Monday, May 10, 2010

Fruitful Farming

I’m not much of a fruit eater….save for my beloved bananas--until summertime. This is a pretty on target statement if you are eating with the seasons because here in the northeast no fruit grows in the wintertime. Yet even as a nutrition counselor who believes in whole, clean foods and who loves to eat locally I admit that I don’t know a lot about the fruit growing process. In other words, I’ll tell you why to eat a blueberry and where to buy a blueberry. However I can’t tell you how to grow a blueberry….or asparagus, Swiss chard, pea shoots or a beet, for that matter.

Though, I know a farmer who can tell you. About the fruit and a couple of vegetables, anyway. He tells me and has taken me through the process more than one time. However I haven’t had my notebook and while it makes sense in the moment…..I have not retained enough information except to say that you can begin to pick blueberries in July and finish in early August. I do remember that they are best eaten in the field. However that information, along with a Metro Card, gets you on the subway and not really any other place!

I do want to focus on the food growing process though. Most people don’t think about it enough. They get into their cars, head toward the supermarket, walk through the parking lot and in through the automatic door, get hit with a blast of air conditioning and pull boxes off shelves and out of frozen cases. They then drive home and place the boxes on their pantry shelves and in their refrigerators and say they have bought food.

The farm stands and farmer’s markets are beginning soon….some as early as this weekend. The food buying process through this venue is a bit more colorful and dimensional. An added plus is that you actually get to speak with the farmers. Really. Most of the time those selling you that bunch of arugula, the dandelion greens, the celery root and/or the free range chickens really are part of the entire process.

The farmers get up at, or before, dawn. The logistics of creating and sustaining a viable crop would make the average event producer shudder. The “to do” list of things includes turning the soil and irrigating the plants. Then there are a range of “fires” that may need to put out at any time, having to do with weather and wind patterns, among other things. The number of scenarios that can come up during a typical “day at the office”, a.ka. in the field, would make the average corporate executive quake from anxiety.

While our government places cash subsidy in crops such as corn and wheat, where is the help for the fruit and vegetable growers? Why does a large company, such as Monsanto get to affect farmers and long.-standing techniques? And when the average family sees that purchasing a head of broccoli in a supermarket is more expensive then a hamburger, fries and drink at a fast-food restaurant something is wrong.

Sigh. It’s food for thought for today. And while the blueberries won’t be ripe for the picking for a few more months, remember that they are high in antioxidants and are great in a muffin.

Here’s a recipe for some blueberry muffins. If it’s too hot to use it soon, remember those blueberries can be frozen so that you can have a taste of summer in the dead of next winter.

Happy Blueberry Muffins

2 cups blueberries

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1/3 cup brown rice syrup

1 ¼ cup of spelt/almond or brown rice flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup of olive oil

Pinch of Celtic Sea Salt

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-Use olive oil or butter inside your muffin tins.

-Add wet ingredients to a medium side bowl with blueberries

-Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl

-Pour wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients

-Fill muffin tins.

-Bake for 30 or so minutes/until toothpick comes out dry.

Healthy recipes, and nutritional values of foods that are healthy and taste great are just some of what is covered when clients work with me. If you’d like to learn more or schedule a nutrition consultation with me please refer to my website