Carrot About Sweet and Savory

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glazed carrotsYou know how sometimes you are in the mood for something sweet and other times something savory? Well, if you have a carrot in the house you can swing either way. The carrot is a truly accommodating piece of produce.

Sweet and Savory
Alton Brown’s Glazed Carrot
This recipe is super convenient in part because the number one ingredient, ginger ale, can be purchased at the local convenience store. Seems odd to cook carrots in ginger ale but when you think about it you’ve got your liquid, ginger, and sugar all mixed up in one nifty bottle. The recipe also includes chili powder and dried parsley flakes (which we are conveniently offering as the herb and allium subscription this week). Check out the recipe and video here. Don’t be put off by the rather odd place Brown puts his face at the start of the video!

Just Sweet
Honey Glazed Carrots
All you really need here is 10 minutes, butter, lemon, and honey.

Just Savory
Carrot Salad
Features lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. The recipe also asks for cumin and cayenne pepper but, if you don’t have those hanging around, chili powder will do the trick as cumin is a main ingredient.

 

This Week’s Field Goods Favorite
Carrots

carrotsA colorful, versatile standard. Roasted, steamed, marinated, or raw, you can’t go wrong with some orange on your plate. Try carrots a new way this week—maybe pureed in this delicious and easy Carrot Ginger Curry Soup pre-tested on fussy kids.

Roasted Balsamic Carrots
Sesame Carrot Salad
Butter Roasted Carrots with Thyme
Simple Carrot Soup
Baked Carrot Oven Fries

Will Trump’s Wall Strangle the Local Food Movement?

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Modern Farmer published an article on January 10, 2017 titled “If Trump Builds the Wall, What Will Happen to our Food System?.” We are going to take the article one step further and talk about how immigration policy does and will impact small farmers.

strawberry picker workers

Line of strawberry pickers in the hot Florida sun.

The conversation about farm labor must take into consideration that small farming is a fundamentally different business than industrial-scale farming. The contrast could be likened to the difference between a small company making custom furniture and a manufacturing plant churning out products for Walmart.

Field Goods is built around small, local farmers. We buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of produce from small farms in New York State every month. We know the farmers personally and we visit their farms. So here are some facts that we have learned over the past five years of working with local farmers:

  1. Labor is the biggest issue. When we ask farmers to grow more or grow certain crops, the number one reason they can’t is the lack of qualified labor. Here is what we’ve heard from one farmer of a high-value crop who has been forced to curtail his production: “I’ll pay workers whatever they want but I can’t find people that will do the work.” He is located in an area where there are very few migrants.
  2. Field workers are not gardeners. Farming is a skilled job requiring extensive knowledge and extraordinary physical stamina and conditioning. In a few hours, an unskilled worker can destroy thousands of dollars of produce by simply picking under-ripe items or the wrong items. With respect to the physical requirements, there are two issues here. The first is that pulling a person out of the unemployment line and putting him/her in the field is not all that different from telling them your job is to run a 10K and bend over and touch your toes every 5 steps. Second, even if they are in very good physical condition, body type and muscular development play a role. When we visit farms in our area, we see Central American workers in the produce fields and Jamaicans harvesting tree fruit. Maybe our conclusion here is wrong, but it certainly seems to make intuitive sense in the same way an athletic director would put his 6’5″ 250-pound student on the football field, not in the swimming pool.
  3. All farm workers are not underpaid, exploited or predominately illegal — at least not in the Hudson Valley. The farm employees we see on the farms and work with directly are people that have been coming back to the same farms for years under the H-2A visa program. They receive fair wage and housing. Some manage the entire farm operation and are paid considerably more than minimum wage.
  4. The H-2A program process is a serious problem. It is unpredictable, lengthy, expensive, and often ignores some of the realities of farming. For example, strawberries need to be picked in the spring not in June after the workers have been cleared. Regulations that make it more difficult will exacerbate the problems.
  5. To the extent that there is an increase in wages, our math shows that small farmers will get hit harder than industrial farms because labor costs are a much larger component of small-scale farming than industrial farming. And, this effect of higher wages extends beyond food prices but also to variety of what is farmed. Just yesterday a farmer asked if we could buy more green beans because he can no longer afford to have them hand picked. His choice is to stop growing green beans, or to gamble on being able to sell a large enough volume to risk purchasing a mechanical bean picker.
  6. Small farming is a growing business after decades of decline. The farms we work with have increased production considerably. They are also extending their seasons and innovating, which makes labor challenges even more significant. They are tackling this by purchasing equipment to replace labor, which in turns decreases jobs as well as variety.

To conclude, let’s not allow the new administration to put all our farmers’ eggs in one basket.

 

What do you get when corn is run over by a truck?

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creamed cornCreamed corn! Make it in your slow cooker this week for the long weekend. You can’t beat the crock pot if you’re looking for easy and stress free. Creamed corn is rich comfort food that gives you a little taste of summer in January. Here’s how you make it:

Pour 1/2 cup of milk over the top of the corn. Cut 1/4 stick of butter and 1/2 block of cream cheese into small pieces, then scatter them over the surface of the corn. Don’t mix them in. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours, or on low for 4-6 hours. Halfway through, give it a stir (unless you’re not home, then don’t worry about it). Stir thoroughly after it’s cooked through. The beauty of creamed corn is, if it’s too thick you can add some milk. If it’s too thin, give it a couple minutes to thicken. Can’t mess it up! That’s the Field Goods cooking motto.

 

shishito mushroomsThis Week’s Field Goods Favorite
Shiitake Mushrooms

If you eat miso soup, you should be familiar with Shiitake mushrooms. Most people don’t eat the stems of these, so we suggest using them for stock instead.

Sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms
Fettuccine with Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake and Green Bean Stir-fry
Garlic-Sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms –10 minutes/4 ingredients, doesn’t get much easier than that.