Week No. 13 – 2013 Season

Having your sweet corn free of pests, and eating it without poisons, too?

None of more than 60 vegetable varieties we grow seems as widely loved as sweet corn. And few pests we battle to put this vegetable on your plate is as vexing to either you or us as the corn borer. As growers – not a grocery store – our focus is getting raw foods to you as fresh as possible with minimal handling. Condition, rather than cosmetics, generally means greater nutrition. No tricks in preservation, for instance, are used to prolong shelf life across 2,000 miles in our local relationship. We time harvest and budget resources to get all vegetables as soon as possible to you after harvest. As a small family farm, we have neither money nor time to meet licensing and health code rules regarding cutting and preparing food for public consumption. Removing an ear of corn’s protective covering hastens its deterioration Leaving the covering makes finding all corn borers impossible. At this time of summer, it’s not unusual for a corn borer to enter an ear of sweet corn in Wisconsin. Nothing, in terms of weather this year, has been entirely "normal." Yet we've actually been surprised at how "clean" our sweet corn has been of the pest right through the summer. Widely rotating crops, moving varieties from field to field, year to year, away from insect and plant disease cycles, is the chief organic means of controlling such problems. No practice is 100 percent full-proof. Insects are naturally attracted to varieties of vegetables grown in scale. The best we can do by managing crops over as much as 6-year rotations is to minimize damage, keep infestations from occurring. We do try to screen for corn borers when packing your shares. For sure, we hold back corn when we see any damage. We've been extremely lucky the awful pest didn't start showing up until very recently Often, the first of August, we have to hurry through any remaining harvest of sweet corn to avoid discarding a lot of corn. In past years, we’ve also during late-corn harvest sent a precautionary note to subscribers. You should shuck and immerse our certified organic corn in water with a little salt to free the corn of any borer that may have entered it. Trim any damage a worm has done, then steam ears or incorporate the balance of the corn into your stir fry, soup, salad, omelet, etc. It's simply what we do to have corn managed with practices that exclude deadly, cancer-causing chemicals. The alternative is stark. At least one sweet corn grower I used to work with in on-farm research projects, a fellow in Illinois who contracted with a major grocery store chain, sprayed his 100 acres of sweet corn with a potent insecticide every three days. Practiced widely, this is probably why a number of chemical poisons have shown up in the urine of children whose parents eat from the conventional food system. When the study switched the children to an organic diet, the tests became clean. When the children’s parents resumed their former buying and eating habits, the insecticides started showing up in the children’s tests again. Our food is our most important legacy for the health of the Earth, the local economy, the children we feed. When we love someone or something, we adapt, we do what we need to do, we change. Volunteer helpers always needed, always welcome. Let us know when to expect you. Refer to the calendar in past newsletters, and at www.scotchhillfarm.com or the facebook link.

This Week’s Vegetables include:

  • Augusts Sweet corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes (2 lbs.)
  • Peppers (some hot, some not)
  • Green beans
  • Cabbage
  • Ice Box Melon (they fit in the frige!)
  • Eggplant OR summer squash

Cooking Tips for the Week

Adapted from ”The Looney Tunes,” Suffering Succotash – We’re hot, exhausted, dirty. Neither of us feels like cooking. It’s about 8:30 p.m. after a long day in garden and field. A quick shower brings a second wind and some inspiration. For a split second, I remember something I used to eat from vegetable plates across the Carolinas during my early newspaper days down South. I have no butter beans, but I do have corn, butter, water, salt, pepper and a whole lot more. I pour a little olive oil into a cast iron skillet, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. I slice up a summer squash, half an eggplant, too, and get them going on medium heat. Next come diced green beans, a handful from the more than 100 lbs. of them I picked during the long day. I add a couple pads of butter. Next comes a very small shredded cabbage, diced onion and garlic cloves. I stand an ear of corn on end in the middle of the pan and start shaving off all its kernels into the pan. Dela joins me after her shower, adding kernels from two more ears of corn.. She starts chopping several tomatoes into the simmering mix, and I contribute bright lights chard, again slicing from a washed bunch in my hand. She sprinkles in dried herbs. We sit for a minute, savoring a little wine with local cheeses and organic crackers from the co-op. We laugh a little about “suffering succotash” cartoons, puzzling over something Indians first served to white settlers in America. Just a couple of aging organic farms, making it up as we go along on a hot August night. Your turn. Be creative. Make it fun. Make it healthful. Make it good.