Aley Chubeza #173, October 7th-9th 2013

We’re a little late this month, but finally we’ve updated your invoice payments in the order system (“דוח הזמנות ותשלומים” tab). If you do not see a payment for September, it means we had a problem charging your card. Please contact us. Many thanks.

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Hillel, our organic almond farmer from Ein Harod, has informed us of their new Facebook page “”שקדים אורגנים עין חרוד. You are cordially invited to visit the page and get a glimpse of their goodies.

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Keren from Tel Aviv is inviting you to join a new and unique class of the City Permaculture Course. On Tuesday, October 8th, the City Course returns for a very cool and refreshing fall class, this time in an expanded format: 16 lessons, including practice, fascinating lessons, and tours of projects and inspiring initiatives in the Tel Aviv area. This course will be conducted by Keren Yavetz, Barak Ben Chanan and Yoav Egozi. And here is a moment of inspiration, a video clip by a graduate of the last City Course, her graduation project at Bezalel

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Very important!

Over the past months we have been experiencing the steady cancellation of our pick up points in Tel Aviv, mostly due to changes in residence of our generous pick up point hosts. We must now ask your assistance in searching for additional locations in the south, center and old north of Tel Aviv. Can any of you become our new hosts?

In order to qualify as a pick up point, your apartment needs to be on the ground floor or a low floor so it is convenient for the delivery people to haul a number of boxes there. Also, your apartment must have enough adjacent space to place a number of boxes. A comfortable area in the lobby, in a wide stairwell, or small room in the entry floor can work too, on the condition that you have your neighbors’ consent and that you do not have a theft problem.

Becoming a pick up point means that our delivery person delivers several additional boxes to your home, aside from your own box, and Chubeza clients come during the course of the evening to collect them. You do not have to take the boxes into your house—people can take them without bothering you. You do not have to call anyone to inform that their boxes have arrived, this is their responsibility. Should a box not be picked up by the next morning, however, I would like to be informed and will take care of this issue. In appreciation of your serving as a collection point, you only have to pay 5 NIS per delivery.

If you wish to contribute the environs of your apartment to become a pick up point, I will be more than happy to hear from you. Also, any other creative ideas will be highly appreciated.

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Dulce de Yam

When I took the kids for a tour in the field on Open Day, I gave them a short quiz in which I asked them to identify the vegetables they see in the field. The easy beds were the lettuce and black-eyed peas, which were actually visible. The harder ones were the beets (which only had sprouts peeking out), the cauliflower and the radishes. But the children surprised us with very accurate guesses. (Who said this generation doesn’t have it in them???)

When we reached the end of the plot and all we saw was a green carpet of curving and twisting branches covering the whole plot, everyone was stumped (including the grownups). Every suggestion thrown out was swallowed in the green and mysterious thicket. So I told them a story about magic:

Three months ago Oded of Moshav Yesha sent us bundles of green twigs–sticks really, most of them bereft of leaves–bundled together with a rope. We took these twigs (cuttings) and stuck them in the damp mounds of earth we’d prepared. Then we took one step back. Once again, as every year, we were astonished anew by the strange view of dozens of sticks standing in the brown mounds of earth. Sometimes agriculture can seem so weird…

After a few days, the sticks started blooming. Green leaves sprouted from them, and they looked like they were rising from the dead. After a few weeks, a green stripe of plants spread across the bed, and after two months, the whole area was one crowded, tangled carpet of branches, leaves, and lilac-type flowers. Over 4-5 months, underneath this green entanglement, grew chubby orange roots, so sweet and satisfying. Sweet potatoes! Four years ago I prepared a photographed newsletter for you about the journey of the sweet potato from a naked stick to that very same root hidden under the crowded carpet. This is it.

The origin of the sweet potato is in tropical Central America. The most ancient evidence of sweet potatoes was found in Peru, from where they mysteriously traveled to the rest of Central and South America, all the way to Polynesia. Some say sweet potato seeds were carried from America to Polynesia by birds or by sunken boats that drifted away. Another assumption is that the sweet potato seeds floated along ocean currents from South America to Polynesia, as they can only sprout after having been immersed in sea water. Columbus found sweet potatoes in Cuba, brought them with him to Europe, and from there they travelled along with the European conquerors to Africa, India and Asia.

The sweet potato is a member of the renowned Convolvulaceae family, related to the wild field bindweed, the Cuscuta (dodder) and sister to the lovely morning glory found in nature and in your garden. Formally known as Ipomoea batatas, it is one of the only members of this large family that is edible, and definitely the only one to be industrially grown for food, a truly unique phenomenon. Like other members of her family, she tends to send out tendrils and twigs all over. If allowed, she will climb all over the nearest fence, covering it with a layer of heart-shaped green leaves and beautiful light-purple flowers that open in the morning and close in the afternoon sun.

Years of careful selection of sweet potatoes by farmers and nature have made the sweet potato very strong and resistant (or at least tolerant) to diseases and pests. Sometimes the plants can be carriers of various pathogens that are not actively expressed and do not prevent the plant from growing or developing. Basically, the sweet potato hardly suffers from any problems, and usually grows nicely over a few months time. After four months we begin digging them out. First we fumble around, digging in one of the far corners to see what’s hiding down there. Are there any orange tubers? How many? How large are they? Do they seem healthy? Then, if they’re nice and ready, we start digging them out.

 

When the time has come to harvest, there is no urgency to remove the sweet potatoes from the earth right away and store them. They are well-protected in the earth, even during cold winters, due to the warmer temperature underground. If you take the sweet potatoes out of earth, they should be brought indoors so they’re not too cold. When the outside temperature falls below 13 degrees, the storage refrigerator should be at a temperature of 13-15 degrees so the sweet potatoes do not catch cold.

This is also the reason that they should not be stored in your home refrigerator. The sweet potato that grows primarily in summertime does not like cold weather, and its taste will go bad if stored in the fridge. They should be stored in a cool, ventilated place, not in a bag or a sealed container, in order to prevent the accumulation of excess moisture. They do not have to be hidden from light like potatoes, because they are roots that contain no chlorophyll, and therefore will not turn green (like radishes and beets.) This is in contrast to the potato, which is a dense stem, and consequently turns green when exposed to light. High temperatures will make the sweet potato sprout or ferment, which is why warmth should be avoided (unless you wish to make liquor).

We keep our sweet potatoes in the packing house for a short time before sending them to you. Sweet potatoes that are mass-produced for industry and kept till the end of wintertime undergo a process called “curing.” They are pulled from the earth and warmed up in a room that is temperature and moisture-controlled. This process thickens their peelings and they grow scab-like skin to cover areas bruised during the digging-out process. These potatoes can be stored for longer periods of time.

So what can you do with your sweet potatoes? No need to work hard at peeling them. Many of the vitamins and dietary fibers are in the peeling, so don’t pare them—just scrub well. The sweet potato should be cooked immediately after being cut in your kitchen, as its skin will bleach and then oxidize once it comes into contact with the air. If you must wait, keep them in a bowl of water to prevent browning.

The delicious, soothing taste of sweet potatoes is an especially great blessing in the cold evenings of autumn, when your sweet tooth craves attention. You can eat sweet potatoes without feeling an iota of guilt, as they are bursting with benefits for your health. The orange color assures a high quantity of beta carotene, which becomes vitamin A once consumed. Beta carotene is a multi-armed warrior for battling cancer, crucial for eyesight, strengthening your immune system, keeping your skin healthy and contributing to proper growth.

Despite its sweet taste, the sweet potato is considered an “anti-diabetic” vegetable, recommended for diabetics because of its contribution to the balancing of sugar levels in the blood, and to reducing the resistance of the cell to insulin– perhaps because of its rich carotenoid content. The sweet potato also contains good levels of vitamins C and B, potassium, magnesium, iron and dietary fiber. This team works to control blood pressure, strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis, and allow for proper brain function and the development of learning skills in children and babies.

In Chinese medicine, the sweet potato is recommended for weight loss. It strengthens the spleen, which, according to Chinese medicine, determines metabolism and our need for sweet foods and food in general. A weak spleen will create a strong need for sweets, and an inevitable weight gain. According to this approach, the body must receive naturally sweet food, i.e., there is no harm in a sweet diet, on condition that the quantity of sweets is limited, it is natural, and does not derive from processed foods like white sugar or sweets. A middle-sized sweet potato contains 150 calories (equivalent to two slices of bread), but it is very filling. Chinese medicine perceives the sweet potato to be one of the most balanced foods and therefore can be eaten by almost anyone. According to the Chinese, the orange color ties it to earth, making it a warming, strengthening food, suitable for winter.

Here, at Chubeza, we anxiously await the winter. On the night between Saturday and Sunday, we were lucky to receive a short, refreshing rain, and from this Friday (the 7th of Cheshvan) Jews begin fervently praying for rain. May it come in peace, joy and gladness, salvation and blessing! Join us in our hopes, prayers and wishes for plentiful showers, filled with great big drops of earth-saturating rain.

May it be a season of intense growth, vitality and goodness!

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Coriander, lubia/okra, pumpkin, tomatoes, corn, arugula/tatsoi, lettuce, cucumbers, leeks/garlic chives, eggplant/ sweet red peppers/zucchini, sweet potatoes

In the large box, in addition: Parsley, beets/radishes/kohlrabi, potatoes

Wednesday: lettuce, cucumbers, potatoes, parsley/cilantro, sweet potatoes, zucchini, leeks, pumpkin, tomatoes, arugula/Swiss chard – small boxes only, carrots/eggplants/black eye peas (lubia) – small boxes

In the large box, in addition: corn/eggplants, nana (mint), beets, garlic chive, carrots

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