By the Food Opportunists. Words + Pictures: Susannah Yeung
There’s something special about farmer’s markets, a certain je ne sais quois, some might say. It seems that, no matter where you are, farmer’s markets breathe the same sense of vitality, spirit and purpose into a community. It’s one of the few places we can come face to face with the people that battle the seasons, the elements and the earth to put food on our table. As a food opportunist, it’s important to know where your food comes from, how it’s harvested, raised and produced. At one time, we knew our butcher, our grocer, our fishmonger. Today, as we become more removed from the source of our food, farmer’s markets give us the opportunity to look our food producers square in the eye, build relationships with them and trust the quality and safety of our food. It gives us the chance to understand what it means to consume grass-fed, pasture-raised or wild-caught produce or the benefits of eating organic, raw or unfiltered.
Surely enough the Boulder Farmer’s Market will open again in April, but from the months of November to April, when the frost hits and markets are scarce, it’s not as easy to stay connected to the source of our food. We spoke to Colorado’s first Certified Organic farm, Grant Family Farms, about how their Community Supported Agriculture program gives us access to affordable, fresh, local and sustainable produce all year round, while giving back to the community.
Food Opportunists (FO): In 1974 yours was the first farm in Colorado to be certified as organic, what is Grant Farm’s overall philosophy?
Grant Farms (GF): Our focus has always been to ensure responsible, organic farming, animal care, sound environmental practices and, of course, high quality produce.
FO: The farm operates on a unique, mutually supported grower-community model of sustainability. How does that relationship work?
GF: We like to think that we are part of the community and the community can become part of the farm. In simple terms, it means our organic growing methods and practices rely on the community for support and consumption, so we can stay financially independent of banks or loans. At first glance it may sound a little idealistic, but our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program has recently been the backbone to our success. It’s a sustainable model connecting local individuals and community to their food system, so that we all support and contribute to each other and work in harmony. When someone joins our CSA, we like to think that they become part of our family. They’re able to connect with the source of their food and make an active choice to contribute to a wider community cause. It means that we all experience good seasons and difficult seasons together but it also builds community spirit and a strong support network that is committed to helping one another. We’re simultaneously supporting our health and our local economy.
FO: What’s the best way to get involved in the CSA?
GF: Our CSA program gives the community direct access to seasonal produce. Anyone can join the CSA by purchasing a weekly Summer share for 6 months or a monthly Winter share for 3 months. Last year we also started a Fall share for bulk produce that can be preserved, like peaches, apples, tomatoes and beans. We distribute boxes of produce from as little as $18 per week. People can choose the type of share to suit them since we distribute vegetables, fruit, flowers, grains, bread and pasture-raised eggs, poultry and meat. The best thing is that you can be sure the produce is extremely fresh – it will be harvested about 2 days ahead of you receiving it, as opposed to getting it from the grocery store where it might be harvested 2 or 3 weeks ahead of reaching you. We service the whole Colorado and Wyoming Front Range region, including Fort Collins, Boulder, Golden and Denver. We also run a ‘supported share’ initiative that gives people the opportunity to purchase and donate produce to families in need throughout the year. In the Summer, we offer farm tours every Saturday so people can come and see where and how their food is produced.
FO: What’s so unique about Grant Farms’ CSA?
GF: We offer diversity, we have a large farm with over 2000 acres of planting area, so it allows us to plant a huge variety of crops, about 200 different vegetable varieties. If one crop is affected by frost or hail, there are usually secure crops that haven’t been affected at all, so we’re always able to supply our CSA members. We also grow lots of heirloom varieties that aren’t available in the grocery store. From year to year we save as many of our own seeds as possible so we know they are authentic, truly organic and not genetically modified. We also offer Certified Kosher produce.
FO: What is the significance of your meat being pasture-raised and organic?
GF: It’s much more pure, it not only tastes better but it’s much more nutritionally beneficial. The animals are far healthier, they are grazed on a natural diet so the meat will be higher in omega-3. They’re cared for and left to roam freely outdoors, getting plenty of exercise and vitamin D, so the meat is leaner and healthier. The animals aren’t fed any corn or given antibiotics. The hen’s diet is supplemented with Certified Organic feed that is enhanced with flax seed which also increases omega-3 levels. Mother Earth News recently reported that pastured eggs are more nutritious than conventional and organic eggs, and have 34 percent less cholesterol, 10 percent less fat and 40 percent more vitamin A, than eggs produced in factory farms.
That said, here’s a quick and versatile frittata recipe for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner using pastured raised eggs. You can serve it warm or cold with fresh spring greens or steamed veggies. If you don’t eat all the frittata on the first day, it will last in the fridge overnight for a tasty high-protein snack the following day.
Sweet Potato, Caramelized Onion and Rosemary Frittata
(Dairy, Gluten, Soy & Nut free)
By Susannah Yeung
5 oz or 1/2 small sweet potato, finely sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pinches salt
2 pinches black pepper
1/2 red onion, finely sliced into half moons
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 large sprig fresh rosemary, minced
1. Preheat broiler to moderate heat. Thoroughly coat the sweet potato rounds in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat a medium 8-inch skillet over high heat and add the sweet potato. Continue to stir so it cooks evenly, reduce heat to medium and saute for about 5 minutes until browned but not too soft. Remove from skillet and set aside.
2. Place the skillet back on the stove over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the onion. Saute the onion adding the balsamic vinegar after about 3 minutes once the onions are translucent and continue to stir for about 10 minutes. Once the onions are soft and slightly caramelized, remove from skillet and set aside.
3. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl, add minced rosemary and season with remaining salt and pepper. Gently fold in the sweet potato and pour the mixture into the skillet. Evenly distribute the potato and then scatter the onions over the top of the egg mixture.
4. Slowly cook on a low-moderate heat for about 10 minutes, until the bottom of the frittata begins to solidify but the top is still liquid. Remove from the the stove top and place under the broiler for about another 2-3 minutes or until the top is lightly golden. Remove from the broiler and serve with vegetables.