Good Habits & Our Top Ten List: CSA Week 22

September 25 – 28, 2017

We know you have been eating well since your shares have been bountiful with wholesome organic food. The very nature of the CSA shareholder program is to pass along more when there is more (tomatoes, anyone?), and less when there is less. The weather cooperated for the most part this season and it seems there was a good mix of items each week along the way. Thank you for consistently picking up your share each week, and hopefully you have developed a habit of eating well. It does not have to end with this last pick-up of the summer season!

Those of you that are continuing for the fall CSA season will continue the surprise and joy of discovering what is in your share, albeit every other week. Others of you may be planning to shop the farmers market each week to maintain your good food addiction, and we look forward to seeing you there. Either way, consistently consuming local and organic foods are vitally important for your health, and those around you. You don’t really want to think about your food dollars being used by someone, somewhere to spread or spray highly toxic chemicals on the land, do you?

We know from the data generated by the research team at the UK College of Agriculture, Food, and the Environment, that organic CSA shareholders spend considerably less time in a doctor’s office, and less money on pharmaceuticals than the average Kentuckian. Specifically, CSA’ers see a doctor 2.03 times per year and spend $17.23 on drugs, compared to 7.48 times and $33.84, for the ill advised. Think about that for a minute. You can either spend time in the comfort of your kitchen, preparing wholesome tasty dishes to enjoy and nourish your body, or sit in a waiting room full of sick people and then go spend money on some form of pharmaceutical drug that brings with it all sorts of side effects. Does that not make food “medicine”? If you have attended an Elmwood farm tour, you’ve seen this concept on the “Top Ten List of Things You Can Do for Yourself and the Community” at the end of our tours: Go to the Farm-U-See, not the Pharm-a-cy.

Another “top ten item” is to look for the USDA organic label when shopping at the grocery store. There is ill refutable evidence that organic foods are void of pesticide residues, and actually improve the environment where crops are grown, rather than have toxins willfully released into it. In the case of meat and dairy products, not only is the animal feed raised without the use of synthetic chemicals, but the forage based diet produces more heart healthy meat and milk for us to consume. Having served on the National Organic Standards Board, I can assure you the scrutiny behind the integrity of the organic seal is impeccable. This is confirmed every year when our farm submits our organic system plan to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Then when an organic inspector visits the farm, every aspect of our production and marketing system is verified to comply with the regulations. As part of the process, the inspector will randomly pick a specific crop, like eggs, and require us to demonstrate how the number of laying hens on hand matches the volume of feed consumed, along with the number of dozens of eggs sold. Not knowing what crop they might pick, we have to be prepared for anything on our list to be audited. The inspector often takes random samples for pesticide residue testing, and can stop in unannounced anytime. They are welcome anytime.

Additional research at UK has shown that plants grown in an organic system have a more diverse, and robust microbial profile, than plants grown with the use of insecticides and fungicides. A reasonable person would conclude that since a rich, microbially diverse soil yields a microbially rich plant, this leads to a microbially rich human microbiome. Understanding this microbe world is the final frontier of human health research and much attention is focused in this realm. So, an additional item on our “top ten list” is to be sure some percent of your diet is raw organic fruits and vegetables. Fresh vegetables that are eaten raw are normally rinsed before eating, yet they are far from sterile. Plant leaves have a protective microbial film on them for their own protection. This is why water beads up and rolls off a kale leaf. You can rinse a head of broccoli or a strawberry all you want, and this protective coating is unfazed, which is a good thing. The film is teaming with a mix of beneficial bacteria and fungi, which is vitally important for us to consume to feed the microbiome in our gut, and it is directly related to the health of our immune system.

As compelling as the data looks, it’s the freshness and flavor that keeps us all coming back for more. How do we be sure none of us have to go without local and organic food in the cool weather season? We have invested in an additional high tunnel greenhouse to grow more greens this winter. Whether we see you at the farmers market or at CSA share pickup day, we are comforted to know you are eating well. And, you will have to come on a farm tour to find out what is number 1 on our top ten list. – Mac Stone

In Your Share

Green Beans

Celery

Garlic

Salad Lettuce

Onions

Sweet Potato

Acorn Squash

Tomatoes

Green Zucchini

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