Farm Fresh Answers

Cultivating conversations about food & farming

Tag: food (page 2 of 3)

Pesticides on Your Plate?

What does a mom who makes pesticide recommendations for farmers feed her own children? Organic. Homemade. Conventional. Store bought.  I use it all.

Yes, I sometimes bought organic baby food. I bought it for the convenience of the pouch packaging. I bought it for the unique food combinations. I did NOT buy it because I thought it was more nutritious or better than conventional.

I am somewhat particular about the country of origin of the foods I feed my children. Any food grown in the US or Canada I am completely comfortable purchasing.

I will admit that I think twice when I see produce, particularly berries, from other countries and often opt not to purchase them. Berries have soft skin that can be easily bruised during transport and I am not as comfortable with the control measures for complex pest management strategies in other countries.  But, I obviously buy foreign grown bananas because they aren’t grown in the US.

My master’s degree is in Weed Science. I studied Herbicide Physiology and lots and lots of chemistry.  My master’s thesis involved glyphosate (aka Roundup). Yes, I sprayed it myself – gasp!

I studied the chemical structures of herbicides, how they breakdown in the environment and at what speed, which products should be used in what situations, and how the herbicides fit into the entire cropping system.

I am very comfortable the pesticides used on our food in the US. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registers chemicals after review of the pesticide ingredients, crops to be used on, the amount and frequency of use, timing and also how the pesticide should be stored and disposed.  They determine the risk of potential harms to humans, wildlife, and non-target species.

The EPA also determines a pesticide tolerance – the maximum amount of pesticide residue that can legally remain in or on a particular food. It takes generally 8-10 years from discovery to registration of a herbicide.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors and enforces pesticide tolerances in both raw and processed foods.  Meat, poultry and eggs are monitored and enforced by the USDA. Food grown domestically and imported food are both monitored for pesticide residues.

Bottom line – I trust the safety of the food I buy because I trust the science behind it.

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Baked Butternut Squash

Butternut squash receives much less fanfare than it’s botanical cousin, the preeminent and ever-popular pumpkin. And while pumpkin will like remain king of fall flavors for the foreseeable future, one taste of this baked squash recipe just might cause you to rethink your palate priorities.

My freshman year of college, I took my roommate to my parent’s house for a home-cooked meal and baked butternut squash was on the menu. In my roommate’s words it ‘made her believe in the possibilities of squash,’ a vegetable she had never previously liked.

This recipe for baked squash came from my grandmother and is a perennial fall favorite for my family. The combination of squash, apples, sugar and spices make for a delicious side dish almost good enough to be called dessert and one that pairs particularly well with pork.

One warning: this is one dish that doesn’t taste as good as leftovers, so only make what you plan to have eaten….not that eating all of it should be a problem!

 

Baked Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 -2 medium apples
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With a knife, cut the neck off of the butternut squash. Cut off the top and peel. Cut into slices about 1″ thick. Peel the bottom and scoop out the seeds. Cut into 1″ slices/pieces.
  3. Arrange all your slices into a glass baking dish.
  4. Core, peel & slice your apple into rings. Arrange on top of the squash pieces.
  5. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Once melted, stir in brown sugar, cinnamon & flour.
  6. Immediately pour the sauce over the apples & squash.
  7. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes until squash is fork tender.

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Ratatouille

Ratatouille may roll off the tongue, but it’s not that easy to spell – I hardly ever get it right on the first try. Fortunately, this recipe is much easier to make than spell.

Eggplant is the star of this delicious combination of vegetables sauteed to perfection in a tasty tomato-based sauce. Ratatouille can be a great side dish or center piece for lunch or dinner.

My version of ratatouille is ‘low fuss.’ I use one skillet & cook it on the stove top – no need to heat up the oven & just one pan to clean! The veggies are added one at a time, so while one is cooking you can slice/dice the next one.

Also, the measurements for this recipe DO NOT have to be exact. Add more or less of anything to suit your taste.

 

Ratatouille

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup sliced & quartered eggplant (peel if desired)
  • 1 cup sliced & quartered zucchini (and/or yellow summer squash)
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce or tomato juice

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on low for a minute or two
  2. Add diced onion and saute over medium heat until they start to turn translucent. Add garlic, basil & oregano.
  3. Add eggplant and saute until it starts to soften, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add zucchini and saute until it starts to soften, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add diced tomato and tomato sauce/juice. Stir and cook until eggplant starts to turn translucent and sauce thickens.
  6. Serve hot.

Makes about 1 cup.

Fun fact: Did you know that the vegetable we call ‘eggplant,’ the British call ‘aubergine’? I learned that recently while talking with an acquaintance from across the pond.

Have you come across any unique or unusual names for food?

The Friday Five: Bacon & Eggs & Breakfast

soybean field, landscape

Bacon lovers rejoice! The object of your meat affection could be about to get even better. If you want a side of eggs with your bacon, however; it might cost you a little bit more – at least for the time being.

Here’s look at those stories plus a few other breakfast related tidbits fresh picked for this week’s Friday Five:

  1. What’s shakin’ bacon? Researchers at Kansas State University are looking at ways to improve the bacon flavor we love to savor and improve the shelf life of this marvelous meat treat, as reported by Feedstuffs newspaper. By the way, tomorrow is International Bacon Day. So fry up a few strips to celebrate!
  2. Are you scrambling to adjust your breakfast menu since eggs are more expensive? It’s the lingering effects of a deadly flu virus that devastated a large number of chickens (don’t worry it’s not a virus that humans can get). But you may be dishing out more per dozen for awhile, especially after the big breakfast announcement that hit the news this week, as CBS News reports.
  3. Like cheddar cheese on your eggs? Find out what makes cheddar cheese orange in this post from a Michigan dairy farmer on the Food Dialogues website.
  4. How about some fruit salad on the side? Be sure to thank plant breeders for your selection, as today’s fruit varieties are thanks to their efforts over hundreds of years. Check out this fun quiz to test your skills at matching modern fruits (and a few vegetables) with their plant ancestors.
  5. Like milk on your cereal? Share the love. For every share of this ‘Strength in Numbers’ image on with #milkdrive during the month of September the Great American Milk Drive will donate one gallon of milk to Feeding America food banks. Click here to share on Facebook or Twitter.

What’s your favorite breakfast food?

The Friday Five: A Better Look at Beef

2013 soybeans, landscape

Did you know that yesterday (Aug. 27) was #NationalBurgerDay? Thank you, social media for the heads up.

Coincidentally, there’s also a headline grabbing story floating around this week about the safety of ground beef. Let’s take a better look:

  1. From Food Insights, here’s a few facts and myths to explore about the safety of ground beef. Bottom line: bacteria doesn’t care where your beef came from – wash your hands & cook it to the right temperature (160 degrees)!
  2. For another perspective, check out this article from High Plains Journal. The good news: almost all of the bacteria found in the “study” was not the kind that cause serious foodbourne illnesses
  3. Reading past the headlines is important, especially when it comes to blurbs about scientific studies, as pointed out in this LA Times article.
  4. And here’s an article from Business Insider that looks at some potential problems with the ground beef safety “study”.
  5. For some tips on ways to safely store, handle, thaw & cook beef check here.

What’s your favorite way to eat a hamburger?

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