Bet you are too busy to realize this is World Food Day. Thus, here are some stories to make you think outside the GPS guided tractor cab and away from news about tainted spinach. Two small stories that may help you capture the meaning of World Food Day, Oct. 16:
New farmers market started
There's a liquor store down the street from the Hinton Community Center in southwest Fresno, but until recently, nowhere to purchase produce. Now farm-fresh fruits and vegetables are available in the heart of this low-income African-American neighborhood at a weekly farmers market. The African-American Farmers of California organize the new market.
Will Scott, Jr., president of the organization, produces vegetables on a 45-acre Fresno farm. In the early morning hours of every Friday and Saturday, he loads his wares and travels 200 miles to farmers markets in Oakland. He and other African-American farmers are working to create a market for their produce closer to home. At the Hinton market, held each Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, Scott and members of his family staff a stall with vegetables artfully arranged in a variety of baskets. A few other farmers have joined the market, including Ali Shabaz, who sells a wide variety of medicinal herbs.
The new farmers market has support from a grant supplied by the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program to a team that includes UC Cooperative Extension small farm advisor Richard Molinar and Fresno Metro Ministry, a faith-based community development organization. "It's clear that the market is not yet self-sustaining," says Jeremy Hoffer of Metro Ministry. "The grant is allowing us to help with marketing to increase attendance and increase sales." Molinar hopes the concept will spread. "There are positive benefits all around," he says. "A small, neighborhood farmers market offers families the produce they need to eat a healthier diet, it helps our local small-scale farmers and it builds a sense of community." For more information, contact Richard Molinar at (559) 456-7555, firstname.lastname@example.org.
One man's weed is someone's vegetable
In most of the United States, common purslane (verdolaga in Spanish) is considered a weed. It grows in gardens, among vegetable and tree crops, and in lawns. However, in many Latin American countries, Europe, and North Africa, it is used as a versatile green vegetable. Young plants, leaves and stem tips can be steamed or cooked, added to soups and stews, or eaten raw in salads. The weedy type grows close to the ground and has very fleshy or succulent leaves and stems while the cultivated type grows more upright and has thinner leaves.
One cup of raw common purslane is only 7 calories, yet it provides 15% of the daily requirement aof Vitamin C. Crude protein is reported to be about 20%. Furthermore, the plant is one of the highest non-animal sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease. You can eat the purslane growing wild in your garden, where you have not applied any pesticides. On occasion, you may find it at local farmers markets in the summer. Wash the plant first, check for insects that may be tunneling in the leaves, and remove those leaves as well as any thick stems. Try this recipe using common purslane:
Cook purslane in boiling water for about two minutes or steam for about five minutes. Drain. In a skillet, heat two teaspoons of olive oil. Add one cup of chopped purslane. Add two tablespoons of diced onion and cook for one minute. Add four ounces of diced green chilies and two fresh tomatoes (chopped). Stir to blend. Cover and simmer on low heat for three to five minutes. Serve warm with flour tortillas and cheese. For more information, see the UC Integrated Pest Management's pest note "Common Purslane" at http://ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7461.html, or contact Cheryl Wilen at (619) 694-2845, email@example.com.