This Week in Food: Sotheby’s, CSAs and Stephen Colbert

The highlight of this past week (aside from, you know, working crazy hours and getting back into the swing of grad school) was discovering that I could participate in a CSA on campus, provided by the kind folks at Ward’s Berry Farm. For $20 I picked up a box teeming with poblano peppers, butternut squash, yellow carrots, apples, kale and some basil.
And wouldn’t you know it, auction goers at Sotheby’s “The Art of Farming” also participated in community-supported agriculture. The auction raised more than $100,000 to support local farming and to preserve heirloom vegetables. On the way out, attendees were able to pick up $20 boxes of farm-fresh veggies.
All lovely ideas, although, am I the only one who sees this auction as elitist? The fact that vegetables need to be a cause celebre for rich people says something troubling about the way we eat in America. Vegetables should be seen as something that EVERYONE can eat every day. Is the only way this kind of heirloom agriculture can exist is through high class events like this?
At the other end of the spectrum, we have Stephen Colbert testifying about Americans not wanting to do the work of migrant farmers. So we have small farmers selling their produce to wealthy people, while the rest of the country is only able to afford produce which has been picked by exploited workers without a voice?
As I think further about this, in the next few weeks I plan on seeing how much the produce I get from the CSA would cost in the stores I normally shop at: Whole Foods, Russo’s, etc. I’m curious to see whether I’m saving money or paying a premium to support local agriculture.
Either way, it’s clear CSAs aren’t an ideal solution for everyone. One of the reasons I am doing a CSA box is it’s right there on campus. But many people don’t have that luxury, and certainly can’t spend hours in the car driving to the farm or pick-up spot. Then there’s the issue of choice. I’ve been cooking veggies for years and will hopefully be able to find a use for everything I get in my box. But it’s hard enough get folks who don’t eat enough vegetables to eat them even when they’re chosen to suit their tastes.
Look for CSA updates in the weeks to come — if I can fit them in with school and work!

Tomato, tomahto

Normally, I’m skeptical of farmers’ markets. True, they are local and sustainable and organic, but they can also be extremely expensive. Last summer I spent $40 on a bag of gorgeous produce only to use it all in one meal. But this is Massachusetts Farmers’ Market Week, so I decided to take a lunchtime bike ride to BU’s on-campus farmers’ market, in hopes of procuring peaches for some ice cream action this weekend.

I had the most lovely visit with the folks from Wards Berry Farm in Sharon. And I scored. Big time. For $6, I biked away with gorgeous tomatoes, peaches and garlic:

All this for $6!

The kind gentleman running the stand noticed my means of transport and noted that the farm is only three miles from the commuter train. A weekend visit to the farm may be in the future…

I’ll get at least two meals out of these tomatoes:

I wanted to gobble these at my computer this afternoon. Hooray willpower!

Like I’ve said, stock a good pantry, and you’re good to go. Tonight I made an easy pasta with the fresh tomatoes and garlic, then tossed in some artichoke hearts and olives.

This reminds me of that Skittles commercial. A rainbow of flavor!

(The husband, who normally hates tomatoes of the grape or cherry varieties, snarfed up dinner so fast that I didn’t get a chance to photograph it.)

I also set some chickpeas up to soak overnight for a quinoa, chickpea and tomato salad for Shabbos dinner tomorrow night.

Chickpeas in a pressure cooker: 11 minutes to perfection.

Friday is my neighborhood farmers’ market. I’m definitely biking by on my way home to see if I can get some fresh basil for my basil-peach ice cream. My plant’s on its last leaves at this point in the summer.

Make me into ice cream, stat!

Come back this weekend for the recap on deliciousness.

Deliciously Affordable Buffet, Monday, August 23

This buffet sounds delicious and quite affordable:

Smart Peoples’ Lounge

Monday August 23

6 to 10

Bring your eyes ears hearts minds tongues teeth …the whole alimentary canal .. feet tushes

Featuring art works by Sylvain Malfroy-Camine

$10 includes buffet of seasonal foods from independent local farms

Pizza with Chestnut Farms goat, paprika-Aleppo harissa and Naragansett feta

White pizza with fresh mozzarella, and pesto with Grateful Farm basil

Kimball Farm heirloom tomatoes

Adobo seasoned Kimball Farm corn

Braised Chestnut Farms pork belly with spicy kim chi of wild fermented Dick’s Farmstand cabbages

House made pickles

Flats Mentor Farm pea tendrils with Kimball Farm radishes

Mac and cheese with Smith Farm raw milk 2-year aged gouda, 4-year aged cheddar, onions and pimenton

Cold brewed iced tea

Cold brewed iced coffee

Please RSVP to Debbie 781 648 2800

Prose 352A Massachusetts Avenue Arlington, MA 02474 781 648 2800 prosefood@aol.com




Heir Apparent

Yes, this auction is supposed to raise awareness of our hardworking farmers and the wonderful world of veggies out there. And, the proceeds are to help local farmers and food pantries. Still, it does leave me feeling a little queasy inside.  Seriously, did a group of wealthy foodies sit in a room and say, “now that anyone can have fresh veggies, what can we do with our money to still feel special?” Maybe that’s just me being cynical, although I was reminded of Jane Black’s diatribe against the heirloom tomato from last August.