Aley Chubeza #146, Febtuary 4th-6th 2013

With the month of Adar upon us, let’s hope it will bring joy and gladness to all!

Melissa from Mipri Yadeha is preparing a special, creative line of yummy products for Mishlochei Manot:

  • The Scroll of Esther–distinctive, hand-fashioned leather scrolls in a royal package: fruit leather in select flavors: lemon-mint, passion fruit, kiwi, apple-ginger, guava, pomegranate and more. 30 NIS per scroll.
  • * Leather Mishlochei Manot  – including four wonderful flavors: 10 NIS per package

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Happy families are all alike

-Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, line 1

 

A Tale of One Family

Lately, I have been pondering the nature of changes and developments. Personally, I’m learning how much patience, time and slowly-measured tempo one needs to allow the changes we human beings undergo, and specifically those dealing with rectification: growth, opening up, connecting and healing. It seems that frequently, destructive actions are fast and immediate, whilst correction takes place at an excruciatingly slow pace, stone by stone, moment by moment, requiring persistence and forbearance as well as faith and hope.

These thoughts and recent joyful harvests brought to mind a newsletter I wrote some eight years ago about the beloved Brassicaceae family which has held an honored place in our boxes over these wonderful winter months. About the development, changes and slow difersification it has been undergoing over long years, thanks to the curiosity and confidence of loyal, devoted farmers. So here it is, a renewed version, dedicated with love to my Neta. These words were first written eight years ago, close to the day she was born and made me a mother. Happy Birthday, my sweet baby!

Every once in awhile, we hear about the scientific development 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. Sometime 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 collards. 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 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 unique 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 patience and faith,

Alon, Ya’ara, Bat Ami and the Chubeza crew

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, parsley root, cucumbers, fennel or kohlrabi, parsley, leeks (small boxes only)

In the large box, in addition: cabbage, broccoli leaves, potatoes, radishes.

Wednesday: cauliflower, cabbage, cucumbers, potatoes, fennel, lettuce, fava beans or peas or beets, carrots, cilantro / parsley, tomatoes, radishes – small boxes only

In the large box, in addition: parsley root, broccoli, peppers, leeks

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, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil and bakery products 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!

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