Farm Update 12 July 2012

Soil Quality, Superfoods and the Dirty Dozen

Frank and I work a lot on intuition, on what feels good. A few years ago when we were updating our letterhead and logo, the phrase “Artisan Growers of Genuine Produce” came up in our mind and we have used it ever since as part of our letterhead, without really working out why. It was mainly how we saw ourselves and what we believe in.

Recently we have gone through some changes in our work area as well as our personal lives, leading us to read up on causes of cancer, dusting off books in our little ‘library’, investigate more on the relationship between soil, food and health, reconnecting with old research friends and new literature and questioning our farming motives and CSA.

So what does “Artisan Growers of Genuine Produce” really mean? It was time I looked it up.

Wiktionary describes the word “genuine” as

“Belonging to, or proceeding from the original stock; native; hence, not counterfeit, spurious, false, or adulterated; authentic; real; natural; true; pure.”

Authentic, Real, True, Pure food is what we aspire to grow, food that is worth (i.e. nutritional) eating. Food that helps you stay healthy or become healthier.

For food to be authentic and nutritious, to be nutrient dense, it has to be grown by someone who knows what he does, who can understand how the soil, the plants and the environment around him/her work; to make sure that all the goodies that come from the soil go into the plant.  It needs to be focused on producing food quality, not quantity.  A craft person, an artisan!

Wikipedia describes an “artisan” person as:

“artizan (from Italian: artigiano) or craftsman (craftsperson)[1] is a skilled manual worker who makes items that may be functional or strictly decorative, including furniture, clothing, jewelry, household items, and tools or even machines such as the handmade devices of a watchmaker. An artisan is therefore a person engaged in or occupied by the practice of a craft, who may through experience and talent reach the expressive levels of an art in their work and what they create.”

It also says that “The adjective "artisanal" is sometimes used in marketing and advertising as a buzz word to describe or imply some relation with the crafting of handmade food products, such as bread, tofu, beverages, and cheese. Many of these have traditionally been handmade, rural, or pastoral goods but are also now commonly made on a larger scale with automated mechanization in factories and other industrial areas”. 

These days most production is very automated and industrialized. While only 50 year or so ago, many people were employed in the primary and secondary industries, these days more people make money by selling advertising to sell the products made by a few.  Making more with less, goes these days up in many ways, but most often it is at the cost of the quality of the product or the wider environment.  Advertisers make things often look better than they really are and everyone is getting more and more confused of what is good or real and what is not.

There are so many marketing ploys in food labeling that is very confusing what we are buying so you should know how your food is grown. At Wairarapa Eco Farms we grow food like it was grown before all the chemicals were produced. The main difference from pre-industrial time ago and what we at the farms do today is that we have use plastic to cover our crops over winter and nice tractors to make work easier. But we will never do anything to compromise the food quality.

While soil quality is key for the long-levity and the health of the valuable soil we grow in, food quality/nutrition plays an important role in our health and the health of our families. We have learned that vegetables that are good for our soil or crop rotation are also good for our health. Many of these vegetables are heirloom varieties, older types of veggies that society has forgotten and are no longer available in our corner store supermarkets. They are also known as “Super Foods” (see Western Price Foundation). These vegetables are both calorie sparse and nutrient dense, meaning that ’they pack a lot of punch for their weight as far as goodness goes’. They are superior sources of anti-oxidants and essential nutrients – nutrients we need but cannot make ourselves. Some super foods include: broccoli, chicories, dandelion greens, endives, kale, lettuce, mustards, parsley and spinach greens. Our CSA friends find these regularly in their weekly share and like me, have been starting to appreciate their value more and more.  

Another group of fruit and vegetables we are concentrating on are the “The Dirty Dozen”. These are fruits and vegetables that contain the most residual pesticides. Conventional foods containing the most pesticides are apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, and kale/collards. Here at the Wairarapa Eco Farms we do our best to ensure that your family receives the best clean, healthy produce that our area has to offer.

Here at the Wairarapa Eco Farms we have come to understand that in order for our community (and our nation) to consume healthy and nutrient-dense foods, they must be more readily available. By joining our CSA, buying from our stall at the farmers market, or by buying directly online in our Farm Shop, you can make sure that you have access to genuine food, food that is clean and healthy!.

Looking back at our phrase underneath our farm name: “Artisan Growers of Genuine produce”, it is exactly what we wanted to be and what we have become.

This week you will find in your CSA shares:

Small Fruit Share: Kiwifruit 750-850g, Mandarins 650-750g, Braeburn apples 1.5kg.

Small Veggie Share: 1 large Leek, 1 - 1.2kg Pumpkin, 170-270g Bak Choy, 550-650g Winter Carrots, and 1 bag of Frisee Endive.

Large Veggie Share:1 large Leek, 1 - 1.2kg Pumpkin, 170-270g Bak Choy, 550-650g Winter Carrots, and 1 bag of Frisee Endive, 1.2kg Agria Potatoes, 500-600g Beetroot, 2 bulbs of Florence Fennel, 1 bag of Parsley and 1 bag of either Lettuce or Rocket.

We received a nice email last week from one of our CSA members who also looks after his own veggie plot.  He wrote:"thanks for the variety of things last week, don't know how you do it in the middle of winter". Thanks Ian. It is not easy to keep the garden going over winter, it is wonderful to be able to grow some under plastic!