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Earlier this Week

Last weekend, I was up early; earlier than normal. And instead of tossing and wishing I could go back to sleep I got up. I had even turned off my alarm the night before, hoping that I could sleep past 5am. 4:30 came and I was awake, but so was the morning sky. It was definitely worth the earlier start to my day, but truth be told, I will try and get in a siesta later. 

This morning I took advantage of the earlier start and started making sourdough bread, which in reality started a few days ago, when I “woke up” my starter and started prepping it for Sunday baking. That was a whole lot using the word starter, but you have to start somewhere. 😊 Baking is relaxing for me, I am not a pastry type of baker and I am certainly not a detail person, but I do like to follow a recipe at least once. 

I measure my ingredients using a scale. The baker’s formula is so simple 100% four, and then 80% water, 20% starter and 2% salt. So, in a real-world application it looks like this; 1200 grams of flour, 960 grams of water, 240 grams of starter and 24 grams of salt. As is my practice, I add the water, then the starter so it equals 1200 grams. Then I reset the scale to 0 and add the 1200 grams of flour, but this morning I turned off the scale by mistake and started adding flour. The reset and off buttons are right next to each other. I realized that it was turned off fairly quickly, but now I had no way of knowing how much flour I added. EEK! But in reality, close enough will work, so I added more flour and added more flour and then I thought, “this looks close enough.” Life can be similar to a recipe, and processes and habits are important, but when things shift or go awry, it will mostly work out. We will have fresh baked bread and the the kiddos and grand kiddos will make quick work of it.  

Healthy eating is similar to my bread baking experience, we need nutrition, and getting a Box of Good delivered is a great strategy to eating healthier. And because life is always happening, your delivery makes it easier to automate your health because good food is scheduled to arrive at your door. And much like the Baker’s formula helps a baker produce consistent loaves, your Box of Good helps you eat healthier. And for me staying as healthy and strong, as long as I can, is my goal, and it all starts with good food.  

This week we have fun, local purple carrots! I am attaching an article on Purple Carrots I found at https://www.organicfacts.net/purple-carrot.html  

Purple Carrot Nutrition 

Purple carrots have a similar nutrient profile to other types of carrots, with a few important distinctions. These carrots are a rich source of dietary fibervitamin Cpotassiummanganese, and vitamin K. There is a low level of calories – only 25 calories per cup – and only 5 grams of carbohydrates. When it comes to antioxidants, however, purple carrots have a good lutein and beta-carotene content. Purple carrots also contain more phenolic compounds, such as anthocyanins, than any other carrot variety, except for black carrots[2] 

Purple Carrot Health Benefits 

The most impressive health benefits of purple carrots include its effects on weight loss, chronic disease, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory conditions, vision, and circulation, among others. 

Weight Loss 

Purple carrots are particularly prized for their place in a weight-loss diet. This low-calorie, low-fat, and high-fiber vegetable is an excellent way to fill yourself up without compromising your dietary goals. Furthermore, digesting all of that fiber can help to speed up your metabolism, which can help with passive fat-burning if you’re trying to shed pounds. 

Cardiovascular Disease 

With high levels of dietary fiber and antioxidants that can help protect the integrity of the cardiovascular system, purple carrots are great for heart health. The fiber can help to lower overall cholesterol levels, which will lower your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as cardiovascular diseases. The vitamin C in these carrots is also critical for the strength of the artery and blood vessel walls. [3] 

Reduces Inflammation 

Research has shown that anthocyanins, which are found in high concentrations in purple carrots, can help relieve many different inflammatory conditions, including arthritis, gout, headaches, and even hemorrhoids. [4] 

Improves Vision 

Although purple carrots contain less beta-carotene than orange and yellow varieties, there is also a significant amount of lutein and zeaxanthin in these carrots, all of which can help to improve vision. These antioxidants will reduce oxidative stress in the retina, preventing macular degeneration and lowering your risk of cataracts[5] 

Improves Circulation 

There is a decent amount of iron in purple carrots, which is great for boosting circulation, but the presence of vitamin C and other antioxidants will also help to prevent breakage and blockage within the circulatory system, ensuring that all your metabolic processes continue normally. [6] 

Treats Chronic Disease 

The high level of anthocyanins found in these colored carrots means that they are excellent antioxidants; these compounds are able to seek out and neutralize free radicals, which are responsible for cellular mutation and other forms of chronic disease, such as heart diseases, and rheumatoid arthritis. [7] 

How to add Purple Carrots to your diet? 

Adding purple carrots to your diet is very easy and healthy as well. Here are some simple ways to add them to your diet. 

  • Purple carrot salads: You can dice some purple carrots and add to any salad of your choice 
  • Roasted purple carrots: Slice the carrots and roast them with some olive oilsalt, and pepper 
  • Stir-fries: You can add purple carrots to while making any stir fry along with your favorite vegetables or meats 
  • Carrots and hummus: You can serve sliced purple carrots alongside hummus 
  • Soups and stews: Purple carrots can be added while preparing any soup or stew 

There are many ways to enjoy purple carrots, so start cooking and enjoy! 

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Hot, Cold & Cabbage 

This weather has felt more like spring than a start to our summer. One thing for sure is our farm team has a lot of weeding to do. 

The boxes are trending towards more and more local and definitely a lot of summer fruit are showing up from the farmers in California. We have been buying from some of these farmers for over 2 decades. They are great at what they do and have the climate and soil types to grow these crops. We are so blessed in America that we have such a diverse farming community and equally diverse regions to draw fruits and vegetables from as well. 

As the climate changes, having many geographic regions will help America to be able to feed itself as well as other countries. Our geographic diversity is so important to not only navigate the effects of climate change, but for our health because we should continue to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables year around.  

If the American population could make one change to their diets it would be to add a few more servings of fruits and vegetables.   

In an Article located at https://nutrition.org/most-americans-are-not-getting-enough-fiber-in-our-diets/ 

Rockville, Maryland (June 7, 2021) — Only 5% of men and 9% of women are getting the recommended daily amount of dietary fiber, according to a study being presented at NUTRITION 2021 LIVE ONLINE. Insufficient fiber intake is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes, two of the most common diseases in the U.S. 

“These findings should remind people to choose fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables to reduce their risk for heart disease,” said Derek Miketinas, PhD, RD, an assistant professor at Texas Woman’s University, the study’s lead author. “Based on our findings, fewer than 1 in 10 U.S. adults meet their daily recommendations for fiber intake. For those with diabetes, it is especially important to eat enough fiber since they are at a greater risk for heart disease.” 

The daily fiber goal for females is 21 to 25 grams per day and for males is between 30-35 grams. Your Box of Good is filled with fruits and vegetables that will help you reach the recommended daily fiber goals. As an example, the local green cabbage from Ralph’s Greenhouse this week is packed with fiber. Here is the nutritional profile for 1 cup of raw cabbage. 

  • Calories: 22. 
  • Protein: 1 gram. 
  • Fiber: 2 grams. 
  • Vitamin K: 85% of the RDI. 
  • Vitamin C: 54% of the RDI. 
  • Folate: 10% of the RDI. 
  • Manganese: 7% of the RDI. 
  • Vitamin B6: 6% of the RDI. 

Tristan 

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Mud

In the last 20 years I cannot remember a spring like this. We have had wet Aprils or Mays or even June’s. But I can’t remember a season when all three months were wet. It is what it is, some farmers are skipping whole plantings because the crop they grow like potatoes requires more time to grow than what is left of the growing season. Farming is a unique industry and when you miss the planting window, you have to wait till next year.  

If you were thinking about taking a drive through the river valley’s right now, you might want to wait to wash your car until you get back. I took one of the back roads to town and the road was caked in mud. It was like driving over several of those road “turtles”. You couldn’t miss them if you tried 🙁. But right now, it is go time and if a farmer gets a weather window to plant or cut grass for silage, they are taking it. Which means mud on equipment from the fields will be deposited on the roads. There are more than a few farmers this spring that have chained up their equipment to pull it out of the field. Ironically, mud and chains are more synonymous with the Fall harvest when the rainy season starts early in September. I am praying for a long, extended summer! 

But back to this spring, we are getting close to being fully planted on our farm. We have settled for “good enough” with our seedbeds and hope the vegetables can work it out with the weather to come. As a small farmer, we use smaller equipment, which works to our advantage during these seasons. Having a lighter footprint is kinder to the soil, but also allows us to get in sooner. We also plant our crops by hand.  

Larger Farms have to use the big “toys” to farm as much ground as they do, which means I can get into my fields sooner because of our scale. But we are also feeding thousands of people and they are feeding hundreds of thousands of people. Our communities need all types of farms growing all types of foods.  

Our country is also blessed because we have a lot of growing regions and when one region is off anohter is on. Take last year, the Barley and wheat farmers in Eastern WA had poor yields because of the hot summer, this year they are ecstatic because of the plentiful rain fall.  

Which brings to another point, we need to conserve as much farmland as possible everywhere possible to make sure we can feed ourselves as a nation and the best way to conserve farmland is to support organic farmers like you are doing with each Box of Good delivery you get. Profit is the simplest way to encourage a farmer to keep farming. We farm because of you, our network of local farms keeps farming because of you.  

We are thankful for you.  

Tristan 

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Mange Tout or Mangetout 

I have been perusing my new cookbook One-Pot Vegetarian by Sabrina Fauda-Role. I absolutely love the simplicity of one-pot cooking. And thanks to this book I am learning a few new words to add to my repertoire. Double cream was a word that caught my interest early on. Apparently in England they have a thicker cream than “heavy” and it cooks differently as well. The reason I know this is because Sabrina the author says, “put all the ingredients in the pot, bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer.” If you were substituting “heavy” cream then you would end up curdling the cream. Best to add cream at the end.  

The word I am writing about in this newsletter is mangetout. I had no idea what this word meant. I read and reread the recipe, studied the picture and nothing looked out of the ordinary. I knew what all the ingredients were, except snow peas were not listed but were definitely an ingredient. Then taking a page out of my kids’ book, “duh, just google it.” 

With my trusty I-phone in hand, I looked up mangetout. And low and behold it was referring to young snow or sugar peas. I am still scratching my head over the name of snow peas in England. However, the French word mange tout means to “eat all”. Which would certainly apply to what you do with snow peas – eat all of it. I also find it interesting that in France they call snow peas, sugar peas, referring to their delicate sweetness. 

The French mange tout is certainly a good admonition for all of us. I am going to heartily enjoy my latest one-pot wonder and eat it all, including the snow, sugar or mangetout peas! 

Thanks for choosing Box of Good to help feed your family, 

Tristan 

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Organic, Purity, Nutrition, Soil Heath, Taste, Freshness

Each of these items are a newsletter unto themselves. What do they have in common? Each of them leads to our experience when eating, affecting much more than our taste buds. While a ripe peach or sweet carrot can provide immediate satisfaction, so much more is going on with every bite.

For the last 25 years, we have been focused on delivering food that “moves the needle” on your health and we are certainly not going to change our standards now. Your health is important to us and we aim to make sure our offerings check all of those boxes mentioned in the title.

Because we are growers and also buyers of produce and groceries, we understand freshness and taste and how important those two factors are, but we also understand what goes into growing or raising or producing food that not only tastes amazing and is ultra-fresh, but it is packed with nutrients. 

Nutrition is every bit important and drives much of our growing and purchasing decisions, as is the taste and freshness of your produce. But even going a layer deeper, the purity of our products begins to get to the core of how choosing Box of Good impacts your health. By definition, organic food is free of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides as well as genetically modified crops, and that is very important for our health.

Organic farming is a system that restores the health of soil and maintains it well into the future. The soil responds so favorably to organic farming practice that it shows up in soil health, and as the diversity of soil bacteria, fungi and earth worms begin to respond to respectful farming practices, the plants grow healthier and more nutritious.

And once this cycle is encouraged year after year and decade over decade, it shows up in nutrition and taste. And because you are a part of the Box of Good community you get all of these benefits. And quite naturally, because we are either harvesting your food or sourcing it at its peak, the freshness ties it all together.

Now I haven’t yet mentioned convenience as a benefit, but getting a weekly delivery, you are literally automating your health, and because we build our boxes around the freshest produce, you are also getting variety with each delivery. . . and eating the rainbow is always a beautiful thing.

Enjoy this week’s bounty,

Tristan, Joelle and Box of Good crew

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Mange Tout or Mangetout

I have been perusing my new cookbook One-Pot Vegetarian by Sabrina Fauda-Role. I absolutely love the simplicity of one-pot cooking. And thanks to this book I am learning a few new words to add to my repertoire. Double cream was a word that caught my interest early on. Apparently in England they have a thicker cream than “heavy” and it cooks differently as well. The reason I know this is because Sabrina the author says, “put all the ingredients in the pot, bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer.” If you were substituting “heavy” cream then you would end up curdling the cream. Best to add cream at the end. 

The word I am writing about in this newsletter is mangetout. I had no idea what this word meant. I read and reread the recipe, studied the picture and nothing looked out of the ordinary. I knew what all the ingredients were, except snow peas were not listed but were definitely an ingredient. Then taking a page out of my kids’ book, “duh, just google it.”

With my trusty I-phone in hand, I looked up mangetout. And low and behold it was referring to young snow or sugar peas. I am still scratching my head over the name of snow peas in England. However, the French word mange tout means to “eat all”. Which would certainly apply to what you do with snow peas – eat all of it. I also find it interesting that in France they call snow peas, sugar peas, referring to their delicate sweetness.

The French mange tout is certainly a good admonition for all of us. I am going to heartily enjoy my latest one-pot wonder and eat it all, including the snow, sugar or mangetout peas!

Thanks for choosing Box of Good to help feed your family,

Tristan, Joelle and Box of Good crew

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At Last

Last Saturday, while starting out on the colder side warmed up nicely and was fitting end to a full few days of uninterrupted farming. We were able to get a 800 more lettuce transplants in the ground and direct seed some peas, beets and kohlrabi. It feels like I have been standing at the starting line with all the other farms with each of us wondering if we missed the Starters gun????, but at least the race has begun now. Tomatoes will go in one of the greenhouses later this week. 

Normally by this time we would be about 50% planted and begin harvesting our first lettuces shortly – not so much this year. In a strange sort of irony, we will probably be on track for the Cucumbers, winter squash and bean plantings and will have missed out entirely on the early crops. Perhaps it will even itself out and we will have really good planting, weeding and harvesting going forward. Time will tell.

The whole valley is in rotation. Our neighbors are mowing our pastures for silage for their beef farm.  While we rarely rent other ground, it is a common practice for most of my farming neighbors to swap land for corn or grass seed or Spinach seed for Cabbage seed, etc. Crop rotation is so important to crop health. We are blessed in the PNW that we can grow so many crops and have such a diverse farming community.

As an example, Spinach seed typically requires a 10 to 15 year rotation to break the disease cycle before returning to the same ground. That means for every acre of spinach seed grown in the valley we need to have 15 acres set aside or be growing something else. And due to issues of proximity you need a few acres of separation, too. Potatoes require 4 years between crops. We have our farm sectioned in quadrants to help us facilitate crop rotations and soil health. 

I remember one conversation with an old timer, he said. “I haven’t farmed some of my own ground for 15 years.” Through a series of swaps each farmer is planting somewhere new. The bedrock of the system is diversity and dairy. The Dairy industry is the primary driver keeping so much ground in pasture for silage and hay. The vegetable and grain farmers would eagerly look forward to rotate into ground that had been rejuvenated by a long rotation of grass and manure applications.

Sadly, most of Skagit county is losing their Dairy base. Thankfully, my valley still has a strong dairy presence and even more thankfully, we have a strong Certified Organic dairy industry as well. If you ever hear me waxing on and on about the importance of preserving farmland it is because we need so much ground to farm to keep our industry healthy and do the important work of feeding people. 

It looks like the weather is moderating and the farming community is kicking it into another gear.

Tristan, Joelle and Box of Good crew

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Wildflowers

The wildflowers in the Leavenworth, Cashmere and Wenatchee area are out and beautiful, barring any late frosts, and the next few weeks should be gorgeous, as well. Joelle and I have made a habit of spending a few days around Mother’s Day hiking and hunting for the best trails to experience the Balsom Root flowers, in particular, but there are so many more that are peaking at the same time or just a little before or after.  

This trip was a little early to catch them in all their glory, while last year Mother’s Day was perfect. We did see over a dozen different wildflowers in bloom and the telltale signs of more to come. So, if hiking and flower hunting interest you, we hope you can make it over the pass in the next few weeks, the lower elevations should be producing now and the upper elevations soon.  

We’d recommend Ski Hill, Sauer’s Mountain, Nahahum Canyon, Horse Lake trails, and Sage Hills as excellent choices in the Leavenworth-Wenatchee area. Check elevation and distance and look at trail reports from the Washington Trails Association to determine what would be best for you or your family. Being on a trail surrounded by wild flowers is awe inspiring, not to mention the exercise and fresh air you get! The views, the clouds, the colors, all of it is breathtaking (quite literally). 

And last week, one of our teenagers came bounding in the front door and proclaimed, “I love lilacs! The smell on the way to the front porch is amazing!” I love their smell, too, as it conjures up rich memories. Isn’t it funny how the senses “can bring you right back to the kitchen” or in this case the smell of lilacs? My earliest memories of lilacs take me back to 1994 and our little house in Vancouver, WA. I just got my start in the produce business. I was one of those guys putting fruit and vegetables out at a small boutique produce store in NW Portland.  It is where it all began; where I met my first organic farmers and where I sold my first crop – purple lilac blossoms from that little home in Vancouver.  

We have never looked back. That first sale and those first encounters with organic farmers got me hooked. It was pretty special to have my daughter come bursting in after having her senses awakened by the subtle yet distinctive smells of a lilac almost 30 years later. 

While in Leavenworth, and really any town we visit, I also like to wander through bookstores. On this trip I picked up a vegetarian book on “one pot meals”. I was probably drawn to it because it feels like winter lately.  

I have made a few already, and they are quite simple and tasty. It has an English flavor to it. During this season, we need simple recipes, and a 30-minute, one pot nutritious meal is perfect, with leftovers to boot. 

As far as the farm season goes, our attempt to avoid a wet spring hasn’t been so successful. We have gotten enough dry weather to “mud in” a few thousand lettuce and onions transplants. The worst part about mudding in transplants is the weeding that shortly follows. With this wet weather, it has been hard to knock back the weeds and grasses, which means we will be spending a lot of time using our hoes. I guess this season will be “a long row to hoe”. (Well…more than one!) 

Thank you for choosing us to help feed your family, 

Tristan, Joelle and Box of Good crew 

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Wet and Cold Part 3

A few months ago, I was thankful to have made a conscious choice to hold off planting till much later in the spring. I was not overly happy with the wet April, but as farmers we do our best and work around the weather. 

I am not overly ecstatic that we are two weeks into May and it, the weather, has only marginally improved. Now, we are going to be “Mudding” in our transplants into less-than-ideal seedbeds. It will be fine, but I was hoping for a reprieve in the weather by now and been able avoid this unusually wet spring.

It will come together and because we are starting later, we haven’t had to replant any crops, but we will have to rework all the soil to help it dry out so we can begin the planting process again. With organic farming, more tillage and weeding are required, and because we are choosing to not use any of the “cides” (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides) everything takes longer. The soil is healthier, and the bacteria and fungi have free reign to work their magic. 

This week we are hoping to get our second planting of lettuce in and first plantings of onions. We have been busy with a bunch of farm things, mostly getting ahead of the fence line and tree rows to keep the black berries at bay. We have removed thousands of feet of barbwire fences and hundreds of t-posts and wood posts this spring to make it easier to maintain and cut for hay. While I am grateful to have had the time to get some maintenance and major projects finished, I am ready to grow vegetables.

We are plowing forward with the expectation that the weather will moderate and we will have enough good weather to get our crops in the ground. I do know that when the weather breaks it is going to be an all-out sprint to plant as much as we can. 

Thankfully, America encompasses many different climates and time zones and as a whole we are blessed to have different regions around our country growing food at different times. I find it fascinating that farms in Skagit County that have sandier soils are able to plant earlier than I am, even though we are basically neighbors. The soil type is the deciding factor. Our soil is heavier and tends to hold more moisture, theirs is sandier. Sandier is great for early spring, but less ideal for hotter weather, our soil is the exact opposite, we are slower out of the gate, but do not dry out as quickly when the weather turns hotter. We need all types of farms, soil and regions to feed people. 

Thank you,

Tristan, Joelle, and Box of Good crew  

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Wet and Cold Part 2

I am officially switching to shorts and T-shirts in hopes of warmer weather. My clothing strategy hasn’t been very successful, though! We are still waiting for a good stretch of warm weather to kick it into another gear. However, with that said, the valley farmers are getting active and doing as much as we can to get ready for planting. On our farm we will be planting lettuce this week. The soil is still relatively cold, but we can get a decent seedbed ready for transplants. I am less optimistic for planting any direct seedings and will be waiting a few more days in hopes of dryer weather. Plants are pretty resilient and seeds can germinate through the most inhospitable conditions, but I have found that less stress on the plants equals better crops, so we prepare and wait.  

For now, lettuce and onions are going in, but beets, peas, kohlrabi will have to wait for slightly warmer weather. As will green beans, cucumbers, summer and winter squash. One thing I am expecting is that when the weather does turn warmer this farm season is going to feel like a sprint and less like a marathon. We will go from plodding to planting to weeding in the blink of an eye. Stay tuned. 

(Resharing from last week) Supply chain issues are popping in ways that I have never experienced. I was talking to another grower and I was commenting on some of my germination issues with the first round of lettuce plants and, he shared that he was also having issues.  

He had been using the same potting/transplant mix for the last decade, but this year Vermiculite wasn’t available, Vermiculite lets in air and keeps the soil from compacting. This year he did everything the same, but he is having to learn how to grow transplants with the new formulation. The only reason I even know about this is because I was hunting for a few more trays to offset our own lettuce woes! 

Another friend of mine, who has farmed for decades, who I can usually count on for extra plant starts, shared with me that he hadn’t even started a single tray! He has been bitten by the labor shortage and may call it a year after the nursery season is over.  

Inflation, labor, and supply chain issues affect all of us. Our team is working hard to grow and source food for your family and balance the increasing supply challenges. For now, we are going to hold our prices steady and continue to source the highest quality produce, and soon we will be harvesting produce from our own farm! 

Thank you for supporting Box of Good. 

Tristan, Joelle and the Box of Good crew