I hope everyone enjoyed their week 1 bag. We had a lot of fun on deliveries last week. Everything went extremely well.
This week I’m quite excited for a few things. First, we have a great combination of unique products that both tell a story and taste excellent. The center piece, in my opinion, of this week’s bag is a 2# bag of organic, black turtle beans. These come from a little bit further away than we like to get things (Athens Ohio) but the quality of the product and the mission of the company are just outstanding.
A story about the black beans
Brandon started Shagbark Seed and Mill Company about 3 years ago. I was having lunch with him two weeks back and really picking his brain on the whole scenario. He graduated college, didn’t know what he wanted to do, biked across the country and fell in love with Athens. He moved there from New England and wanted to get involved with food.
One of the things he noticed was that everywhere he went, the “staples” weren’t apparent in the local food scene. And particularly in Athens, which is on the edge of Appalachia, there was a noticeable lack of black beans, hominy, grits, cornmeal, etc. These are traditional American ingredients!
He started working with farmers and learning how to grow a speciality dried bean and – more importantly – how to efficiently harvest them and how to clean them. This is what really caught my eye. I’ve been trying to work with farmers to do this for a few years now and can’t seem to get it right. Here’s a quick lesson in math:
Brandon’s farmer has been growing about 500 acres of soybeans. He had access to some additional land that was able to get certified organic. Soybeans sell by the bushel for anywhere from $8 to $13 a bushel, depending on the time of the year. The bushel weighs about 40 lbs. He yields about 40 to 50 bushels per acre, depending on the weather and soybean he selects. Soybeans are traditionally planted very thick and sprayed with roundup to kill the weeds at the third foliar. They are then harvested with a combine. The soybeans look like a carpet on the field.
With black beans, a dried bean grown oranically, you have to plant them on raised beds with rows wide enough to allow the farmer to cultivate between the rows and cut down the weeds. This wastes a lot of space. This farmer, however, still managed to get a yeild of 45 bushels per acre….at a price of $42 per bushel (which is also extremely high for a dried bean but he’s getting it!). That’s a slight increase from $8.
This year, Brandon’s farmer plans to grow 65 acres of organic black beans, up from just 2 acres the three years ago.
Other items in the bag
To compliment the black beans, we’ll feature heirloom corn chips, also made by Shagbark, featuring heirloom, organic flint corn. As you can see, I might be taking a taco salad twist with this bag!
You’ll also receive 1# of chorizo (medium spice) made from our pasture raised Berkshire hogs, some red leaf lettuce, green onions, cilantro, and (cross my fingers on this) the seasons first slicing tomatoes. Think of the tasty salsa you can make!
But this week has a few odd-ball ingredients. A few farmers wrote this week and the swiss chard and bok choy needs to move this week (when I was hoping for it next week). So we’ll throw some recipes in there for some stir fry with these veggies.
Items at the back of the truck
Last week we had a lot of questions about the items available at the back of the truck. Each week we try to have some additional items available to purchase at the back of the truck. This selection changes weekly, but it is sure to include milk, eggs, butter, yogurt, and usually a few frozen meats. Please remember to get your fresh eggs and milk each week at the back of the truck!
A good add-on this week will be some tasty salsa from our friend (and fellow Fresh Fork CSA subscriber) Cowboy George at Blaze Gourmet. We’ll have a good selection of his quality salsas available at the back of the truck in a variety of heat levels. The salsas are $6 per jar.
Also, for the vegetarians and vegans, please be sure to ask about our tofu!
For the larges…I blew the budget a little this week so expect a slightly smaller amount of food next week.
Here’s all of this week’s bag contents:
Summer Week 2:
Small CSA Share
2# black turtle beans
1 bag corn chips
1 # chorizo sausage
1 bunch green onions
1 bunch cilantro
1 head red leaf lettuce
1 head either baby bok choy or 1 bunch swiss chard (depends on stop)
1 head jumbo white stem bok choy
1.5# red slicing tomatoes (approximately 3 tomatoes)
Large CSA Share Small contents above plus:
1 head cauliflower
1 bunch red kale
1 lb snow peas
2 ct zucchini
1 package chicken brats
Small contents minus chorizo, add:
1 head cauliflower
1 lb snow peas
2 ct zucchini
Small contents minus chorizo,
Same as Vegetarian