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Bionutrient Food Association hosts introductory meeting at Welles Turner Library on July 2, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.

Dan Kittredge2The last century of farming practices has taught us that forcing out the most produce possible at any cost has a long term drawbacks including decreased soil and crop quality. Today, our fruits and vegetables have only a fraction of the nutrients they had a century  ago, and without these essential nutrients, our health is inevitably impacted, and chronic illnesses continue to rise.

On Thursday, July 2, 2015 the Hartford Chapter of Bionutrient Food Association (BFA) will feature BFA founder Dan Kittredge discussing remineralizing the soil and other sustainable farming and gardening techniques to improve the quality of our food. The doors will open at 6:00 p.m. for casual conversation. The program runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Following his formal talk, Mr. Kittredge will field questions from the audience. While the evening will focus on gardening and farming techniques, it will be timely topic for anyone who is interested in the quality and nutrition of the food we eat. The meeting is free and open to the public.

The purpose of the BFA is to educate consumers, gardeners, and farmers about the critical importance of nutrient dense food to health and how to go about growing and identifying it. The local chapter is run entirely by volunteers — home gardeners who have learned that the nutritional quality of our food supply has been in serious decline, as far back as the 1930s. Many of the illnesses so prevalent today are the result of nutrient deficiencies. Much of the soil in the northeast and other parts of the US is depleted of critical elements, or they are present in unbalanced proportions due to natural geology, the leaching effects of above average rainfall and years of over-production. In his July 2 talk, Mr. Kittredge will discuss specific techniques for reversing some of these deficiencies through natural soil amendments.

For additional information about the July 2 meeting Mark Cegielski or Kris McCue at hartfordbfachapter@regenerativeag.net,  or see http://bionutrient.org/, the parent organization website, https://www.facebook.com/HartfordCTBionutrientFood?ref=br_tf, the Hartford area chapter Facebook, or

http://bfa.regenerativeag.net/CT/ the Hartford chapter website

Kale: A Fashion Statement

Cutting kale in my otherwise dormant garden -- New Year's Eve, 2014

Cutting kale in my otherwise dormant garden — New Year’s Eve, 2014

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a big fan of kale.  One of my first posts on this blog was about kale and includes a great kale soup recipe. The “KALE” sweatshirt that I’m sporting in the pic was a holiday gift from my daughter. I was a kale fan before it became trendy, and everyone in the world shouted its nutritional praises. While the nutrition is a great feature, that’s only part of the story.  Kale has more staying power than just about any vegetable in my central Connecticut Zone 5B garden.

The plants pictured here in my otherwise empty garden — next year I’ll get my season-extending tunnel covers in place — are Lacinato Kale, Brassica oleracea Lacinato — that I started indoors from seed late last winter and planted in the garden in late spring. They could have gone in much earlier; they are very cold tolerant and could have been direct seeded. I was late getting my garden going last year, but the extremely forgiving kale didn’t seem to mind. Despite begin cold tolerant — actually cold loving — kale grows happily all through the summer without bolting like spinach, arugula, and other lettuces will do. All summer long while I clip the outside leaves, the plant keeps growing taller and producing new leaves from the center.

I’m not the only creature that loves kale, so it’s always a constant challenge to keep away various types of caterpillars (especially cabbage loopers) and white flies. I launch multiple organic assaults on these pests including hand picking, Bacillus thuringiensis, and insecticidal soap, but this meets with only modest success. Mostly, I depend upon the established kale to produce so prolifically and there are enough greens for everyone.

Kale: A Survivor’s Story

Yes, “survivor” is the right word. As I pack in the rest of the garden and mulch it down with leaves, I just smile at the kale and know that it won’t give up for several more months. A frost or two won’t hurt it; nor will a snowfall unless it’s so heavy that it breaks the leaves or stem. The kale you see in the picture above has gone through a number of hard freezes. As long as you don’t cut it while it’s frozen but rather let the sun thaw it normally, it will survive well past the December holidays. I’ve been known to cut it in February.

Almost forgot to mention. If you don’t want to brave the cold weather, kale keeps well in your freezer! When it is at its peak in the summer, I’ll cut many of the leaves, trim away the center stem, chop, steam, submerge in ice water, spin dry and freeze. It will keep nicely in your freezer for about a year. Use as a side dish (see below) or for soup.

Kale: An Easy Side Dish

Kale chips and soup are very popular, but don’t forget one of the easiest kale presentations: steamed or sautéd. To prepare, wash the freshly cut leaves. Trim away the tough center stem, then chop into bite-sized pieces. Steam and serve as you would spinach, but about twice as long. Kale can be tough and needs to be cooked longer to soften it up. Drain well and drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar.

To  sauté, coat bottom of skillet with olive oil and heat until fragrant. Add a few tablespoons of pignolia nuts and heat until just browned. Remove from pan. Add prepared kale and  sauté until tender. Remove to serving dish and sprinkle with browned pignolia nuts. Note: nuts are optional. Also delicious with browned butter rather than olive oil.

 

 

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