Aley Chubeza #55 – February 7th- 9th 2011

Some messages and requests:

–       Lately we’ve had some unfortunate cases of missing boxes, ones which were left till morning at the drop-off points. To prevent this, please collect your boxes on the day they arrive! If this is not possible, please contact your “hosts” to request that they bring the box indoors for you to retrieve as soon as possible.

–       Once again, we remind you that you may send us messages regarding changes in delivery dates, vacations, breaks or other instructions to our email: [email protected], but please do not respond to the email address from which you receive your receipt! We simply do not receive those emails. We do, however, send a “message received” to every email we receive, so if you did not get a confirmation email, please resend or call us and leave a message. Thank you!

–       A sweet message: as you requested,  we have decided to allow the purchase of Brahi dates in quantities less than 5 kg. We updated our order form with this option, so you can order via the form, or by email/phone call. The price per kg is 20 NIS, to help you enjoy a sweet winter!

–       And last but not least: We are delighted to provide an English-language description on Maggie, our sprout grower. Detailed information about Maggie’s sprouts in particular and the wonders of sprouts in general can be found here. To try these healthy, yummy treats and/or to make a permanent order, use our order form.

Bon Appetite!


Cauliflower Power

This week we will continue to tell cauliflower tales, beginning with praise for its health and nutritional values. As a member of the Cruciferae family, it is packed with cancer-fighting components (along with its relatives the green and purple cabbage, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, arugula, rashad, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, turnips, and radishes). The main such ingredients 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 the cauliflower and its relatives protects against breast cancer by influencing the estrogen hormone (in various forms this hormone can actually encourage the development of breast cancer). The indole compound activates, on the one hand, the production of less active estrogen, the kind that does not encourage breast cancer, while on the other hand 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 pest: 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 Crucifae family takes an important role in battling cancer.

I’m glad I wrote about the cauliflower, because after last week’s newsletter I received an email from Eitan from Tel Aviv, who wrote: “I beg to differ over one thing. I have been raising cauliflowers in my plot 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 produce 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 reduces crop size), I asked Eitan for full details on what’s the cauliflower on its second year. 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 trunk at 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 blossom, although I covered them with a 50% shade net. In any case, there was no evident change in the cauliflower over the summer. I think 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 the summer from radiation and heat, and tell us how this works. Thank you, Eitan.

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 cauliflowers that come in various colors, such as purple, orange (rich in beta carotene) and green:

And a weird-looking variety as well, the name is Romanesco:

Despite their different shape and florescent colors, they aren’t products of genetic engineering. I grew these cauliflowers in an organic field in California. They were developed in the traditional breeding method of selecting plants of various types and crossing them with plants of other types until a colorful one is produced. Creation of this kind of species usually takes years, even decades. The result is amazing (somewhat psychedelic). There are those who shy away from the stark “unnatural” colors (which remain even after being cooked, by the way); others delight in the color they add to the dinner table.

It is recommended to store any type 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 accumulation of moisture 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.

The weather forecast is for more rain. Hoping you enjoyed the rays of sun in between showers, and looking forward to the next raindrops!

Alon, Melissa, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team


What’s in this Week’s Boxes?

Monday: Lettuce, beets, parsley, arugula, white or red cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, fennel, broccoli

In the large box, in addition: radishes, celery, garden or sweet peas

Wednesday: fava beans, cilantro / dill / parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, celery, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, beets, fennel – small boxes only.

In the large box, in addition: cauliflower, kale or Swiss chard, radishes, arugula

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers of these organic products: granola and cookies, flour, sprouted bread, sprouts, goat cheeses, fruits, honey, crackers. 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 to begin your delivery soon.



One of the links did not work last week, so here it is again (thanks Howard):

Roasted cauliflower

Fried cauliflower with tahini – Yotam Ottolenghi

Pasta with cauliflower

Aloo gobi – An Indian dish of cauliflower and potatoes