Noteworthy Notes, April 2015 Edition

Future Deviled Eggs

It's April 15th - Tax Day! That would be the bad news. The good news is, we have less than one month till Opening Day of the 2015 Bellevue Farmers Market season! The Thursday Market kicks off on May 14th with food, fun, and festivities. If you'd like to get involved as a vendor or volunteer, here's the link you need.

The Market won't be a moment too soon. Supermarket apples are mushy, the pears are Argentinian, and the strawberries of the giant, flavorless variety. Even the winter standby of oranges is getting hit-or-miss. For smoothies I've been falling back on frozen fruits, since they at least were ripe when processed.

Speaking of flavor, did you see this very interesting article on how naturally flavorful foods are actually higher in nutrients? It's based on a book I'm looking forward to reading:

As some of us have noticed, widely-available produce found out of season and grown on an industrial farm does not have anywhere near the flavor of the fruits and vegetables our local farmers or own backyards produce. Try one of the "sugar bomb" strawberries at the Market in June, and you'll turn your nose up at Watsonville's baseball-sized grocery-store offerings ever after. Well, it just so happens,

For more than 50 years, the food that we grow has been getting blander. As our crops and livestock become more productive, affordable and disease-resistant, they keep losing flavor. As any grandparent can tell you, tomatoes, strawberries, chicken—all taste like cardboard these days.
As flavor diminishes, so does nutrition. According to a 2004 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, modern tomatoes have half as much calcium and vitamin A as they did in the 1950s. We compound the nutritional insult by drowning bland food in the only things that can make it taste good—ranch dressing, whipped cream, ketchup or barbecue sauce.

Because we still love and crave flavor, we add it back in to food--usually favor cooked up in a chemistry lab.

Not only is the Market a convenient source of flavorful, nutritious food, but I've also noticed some of our vendors do a great job of riding food trends. We've had kale chips and gluten-free baked goods and fresh juices. Greek yogurt and hand pies and kim chee. Can't wait to see what this season's offerings include!

Food trends follow an arc, as this article notes, moving from Discovery to Popularity to Mainstream (Ho-Humness) to Been-There-Done-That. I'm glad to read that eggs, butter, and whole milk are back in, since we consume plenty of those. Sadly, also trending are pre-made sauces which you dump in a pan and heat. Today's version of Hamburger Helper.

Kicking it old school, for you lovers of fake home-cooking

Ah, well. You win some, you lose some.

Whatever you're eating--flavorless or flavorful, trendy or classic--I leave you with these handy reminders of "5 Healthy-Eating Strategies That Will Outlast Any Trend" from a recent Huffington Post. 

Do a self-test. I scored 1 out of 5.

  • No, I don't use small plates. 
  • No, I don't eat twice as many vegetables as protein/grains. 
  • Yes, I eat colorfully. 
  • No, I don't try to "quash" unhealthy snacking. 
  • And, no, I don't eat mindfully.
Looks like the Market can't come soon enough...

Spring Has Sprung!

Greetings on this sunny morning, fellow foodies!

Spring has sprung, and in the spring this blogger's fancy turns to the Bellevue Farmers Market Opening Day: Thursday, May 12. Once again we meet in the parking lot of First Presbyterian Church from 3-7 p.m. Saturday markets kick off Saturday, June 4, in the parking lot by Washington Square (same location as last year) from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Glory be!

For those of you food producers who might be interested in a booth at our Market, it's not too late to apply! For those of you marketgoers who have been wanting to get more involved, it's not too early to volunteer!

In the meantime, while the apples in the store grow increasingly mushy and we watch the migration of asparagus season from Mexico northward to California, I bring you the week's interesting food tidbits culled from Twitter.

  • Curious where your milk or other dairy products come from? This fun website can tell you! I learned my Organic Valley milk (bought at QFC) hails from Swan Island Dairy in Portland, Oregon. My Darigold sour cream from Boise, Idaho. I'd love to hear where some other brands come from. Why isn't Organic Valley milk that is sold in Washington coming from Washington dairy farmers???
  • If you're concerned about antibiotic use in industrial farming, this Wired article is worth a read. It seems "chickens, chicken meat and humans in the Netherlands are carrying identical, highly drug-resistant E. coli — resistance that is apparently moving from poultry raised with antibiotics, to humans, via food." Yeeks! While the Netherlands feature "conservative human antibiotic use, [they also have] the most liberal agricultural antibiotic use of any EU member," (italics theirs) and in the Netherlands, "the percentage of E. coli that was found in the guts of chickens and was carrying ESBL went up five times over between 2003 and 2008." Best to skip the buffalo wings in Amsterdam, then.
  • Speaking of E. coli, Food Safety News reports that "phage-based EcoShield" might be the next step in fighting E. coli contamination. E. coli being a bacteria, why not sic bacteriophages (bacteria eaters) on them? These naturally-occurring viruses target, infect, and kill bacteria. Very old-school and new-school, low-tech and high-tech at the same time. Sounds promising, but for now, cook that beef, whether grain- or grass-fed to the recommended 160F.
  • And finally, I've been trying to do more olive oil in the diet, but my next bottle of "yellow" vegetable oil will probably be safflower. Researchers at Ohio State claim a daily dose of safflower oil "improved such cardiovascular health measures as high-density lipoprotein, the 'good' cholesterol; blood sugar; insulin sensitivity and inflammation in obese post-menopausal women who have type 2 diabetes."

That's a wrap. Now get away from your computer and go enjoy that sunshine!