Dear City Dweller: Here’s Why You Should Grow Your Own Medicine Cabinet. Sincerely, An Herbalist and Farmer

Share This

This article is an updated/revised version of a guest blog post originally published in now-defunct DIY urban gardening website, City Plantz, in February of 2018. Enjoy!

I didn’t stumble upon the health properties of plants—and growing them yourself— in the most obvious way you would think.

At first, my interest in growing plants was all about food: our crumbling food system, our need for more farmers and food growers, and—ultimately—our need to protect our food, health, nutrition, and autonomy by growing food ourselves to ensure that it’s healthy (yes, even in the city). All of this started in college in rural Minnesota, and led me down the path of organic agriculture that I still tread today: in my daily life, in my career, and everything I do on my farm of three years now, Jupiter Ridge LLC. It’s all culminated into a both rigorous and healing lifestyle.

It definitely isn’t news these days that the healthiest food comes in the form of fresh homegrown fruits and vegetables—and specifically vegetables you can grow yourself.

Dill Bouquet | Jupiter Ridge Farm

But as it turns out, there’s a lot more to ensuring your health from the plant world than just growing your own food, especially when growing herbs comes into the picture.

This article is going to be a combination of informative and updating, so let me get the updates out of the way.

For those who have followed my writings and this blog (new and old), you can probably see I haven’t written much over the years about anything, let alone herbalism (To you newcomers: welcome).

This mostly coincides with getting my farm Jupiter Ridge up and running here in Driftless Iowa (Northeast Iowa), an endeavor that has demanded an immense amount of time, money, labor, blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice, pain, healing, beauty, and transformation – so naturally, herbalist projects and everything else have been placed on the back burner.

On that note, too, I felt like I needed a separation period from the world of herbalism: its major figures, celebrities, and influencers; the culture around it and the narrow definitions of what herbalism is in these circles; the increasing patriarchal/cultural appropriation problems in herbalist scenes; and even other herbalists in general.

I won’t get into it too much (and in fact I’ve been mostly silent on the subject), but I stepped into the (for lack of a better word) “cult” following of herbalism and its little extended network in America in 2012, expecting to find “my” people only to find a network that had very little to do with healing and helping others. Instead I found a lot of ego, power, competition, and people claiming they could heal others when they seemed to be in desperate need of healing themselves.

The lesson I learned from this: I think healers in general, not just herbalists, are meant to walk solitary paths to do their work. Identity and purpose get lost in these echo chambers.

So I closed the door on herbalism and instead got my hands dirty with farming, and growing nutritious, diverse vegetables, mushrooms, and herbs for people for the past few years. A different sort of herbalism and work as an herbalist, all the while badly wishing I could redefine these words (herbalism, herbalist) that I feel sort of stuck with, but love the possibilities of what they could mean nonetheless, so I’ll continue using them.

Just some of the culinary herbs we grow at Jupiter Ridge Farm – basil, thyme, oregano, sage, Thai basil. | Photo: Will Lorentzen

Now that the farm is up, running, and established (selling healthy, sustainably grown, and nutritious vegetables, mushrooms, and culinary herbs to hundreds of people in the Dubuque area every Saturday – plus delivering diverse CSA shares with these same contents every Tuesday to members in Cedar Rapids and to a dozen eastern and northeastern Iowa restaurants, too!), life has been doing that funny thing of poking and prodding at me to get me back in touch with my roots and the true, foundational reasons I decided to do this whole thing in the first place.

Owing to a combination of both circumstance and some intention, what we are making off of the land and what we grow for eastern and northeastern Iowa is steadily representing a larger and larger (and more reliable) portion of our income, as other sources of income/side hustles loom less large.

Upon reading this article again, too, I’ve taken it upon myself that the best I can do is redefine what it means to be an herbalist with my current work – and this article puts it real nicely.

So as for the updates: I’m still an herbalist. I still write. I still use plants to help people as a farmer. I may come back around to using those wilder and more esoteric plants (like echinacea, goldenrod, or sumac) again as part of my daily work (and it does seem like life is pushing me in that direction again – and this may spring up in the form of truly awesome, effective, and unique herbal products!), but we shall see.

This article marks the beginning of the confluence of farming and herbalism in my life. The future looks interesting.

Don’t Just Grow Your Own Food: Grow Your Own Medicine

Homegrown foods have a higher likelihood of being more nutritious than any other type of food in the long run (I wrote a piece about this for Rodale’s Organic Life, which has since shut down. If you’d like to read the article I’d be happy to send you a copy, which outlines the science of why this is true, too). These vegetables and plants are at the very foundation of our health; when you think about it, they really are our best source of preventive medicine, in a way.

I learned all about this over a decade ago, which spurred me to become a farmer and establish a farm. Then I learned about growing herbs—for both culinary use and for healing—in addition to vegetables, and I felt like I blew a whole new story wide open.

Amid my post-college travels learning how to farm, I made the strange and unlikely jump: from farmer to herbalist. Today, I’ve managed to fashion myself into both.

Even now, I’m experiencing a renaissance of realization and coming back full-circle to my herbalist roots after throwing my all into the farming path head-on for the past three years. The most important realization of all: that by growing healthy vegetables, culinary herbs, and even medicinal mushrooms (like shiitake and lion’s mane), I haven’t strayed all that far from being an herbalist at all. Instead, I’m seeing the multitude of connections that can take place in the world of plant-based health in a whole new light.

Harvested Homegrown Ginger | Jupiter Ridge Farm

The ability to grow your own plants for both healthy food and medicine—or both food and medicine in one, if you really think about it—is empowering.

It saves money, doctor’s visits, and could even shape the way we view healthcare in the future. I’ve used certain herbs to successfully combat strep throat without any help from mainstream antibiotics. I’ve suggested herbs to others that have eliminated their lifelong acne issues, and I even use herbs today to holistically support my anxiety disorder and PTSD. Sure, these are anecdotal. But they’ve literally worked and I see them work even now on an almost daily basis (and for you more science-herbalist nerds, there’s a very scientific explanation for how all of these herbs work for these separate issues).

But most importantly: just because you live in a house or small apartment with very little money doesn’t mean this is something out of reach to you.

The truth is: it is in reach, more than you know.

If you can grow food in your domicile, you can certainly grow herbs. Together, these form the most preventive health medicine cabinet you could possibly have at your disposal.

Seeing the Connection: Plants as Healers, Whether Vegetables or Herbs

Why should you grow your own medicinal or culinary—or both medicinal and culinary—herbs in the first place?

Isn’t this something reserved for New Age hippies, lifestyle bloggers, witchy mamas, or your grandma?

My answer is best put as a story. I was in Ecuador during my organic agricultural internship when I was first struck by the world of herbalism.

I had an injured and infected foot. It was hard for me to walk.

 I was also in a foreign tropical country where a non-native’s susceptibility to infections was astronomically dangerous. To continue growing the healthy, nutritious food I was so hell-bent on learning about, I was told by locals I must rely on a completely different kind of plant.

They pointed just a few steps away from where I helped cultivate rows of healthy vegetables like kale to a tall, uncultivated plant with broad leaves—a plant called matico.

Kale Row | Iowa Herbalist
Rows of kale at Jupiter Ridge Farm.

Vegetables and Medicinal Herbs: Different Plants, Similar Purposes

Two very different plants, kale and matico.

But they both have a couple things in common: they can strengthen health and, as I would learn soon, matico could save your life (and kale too, though how it might do that for you deserves its very own article in and of itself).

I was instructed to use a medicinal preparation of matico’s leaves by the locals to fight this infection and still be able to walk between planted rows to get work done and continue my education—maybe even to keep my foot altogether..

The nearest hospital wasn’t for miles. There was no local pharmacy, no local clinic, no antibiotics: only plants and the native knowledge of the locals at my disposal.

Years later, I still have my foot—and all because of (well, mostly because of) a plant (a trip to the Ecuadorian beaches swimming and soaking in the salty ocean helped, too). I also found out later, to my shock, that matico isn’t as exotic as I thought. In fact, it’s very closely related to both black pepper (a culinary seasoning I wrote about in depth for Primal Herb here) and kava kava (a widely popular sedative herb from the Pacific), domesticated cultivated relatives that are—you guessed it—grown and produced by farmers.

Garlic Field | Iowa Herbalist
A farmer (My husband and partner, Will) overlooking a garlic field. Garlic is a vegetable, a flavorful spice, and a highly medicinal herb all in one.

It was in making these types of connections between nutritious and medicinal plants—and plants of all kinds, for that matter—that I decided to be an herbalist, and not just a farmer. I also realized how deeply interlinked these roles could be.

Growing Medicinal Herbs: Why Do It? Is it Really Worth it?

So, why grow medicinal plants, you might again ask?

Of course, my story above is extreme. If you think you might lose a foot, definitely wise up and go to a hospital if you can—take advantage of the fact that you’re not in the middle of a South American rainforest. And yet, living in the city— relying only on your apartment or home— can sure feel like surviving in a jungle these days.

So here’s my short answer: you should grow medicinal plants to be smart, self-sufficient, and frugal. But also because it’s a no-brainer.

I’ll risk sounding blunt here: especially in an urban setting and with little money, you’d be dumb not to. Ultimately, growing plants saves you money and possibly your health in the long run. Sure, you can also purchase medicinal in supplement form. But these extracts and capsules can be costly also—and, in some cases, less reliable.

If you’re not worried about losing a foot perse, there’s a lot more beyond foot-saving that herbs do. Some examples are:

  • Improving digestion
  • Soothing sunburns
  • Alleviating stress (or even anxiety and depression)
  • Protecting infected cuts
  • Pain relief

A lot of them make your food taste better as a bonus, too (here’s looking at you, culinary herbs, of which the majority of you are also secretly medicinal).

By the way, if you’re already growing vegetables or even fruits in your house or apartment: congratulations!

You’ve already got your own preventive medicine cabinet. Growing herbs will just expand it even more. In the process, you might save yourself money on doctor’s visits and depending on those costly over-the-counter drugs.

You may also pick up an enjoyable hobby in the meantime that beautifies your home or apartment in the process, too. So why wouldn’t it hurt?

Echinacea at Jupiter Ridge | Iowa Herbalist
Echinacea on Jupiter Ridge.

Culinary and Medicinal Herbs: What Can I Grow? What’s Possible?

 Of course, the theory of anything becomes a lot more complicated when put into practice. Newcomers to growing herbs (or even growing in general) might ask: is growing medicinal and culinary herbs indoors difficult?

In truth, some herbs with healing potential are not any different—or more difficult— to grow than anything else indoors.

If you’re wanting to break new ground and give growing medicinal herbs a try, here are the best to get your feet wet with (and your hands dirty with) for starters.

  • Aloe Vera. May need more sun than most others on this list, but otherwise requires very little water or much else. Leaves from aloe plants can be removed and the gel used for cuts, burns, sunburns, rashes, and wounds. The juice can be consumed for digestive issues and even certain disorders (I wrote for Healthline about aloe vera juice for IBS here).

  • Ginger. Ginger root is incredibly easy to grow indoors from a living rhizome. It also doesn’t need a lot of light as a canopy plant. It’s great for cramps, stomachaches, nausea, and boosting the immune system when dealing with colds. It also tastes great (Oh yeah – I also wrote about ginger for Healthline here and how it’s great for sore throats).

  • Lemon Balm. Great for culinary and medicinal uses. It also doesn’t need a lot of sunlight or water. Harvest sprigs to flavor meals that call for mint or lemon verbena. Or, make a tea from it for stomachaches or bouts of stress, anxiety, or depression.

  • Mint. Spearmint and peppermint are easy to grow indoors with low light in containers. They’re great for bellyaches and can also calm nerves a bit. Mint’s flavors are a must-have for teas and various dishes. A fresh leaf on a cut reduces risk of infection, and the essential oil is amazing pain relief (I use it for my TMJ). (Article on how to grow this herb specifically is coming up soon).

  • Parsley. Take a bite or a sprig of this culinary herb to freshen breath or when you have a stomachache. It is also known to help with seasonal allergies. It’s easy to grow in low light and doesn’t ask much of you and is also a delicious seasoning.

  • Thyme. This squat little mint-like plant doesn’t demand much space, or even too much light or water for that matter. It makes for an adorable ornament on a kitchen window. Thyme is also an excellent herb for immunity and the symptoms of colds and flu.
Aloe Vera | Adrian White, Iowa Herbalist
Aloe Vera.

Keep in mind that the cultivation and use of herbs for health shouldn’t replace common-sense mainstream health care or prescription medications. Talk to your doctor about using herbs, or if using herbs for health would be right for you.

If you’re truly intrigued by growing herbs, don’t feel like you need to stop at this list.

There’s plenty of others you can grow indoors, and which may also be enjoyably tackled by the more advanced or expert indoor grower.

Happy growing—and, ultimately happy, affordable health.

Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA | Week 5 Newsletter

Share This

Hi CSA Members!

After a bit of a heavier share last week, we’ll be delivering a share that’s a bit more on the lighter side this time around – so you can catch your breath a little bit!

That’s not to say there won’t be plenty of variety to expect, or that you won’t be seeing some new items.

Important note: we will be delivering Tuesday evening (tomorrow) as usual again! So be sure to leave out your empty cooler and ice pack then so we can switch it out.

What to expect in this week’s share:

  • Sweet Peppers (One Red, One Orange)
  • Orange Carrots
  • Green Curly Kale Bunch
  • “Cabbettes” (Mini Cabbages!)
  • Yellow Crookneck Summer Squash
  • Mixed Potato Medley (White, Red, Purple, & Fingerling Potatoes)
  • Green Beans
  • Parsley Bunch
  • Sage Bunch
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Sweet Onion
  • Shallot

New this week are our sweet peppers, which are mostly “Bull’s Horn” or “Corno di Toro” type peppers. This means they aren’t quite bell peppers, but taper to a point, much like a bull’s horn (thus the name). 

Though their shape is different, they are just as sweet– if not sweeter, even!– than bell peppers you would find at the grocery store. (When I harvest them, I just can’t resist eating at least one of them as I harvest. So sweet and good, they’re like candy.)

Adirondack Potatoes
Purple potatoes will be one of the items you’re getting this week – and yes, they stay purple after you cook them!

We’ll also have parsley, potatoes, and shallots featured in this share. We hope you enjoy the new items – some of them even taste good together in combination in certain recipes!

Cabbettes: What Are They? | Explanation and Tips

In this week’s share you’ll be getting mini-cabbages or “cabbettes” as they are sometimes called. You’ll notice that they are basically just very small cabbages (or, if you look at them a little differently, large Brussels sprouts).

Cabbettes

You might wonder how the heck something like a small cabbage like this would come about. So here’s a little info on how cabbage grow: after you harvest the single BIG head from a cabbage plant, it keeps growing. But it doesn’t grow another big single head again. Instead, it splits off and grows several small ones, and though they’re small, they’re still quite tasty.

Some cabbettes are small enough that you could even treat them like Brussels sprouts if you wanted. The ones you’re going to find in your share, however, are going to be a little larger than that!

What to do with them? Well, you can do all the same things you like to do with a large cabbage with these little guys. (Think of it more like “single-serving” cabbage).

Some more ideas: chop or grate cabbettes into a slaw-like salad that is less heavy on the cabbage, with vegetables like matchstick carrots or even ginger. (Yum!)

Sliced Cabbage

Or: slice these mini-cabbages in half and place them on the grill. Delicious! Also– if you’ve got a big cut of meat to roast, throwing one of these cabbages whole along with your carrots, potatoes, and other roasting veggies with the meat in the roasting pan/it’s juices makes for another tender veggie added into the mix.

We hope you enjoy them – and as always, let us know if you have any questions about them!

Email Us | jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com

Wellness Spotlight On: Blue Potatoes (What Makes Them Blue)

Did you know that unusual-colored produce– especially produce that is red, blue, or purple instead of its typical color– has that color because of antioxidants?

Red Kale
Red (purple) kale has its color due to higher antioxidant content, which gives red kale a different (and arguably more dense) nutrient profile than green kale.

This is definitely the case with the blue potatoes you’ll be getting in your share. The blue color in these potatoes are actually anthocyanins, antioxidants that are great for:

  • Boosting heart health
  • Increasing immunity
  • Helping protect the nervous system
  • Reducing diabetes risk
  • Reduce risk of obesity
  • Reducing risk of cancer

So on top of all the nutrition you’d expect in potatoes (fiber, carbohydrates, potassium, vitamins, etc.), keep in mind that blue potatoes are extra special not because of how they look, but because that stunning blue appearance means more health benefits!

Enjoy your veggies this week, and let us know if you have any questions! | jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com

Yours,
Adrian & Will | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA “Italian Share!” | Week 4 Newsletter

Share This

Hi CSA Members!

Make sure to whip out your Italian cookbooks or your fave Italian recipes for this share. We’ll be packing it with a lot of tasty ingredients used in Italian cuisine! (And generally speaking, this is going to be a very big share. Hope you enjoy!)

Just a heads up: CSA delivery will be taking place on Wednesday evening this week rather than Tuesday (tomorrow). Be sure to leave your empty cooler out with ice packs then!

What you’ll be getting:

  • Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Red Round Slicer Tomato
  • Large Heirloom Tomato
  • Bunch Sweet Italian Basil (Genovese Basil)
  • Bunch Oregano
  • Lacinato Kale Bunch
  • Head Lettuce
  • Green Zucchini
  • Yellow Crookneck Summer Squash
  • Patty Pan Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Green Beans
  • Rainbow Baby Beets
  • Sweet Onion

Tomatoes and basil are considered a “holy grail” pairing, one that is especially revered (and featured in) Italian cooking. Oregano is another great one (it helps round out tomatoes and basil in tomato sauces and Italian gravies, for example), while Lacinato kale (also known as Tuscan kale, from Tuscany, Italy) is the star green for Italian cuisine and our share (and a favorite variety of kale among chefs – very tender, flavorful, and nutrient-dense!)

Lacinato Kale
Lacinato, Tuscan, or “Dinosaur” Kale, right before its delivery to Brazen Open Kitchen in Dubuque.

Can’t forget zucchini of course, a notable Italian vegetable (with a very Italian name).

Don’t want to cook Italian with all these ingredients? No problem. Cucumbers, sweet onion, baby beets, lettuce, and shiitake mushrooms in this week’s share will allow you to explore plenty of other avenues, too!

So Many Items in My CSA Share! Here’s How To Make Them Go The Distance

One thing we’ve heard many people say about CSA’s in general (whether they’re in one or considering one): you get too much food, you get overwhelmed, and then it all goes bad. It’s true this can happen: this is a tendency in some CSA’s (though not all of them, but you can run into this possibility depending on the farm or the farmer).

Heirloom Tomato
Is this a closeup of planet Jupiter? No, it’s a German Stripe heirloom tomato.

Part of the whole deal with a CSA is that you are signing up for both the “Risk and Rewards” of supporting your farmer with a whole share. You get whatever they have available on the farm.

But part of this is that you might get a lot of what a farmer happens to have, and sometimes that is something quite perishable (in the springtime, this might be greens, like kale) or something you might not be too excited about.

Not only might it be quite the task to keep up with cooking it all in one week (and in new, creative, appetizing ways that keep you excited), but you might also get a little exhausted of getting it over, and over, and over… and coming up with new ways to eat it (or even finding time to figure out how to eat it, for that matter).

So, to get the most out of the cost of your CSA share and ensure nothing goes to waste, here’s what we recommend for certain items:

  • You don’t have to eat those root vegetables right away.

Store them in a cool, dry place (the crisper drawer of your fridge is alright) at a temperature of between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, optimally (according to Modern Farmer). That immediately makes things like beets, potatoes, and even that enormous turnip in your share less daunting, and you don’t have to feel the pressure of using it right away. You can actually even wait a few weeks (sometimes months, depending on the root vegetable) before you even use it.

This goes for winter squash, too. As for onions, if you get sweet onions in your share, be sure to use them up before any storage type onions you get. Owing to their higher sugar content, sweet onions will go bad before your storage bulbs – while the latter you can keep just like other root veggies up to a few months in some cases.

  • Can’t eat all those greens? Blanch and freeze them.

It’s actually pretty quick and easy and takes almost no time, and I’ve done it many times in the autumn as our kale slows down production and dies back – I harvest any leftover leaves, blanch, and then freeze them. The Spruce has a good little tutorial on how to do it. It’s worth it.

Now you have greens with plenty of nutrients left in them still for the winter. It’s a great method to do with any excess kale, collard greens, swiss chard, arugula, and spinach you just can’t seem to get through (sadly, it doesn’t work so great for lettuce).

These frozen greens can then be cooked, added to sauces/pastas/soups, and they’re still tasty enough to throw into a smoothie or into the juicer. For that matter, a lot of other produce can be blanched and frozen, not just greens: like summer squash, green beans, sugar snap peas, and lots more.

Collard Bunches
Collard greens, these are great for blanching and freezing.
  • Make sure to store your tomatoes outside of the fridge.

This is a big one. We tend not to try to overload our members with tomatoes (although we know that they’re probably the most exciting item to people in the summer), but simply “not being in the mood” for tomatoes (or getting sick of tomatoes in summer) is a very, very, very real thing.

So, make sure to avoid storing your tomatoes in the fridge if you don’t want to get to them right away. They keep much, much longer at room temperature, anyway (and you’ll notice them going bad  much sooner than when you leave them out of sight and out of mind in your crisper drawer).

  • Keep mushrooms refrigerated in paper, not plastic.

Can’t get to your shiitake mushrooms right away (or oyster mushrooms, or lion’s mane mushrooms, which CSA members might get in the future from our farm)? 

You’ll get your shiitakes delivered to you in your share in a small plastic bag, but if you can’t cook them within a few days to a week, move them to be stored in something like a brown paper bag. This will definitely extend their shelf life to over one week, sometimes even two weeks, because it helps “wick” excess moisture away while still keeping some of it in to prevent your mushrooms from drying out too much.

If some brown spots form on mushroom gills, don’t worry – that is just oxidation, your mushrooms are still edible! It just makes them look a little ugly.

Shiitakes

It can be a chore to stay on top of all your CSA share produce (especially if you get a lot of certain items at once). This is one of the reasons why our CSA is set up a little differently: we start in July (when we are at the peak in our produce variety) and end our subscription with Fall produce that includes what is available not only in Autumn, but ALSO what’s available in Spring (so you get it all!)

Have any questions about your CSA share and what’s in it?

Never hesitate to ask! Email: jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com

Yours,
Adrian & Will | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA “Rainbow Share!” | Week 3 Newsletter

Share This

Hi CSA Members!

For this week’s share, you’ll be enjoying some of the most colorful produce of the season thus far (and arguably, the most colorful produce you can even grow and eat!).

So we’re calling it a “Rainbow Share.”

Here’s what you’ll be getting tomorrow:

  • Rainbow Carrots
  • Rainbow Baby Beets
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Red Slicer Tomato
  • Yellow Hot Pickling Peppers
  • Green Kale
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Green Beans
  • Red Onion
  • Thai Basil

We hope you enjoy all the color and flavor these veggies can offer. Enjoy!

What Is Thai Basil? | Explanation and Tips

This week, the culinary herb you’ll be getting is Thai basil. It looks a bit like the other varieties of basil that are more popular and that you’d usually see at the grocery store (those are called “sweet basil” varieties, the green one you see a lot is considered an Italian or Genovese type basil type).

Herb Bunches | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Tons of herbs! The bunch on the far lower left with the small purple flowers is Thai basil.

Thai basil has a bit of that sweet flavor like Italian basil, but also has a prominent “licorice” or “anise” type flavor thrown in, too. It should be cooked like Italian basil too, best thrown in at the end of a recipe to infuse it with its flavor.

Be sure to look up some Thai recipes featuring Thai basil and give them a try if you like. Though here are some ideas that Jupiter Ridge farmer Will has used:

Combine it with sweet fruits in a sauce to top cooked meats after they are prepared (especially pork or fish), or even as a marinade. Will has paired Thai basil with plum and it’s a flavorful match made in heaven.

Substitute mint for Thai basil in a mojito recipe (or if you don’t drink, a mojito mocktail recipe sans the booze). The result is an absolutely refreshing and cooling beverage (we’ve been enjoying it ourselves here and there up on Jupiter Ridge)! Throw your cucumber into the drink, too, if you like – cucumber and Thai basil taste amazing together in beverages.

Wellness Spotlight On: Rainbow Beets

In your share, you’ll also be getting a bag of rainbow baby beets: white beets, gold beets, chioggia beets, and the standard red beets.

Rainbow Beets | Jupiter Ridge Farm

These are awesome pickled, cooked, or roasted whole (a farmer friend of ours even smokes them after cooking – amazing!). But where they may really shine is when they are used raw in juices and smoothies (yes, you can probably see where I’m going with this).

Before beets were widely considered a food, they were actually considered more of a medicinal herb. Nowadays they are a popular addition to “detox” juices and smoothies not only because they turn them such an appetizing red color, but also because they’re chock-full of antioxidants and fiber that support a healthy liver (which in turn helps your body detox naturally), improve gut health, and boost heart health, too.

More specifically, red beets contain natural nitrates that help lower blood pressure and boost circulation (as a result, athletes love to use it because it helps increase aerobic capacity). Red beets also contain betalains (responsible for red beets’ red dye-like color).

Harvesting Beets | Jupiter Ridge Farm

But what about the other beets: gold, white, and chioggia?

Well, chioggia beets (the pink ones in your share that when you cut them open, have a bull-eye like pattern on the inside) share some of the same health properties as red beets because they have some of the same pigment.

Gold beets on the other hand have an entirely different set of antioxidants and health benefits. Instead of betalains, the gold pigment they have is actually made of lycopene and zeaxanthin, two different antioxidants (lycopene is great for reproductive health and heart health, while zeaxanthin is GREAT for eye health, apparently!)

OK – what about the white beets?

These have less antioxidants, but are plenty high in fiber (great for your gut). Here’s the kicker: they’re SWEETER than all the other beet varieties. So while the others will keep you healthy, enjoy the white beets as a sweet treat (they’re awesome sliced or grated raw into salads, or throw them into your smoothie/juice blend).

Have questions about how to cook/prepare items in your share?

Or are you curious about the health benefits of any of the herbs, veggies, or mushrooms you receive?

Don’t hesitate to contact us! – jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com

Best,
Adrian & Will | Jupiter Ridge Farm

Jupiter Ridge 2019 CSA | Week 2 Newsletter

Share This

Greetings CSA members – and welcome to our second CSA week!

Without further ado, here’s what you can expect for your delivery to come tomorrow:

  • Mixed Cherry Tomatoes
  • Red Round Slicing Tomato (Delicious!)
  • Patty Pan Squash
  • Mini Cabbage Trio (Red Cabbage, Round Green Cabbage, Oblong Green Cabbage)
  • Bunch Sweet Onions (White)
  • Bunch Carrots
  • Bunch Kale
  • Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Bunch Sage

Some farm updates: as the summer moves on to what tends to be its “hottest” phase yet, we’re saying goodbye to crops like sugar snap peas, turnips, and salad mix (though we still have some head lettuce in the ground and on the way!), while welcoming some newcomers. Just today, we trellised up sweet peppers, hot peppers, and eggplants, which our members will be able to enjoy at some point pretty soon.

We also trellised up an all-new crop we’ve never worked with: ground cherries. Think tomatillo with an earthier, more date-like (or even fig-like) flavor. Perhaps our CSA members will see some of those pretty soon here, too, if they do well!

Our most important news: we’re almost done rebuilding our shiitake production house and doubling its size. This means tons and tons (and tons) of shiitakes will be available to close out our season (and very likely more available to our CSA members than they’ve ever been before!)

Shiitake Production | Jupiter Ridge Farm

We can’t wait to deliver what’s growing right around the corner to you. Some other notable upcoming veggie possibilities in your share: beets (red, gold, white, chioggia/striped), rainbow carrots, head lettuce (romaine and frilled butter bibb/green), and lots more!

Thanks again for choosing us as your farmers.

What Is Patty Pan Squash? | Explanation and Tips

Before you pull out the strange circular-looking squash from your cooler and get confused (in my opinion, it looks like a UFO or a spaceship), reading this section can dispel some of that confusion.

Summer Squash | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Patty Pan squash: it’s the round one in the middle.

Despite its shape, patty pans aren’t as weird to cook with as they might look like at first glance. You can cook them in the exact same ways as their close relatives, zucchini (on the left) and crookneck or other yellow summer squashes (on the right).

I have to point out that patty pans (as I described to a farmers market customer just this past Saturday) have a firmer, more starchy texture than summer squash, but the same buttery and delicious flavor.

Jupiter Ridge’s Farmer Adrian says they’re absolutely perfect for those “stuffed squash” recipes (try substituting those “zucchini boat” recipes for patty pan squash, they make for perfect single-serving little squashes) and baking them with a stuffed filling in the oven.

Though it goes good with everything (it’s true), bacon is an irresistible combo with summer squashes like patty pan. A great combo for grilling season especially.

Jupiter Ridge’s Farmer Will has used summer squashes (including patty pan) for a grilled bruschetta. Cut it open laterally and top with garlic, olive oil, basil, tomato, and perhaps a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese. This is a great grilling option, too, or put it in the oven!

Local Iowa Bruschetta | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Bruschetta made from farm veggies.
Wellness Spotlight On: Garden Sage

With a bunch of culinary sage to be expected in your share, here’s where I can put my (Adrian’s) herbalist hat on for a moment and explain a little bit about it on the health front.

In culinary terms, sage will pair great with those tomatoes, squash, and garlic scapes in your share. It’s also rich in antioxidants that you can experience some of if you use it as a spice in your meals, but which you can get an even greater dose of (at a time) if sage is used as a tea (fresh or dried – it doesn’t matter). Some of the perks of these antioxidants: better immunity, and better better brain function, reportedly and according to studies.

Though it’s tasty when used fresh in food (highly recommend!) another option is to dry it, hang it, and save it for winter as a tea for boosting immune systems for colds and flu (and it’s good for coughs too).  It may have an intense flavor in tea, but tastes amazing with honey (or use it as one of many herbs in a hot toddy for a sore throat – delicious!)

Sage | Jupiter Ridge Farm
Sage closeup

Enjoy the sage (and the rest of your share) this week!

Yours,
Adrian & Will | Jupiter Ridge Farm