By Patrick Sewell
With rising gas prices, global warming and the recent movement towards green living, the idea of eating local has been getting a lot of attention recently. After all, the benefits to eating closer to home are pretty impressive: shrink your carbon footprint, support the local economy, eat more nutritious and healthy whole foods, and possibly even save a couple of bucks in the process. Now you can add one more reason to the list for eating local, and it’s one you can grow in your yard—pawpaws.
You may have already heard of pawpaws (Asimina triloba), a small, tropical looking tree with large, drooping leaves and large, three-lobed flowers that look like inverted trilliums. A native butterfly attractor (pawpaws are the sole source of food for the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly larvae), pawpaws are often grown ornamentally for conservation and aesthetic purposes. But it is the fruit of the tree that attracts many pawpaw enthusiasts. Having the look and feel of an oblong mango with large, bean-like seeds, pawpaw fruit can grow up to six inches long and weigh as much as two and a half pounds, earning them the honor of being the largest native fruit in the continental United States. This fact alone may entice a gardener to add a few pawpaw trees to their landscape, yet what is most interesting about the fruit is its unique flavor.
By Robin Ostfeld,
Blue Heron Farm
Everyone who has the opportunity should grow some of his or her own food. Even if it’s just a container with herbs or a single tomato plant, it’s worthwhile to grow something. Of course, I’m biased. Plants play a huge role in my own life, being both my livelihood and my hobby. But there are so many reasons to get your hand dirty!
One morning last summer, a friend brought a copy of the magazine Discover to the farm. In it was an article that linked contact with soil bacteria to the release of serotonin in the brain. In other words, inhaling or touching the soil bacteria (called mycobacterium vaccae) can cause a peaceful state of mind or, in a depressed person, an alleviation of the symptoms of depression. Wow! A new reason to garden! Not only is it good for the environment (there’s no food more local than that which you pick from your own backyard) and personal health (from the standpoint of the exercise involved and the fact that fresh picked produce has the highest amount of nutrients), but now it’s been shown to promote mental health as well! Of course, I knew it all along.
By Kristie Snyder,
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
—James Oppenheim, from a 1911 poem supporting a Lawrence, Massachusetts textile worker’s strike
The workers that James Oppenheim’s poem paid tribute to were mostly immigrant women, who fed their families mainly—and meagerly—on a diet of bread. They were striking, ultimately unsuccessfully, against a pay cut. Starving was a very real threat; presumably they were less worried about their hearts. But the “bread and roses” quote endures—a testament to the power that the beauty of flowers holds.
Today, it’s South American flower workers, most of whom are also women, who might well be seeking “bread and roses.” Amy Garbincus, a flower and vegetable farmer at Three Sisters Farm and GreenStar Wellness staffer, says she is often asked, “Who cares if flowers are organic?”
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New in Produce
|The Grapes are Coming!|
You've waited all year for them — Thornbush grapes are here this month! Along with a bounty of local produce of all kinds.
Apparently July, not August, is the hottest month of the year. I always think of August as being an unbearable sweltering wash of humidity and scorch ... looks like I'm wrong. What I do know, however, is that late August brings us local grapes from Thornbush! And, it's finally tomato season, one of my favorite times of the year! This month, Stick and Stone Farm brings us summer squash, cherry tomatoes (try them in the recipe on page 8), basil, chard, kale, and green beans! Remembrance Farm continues to deliver greens (also used in this month's recipe), and Blue Heron offers beets, eggplant, cucumbers, and garlic. (August also brings Gaahl, from Gorgoroth's, 38th birthday! Happy Birthday, Gaahl!) So I guess August isn't so bad ... sure it's the end of our two-month summer, but perhaps the local grapes and local tomatoes will quell your seasonal tears? If not there's always a time machine. Wait, no there isn't. Sorry about that.