Aley Chubeza # 85, September 26th-27th 2011, almost a Hebrew new year

Changes in delivery dates:

* During this week of Rosh Hashanah:
Monday, September 26: Delivery as usual. Wednesday deliveries will be moved to Tuesday, September 27th
* On the week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur:
Deliveries as usual for both Mondays and Wednesdays
* During the week of the first holiday of Sukkot:
Monday, October 10th: Delivery as usual. Wednesday deliveries will be moved to Tuesday, October 11th.
* During Chol HaMoed, there will be no deliveries, i.e. you will not be receiving boxes on Monday and Wednesday, the 17th and 19th of October.

For all who receive bi-weekly boxes, Chol HaMoed will create a three-week gap. Even if you weren’t scheduled to receive a box during the week of Chol Hamoed, your delivery will be postponed a week.

If you wish to change delivery dates to prevent this gap, please contact me a.s.a.p.

If you wish to increase your vegetable boxes before the holidays, please let me know as soon as possible.

Open Day at Chubeza: In keeping with our twice-yearly tradition, we invite you for a “pilgrimage” to Chubeza to celebrate our Open Day.

The Sukkot Open Day will take place on Tuesday, October 18th, the 20th of Tishrei (fifth day of Chol HaMoed), between 11:00-16:00. The Open Day gives us a chance to meet, tour the field, and nibble on vegetables and other delicacies. Children have their own tailor-made tours, designed for little feet and curious minds, plus activities and a vast space to run around and loosen up.  (So can the adults…)

Driving instructions are on our website under “About Us.” Please make sure you check it out before heading our way.

Wishing you a Shana Tova! We look forward to seeing you all!

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Singing in the Rain

I meant to write about something else, but then the weekend brought these wonderful, short bursts of rain (more or less, depending on what part of the country you were in) which took us elsewhere, to a place of heady aromas and elevated spirits. Then on Sunday as we were eating our lunch, yet another rain fell upon us, bringing back that special scent of earth after rain. So I dug up a newsletter I wrote two years ago devoted to this special scent. When I drove to work with Mohammed on Sunday, he was full of optimism and said hopefully, “Perhaps this will be a year of plentiful rains.” Of course, I heartily join in this hope. May we all have a wonderful, rainy, fertile year! And here it is, the scent after rain:

Even with the fast pace of life, and concrete stretching across vast expanses, we still maintain a basic yearning for rain and the lively wet-of-the-wild it brings along. When I tried to find answers to the question “what is that scent after rain?” I found scientific explanations (which will follow) alongside a palpable gush of yearning for that smell, the memories it evokes tied to childhood and home, to a time and place where we started to grow, to send out roots and reach a specific starting point. Perhaps this is why it stirs in one’s heart a feeling of renewal and of a fresh, new start.

The scent of rain is extracted and produced wisely (for us and other living creatures, as you will soon see) by nature’s main actors: the plants, microbes, rocks. In nature this scent has two main components: geosmin and petrichor.

Geosmin (literally “earth smell”) is an organic compound produced by various microorganisms: in the water these are seaweed, while in the earth they are microbes. These microbes die when the earth is dry and hot, sending out geosmin-loaded spores that can survive in a dormant state, even through many years of very dry, hot seasons. Once they meet rain and moisture, the geosmin smell is augmented, the spores disperse into the air through the raindrops, and emit the “rain-like” scent—basically, the smell of newly-wet soil. Our love for this scent is important to the microbes, who need us to come close and toy with their spores in order to disseminate them. And it is true: the human nose is extremely sensitive to geosmin and is able to detect it at very low concentrations.

One of the most sensitive animals to Geosmin is the camel. This comes as no great surprise since this animal has a profoundly acute need to pick up even the slightest trace of the scent of water and wetness. Camels can detect water from a very great distance (up to 80 km!) due to their heightened sensitivity to the scent of geosmin. In camel terms, it is a matter of life and death. Also, many dust mites, like earthworms and other excavators, are attracted to the scent of geosmin and assist the microbes in their mission to disperse.

These microbes, actinobacterias, and more specifically streptomyces, are a group of vital soil-dwelling organisms which produce antibiotic substances that naturally fight infections and fungus. Perhaps our attraction to this smell is not only due to nostalgia for a time in our life where we had a wet plot of soil nearby, but also a key example of the pull to substances that are supposed to protect us–specifically throughout the cold, rainy winter.

But this smell is not always desirable. Water purification devices attempt to remove it from the groundwater which ends up in your faucets. Winemakers try to fight it to prevent a bouquet of mildew in their vino, and even pharmaceutical companies demur from marketing earthy-smelling medicines. A revolutionary study pertaining to the composition and formation of geosmin aspires to solve that problem. In our boxes, you will savor the geosmin in our beets, the secret ingredient in their earthy taste.

The second component in this scent is Petrichor (from Greek petra “stone” + ichor the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology). This impressive term, the modern meaning of which is “the nice fragrance accompanying rain after a dry spell,” was coined by two Australian researchers, Bear and Thomas, in an article they published in the 1960’s. Various plants extract oils into the atmosphere, which accumulate upon clay-like soil, rocks and stones. During dry seasons, a larger amount accumulates on the soil and rocks, and once the air grows moister and the rain falls, they are freed into the air, wafting their scent about.

Bear and Thomas wanted the petrichor to explain the special phenomenon of rapid growth and blooming which occurs in desert areas after short rains. They tried to show that there is something in this oil compound which expedites growth. To their surprise, they discovered the opposite: the petrichor slows down and even prevents sprouting and growth. They believe this to be a means for the seeds to protect themselves from short rains followed by the return of the dry spells. Sprouting which is not followed by more watering brings about the demise of the sprout, while in its seeded, non-sprouted state, it still carries the potential to wait for a real rain. A strong, serious rain will wash the oil off the seeds and annul the stalling of sprouting.

Over the past few decades, we have learned about the destructive aspect of rain, and I don’t necessarily mean disasters like tsunamis or floods. Rain, after all, meets everything that exists around it, and the moisture intensifies these scents, causing its own reactions. If the pervading air carries unpleasant smells, they will be intensified by the moistness of the rain. Gasoline smells, garbage, dust, sewage— all return with a vengeance in the rain. Pollution, as well, is collected in the tiny raindrops, turning into dangerous acids which provide disastrous watering that pollutes plants, lakes and animals. By adding more trees, specifically in noxious-smelling cities that are covered in concrete, and decreasing the contaminates that we release into the atmosphere, the scales will be tipped in favor of the petrichor fragrance that stirs within us a craving for the hearth and home. It’s worth it, don’t you think?

So the rain has left us again for a few days of sun and even summery weather. But that’s OK, we’re only at the end of September.

Wishing you all a Shana Tova, one of change and continuance, one of toil and of rest, one of happiness and family and health, and Halevai– a year of peace.

Alon, Bat Ami, Phum, Naim, Paisan, Mohammed, Melissa, Oren, Gadi, Shmulik, Yochai, Dror, Alon, Avraham, Amit, Assaf, Eli, Lobsang and all of us on the  Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN OUR FESTIVE HOLIDAY BOXES?

Monday: mint or basil, yard long beans or cowpea (lubia), lettuce, red & green peppers or eggplants, pomegranates, tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, pumpkin, potatoes, corn

In the large box, in addition: Swiss chard, butternut squash, okra

Wednesday: pumpkin, cowpea (lubia) or yard long beans or okra, cucumbers, lettuce or arugula, tomatoes, oregano or lemon verbena, scallions or onions, red beets, potatoes, pomegranates, corn

In the large box, in addition: butternut squash, cilantro or parsley, Swiss chard or

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: granola and cookies, flour, sprouts, goat dairies, fruits, honey, crackers, probiotic foods, sesame butter and dried fruits and leathers too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. The attached order form includes a detailed listing of the products and their cost. Fill it out, and send it back to us soon.

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This week, once again, I fully intended to select and publish some superior recipes. But the day is short and the labor is very, very vast.

Next year…..

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