Snow White Syndrome

Dec. 3, 2010

Avoid Snow White while eating organic rainbow!

By Jim PathFinder Ewing

“The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”

– Wendell Berry

By now, those who have been following this column by tending to a 4×8-food fall “Jim’s plot” garden should be enjoying green, leafy vegetables – if they’ve been watered and covered with Agribon, or a light blanket or other covering during the recent frosts.

The open-air garden plots we planted at ShooFly Farm on Labor Day weekend are trending toward the end of their life cycles even with the loving treatment they’ve been afforded.

It’s time to shift over to cold frames (or high tunnels or green houses, if you have them).

For future reference, here’s a list of veggies that Annette and I have been enjoying and you might consider planting next fall: Mizuna; arugula; kale; Tokyo Bekana/pei tsai; pak choi; chard; purple top turnips; mustard greens; collard greens; radishes.

As your plants become more stressed by the weather, they likely are also developing bug holes in the leaves. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a natural outgrowth of “growing organic.”

Have your ever heard of Snow White Syndrome?

Most of us have it to some extent. It refers to the beautiful, perfect poison apple in the Snow White fairy tale. Factory farmed, conventionally grown produce is like the poison apple; it is perfect, but poisonous – or at least has added chemicals!

Most of us grew up with this kind of produce; our purchasing habits reflect that. We sometimes think that produce with bug holes or other natural “blemishes” is not as good for us and won’t buy it. The truth is that such imperfections do not in any way affect the quality, nutrition or wholesomeness of the food.

The large factory organic farms and many organic small farms actually use pesticides that are organically approved to help ensure a product that is Snow White perfect. They are afraid people won’t buy it if they don’t.

But organic “purists” (like us) don’t use pesticides, even the USDA certified organic (OMRI) ones: We know that a garden is a complex, interdependent habitat, which supports many life forms. If we were to kill one type of bug, for example, we would be upsetting the balance – and possibly also eliminating that bugs’ natural predators. Good soil and plant nutrients produce healthier plants that are more resistant to bugs and diseases.

For healthy food, feed the soil; don’t spray the crops with poison.

However cosmetically “imperfect,” enjoy your organically grown food, knowing that it’s totally healthful. Spread the word, and educated consumers will help to eliminate all pesticides from our environment.

Try eating the rainbow!

The color of the plant is not an ironclad indicator of healthfulness, either. While deep colored plants, like blueberries, have lots of anti-oxidants that help humans maintain health and fight diseases, it’s important to eat a range of foods.

We need not only those colors, but the lighter colored fruits and veggies as well. For example, most white or lighter veggies -such as cauliflower, Tokyo bekana, cabbage – contain nutrients such as beta-glucans, EGCG, SDG, and lignans that provide powerful immune-boosting activity. These nutrients also activate natural killer B and T cells, reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers, and balance hormone levels, reducing the risk of hormone-related cancers. (For more on this, see: http://www.all-about-juicing.com/Vegetable-Juicing.html)

For better health, keep a kaleidoscope of colors on your plate.

For those switching over to a cold frame; make sure and keep it ventilated during the day. Even though the sun may appear weak during a cold, winter’s day, heat can quickly build in an enclosed space. You don’t want your plants to wilt!

Lately, our cold frames have been open all day and night unless the temperature dips below freezing; then, we shut the glass tops for the night, reopening them in the day. Maintaining heat in a cold frame is more art than science; you have to be vigilant.

Reader feedback:

“Crusty” honey, or honey that’s “gone to sugar” does not mean it’s not pure. Granules forming in the jars is normal for all honey over time. Additionally, some bee varieties produce honey more prone to it than others, along with other variables. Some bees (particularly German black bee or European bee) produce more syrupy honey, and less of it, for example, than say, Italian bees. If honey turns crusty, just set the jar in warm water, and the sugar will dissolve again. It won’t affect the quality.

Contact Jim Ewing on Twitter @OrganicWriter or @EdiblePrayers, or Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc

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