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Taste of Spring
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April Produce Parable
Adam Calder, Produce Manager


Spring is here, technically, and while the weather is still unpredictable but leaning toward chilly there are some fun spring flavors already showing up in the produce department.

Try some organic mini seedless watermelon.  When you take a juicy, crisp bite, you are pleasantly reminded that yes, it is indeed warm somewhere! Or have a crunchy mouthful of asparagus, if you can tear yourself away from its verdant beauty long enough to do so. 

We’ve even got some local produce coming in already!  Lee’s Greens in Nevada has some stunning turnips and multi-colored radishes available this month, and they really are a sight to see after this long, cold gray winter.  If you’ve never dined on turnip or radish greens, then you’ve been missing out on a very delicious and quite nutritious meal.

We carry basil year-round from Mariposa Greenhouses, but as the daylight hours increase the basil takes on more and more of that pungency it only carries during the spring and summer months.  If you are in the mood for fresh herbs, you might also want to try some of their mint or lemongrass to add a delightful twist to a beverage or stir-fry. 


Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the first Onion Creek Farm seedlings of the 2014 growing season.  I’ve been contact with Lonna, and she said she has been tending to another growing green army of seedlings for our customers.  She is concentrating on tomatoes and peppers only this season, so we can hopefully supplement our seedling selection with some herbs from Lee’s Greens.  Be sure to check out the Wheatsfield website, facebook page and Instagram feed for all the current produce department information. 

 
Seed Saver's Selection
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March Produce Parable
Adam Calder, Produce Manager

Despite the best efforts of a couple of polar vortices this winter, spring is just around the corner.  As such, it is the time of the year when gardeners begin planning and plotting their gardens.  To help (or maybe hinder) those garden plans, Wheatsfield has doubled the amount of seed varieties we offer, from 64 to 128 varieties! 


In the past, it has been extremely difficult to pick out only 64 varieties from the glossy Seed Savers catalog, but as our seed rack only contains 64 slots, 64 varieties was all we could fit.  With the addition of a second seed rack this year, we have expanded the seeds we can offer to you. 


Instead of picking out one or two heirloom basils this year, we got them all!  Not content to offer just a few flower seeds, we now have a dozen different kinds.  We still have everyone’s favorite tomato seeds like Brandywine and Cherokee Purple, and we also got in some exciting new ones like the Green Grape and Wapsipinicon Peach.  Check out the expanded selection of herb seeds like German Chamomile, Stevia, Greek Oregano and lemon balm.  We’ve got parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme seeds too for all those Simon and Garfunkel fans out there.   

 

There’s even a funky new gourd seed called the Dinosaur Gourd.  It is not edible, but the gourd has shiny, green peel that looks like dinosaur skin so it would make a great ornamental addition to any garden.  These gourds have a long, gracefully curved neck and are great for crafty folks who like to make bird houses.  

 

Come on in and check out these fun new items, as well as the usual assortment of kales, cucumbers, peas, beans, peppers and carrots that we have always had.  Start dreaming big for your garden this year, and get a head start by coming in soon and buying some Seed Savers Exchange seed packets.


 
Fair Trade Roses
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February Produce Parable
By Adam Calder, Producer Manager


Fair trade roses arrive at the co-op on Tuesday, February 11th.


Justice.  Equality.  Fairness.  Love.  All are simple words, profound ideas, and sometimes seemingly untenable goals.  As we approach St. Valentine’s Day and eagerly await the tokens and baubles of affection, both given and received, it is sometimes difficult to look past the surface of that ruby red rose or that scent of that box of chocolaty, ebony heaven to the reality of how those items got from where they were to your hands. 

At Wheatsfield Cooperative, we are proud to offer Fair Trade roses (and chocolate too!) to the Ames and surrounding communities.  Such beauties, these flowers, be they pink like a blushing cheek, white as pure snow, red like lips pursed for a kiss, or orange and yellow as the setting sun.


This beauty is, fortunately, not skin deep.  The beauty of these flowers extends from here and across the land, across the ocean, all the way to Ecuador.  It is there the flowers are grown with attention and care, but also fairness and equality.  It is there the people who work the land reap the benefits of their hard labor.  At One World Flowers, women and men are paid a fair living wage for the work they do, $500 a month compared to the average wage in Ecuador of $240 a month.  The women can work fearing neither exploitation nor abuse nor discrimination simply because of their sex.  The men know they will be punished and fired if they do not treat their female coworkers with respect. 


Our roses should arrive at the Cooperative on February 11th, just in time for the holiday.  We will have the classic red rose, some bi-color reddish-orange yellow roses for those Cyclone fans, purple roses, pink roses and some new white roses we’ve never offered before.  At $2.49 a stem or $27.49 a bunch, these roses are as affordable as they are fairly grown.  If flower buying is on your list of things to do for St. Valentine’s Day, then please stop in to Wheatsfield Cooperative and pick up some of ours.  You will be giving so much more than mere flowers.  


 
Make it Easy Take it Easy
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Chicken Noodle Soup
by Adam Calder, Produce Manager



If you are looking to hunker down this winter with some warm comfort food, what could be better than a steaming hot bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup? While the richest stocks and soups do come from simmering whole, bone in chicken pieces for a couple of hours one can make an absolutely delicious soup from simple ingredients that don’t require you to be in the kitchen for very long.

If you don’t have time to make this recipe, then you might want to try our Pacific brand Organic Chicken Noodle Soup. It comes in an aseptic package so it doesn’t taste like a can, but is still conveniently shelf-stable. It tastes almost like it’s homemade, and if you sprinkle in a few fresh or frozen peas and a pinch of fresh herbs right before serving, you will still get a hearty, hot meal that looks and tastes great!


Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb chopped raw chicken breast
  • 2 c chopped celery
  • 1 c chopped onions
  • 1 c sliced carrots
  • 1 c fresh or frozen peas
  • 12 c water or chicken broth
  • 8 oz. uncooked egg noodles
  • 2 Tbsp  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tsp salt & pepper (or to taste)


Heat olive oil in a soup kettle. Add next four ingredients, sauté for 7-10 minutes. Add water/stock to kettle, bring to boil. Simmer 15 minutes. Add egg noodles, chopped fresh herbs, salt & pepper. Simmer 5 more minutes or until egg noodles are cooked. 

 
Healthy New Diet
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January 2014 Produce Parable
by Adam Calder


It’s January, so that means it is also time for a flurry of resolution related changes in peoples habits and routines.  This is one of those times when jumping on the bandwagon is a great idea, as there are  many great reasons to start a healthy new diet for 2014. 

For too long, the word “diet” has taken on the negative connotations of denial, hunger and despair.  Those diets are fads, designed to line the pockets of whoever dreamed them up, not to help anyone become healthy.  A real diet is a way of living and thinking.  Your diet should be the total of what you put in your body to balance all of your complex physical and emotional needs, not a restrictive list of what is and is not acceptable to achieve some abstract, idealized version of ourselves that likely can never be. 

Starting a healthy diet is befuddling simple.  All you have to do is pick out something to eat from the hundreds of options in the produce, bulk, meat and dairy departments as these are the departments that feature the least processed items.

Perhaps that is why fad diets are so popular, they narrow down the list of what you have to think about eating.  If you eat healthy, you have more to think about.  Will this food have enough fat, carbohydrates, salt, spices, color, texture and flavor to make me actually enjoy eating it?  How does one eat more kale?  When should I buy fresh produce and when should I use canned or frozen?  Is this pseudo-meat product with three dozen manufactured ingredients really better for me than this piece of grilled chicken?  This home-made meatloaf is delicious, but should I eat that once a week or maybe just once a month?

If you want to eat healthy, and still eat all of your favorite foods, then now is a good time to start learning how to make all of your favorite foods.  Do you love potato chips?  Make your own! By the time you wash, slice and fry or bake up a batch, you will be less likely to eat a whole bag of them.  Do your lettuce salads drown in ranch dressing?  It’s great that you are eating a salad, so why not try making an easy vinaigrette of cider vinegar and olive oil instead of who knows what is in that ranch dressing.  Love cookies?  Bake some up, eat a few and share the rest.  Is eating a package of store-bought cookies really more fun than that? 

You’ll likely find that once you start making home-made versions of all your favorite foods, you will eat less but still feel full. You will know exactly what goes in your food, so you won’t be eating any unknown or unnecessary preservatives, colorings, flavors or ingredients.  It’s ok to eat convenience foods once and a while, and Wheatsfield Cooperative does its best to stock our grocery, frozen and deli departments with convenience foods that are also free of artificial ingredients.  Come on in soon, and we will help you get started on a healthy new way of life. 

Citrus

With citrus in season, enjoy these five citrus-based recipes from the New York Times including a Beet, Orange, and Arugula Salad, a Grapefruit Vinaigrette, and a Grapefruit and Navel Orange Gratin.


Holiday Detox

Looking for a post holiday detox? These eleven resolution-approved recipes from Food 52 will help start the new year out right with a green smoothie, a celery and mushroom salad, and rainbow chard with maple-vinegar, and more.

 
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LOCAL SPOTLIGHT

Jasper Winery

Des Moines, IA
Miles to the Co-op: 38

jasper tasting room

Jean and Paul Groben first planted grape vines in 2000 near Newton, Iowa. With a degree in viticulture and enology (grape growing and wine science), their son Mason started the wine business with his parents in 2003.

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