What You Missed at the Market

I succeeded in moving my market arrival time back this morning to pre-8 a.m. It made a big difference; it was easier to get around and there was more time to chat with folks because there wasn’t as much crowd pressure.

I don’t actually have my own will to thank for my early arrival, though. It was the meowed 5:45 a.m. wake-up call outside my window of the stray cat who arrived earlier in the week and has been hanging around ever since. This seems appropriate, given that this was the week new research on the domestication of cats was released. The NYT titled their article “Study Traces Cat’s Ancestry to Middle East” and noted that the study found that all domestic cats could be traced to five feline matriarchs. While the Washington Post didn’t include that detail, they had the better headline: “Why Do Cats Hang Around Us? (Hint: They Can’t Open Cans).”

So Puss got his 6 a.m. breakfast and I got myself together.

At the market, I got talking with market manager Felix (not a cat) and Bob the Honey Guy. I was telling them about the spare cat who clearly likes to be outside (mine are exclusively inside). Bob used to have three cats but is down to one. I rubbed my hands together.

“So, Bob, would you like a slightly used cat?”

“What does he look like?” Bob asked.

“He’s grey and short-haired; he has green eyes and a little orange nose.”

“A little orange nose?” Bob said. I thought I sensed him softening.

“Yes, the littlest, orangest nose. It’s very charming.”

“Well, I’ll have to talk to my cat about it and see what he says.”

“You let me know.”

Seriously, how could you say no to this face? (He’s wearing a collar we put on him and affixed a note to in order to see if he had a home.) I think the little fluffy guy may have known what he was doing, getting me out of bed at the crack of dawn. “Go find me another sucker like you, er, I mean a nice person with lots of cat food,” he was probably thinking.

At any rate, it wasn’t just Caturday at the market. I hadn’t expected to see Fred of Savage Island Farms back with cherries, but he was, for one last week – and he brought cherry juice besides.

I had some of Fred’s grape juice last summer, so I was prepared for good things when I popped the lid off the jar, and I wasn’t disappointed. This statement I’m about to make somehow simultaneously hits and misses the mark: It’s like the sweetest, freshest, grown-up-est Kool-Aid you can imagine. Hits because it’s intensely cherried-tasting, and misses because it, being from Actual Cherries, has a depth and range that is nothing like Kool-Aid cherry flavoring.

I have been trying to think of Something To Do With It – for some reason this morning the cool bracing nature of cucumbers sounded like it’d figure nicely with the juice – but I doubt I’ll come up with a fully-formed idea and the energy before I drink it all. No matter; it’ll get enjoyed.

Marchini Sisters had figs in…a reminder that we’re coming toward Fig Fest and the Fig Fest Dinner. I wasn’t well enough to enjoy Fig Fest last summer, but I’m hopeful I will be this year.

Finally, Michele at KMK (whose stall always seems to have the most dramatic lighting) had these beautiful melons – French breakfast, maybe? I forgot to ask.

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I Make the Paper

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Excitement! Joan Obra quotes me in the Bee.

Chimp tried out a new place last night with some of his departing students – ZPizza, up on Champlain. I was too bushed to go but he said it was pretty good. We’ve been working on a whole-wheat pizza crust recipe here too, actually – hope to reveal that soon.

Study: More Benefit from Food-Based Calcium Than Supplements

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Today I ran across a story about results from a study at the Washington University School of Medicine that I found very interesting. The study found that women who get most of their calcium from food have healthier bones and higher bone density than those who get most of their calcium from supplements – even though the women who got most of their calcium from supplements had higher calcium intake.

From the story:

The “diet group” took in the least calcium, an average of 830 milligrams per day. Yet this group had higher bone density in their spines and hipbones than women in the “supplement group,” who consumed about 1,030 milligrams per day. Women in the “diet plus supplement group” tended to have the highest bone mineral density as well as the highest calcium intake at 1,620 milligrams per day.

So the combination seemed to have the most benefit. What I found so interesting was that the dietary calcium only group had higher bone density than the supplement group, even though their overall intake was lower. Remember the studies that came out a while back that found little benefit or actual harm from vitamin supplementation?

(I’ll say here, before I say this, that I am not an expert in nutrition.) I had fully expected to see more results like that. We know so little, comparatively, about what’s in the foods we eat and how our body uses it. We know that protein/fat/carbohydrate isn’t the end of the story as far as what the body needs. Vitamins in isolation are clearly not at all the end of the story either.

So I’m going to keep eating my produce-rich diet and encouraging others to do the same: Get lots of color in your diet. Use unsaturated fats. Choose whole grains. We don’t know what all the compounds are that are making the difference, but they’re doing us good, even if we haven’t identified them or explained their purpose yet.

K.M.K. Farms Tour Part I

This is the first of a set of long-overdue posts on our tour of K.M.K Farms back on May 6.

The day was a combination open house and 10th farming anniversary celebration for Michele and Kyle. Michele had long ago invited us to come down and check the place out, and we’d never seemed to find the time, so this was a perfect opportunity to see where so much of our food of the past year was grown.

Michele and Kyle farm about seven acres outside of Kingsburg, CA – the “Swedish City.” They started out just selling avocados and over the years have expanded the number of crops to include additional orchard crops and a variety of row crops as well. Michele is one of the year-round sellers at the Vineyard Farmer’s Market. When Michele heads up to Fresno on Saturday mornings, Kyle heads down to Visalia to run another K.M.K. Farms stall there.

The day was sunny and warm when we headed down to Kingsburg. The farm is just outside of town – not that there’s a whole lot of charming little Kingsburg to be outside of.

We were greeted by cheerful plantings at the farm’s front gate,and their young helper Lauren was kind enough to help me save my strength by giving me a ride in the golf cart down the long drive back to the patio, with the avocado grove on the left and the farmhouse on the right. This shot is looking back down the drive toward the road, so the avocados are on the right and the house (not visible in this shot) is on the left.

Behind the house, the patio, surrounded by plantings and a low fence, was set with tables strewn with cherries and glass containers full of flowers from the farm’s gardens.

We munched a few cherries and sat in the shade for a little while as more visitors arrived. Michele came over to chat for a bit. It turned out that Kyle was down in the fields below the house, giving some earlier arrivers a tour. She welcomed us to walk around while we waited for him to return for another round. And so we did.

First I took a walk by the herb garden. The oregano was trying to eat everything else, as mints usually do. (My little bit of it is in a container for just that reason, as I don’t have the room Michele does to let it run a little wild.)

We visited the chickens, who have a house in a shady spot under the avocado trees – pretty nice digs. At the moment, though, most of them were engaging in a dust bath in the shade beside their house.

I once asked Michele how many chickens she had, and she said, “Just enough to drive me crazy.” I forgot to count how many there were, but I could see their crazy-making potential pretty clearly. One mother chicken was enjoying a shady roost with her brood. I felt bad taking her picture; as I looked through the viewfinder, I could see she was trying to shield the chicks from me. “I don’t eat chickens,” I told her softly, “and I hardly ever even eat anything with eggs in it either.” She shifted against her brood and out of the frame as I tried to get one last shot, and I told her in what I hoped was a soothing voice, “Look, that’s the worst I’m going to do: I accidentally cut off your head in a picture. And I’ll delete it and use a good one.”

Adolescent chickens were hanging out in a fruit bin partially covered by a pallet. This was, apparently, a “keep the growing chickens ahead of the cats” strategy.

Just as I was looking at the teenaged chickens, I looked up and realized Kyle had returned from the first tour and another group was gathering. I walked over to join them.

And that’s all I have the juice for tonight…next time, what Kyle had to say, then we head down the hill into the stone fruit and row crops.

Part II of the tour can be found here.

Drunk and Spicy

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I ran across articles about two very interesting studies recently that had something important in common: both focused on items that when included as part of a meal, reduce the post-meal increase in blood sugar. The hope is that using such items in the diets of diabetics will help their blood sugar control.

The first study found that adding cinnamon to rice pudding reduced eaters’ post-meal blood sugar rise.

The next day, I came across another study that found having an alcoholic drink with a meal might help reduce eaters’ post-meal blood sugar rise.

Some would say further research is needed, but I think the implications for better health are clear: shots of Goldschlager for everyone!

What You Missed at the Market

The Chefs at the Market series is over for now, but there was still plenty of excitement Saturday morning. Though the calendar is the most explicit reminder, there was no doubt it was the first weekend of summer.

Michele from KMK brought the first green tomatoes of the season.  I didn’t buy any this time – I’m still overrun with produce that hasn’t been dealt with because of having work obligations a couple nights this week – but I’m looking forward to some vegan fried green tomatoes soon, and I promise I’ll write those up as soon as I make them.

I did get some of the the first corn of the season from Marchini Sisters Farm.  I already had plenty of vegetables at home, but I had planned to make polenta laced with chipotles, garlic, cilantro and lime juice this week, and fresh corn sounded like a great addition.