoli fares well in the fridge. Store it there in a plastic bag to protect its nutritional value, especially the Vitamin C. Another possibility, albeit less popular, is to immerse the broccoli stalk in deep ice water (like a bouquet of flowers), covering the inflorescence with a loose plastic bag, and change the water daily.
  • Do not wash the broccoli before you refrigerate. Moisture will damage it.
  • When you cook/steam/lightly sauté the whole broccoli, begin with the stalks. They are harder and need more cooking time. Add the florets and leaves later (broccoli leaves are delicious and definitely worth a taste!).
  • Go easy on the cooking so the broccoli remains solid and its flavor is stronger. Best to steam, not to cook.

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And finally, sending you a smile of admiration: Japanese artist Tanaka Tatsuya has a different way of looking at things. With imagination, creativity and humor, he creates charming lifelike scenes from daily objects, fruits and vegetables and tiny figurines. Just check out these photos. You’ll never look at broccoli quite the same way again…

Wishing you a nice, rainy week,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror and the whole Chubeza team

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WHAT’S JOINING THE BROCCOLI IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Kale/Swiss chard/spinach/totsoi, lettuce, Jerusalem artichokes/green fava beans, cauliflower/cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, kohlrabi/fennel/daikon, arugula/mizuna/parsley, broccoli, carrots, new onions/leeks.

Large box, in addition: Celery/celeriac/parsley root, turnips/beets, potatoes/snow peas or garden peas.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, red apples, avocados/kiwi, oranges/pomelit, clementinas.

Wednesday: Kale/Swiss chard/spinach/mizuna, lettuce, Jerusalem artichokes/broccoli, cauliflower/cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, kohlrabi/fennel, arugula/parsley, carrots, new onions/leeks, daikon/turnips/small radishes.

Large box, in addition: Celery/celeriac/parsley root, beets/potatoes, green fava beans/snow peas or garden peas.

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas/lemons, red apples, avocados/kiwi, oranges/pomelit, clementinas.

January 11th-13th 2021 – A flowery tale

Like many others, last week to we awoke to fog consumed mornings. The air was condensed with tiny moist water particles which blocked our vision beyond  just a few meters. Our last harvests during those mornings were cloaked in misty magic… We’re well-acquainted with springtime fogs where the air is warm, but now we see that in crazy winters like this one where the atmosphere is sunny, warm and springlike, fog can also pay a visit at the beginning of January.   Here’s a photo of the field last Wednesday morning. (photographed by Eyal)

We hope to be greeting some rain by the weekend. Rain, rain, come again some day!

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A green wicker basket
A flower that’s white
Red wine
A slice of bread with salt
That’s what we’ve got
Won’t you join us…

Naomi Shemer (translated noncommittedly by A. Raz-Melzer)

She’s been around for some time now, arriving regularly in your boxes in her characteristic modesty. She definitely deserves some words of her own. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce present:

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Her name indicates familial relations: the flower of cabbage (Caulis in Latin), and rightfully so. Apparently, cauliflower was developed from the wild cabbage during the Roman Empire somewhere in the Mediterranean Basin (Greece/Italy/Turkey–it is unclear exactly where). From there it traveled to European countries, the Middle East, India and China. When I say “developed,” I mean developed by human beings, almost like a modern agricultural start-up, only much, much slower. Some of the most incredible changes in the field of species development didn’t occur as part of a budgeted, constructed research, but rather due to the very simple act of collecting and saving seeds from the plants favored by the farmer and preferring them over seeds from lesser-loved plants. This simple act of propagating one plant and not another had a tremendous influence on the improvement and evolution of a given specie or crop.  Long before wo/man understood the genetics of plants, his/her actions generated slow, small changes in the cultivars that accumulated with time, yielding genuine results.

The cauliflower and broccoli owe their lives to the farmers (or perhaps the farmers’ wives and children who were growing bored with cabbage quiche) who developed a craving for the undeveloped flower buds of the cabbage. They chose the plants that produced large blossom heads, producing seeds from these plants which they then planted the next season. And this was how cauliflower and broccoli were born, both different variations of an embryonic florescence of cabbage. The proper name of the cauliflower is var. botrytis, meaning “cluster” – due to its resemblance to a cluster of grapes.(Broccoli, developed in Italy, received the title var. italica).

In the case of cauliflower, like broccoli, we actually eat the immature flower curd composed of densely-clustered flower buds and stalks that thickened and became meaty. As the cauliflower grows, this head is surrounded by a dense circle of leaves that close themselves and cover it, similar to cabbage. The inner leaves bend a bit inward, protecting the developing cauliflower and preventing sun-rays from penetrating, thus blocking the production of chlorophyll and retaining its white color. This is why when we farmers select a variety of cauliflower, we give preference to choosing one whose leaves close well over the inflorescence. Sometimes, when the farmer notices that the leaves are not doing their job, he or she walks through the field and ties the outward leaves with a rubber band so that they cover the cauliflower and protect it from the sun.

Unlike broccoli, which develops additional heads on its side after the main head is harvested, the cauliflower produces only one, in the center of the plant, and does not continue to yield after this single harvest. Usually the cauliflower is picked when it reaches its maximum size, still maintaining its density and solidity (or when we notice the leaves beginning to open, threatening cauliflower “sunburn”). If we leave it in the field, the inflorescence will begin opening and separating, preparing for the blossoming of tiny yellow flowers, like a great big bouquet.

When I wrote about the cauliflower several years ago, I received an email from Eitan of Tel Aviv: “I beg to differ over one thing. I have been raising cauliflowers for two years in a row. I did not pull out last year’s plants, and sure enough, they bloomed this year as well. In addition, the cauliflower produced many branches that yielded a nice crop of cauliflowers. I pick the heads but do not pull out the plant.”

Eitan’s words reminded me that I did indeed read about the cauliflower’s ability to yield two years in a row if it is not uprooted, but because I was not experienced with this (as farmers, it is not recommended to leave vegetables for the next year because this usually diminishes crop size), I asked Eitan for full details on the second-year cauliflowers. This was his response: “The cauliflower is smaller in the second year, but still tastes sweet. The advantage is that in the second year, a bunch of cauliflowers emerge. Branches extend from the bottom part of the plant, looking like cauliflower transplants from the nursery, and the inflorescence starts there. Since I have a small garden, the cauliflowers were watered over summer but did not bloom, although I covered them with a 50% shade net. In any case, there was no evident change in the cauliflower over the summer. I recommend that whoever has enough space should leave the cauliflower and broccoli to grow a second year. These plants are bi-annuals. By the way, the broccoli, too, remained from last year, and it continues to supply me with very handsome “baby broccolis.”

So for the farmers among you, try this at home (in your garden). Keep the cauliflowers growing a second year, protect them in summer from radiation and heat, and tell us how this works. Thank you, Eitan!

Like the rest of her Brassicaceaes family, the cauliflower consumes a great deal of nitrogen. For this reason, it’s important to grow cauliflowers in fertile soil, fortified with compost, and precede its planting with the growth of legumes or “green manure” that enrich the ground with nitrogen. Following a crop of cauliflower and other Brassicaceaes, we try to grow only cultivars that require less nitrogen and can deal well with the earth that must recover from the previous high level of nitrogen consumption. The gourd family (pumpkins) that grows in springtime and summertime, after the Brassicaceaes season, are a good example of a “crop rotation” after the Brassicaceaes.

Cauliflower grows in cool seasons. In Chubeza’s first years, we planted it at the end of wintertime/beginning of springtime (February- April), but after some experimenting, we realized the cauliflower is happiest in our field during wintertime. The autumn and winter cauliflowers yielded beautiful plants, whereas the February harvests had a hard time growing, became too hard, were attacked by insects, got blotched with stains and didn’t really thrive. On the other hand, we learned to bring up the first crop planting to August, and since then we have begun planting cauliflowers continuously from August to December. In August, we plant species that do well in the heat and from September we plant winter species.

As a member of the Cruciferae family, cauliflower is packed with cancer-fighting components (as are its relatives the green and purple cabbage, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, arugula, rashad, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, turnips, and radishes). The primary anti-cancer elements they contain are sulforaphane and an indole compound.

Interestingly, sulforaphane is produced in the vegetables only when they are cut or bitten into, i.e., when an animal consumes them. Sulforaphane is an efficient antioxidant, but it also raises the level of certain protective enzymes in the body which act as “policemen” that capture the cancer-causing elements and send them into the bloodstream to be washed out of the body. These enzymes are also excellent antioxidants, and unlike regular antioxidants, they are not consumed while they work.

The indole compound in cauliflower and its fellow Cruciferae family members protects against breast cancer by influencing the estrogen hormone, although in various forms this hormone can actually encourage the development of breast cancer. Yet, on the one hand the indole compound activates the production of less active estrogen, the kind that does not encourage breast cancer, while on the other hand it reduces the production of a more harmful estrogen type. In order to reduce the threat of cancer, it is recommended to consume at least 2-3 weekly servings of vegetables from the Cruciferae family.

In addition to the photochemicals it shares with its powerful family, the cauliflower contains other photochemicals such as phytosterols and glucaric acids that contribute to the reduction of cholesterol levels in the blood. Another cholesterol fighter comes from the dietary fibers so rich in the cauliflower, which aid digestion and prevent constipation as well as slowing down the absorption of sugar and cholesterol from food. Of course, we cannot forget the venerable Vitamin C! One hundred grams of cooked cauliflower contain half of the daily-recommended portion of vitamin C.

The Cruciferae family has another connection to cancer prevention, one that is unique because it once again indicates why nature is so much more complex than simplified classifications of “good” “bad” “useful” and “harmful.” A perfect example is one of the family’s most famous pests: the cabbage butterfly. The female butterfly lays her eggs on the Cruciferae plants, and hungry caterpillars feed from the leaves of this prevalent family. They also swallow very spicy matter found in the leaves (mustard glycocids) and isolate it in their bodies. When the caterpillar grows, it uses this matter as a defense mechanism: if attacked by a predator insect, the caterpillar secretes concentrated glycocids which cause an irritation in the mouth, esophagus and stomach of the attacker. When it is pupated, the cabbage butterfly defends itself using an interesting toxin: pierison. This toxin destroys cells by breaking their DNA. All the cells die and renew themselves, except for cancerous cells. Research has indicated that pierison caused nine types of cancerous cells to “commit suicide.” Thus indirectly, by hosting the caterpillar that tortures it and eats its leaves, the martyred Cruciferae family takes an important role in battling cancer.

The cauliflower we know and love is white, and I told you how much effort we put into keeping it that way. But there are also cauliflowers that come in such diverse colors as purple, light green, orange (rich in beta carotene) and a weird-looking green variety bearing a resemblance to an Escher piece or a UFO:

Despite their different shapes and florescent colors, these cauliflower varieties are not the product of genetic engineering. They were developed in the traditional method of selecting plants of various types and crossing them with plants of other types until a colorful one evolves. Creation of this kind of species usually takes years, even decades. The result is amazing, even somewhat psychedelic.

It is recommended to store (any type or color of) cauliflower in the refrigerator, wrapped in an unsealed plastic bag (the sulphur needs to escape, otherwise the cauliflower is tainted and rots), with the stem downwards in order to prevent moisture accumulation on the inflorescence. Stored correctly, cauliflowers can keep for two to three weeks, but are tastiest during the first several days. Afterwards the sweetness subsides.

Wishing you a week of wintery summer, with hopes for saturating showers to arrive very soon!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S JOINING THE CAULIFLOWER IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Kale/Swiss chard/spinach/ totsoi, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, Jerusalem artichokes/snow peas or garden peas, cauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, turnips/beets/daikon, coriander/parsley/dill, broccoli, carrots, new onions/cabbage.

Large box, in addition: Celery or celeriac/parsley root, fennel/kohlrabi, potatoes/green fava beans.

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

Wednesday: Kale/Swiss chard/spinach/ totsoi, lettuce/mizuna, Jerusalem artichokes/snow peas or garden peas, cauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, fennel/turnips/daikon, arugula/coriander/parsley, broccoli/cabbage, carrots, new onions/leek.

Large box, in addition: Celery or celeriac/parsley root, kohlrabi/beets, potatoes/green fava beans.

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

January 4h-6th 2021 – Sun(roots)er

In honor of the New Year – It’s a TahiNa Sale!

Although the amazing TahiNa enterprise has been forced to close due to the pandemic, here at Chubeza you can still purchase this exceptional product (at least until our inventory runs out…). If you who are unfamiliar with TahiNa, read on. Warning: the following description may tempt your palate!

TahiNa is a techina like no other. It is made by a different process that renders it especially healthy, unroasted and abounding with super- healthy qualities. The flavor is different, as are the texture and color.

Some fall in love with TahiNa at first taste, while others discover a new experience that soon leads to a delicious addiction. Some say it’s sweet and kind of tastes like Halva (maybe because it contains no salt?), while others discuss at length the distinct tinge of satisfying bitterness. Still others are grabbed by the vitality and wildness they find in this delectable product. Bottom line: everyone I’ve heard from claims it’s amazing! In a league of its own.

TahiNa’s unique qualities enable it to go perfectly within and alongside a range of foods – sweet and/or salty. Try it for yourselves!

On sale now in our order system. Till we run out!

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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 and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Kale/Swiss chard/spinach, lettuce, daikon/baby radishes/ potatoescauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, turnips/beets/fennel, mizuna/totsoi/arugula, kohlrabi/broccoli, carrots, cabbage/new onions.

Large box, in addition: Celeriac/celery, parsley/dill, Jerusalem artichokes/snow peas/garden peas.

FRUIT BOXES: Clementinas, red apples, kiwi, oranges, bananas.

Wednesday: Kale/Swiss chard/spinach, lettuce, daikon/baby radishes/kohlrabi, cauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, turnips/beets/fennel, mizuna/totsoi/arugula, Jerusalem artichokes/broccoli, carrots, celeriac/celery/new onions.

Large box, in addition: Cabbage, parsley, potatoes/snow peas/garden peas.

FRUIT BOXES: Clementinas, red or green apples, avocado, oranges, bananas/lemons.

DDecember 28th-30th 2020 – Who did you just call a vegetable? Or: what is in your winter Chubeza boxes?

We are delighted to inform you that the Matsesa has launched a limited edition of wintery warm cider with 5.5% alcohol. Choose from three deluxe favors:

  • Apple cider with rosemary, star anise and lavender
  • Apple cider with cinnamon, clove and star anise
  • Pear cider with sage, rose petals and cardamom

Best sipped hot, but also delectable as a cold drink with ice.

You are welcome to add this gourmet delight to your veggie box via our order system and savor every drop…

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Come take a peek at our garden
Parliament of all that grows
The beds so green
Our joyful hearts ardent
Each vegetable raises its head with a flair
And the sweet flower fragrance fills all the air

Moshe Aharon Avigal, from: Kulanu Hever Poalim, anthem of the first School for Workers’ Children in Tel Aviv
(loosely translated by A. Raz-Meltzer)

We do tell you that we grow vegetables in the Chubeza fields. But unlike fruit, where you’re pretty sure what you’re supposed to eat (the part that includes seeds, surrounded by juicy and fleshy matter, and wrapped in a peeling), vegetables are far more confusing since we call almost all edible parts of a plant “vegetables,” sometimes even when they are fruit… I could say that in general, the edible parts are green and fresh, but we refer even to the dry parts (e.g., garlic or onion) as vegetables.

So, this week we shall explore some of the vegetables from this angle: what part of the plant is actually in your box this week?

Let’s start with a short quiz: What plant part is each of the following vegetables:

If you gave a different answer to each picture, you may actually be right. In Chubeza’s winter vegetable boxes we are able to enjoy all parts of the plants, from head to toe or rather from root to fruit. There are roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruit and pods. Some I’m sure you can easily recognize, but others are more surprising. Time to embark upon our fieldtrip:

The root of the matter: Usually plants develop their roots underground where they are used to grasp onto the soil and soak up water and nutrients. There are also roots which store food, ventilate or reproduce. The edible roots are almost always storage roots, chockfull of the nutrients that the plants stored within them. Our boxes contain such roots as: Tubers (the thickened underground part of a stem), either sweet like the carrot, beet and sweet potato, sharp like the radishes and daikon, or mildly sweet like the turnip, celeriac or parsnip; Bulbs (the part of the stem that functions as a food storage organ and has thus thickened and lost its chlorophyll) such as the Jerusalem artichoke; as well as onions composed of layers of scales (a modified type of leaf that changes in order to act as a storage organ and has lost its chlorophyll): onion, fennel and garlic.  As mentioned, the roots do not include chlorophyll, the substance responsible for the green color in most parts of the plant. In the absence of chlorophyll, our roots transform into a range of lovely hues: orange, purple, yellow, pink, and white… When we pick roots, we are in fact pulling them out of the soil, sometimes assisted by a pitchfork, while other times (though not always), we cut off the part above the roots: stems and leaves. Once picked, the roots that dwelt in the wet wintery soil are usually in need of a nice soak in the tub before being packed up and delivered to you.

* Perhaps you’re thinking: but wait, what about the potato? Well, Mr. Potato does not belong here because he is not a root! But we’re jumping ahead of ourselves. Patience!

From the root, we ascend to the stem: The stem is the organ that sprouts up from the root, and most leaves sprout from it. The stem’s main job is to transport food from the roots to the rest of the plant parts via its transportation pipes. The root’s secondary role is to uphold the rest of the plant parts, something like a green spine. Our boxes include stems that are also connected to their roots, like the scallion, or stems without leaves, like the celery. Winter-thickened stems are treated respectfully at Chubeza – these are the vegetables who at first glance look like a bulb or onion and are easy to confuse, but they are in fact a thickening of the bottom part of the stem, just above the topsoil. Did you guess it right? Yes, I am referring to the kohlrabi and fennel. Unlike roots, these two are not tugged out of the soil but rather released by being cut away from the strong root connecting them to the earth. If you look closely at the bottom of a fennel or kohlrabi, you can see the actual slicing mark.

Now, it’s time to guess the identity of another distinguished thickened stem which frequents your boxes quite often: It’s hard to realize that this vegetable is a stem, because unlike “regular” stems, this one is an underground thickened stem. The telltale factor is that it did not lose the ability to produce chlorophyll. Though it doesn’t develop within the vegetable as long as it lies dormant in the dark earth, when exposed to the sun it takes on a greenish hue. Have you figured it out yet? Of course, this is the potato! The potato bulbs develop from underground thickened stems, and as mentioned, the potato’s greenish hue is a sign that chlorophyll is developing upon being exposed to the light, because after all, it is still a stem…

Keep on climbing, and we reach the leaves: Leaves are in fact the mouth of the plant, which it uses to “eat” light and thus create energy via photosynthesis. Leaves usually sport a shade of green (but not always) due to the chlorophyll, that same pigment which helps to carry out the photosynthesis, and water+CO2+light result in sugar, i.e., energy. Chlorophyll (from Greek: khloros: pale green; phyllon: leaf) could be translated ‘the green of the leaves.’ The smooth leaf which connects the leaf to the stem is termed ‘petiole,’ while the body of the leaf is the ‘lamina.’ Within the lamina are veins whose job is to transport nutrients to the leaf: In the center you can identify the Midvein that splits sideways into smaller (secondary) veins. There are many leaves in your winter boxes, in various shapes and uses. The small or tiny leaves of the parsley, dill and coriander are used for seasoning. Slightly larger leaves like tatsoi, bok choi, mizuna, arugula or lettuce are usually designated for salads, and huge leaves that can sometimes cover the entire length of the box and more, like Swiss chard, kale and spinach, are generally cooked.  But there is one more serious leaf vegetable in your box that may look a little different because its leaves are not flat: the cabbage. At a certain point in its growth process, the leaves begin to grow inwards creating a ball-shape, with more and more leaves growing inside this ball and compressed within to create the cabbage head.

The next stage in the plant’s development, after it sprouts a stem and leaves above and sends its roots deep down under, is the blossoming. The flowers are the plants’ reproductive organs – they create the reproductive tissues (the male Stamen and the female Pistil), and summon the rendezvous between the reproductive tissues within the flower or other flowers. Ultimately, they are the substrate on which the seeds are created, allowing the continuity of the plant world by disbursing its offspring and expanding the area of its growth. The Pedicel connects the flower to its stem, while at the base of the flower is the Receptacle upon which the organs of the flower are arranged. When there are an abundance of tiny flowers crowding together on a receptacle, we call it a flower head (or pseudanthium).

Your winter boxes host two beloved flower heads: the cauliflower (as evident in its name in many languages) and broccoli (that resembled an arm or branch to the name givers, who granted them the less illustrious title). We eat them when the flower is closed, before it has developed and opened up, but if you allow the broccoli or cauliflower to continue growing, they will develop the very many small flowers grouped together in the head and a beautiful bouquet of Cruciferae flowers will grow from the center.

The next stage of the growth is fruit. To be honest, if we only ate vegetables in season, winter would not be the time to discuss vegetables that are fruit, as winter is slow and growing takes time and progresses slowly. Fruit – the highlight of the plant ­– arrives at the end of its growth. After the stems and leaves grew, a flower developed and fertilization occurred, and the seeds developed and matured, a juicy, nutritious material often develops around them wrapped in a peeling. Most of these vegetable delights are berries (moist and juicy flesh; containing more than one seed with a thin, flexible outer layer) and they grow in the summer: eggplant, pepper, squash and pumpkins, melons, watermelon, fakkus, zucchini and others. Which is why they do not come to visit during this time of the year (we said our final goodbye to the pumpkin this week). But two of them actually grow here year-round and enjoy a growth spurt in wintertime thanks to our growth houses: the cucumber and tomato, the royal couple of the Israeli vegetable salad (but now we know that it is in fact a fruit salad…).

Aside from the juicy, fruity vegetables, there is one very special family in our field whose offspring are also fruit, but of a different kind. The legume pods boast distinguished representatives in springtime, summer and autumn: green beans, black-eyed peas and edamame. But they are well-represented in wintertime as well with peas and fava beans. The green legume pods are a very unique vegetable-fruit because they lack juicy flesh surrounding the seeds, but sport instead an elongated pod in which the large seeds are laid out Indian-file.

The great variety of the wintery vegetable garden and your boxes is a stark reminder of nature’s wise diversity: the plant parts are versatile, as are the various stages of development, different strengths, varied colors, shapes and characteristics. The content of your boxes must always be different, varied and pluralistic in order to be plenty, to allow life and be sustainable.

May we learn more from nature in 2021: how to embrace difference, variety, and multiplicity, and how to grow along with them.

Wishing you a good week in which we will bid farewell to this strange and confusing year. Let’s hope for a new year that is just a little more boring….

Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

(Quiz yourself! Which part of the plant is each vegetable in your box?)

Monday: Swiss chard/kale/mizuna, lettuce, daikon/baby radishesbroccoli/cauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, turnips/beets/kohlrabi, Jerusalem artichokes/peas/cabbage/fennel, coriander/parsley/dill, carrots, sweet potatoes.

Large box, in addition: Celeriac/celery, onions or a bundle of new onions, spinach/totsoi/arugula.

FRUIT BOXES: Avocado, clementinas, red or green apples/kiwi, pomelit/pomela/ oranges, bananas.

Wednesday: Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach, lettuce, daikon/baby radishes/kohlrabibroccoli, cabbage/cauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, turnips/beets/fennel, coriander/parsley/dill, carrots, sweet potatoes/potatoes/a bundle of new onions .

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichokes/peas, Celeriac/celery, winter spinach/totsoi/mizuna/arugula.

FRUIT BOXES: Avocado, clementinas, red or green apples/kiwi, pomelit/pomela/oranges, bananas/lemons.

December 21st-23rdh 2020 –  A Tale of a Carrot

COVID had changed so many of our old viewpoints (may they return to their routine very soon!) The tale of Saba Eliezer who tugs the big carrot out of his garden with the help of Savta Yocheved, granddaughter Avigail, the dog, cat and mouse would not have passed the rules: I doubt they cleansed their hands with alcogel prior to going out to the garden and there is no chance they kept a 2 meter distance or wore a mask while they tugged and pulled at a huge root… I worry that at the end of this endeavor the whole family would have gone into bidud (at least they had enough carrot for 14 days….)

It’s been over a year since we saw you last and we miss your visits in the field. One of the joyful things about open days are the “field trips” (excuse the pun…) we take you on, and the moments of wonder when one identifies a vegetable hiding in great big leaves or peeking out from stems. But the greatest excitement and fun have to do with the veggies waiting patiently underground, as if waiting in a dark room moments before they are yanked out and declare “surprise!” So this week we’ll devote our newsletter to one of those roots, the carrot, who has been visiting your boxes from the middle of autumn.

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 inside to the outside: 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 and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/kale, lettuce, kohlrabi/baby radishes, broccoli/cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, turnips/beets/daikon, fennel/potatoes, coriander/parsley/dill, carrots, sweet potatoes. Special gift for all: arugula/mizuna.

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichokes/garden peas, scallions/ celeriac/celery, spinach/totsoi

FRUIT BOXES: Avocado, oranges/pomelit, bananas, clementinas, red apples/kiwi.

Wednesday: Swiss chard/kale, lettuce, kohlrabi/beets, baby radishes/daikon, cucumbers, tomatoes, fennel/turnips, coriander/parsley/dill, carrots, sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes/garden or snow peas/green fava beans. Special gift for all: arugula/mizuna.

Large box, in addition: Broccoli/cabbage, scallions/celeriac/celery, spinach/totsoi

FRUIT BOXES: Avocado, oranges/pomelit, bananas/lemons, clementinas, green or red apples/kiwi.