In this week’s box you had a beautiful assortment of vegetables that are both born of Spring & Summer. All of those vegetables and the inadvertant subconscious digestion of a book: United States of Arugula: the Sun-Dried, Cold-Pressed, Dark-Roasted, Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution’s 3 pages on the history of, well, all foodstuffs but particularly on, Pasta Primavera.   For some reason it struck a chord.

Pasta Primavera is an Italian-American creation whose popluarity can be attributed to Le Cirque restaurant in New York opened by Sirio Maccioni & original Chef Jean Vergnes in 1974. Maccioni had traveled to Tuscany and brought back with him fresh cold-pressed olive oil. The olive oil spoke to him because of the simplicity of all the small plates or tapas that he sampled and in nearly every experience the olive oil made its appearance.

Primavera means ‘springtime’ and is a strictly seasonal dish including only a medley of vegetables during that time of year. There isn’t necessarily a set group of vegetables that would be commonly found in the dish, it varies restaurant to restaurant, region to region, of this country. The beautiful thing is that such strong contrasts of Primavera from region to region, restaurant to restaurant, family to family is that it leaves room to experiment, to be simple or complex; rich or light, even a chance to start your own family tradition. While we are fully aware that this is the humid city, and it is officially no longer spring and it may be 100 degrees outside, this is an insanely easy  way to use all of those squash, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant that have made an appearance repeatedly in your veggie box.

We are your unofficial test kitchen, we strive to create simple recipes without a lot of added junk. This recipe may sound a little like work, but it is a one pot wonder (just gotta chop — a lot) which is surprisingly light, tastes of freshness, and is perfect on pasta, rice,  or on an omlette (tested that too!). Just as the recipe itself changes so do the options that go along with it. We hope you enjoy this as much we did.

Recipe: Summervera

Week 37 Farms: farmer map

Fiddle head ferns, wild-caught sockeye salmon and the insanely rockin’ bluegrass band known as Water Tower Bucket Boys is just a small tidbit of what was available on a recent trip that some of the staff from Hollygrove Market & Farm were able make to the PNW (Pacific Northwest).

lettuceThe Portland Farmer’s Market had several handouts about the local produce and their farms. At least 3 vendors were offering such goods as wild or foraged for items: fiddle head ferns, second break of porcini, morels, dandelion greens, and other assorted flora or fauna. Our winter season of lettuce, swiss chard, garlic, kale, cabbage, and several other items you have seen quite a lot in past Buyers’ Club boxes were just starting to come in.

We spoke with several of the farmers and everyone after a long wet cold winter were definitely ready to enjoy the extra hours of sunshine and enjoy plenty of produce. Also, most of the farmers aren’t able sell all of their produce just through markets and often have a CSA as well in order pay the bills. The average cost of an 18 week CSA in both Portland, Olympia, and Seattle was anywhere between $450 to $550–or $25 week. All CSA’s offered payment plans and some gave steep discounts for purchasing a share (if paid in full) a month before the start of distribution or if you were in a low income bracket (great options for both students & seniors). Most offered delivery if you lived within a certain mile radius of the farm and some also gave reasons as to why it isn’t in their best interest to distribute outside of pick-up (usually at the market) or delivery times. One, the most obvious issues is time — farmers are very busy people especially in PNW with such a short growing seasons. The other reason is (environmental) economy, gas prices are costly with extra taxes and the drive alone just to the markets is enough to cause a dent in the bottom line.

fiddle heads fernsThe environmental economy factoid that someone shared with me is that for every mile you drive your car (even some hybrids) you produce 1 pound of garbage. I thought about how weird it might be, that while driving down the road then glance up into your rear-view mirror to see a one small pound bag of trash fly out of the back of your car every mile. Furthermore, what about shopping for all the other goods you need in your life, the necessities: shampoo, soap, detergent, and so on? How many pounds of trash are you pushing around in your shopping cart when you’re making groceries? Nobody knows yet, per se, because of the logistics involved in manufacturing. Such as manufacturing the item’s packaging whether or not it is made by the same company or if its shipped. How and where the item is produced is also important in measuring environmental economic impact. The warehouses that have contracts with brands that aren’t always in the same state or maybe even the in the same region. We could keep going but I believe you get the point. So, “what’s the answer?” you’re thinking. The answer can be a simple as, moderation, using everything to its fullest extent (not just with food but clothing, computers, etc) walk or ride a bike instead of drive.

Hollygrove Market & Farm is committed to purchasing produce within a 500 or less mile radius and works with our farmers to be more sustainable both economically and environmentally.

One more thing I would like to share is the interesting points of Thurston County’s Direct Farm Sales Map (Olympia, WA)knife skills

Economic Sustainability: farms are in itegral part of a thriving local ecomony. A dollar spent at a local farm or farmer’s market will circulate in the community many times over.

Fresh & Nutritious Whole Food: The faster food goes from farm to table, the longer it lasts, has more nutrients (enyzmes and other vitamins are lost the longer it is removed from the vine), and the better it tastes!

Diversity of Choice: When choosing among many farms and their products they vary in their agricultural practices, the items they produce, and how they treat the people who work for them. When you buy local, you decide where to spend your money and your own standards for the products you buy.

Local Control: The community has tremendous power over the environmental, social, and economic standards of local agriculture because the farmers directly rely on us for their support. We can also stop by and talk to the producer of your food choices face to face. By buying local, we can take back control of our food supply from increasingly consolidated corporations that are responsible almost solely to their shareholders.

Recipe:  Peach Cucumber Salsa

Map of Farms:farmer map