Aley Chubeza #273, December 28th-30th – bye bye 2015

This week marks the end of December as well as 2015.  At the end of this week we will be charging your cards for this month’s purchases and will update your bill on our order system by the end of next week. Make note that this month had five Wednesdays, so your bills will most likely be higher than usual. 

You may view your billing history in our Internet-based order system. It’s easy. Simply click the tab “דוח הזמנות ותשלומים” where the history of your payments and purchases is clearly displayed. Please make sure the bill is correct, or let us know of any necessary revisions. At the bottom of the bill, the words  סה”כ לתשלום: 0 (total due: 0) should appear. If there is any number other than zero, this means we were unable to bill your card and would appreciate your contacting us. We always have our hands full, and we depend on you to inform us. Our thanks!

Reminder: The billing is two-part: one bill for vegetables & fruits you purchased over the past month (the produce that does not include VAT. The title of that bill is תוצרת אורגני, “organic produce”). The second part is the bill for delivery and other purchases. (This bill does include VAT. The title of the bill is “delivery and other products.”)

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 A Family Tale

Last week we experienced the sudden loss of my father-in-law, Shlomo. Shlomo was a man of many faces, but most prominent were his tenacity and determination to always stand by the decisions he made, patiently, diligently and over many years, stemming from faith in himself and in the power of small steps in order to make that great leap towards the final goal.

His death made me think a lot about differences and development, learning how much patience, time and slow rhythmic pace must be devoted to the changes we undergo as human beings, specifically those dealing with repair: growth, opening up, connecting and healing. It seems so often that destructive actions are fast and immediate, while building and repairing require placing stone upon stone, moment by moment, demanding diligence and perseverance as well as faith and hope.

These thoughts brought to my mind a newsletter I wrote a decade ago about the beloved Brasiccae family that is in our boxes throughout the entire winter. It dealt with the transformations that the Brasiccae underwent over many years, thanks to the curiosity and self-confidence of loyal farmers. So here is The Brasiccae Newsletter, in an End-of-2015 version:

Every once in a while, we hear about the scientific creation of a new vegetable or other edible plant. It’s possible that the pace of change is much faster now than in the past, yet 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’s choosing and collecting seeds from the plants he favored over seeds from less-desired plants. This straightforward action of promoting one plant over another had a huge effect on the improvement and change of a specific harvest or species. Long before man understood the genetics of plants, his actions caused small, slow variations in the crops, which compounded over time until they brought about actual 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 domesticated, people began growing it for its leaves. Since they consumed the leaves, it made sense to choose the plants that produced the biggest 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. Over the years, it grew and evolved into a real “head of leaves” which we call cabbage. Its actual title is var. capitata, meaning “a cabbage with a head.”

Around the same time, in today’s Germany, farmers preferred short and thick-stemmed kale. They ate the actual stem, and gradually, in choosing plants with a tendency for thick stems, caused the former cabbage 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, 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. The cauliflower is var. botrytis, meaning “cluster,” for its resemblance to a cluster of grapes. The 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 taste, and apparently there were those (most probably the Belgians) who preferred plants that developed an assembly 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. It happens in the best of families. 

Wishing us all a week of wonder and variety, of stubbornness, faith and determination.

Enjoy the dry sunny days till the blessed rain returns, hopefully soon!

We wish you all a happy new 2016 year!

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

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WHAT’S JOINING THE BRASICCAE FAMILY IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Broccoli, coriander/parsley/dill, tomatoes, Chinese cabbage/lettuce, fennel/daikon/red radishes, kale/spinach/ Swiss chard,  cucumbers, sweet potatoes, carrots, cabbage/cauliflower. Small boxes only: celery stalk/celeriac.

Large box, in addition: Kohlrabi, arugula/red mizuna/totsoi, beets, Jerusalem artichokes.

Wednesday: red/yellow bell peppers, cucumbers, cilantro/parsley/dill, Swiss chard/spinach/kale, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce/Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, carrots, beets/daikon/turnips, cabbage/cauliflower.

Large box, in addition: sweet potatoes/Jerusalem artichoke, fennel, celery/celeriac

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!