Thursday, June 25, 2015

Strawberry Day 2015-What a Fun Day!!

Strawberries ready to head home! We can't wait for next year!
Last Sunday we had a great turnout for our 2015 Strawberry Day Party.  Thankfully we had a clear and sunny day for the celebration and the storms and rain held off until Monday morning.  It was fun to see some familiar faces again and we enjoyed the opportunity to meet some members who were visiting for the first time.
The wagon tour ended in the strawberry field,
where no one could resist sampling a sweet, sun-warmed berry
or two!
Captain Jack had a great day and boy was he tuckered out by the end of the party!  He’s still recovering, so he asked me to pass on a huge “Thank You” to all of the wonderful children (and adults) who played with him and took care of him on Sunday.  Farmer Richard was grateful for the help he had with feeding the animals in the evening.  Rico the goat and Richard’s pet pig appreciated the pieces of apple snacks the kids fed him.
We had our annual “pick the biggest berry” contest again this year.  Faith was the winner of the kids division and won with a berry weighing 0.12#!  Kathy and Jess tied for the adult division and picked berries weighing in at 0.11# each.  There was enough ice cream to go around, so these three ladies each went home with a ½ gallon of strawberry ice cream.  Carol was the lucky winner for participating in the scavenger hunt and also took a container of ice cream home with her.  If you weren’t able to attend the party….you might want to knock on one of these ladies’ doors and see if they’ll share their ice cream with you (although chances might be slim).
Farmers Richard & Andrea were happy to share farm stories
& wisdom on the farm tour!
Mark your calendars for our Fall Harvest Party on September 27.  We have a lot more fun planned including pumpkin picking, sweet potato digging & a hog roast!
----Richard, Andrea, Capt. Jack The Dog & The Entire HVF Crew
Wagon tours heading towards the sugar snap pea field, where
everyone could pick & eat to their heart's content!
Our heaviest berry contest winners! Each took home a 1/2 gallon of Castle Rock Organic Dairy & Harmony Valley Farm strawberry ice cream!
Farmer Richard asked for some help collecting eggs
at chore time!
Strawberry ice cream from Castle
Rock Organic Dairy & Harmony
Valley Farm was a big hit!

Wagon tours of the farm ready to head out

Vegetable Feature: Sugar Snap Peas

by Sarah Janes Ugoretz
That’s right—sugar snap peas are back in season! After weeks of teasing you with pea vine, the time has finally arrived. For those of you who are less familiar with these delicious late-spring vegetables, sugar snap peas are a cross between plump garden peas and flat snow peas, which come shortly after the sugar snap peas.  Their ability to produce pods with enclosed seeds places them in the legume family, along with other familiar foods such as beans, peanuts, and lentils. Although you may find that your pods have “strings” along the seam, the entire pod is edible.
The crisp and crunchy texture of sugar snap peas, paired with their sweet flavor, makes them stand out among other vegetables. You can eat them raw, just as they are, or you can cook them. If opting for the latter, they’re excellent steamed, seared, or roasted. In order to preserve the unique crunch of your sugar snap peas, make sure you don’t stray too far from the kitchen while you’re preparing them. Pay close attention to suggested cooking times, since overcooked peas will be soft and much less flavorful.
Falling second only to lima beans, sugar snap peas are our best option for protein when it comes to vegetables. One cup will get you about two grams of protein, not to mention three grams of natural sugar and about two grams of fiber. When it comes to vitamin C, sugar snap peas get the job done even better than an orange! One three-ounce serving will provide you with more than half of the recommended daily intake of this important antioxidant. For storage purposes, be sure to keep your sugar snap peas in the refrigerator, and do your best to eat them within one week. Just as with corn, the sugars in these peas will naturally convert themselves to starch. Keeping them cold will slow this process, while also preserving their texture and nutrient content.
I’ll leave you with this interesting, trivial fact: because they hold up so well to freezing and canning, only about five percent of sugar snap peas are sold fresh in the U.S. As informed eaters, we know that these peas—as with other vegetable—are best fresh, both nutritionally and flavor-wise. That being said, enjoy these healthy, delightfully crispy sugar snap peas and savor their short-lived season!

Kale Dip with Sugar Snap Peas
Serves 4
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced (or substitute garlic scapes)
3 cups thinly sliced kale leaves
Coarse salt
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
Pinch red-pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed

  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and kale and season with salt. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool. 
  2. Transfer to a food processor. Add cottage cheese and puree until smooth. Season with pepper flakes and lemon juice. 
  3. Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook peas until bright green and tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to an ice-water bath; drain. Serve with dip. 

Cook’s Note:  Dip can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Roasted Sugar Snap Peas with Black Pepper
Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray’s recipe featured on
Serves 2-3
½ pound sugar snap peas
Olive oil, to coat
Fine sea salt
Coarse black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. 
  2. Coat the snap peas lightly with olive oil. Season with sea salt and lots of black pepper. Roast (in a single layer on a baking sheet) until browned at the edges but still with some bite left to them, 10 to 12 minutes.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Strawberry Day 2015!

By Captain Jack-The Dog
Hello Everyone!  I’m so excited for our Strawberry Day party this coming Sunday, June 21!  I wanted to make sure I reminded everyone about the party in case you haven’t had a chance to read any of the invitations we sent previously.  We’re going to have a great time sharing together in a potluck lunch, followed by wagon tours through our fields and lots of strawberry picking.  Of course, I can’t forget to tell you we’ll also have strawberry ice cream!  We have a lot of exciting things happening in our fields right now and there will be plenty to see and pick.  Here’s a little sneak preview of some of the things we’re excited to show you on the tour.
We’ll start with the obvious….strawberries!  My dad, Farmer Richard, says this is one of the best fields of strawberries he’s ever seen….and he’s seen a lot!  We spent a lot of time and effort making sure the field was mulched really well last fall.  Dad says our investment has paid off this year.  Despite the rains we’ve had over the past week, the field still looks good and the berries are clean.  The plants have really been producing gorgeous, sweet, delicious berries.  My dad and some of his crew leaders will be in the field on Sunday to help you find the best berries.  Don’t forget to walk in between the rows with your ballet shoes on.  We want to keep the plants nice and healthy so we can continue to pick berries this year and so the field looks nice again for another year.  If you aren’t sure where to walk, just ask my dad.  He’ll show you the best way to tread lightly in the fields.
Along the tour route, you’ll see quite a few other vegetable crops as well.  We just started picking zucchini last Friday.  The plants look really nice and they are loaded with blossoms!  Right next to the zucchini you can check out the progress of the cucumbers, watermelons and melons.  If you look closely you might find a tiny little cucumber!  To get to the zucchini field, we’ll have to drive by the onions.  Man, they look good!  I think it’s going to be a good onion year….at least that’s my perspective as a dog.  Just another week or so of scallions and I think the green top Cipollini onions will be ready to harvest.  These are some of my mom’s (Andrea) favorite onions.  As we’re leaving that farm, you can take a look at the celery root field.  It looks pretty good!
We’ll make another stop at a location we call “Dorothy’s Bench.” Dorothy is our landlord and she has a really nice farm.  This year we planted our early broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi and sweet heart cabbages on her farm.  They look really nice and we’re excited to show you these beautiful fields.  We also decided to plant our tomatoes on her farm this year.  The first planting has already been staked and tied for the first time.  Wait until you see the tomatillo plants…..their stems are huge!
Before we leave Dorothy’s you’ll want to check out the sugar snap peas.  I have trouble picking them, but I can show you where they are and tell you how to decide whether they’re ready to pick or not.  You want to look for the big fat ones…they’re the sweet ones.  Don’t eat too many peas though…we have to save room for strawberries!
The strawberries are so delicious this year!  I’ve been eating them for my snack almost every day!  You are welcome to pick and eat in the field.  You might get a little dirty, so don’t wear your nicest shirt.  If you want to take some home to make jam or strawberry pies, make sure you bring some containers.  Kelly will have a scale by the packing shed where we’re going to load up the wagons for the tour.  Make sure you talk to Kelly before you get on the wagon so she can weigh your empty container.  Oh, I almost forgot…we’re having a contest!  While you’re picking strawberries, keep your eye out for large berries.  We are offering a prize to the kid and adult who find the biggest strawberry (by weight).  The prize will be strawberry ice cream that you can take home!  So lets talk about this ice cream.  Most members probably know by now that I really like strawberry ice cream.  Our friends at Castle Rock Organic Dairy made the ice cream for our party again this year.  They use their delicious creamy milk and strawberries from our farm that we froze last year.  They always alter their ice cream recipe a little bit for us so there is at least twice as much strawberry in it!  Last year there was a member who said she didn’t like strawberry ice cream, but she tried a little bit anyway.  Surprise—she loved it!
It’s time for me to get back to work.  I need to go check on the harvest crews with my Dad and then it will be time for my afternoon nap.  I hope you will consider coming to our farm on Sunday.  I’m really looking forward to a fun day!

Vegetable Feature: Garlic Scapes

by Andrea Yoder
Back in the early 90’s garlic scapes were not a vegetable you would’ve seen featured on any menu or in one of our newsletters.  In fact, we used to cut them off the plant and throw them on the ground!  Garlic scapes are a curly shoot that forms on a hardneck garlic plant and grows up from the center of the plant in June.  All of our varieties of garlic are hardneck garlic.  This type of garlic produces scapes as part of nature’ s plan for the plant to propagate itself.  The scape extends from the middle of the plant and forms a small bulb on its end.  If left to choose its own destiny, that bulb would eventually tip over and plant itself in the soil.  We want the garlic plant to focus its energy into producing a nice bulb of garlic, so we remove the scape from the plant.
We were the first farm in the Midwest to start saving the scapes and actually encouraging people to eat them.  In the early 90’s there was a woman from Korea who asked us to save the garlic scapes for her so she could make pickles.  We thought this was odd (remember we used to throw them on the ground), but saved some for her anyway.  She shared a jar of pickled scapes with us and we realized how good they are for eating!  We stopped throwing them away and started eating them!
Nearly the entire scape is edible.  They are best when harvested young and tender. I recommend trimming off the skinny end near the little bulb and sometimes you’ll need to trim the other end a bit as well.  The entire scape is edible and doesn’t need to be peeled….Easy!  Scapes have a bright, mild garlic flavor.  They can be used in any recipe that calls for garlic cloves, just chop them up and add them as you would clove garlic.  You can turn them into a simple pickle, or you can do a whole host of things with them including tossing them on a grill and then using them as a topping for a pizza. They are a great addition to eggs, are tasty when mixed with butter to use as a spread, or toss them into a stir-fry.
They’ll keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.  You could also take advantage of their unique & dramatic appearance and use them as a decorative item on your table for a few days before you decide to use them!

Pickled Garlic Scapes
Recipe borrowed from the blog Foodie with Family (
Yield:  1 pint
1 bunch garlic scapes (washed and trimmed)
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cups water
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon raw sugar (can substitute granulated white sugar if necessary)
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon mustard seed (not ground mustard)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (can omit if you’re sensitive to heat)
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds (not ground coriander)

  1. Coil each garlic scape and insert into a sterilized pint mason or ball jar. When you have filled the jar to within ¼ –inch of the top of the jar, coil or break any extra scapes and stuff them down into the center of the jar. When the jar is full of scapes, add the spices to the jar. Set aside.
  2. Bring the apple cider vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Carefully pour the boiling brine over the garlic scapes. The garlic scapes will probably pop up and look like they are trying to get out of the jar. Use a sterile chopstick or butterknife to push it back into the jar. Wipe the rims of the jars, then fix the lid tightly into place. Let the jars come to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator for 6 weeks before opening and tasting. Be patient. It’s worth it!
  3. The pickled garlic scapes will store well for up to 8 months when stored tightly covered in the refrigerator. If at any point the scapes stick above the brine and develop mold, remove the entire scape that has mold. The rest should still be alright.

Garlic Scape & Cilantro Pesto

This recipe was recently published in the Edible Madison, Season by Season 5th Anniversary Edition. We’d encourage you to take a look at this publication, either in print or online: or at their website: It features seasonal recipes contributed by seasonal cooks and chefs from the region.  Dani Lind is responsible for this recipe.  Dani is a long time friend of Harmony Valley Farm and a talented chef and owner of Rooted Spoon Culinary in Viroqua.  If you’re in our area this summer, check out her website to see what special events she has going on.  (

Serves 6 (Makes approximately 1 ½ cups)
1 cup garlic scapes (6 to 8 scapes, or about 1 bunch), cut into 1-inch pieces, tips removed and     discarded
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds, toasted and cooled
1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems coarsely chopped
⅓ cup cold-pressed sunflower oil
2 tsp lime juice or apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine scapes and pumpkin seeds in food processor and pulse until coarsely ground.  
  2. Add cilantro, lime juice and oil;  pulse until evenly chopped.  Season with salt and pepper.  Use within a week in the fridge or freeze.

**HVF Serving suggestions:  Toss with hot pasta and grated cheese for a quick dinner;  Stir into scrambled eggs, use as a spread on a sandwich, mix with sour cream or plain yogurt and use as a dip for fresh veggies.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Vegetable Feature: Kohlrabi

by Andrea Yoder
Kohlrabi is one of our favorite spring vegetables (I say that a lot…I guess we have a lot of favorites!).  It fills a special spot in the season as it bridges the gap between all of the leafy greens we have early in the season and some of the more substantial vegetables such as beets, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and cabbage which need a little more time.  While many think that kohlrabi is a root vegetable, it’s actually a swollen stem that grows above the ground.  It has a unique appearance all to its own with collard-like leaves growing from thin stems that extend out of the bulb part of the kohlrabi.  The greens are also edible and can be cooked similarly to collards or kale.
You may find green or purple kohlrabi (or both!) in your box.  The only difference between the two is the color of the skin.  Once you peel it away the tender, crisp vegetable on the inside is the same.  The skin is a little tough, so we do recommend you peel it off.  I usually cut the kohlrabi bulb into quarters and then peel away the skin with a paring knife.
Kohlrabi is one of those vegetables that you don’t really need to do much with to enjoy it. It’s a great vegetable to snack on with your favorite dip or salad dressing.  Sprinkle it with a little salt and a squeeze of lemon and you’re on your way.  If you do want to get more creative, kohlrabi makes an excellent slaw when shredded or sliced thinly and tossed with a dressing or vinaigrette of your choosing.  It can also be cooked, but be careful not too over cook it or it will lose its bright, mild flavor.  Lightly sauté it or stir-fry it with a little butter or a simple sauce…and don’t forget to add the greens too!
It is best to store kohlrabi in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or a container with a lid to prevent the greens from wilting.  The bulb will last for a few weeks, but I’d encourage you to eat it soon to make room on your plate for all the other vegetables coming your way soon!

Shanghai-Inspired Stir-Fried Pork with Kohlrabi & Bok Choi
by Andrea Yoder

Serves 4
16 ounces boneless pork loin, trimmed of fat
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp dry sherry
4 Tbsp soy sauce
¼ tsp ground white pepper
2-3 Tbsp peanut or sunflower oil, divided
¼ cup thinly sliced green garlic or garlic scapes
6 ounces shiitake or oyster mushrooms, sliced thinly (approx. 2 cups)
2 kohlrabi, leaves and bulb
2-3 baby bok choi, sliced thinly (approx. 2 cups)
Chinese chile sauce or 2 tsp red curry paste
Kosher salt, to taste
Cooked rice for serving

  1. First, prepare all of the vegetables as indicated above.  For the kohlrabi, first separate the leaves from the bulb.  Remove the stem from the leaves and thinly slice the greens.  Cut the bulbs in half and peel off the outer layer.  Cut the flesh into matchsticks.  Set aside until you’re ready to start the stir-fry.
  2. Freeze the pork for 15 minutes, then remove it from the freezer and slice it into ¼-inch thick slices.  Stack the slices and cut them into ¼-inch wide strips.  Transfer the pork to a medium bowl and toss with the cornstarch, sherry, soy sauce, white pepper and 1 Tbsp of the oil.
  3. Heat a large skillet until almost smoking.  Add 1 Tbsp of the oil and heat until the oil shimmers.  Drain the liquid off the pork, reserving it for use later.  Add the pork to the pan and stir-fry until it is cooked through, which will only take about 1-3 minutes.  Transfer the pork to a plate and set aside.  Add a little more oil to the pan.  Add the green garlic or scapes and mushrooms.  Stir-fry for 30-45 seconds or until the mushrooms are softened and wilting a bit.
  4. Add the kohlrabi greens and stir-fry 1-2 minutes or until wilted.  Next add the kohlrabi bulb as well as the baby bok choi.  Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, then add the pork and the reserved liquid back into the pan.  Stir-fry for a few more minutes or until the vegetables are just tender and the pork is hot.  
  5. If you like a little spice, serve the stir-fry with Chinese chile sauce, or stir in 2 tsp of red curry paste at the end of cooking. 
  6. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt and white pepper if needed.  Serve immediately with cooked rice.

Silent Spring Part 2: The Rise of Neonicotinoids

by Sarah Janes Ugoretz
This week we return to our Silent Spring series with a two-part feature on neonicotinoids or neonics, as they’re commonly called. The toxicity of these insecticides to insects and bees—paired with their widespread, global use—has fueled ongoing regulatory discussion and, in some cases, country-wide bans. Here in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency has recently refocused its attention on the environmental safety concerns associated with neonics, primarily honing in on insect pollinators. However, as researchers with the American Bird Conservancy point out, “much more is at stake,” as the environmental implications tied to the use of neonics “go well beyond bees” (Mineau & Palmer, 2013, p. 3). We’ll begin unpacking this warning here, as we explore what neonics are and how they’re being utilized. In the subsequent article, we’ll apply this understanding as we consider the various arguments for and against neonics.
In 1991, Bayer Cropscience introduced imidacloprid, the first of seven commercially available neonic compounds that today make up 24 percent of the global insecticide market (Bittel, 2014). Unsurprisingly, neonics are the fastest growing class of pesticides here in the U.S. (Bittel, 2014). Last year, 146 million acres of U.S. crops were verifiably treated with neonics—including virtually our entire corn crop and half of our soybean crop (Stockstad, 2013). To give you an idea, this area represents about 45 percent of our country’s cropland (Stockstad, 2012). However, as Stevens and Jenkins (2013) point out, this total doesn’t necessarily include acreage under insecticidal treatments such as neonic seed coatings, which alone account for 60 percent of neonic applications. We must also consider the widespread non-agricultural uses of neonics. For instance, in a recent study, nearly 60 percent of all turf and ornamental professionals polled named neonics as their “most used” insecticide (Growing Indiana, 2015).
So what exactly are these pervasive compounds? Put simply, they are insecticides that work as nerve poisons. By binding to receptors of the enzyme nicotinic acetylcholine, they disrupt nerve function—a process that leads to paralysis and, ultimately, to death (Leu, 2014). The degree to which neonics bind to these receptors is especially high within insects, a consideration that regulators have viewed favorably (Quarles, 2014). As we know, however, insects are not alone in their vulnerability to neonics. Bees are also highly at risk due to their having a large number of these particular receptors (Pesticide Action Network, 2015). As Quarles (2014) discusses, just 3-4 billionths of a gram of imidacloprid is enough to kill a honeybee. Meanwhile, smaller amounts can produce sublethal effects. In one particular study, Henry et al. (2012) found that 10 percent of bees that had ingested contaminated pollen and nectar in familiar areas failed to make it back to their hives. This number rose to 32 percent among bees in unfamiliar areas. Those that are able to return to their hives introduce larvae to contaminated pollen, which is seven times more toxic to them than it is to mature bees (Zhu, Schmehl, Mullin, & Frazier, 2014).
On top of their lethal capabilities, users find neonics’ versatility in application appealing. Apart from more commonly utilized foliar sprays, neonics can be delivered in what have been described as more targeted ways via soil drenches, granules, tree injections, and as seed treatments. Overall, proponents have heralded these delivery mechanisms as being not only more environmentally friendly, but more effective as well (Simon-Delso et al., 2015).
As the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) (2015) has pointed out, the environmental risks associated with neonics remain poorly understood. One of the primary drivers of these risks is another characteristic that has made neonics highly attractive—their systemic nature. Neonics are classified as systemic agents in that, rather than remain confined to the plant’s exterior (as is the case with contact insecticides), they instead permeate the entire organism. Take seeds that have been treated with a neonic coating, for instance. Once planted, the neonic compound is essentially incorporated into every tissue and “every bud and branch, effectively turning the plant itself into a pest-killing machine” (Bittel, 2014). As Quarles (2014) comments, this feature makes it impossible for neonics to be applied in a way that mitigates their impact on organisms because “systemics are always present.”
Now let’s consider neonics’ systemic properties in relation to another fundamental characteristic—their persistence. Whereas older insecticides such as organophosphates tend to degrade somewhat rapidly following application (though we by no means advocate for their use), neonics can remain in the environment for well beyond one year (Goulson, 2013). What this means is that the window of exposure for non-target organisms, like various species of birds and butterflies, is huge (Quarles, 2014).
Keeping this in mind, and using seed treatments as an example, let’s consider the various pathways neonics can take from a single point of origin. Starting with the mechanized planting process, seed coatings may be aerially dispersed, along with talc and poisoned dust generated by planting machines (Quarles, 2014). With airborne particles, it becomes impossible to prevent the contamination of non-target organisms and soil. This side effect—albeit unintended—is essentially pesticide drift, one of the primary consequences proponents cite as not being associated with seed treatment applications (PAN, 2015). Meanwhile, seeds that are successfully planted—or unintentionally spilled—may now be consumed by various organisms prior to or during the germination process. As Quarles (2014, p. 8), drawing from the work of Mineau and Palmer (2013), points out, “…one imidacloprid treated corn seed can be lethal to the average bird…[and] about 1/10 of a lethal dose can cause chronic and reproductive effects.”
The seeds that do remain in the ground go on to take up anywhere from 2 to 20 percent of the neonic compound they’ve been treated with (Quarles, 2014). The remaining 80 to 98 percent either becomes airborne via seed drills and other soil disruptions or remains in the soil. Apart from the negative implications this has on ground-dwelling species, we must consider the fact that neonics are water-soluble. It is therefore not uncommon for these compounds to leach into ground and surface water, where non-target contamination continues (Goulson, 2013). Finally, secondary exposure—whereby a non-target predator consumes poisoned prey—is also a possibility. Keep in mind this prey may have been exposed to neonic compounds via airborne particles, treated seeds, the leaves, nectar or pollen of a treated or unintentionally polluted plant, via contaminated water, or even through organisms that it itself has preyed upon (Quarles, 2014).
As researchers and activists with PAN (2015) state, the rate at which neonics are used, along with “their unplanned presence paints a worrying picture of low level but continued exposure.” Given that even miniscule amounts of neonic compounds can cause lethal or sublethal effects—and considering that the toxicity of these compounds is cumulative—we indeed are validated in our concerns. Bittel (2014) recognizes that a number of the effects associated with neonics are similar to those of organophosphates, which were meticulously observed and discussed by biologist Rachel Carson back in the 1960s. Unfortunately, it appears that we “didn’t learn our lessons” (Bittel, 2014).
Watch for more on the ill effects of neonics in the coming weeks, as we dig deeper into some of these issues.
Resources Used
Bittel, J. (2014, July 9). Second silent spring? Bird decline linked to popular pesticides. Retrieved from

Goulson, D. (2013). An overview of the environmental risks posed by neonicotinoid insecticides. Journal of Applied Ecology, 50, 977-987.

Growing Indiana. (2015, March 23). Research confirms neonicotinoids critical to the Green Industry. Retrieved from

Henry, M., Beguin, M., Requier, F., Rollin, O., Odoux, J., Aupinel, P.,…Decourtye, A. (2012). A common pesticide decreases foraging success and survival in honey bees. Science Express, 336(6079), 348-350.

Leu, A. (2014). The myths of safe pesticides. Austin, TX: Acres U.S.A.

Mineau, P., & Palmer, C. (2013). The impact of the nation’s most widely used insecticides on birds. American Bird Conservancy.

Pesticide Action Network UK. (2015). Neonicotinoids. Retrieved from

Quarles, W. (2014). Neonicotinoids, bees, birds and beneficial insects. Common Sense Pest Control, 28, 3-10.

Simon-Delso, N., Amaral-Rogers, V., Belzunces, L., Bonmatin, J., Chagnon, M., Downs, C.,…Wiemers, M. (2015). Systemic insecticides (neonicotinoids and fipronil): Trends, uses, mode of action and metabolites. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 22, 5-34.

Stevens, S.M., & Jenkins, P. (2013). Pesticide impacts on bumblebee decline: A missing piece. Conservation Letters: A Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, 6, 213-214.

Stokstad, E. (2013). How big a role should neonicotinoids play in food security? Science, 340(6133), 675.

Stokstad, E. (2012). Field research on bees raises concern about low-dose pesticides. Science, 335, 1555.

Zhu, W., Schmehl, D.R., Mullin, C.A., & Frazier, J.L. (2014). Four common pesticides, their mixtures and a formulation solvent in the hive environment have a high oral toxicity to honey bee larvae. PLoS ONE, 9(1), e77547.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Vegetable Feature: Cilantro

by Sarah Janes Ugoretz

This week we’re excited to feature cilantro, one of the most healthy herbs out there! Beyond its renowned fragrance and its bright, citrusy flavor, cilantro is a powerhouse when it comes to medicinal properties. In Sarma Melngailis’s cookbook, Living Raw Food, she cites some of cilantro’s unique nutritional properties including one of its most unique features in supporting chelation. This process refers to cilantro’s ability-as a “substance that has a great molecular surface area and a negative ionic charge”-to essentially remove various toxins, heavy metals, molds, yeast, and fungi from our bodies.  This is an especially important property for those of us who reside in urban areas and are exposed to a number of airborne pollutants on a regular basis. Beyond its work as a chelator, cilantro is also an excellent source of zinc, thiamin, dietary fiber, and vitamins A, C, E, and K--just to name a few.
Thought to have originated in Greece, cilantro’s culinary history spans millennia. According to Lynda Balslev, writing for a 2010 National Public Radio article, coriander seeds were found in 8,000 year old caves in Israel, are referred to in the Bible and in ancient Sanskrit texts, and were even sprinkled across the floor of King Tut’s tomb. It wasn’t until the 1600s that these seeds made their way to the Americas, but today, cilantro is widely used throughout the American Southwest, Latin America, and the Caribbean, as well as in parts of Asia and the Middle East. Here in the Midwest, you’re most likely to encounter cilantro in salsas or guacamole, but it is also an excellent addition to shakes, salads, and-as you’ll see in the accompanying recipe-in soups.
Outside of the U.S. and Mexico, cilantro often goes by other names--primarily, coriander, pak chi, or Chinese celery. Unlike most of Europe where the entire plant is referred to as coriander, in the U.S. we identify the seeds as coriander and the leafy part of the plant as cilantro. Though they come from the same plant, coriander seeds and cilantro have entirely different flavor profiles.
For storage purposes, cilantro keeps best if kept upright in a jar with water. Cover with a plastic bag and place the jar in the refrigerator. Keep in mind that you can use not only the leaves, but the stems as well since they are thin and tender enough to blend right in with any dish!

Spring Shiitake & Cilantro Soup
by Andrea Yoder
Serves 4-6

2 Tbsp Sunflower oil
⅔ cup green garlic, greens & bulb chopped finely
3-4 green onions, greens and bulb separated
1 Tbsp minced ginger
6 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly (approx. 2 to 2 ½ cups)
1 ½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste (optional)
⅛ tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp mirin or rice wine vinegar
⅔ cup asparagus, cut into ½-inch pieces
4 baby white turnips, tops removed, chopped finely
½ cup chopped cilantro
Toasted sesame or peanut oil, to taste

  1. Heat the sunflower oil in medium sauce pot over medium heat.  Finely chop the bulb or lower portion of the green onion.  Thinly slice the green onion tops and set aside to garnish the soup at the end.  When the oil is warm, add the finely chopped onion and the green garlic.  Sauté for 1-2 minutes and then add the ginger and shiitake mushrooms.  Sauté for 2-3 more minutes or until the mushrooms start to soften.
  2. Add the salt and season with black and white pepper and crushed red pepper if desired.  Add the chicken or vegetable stock, cover and return the soup to a simmer.  Simmer for 8-10 minutes.
  3. Remove the cover and add the soy sauce, mirin and asparagus.  Simmer for another 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the finely chopped turnip, cilantro and green onion tops.
  4. Adjust the seasoning to your liking with additional salt and pepper if needed. 
  5. Portion the soup into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of sesame or peanut oil.

Cocount Rice with Lemongrass & Cilantro
Recipe borrowed from Lorna Sass’ book, Lorna Sass’ Complete Vegetarian Kitchen
2 ½ cups water
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, cut into 1-inch pieces, or 2 tsp dried lemongrass, placed in a tea ball or tea bag
1 cup long-grain or basmati brown rice
½ cup unsweetened, grated coconut
¾ tsp salt
⅛ to ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flaces
¼ cup chopped cilantro
  1. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, bring the water and lemongrass to a boil.  Add the rice, coconut, salt, and red pepper flakes.  Return to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 45 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.  
  2. Remove the tea ball or pieces of lemongrass.  Stir in the cilantro as you fluff up the rice with a fork.