Friday, March 2, 2012

My Sister's Purple Potatoes

One of my out-of-state sisters came for a quick, unexpected visit this past weekend, and my twin sister and I pretty much dropped everything we had planned for the weekend so the three of us could enjoy the special time together.

The sister who visited owns and operates an organic CSA--Community Supported Agriculture--that serves cutomers in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington area. She has a three-season operation, which pretty much means that we rarely see her anywhere but in her "dirt," amending, digging, planting, tending, harvesting. So this visit was a treat for all of us.

For those of you who don't know what a CSA is, I'll give you the Reader's Digest explanation: A farmer (my sister, in this instance) plants a market garden and sells "shares" to individuals prior to harvest. Then, every week during the harvest season, the farmer picks what's ripe and divides that week's produce into however many shares have been sold. Each shareholder then gets whatever is available that week according to their share amount. It's a win win situation, because the farmer earns an honest (although hardworking) living, and shareholders get the benefit of eating the very tastiest, freshest, close-to-home-grown fruits, veggies, greens, and sprouts. And in the case of my sister's operation, the food is sustainably grown with absolutely nothing in the way of herbicides or pesticides used. And because the food is locally grown, the costs for transporting long distances, packaging, and using up store shelf space are virtually nonextent. Considering that where I live, gas has gone up to over $4 per gallon, that could really add up in savings.

Another neat aspect of my sister's CSA is that she grows some things that are "new" to most Americans' taste buds. She's known locally for being a whiz at Asian greens, and she grows many, many different varieties. And to sweeten the deal, my sister often includes recipes for whatever is in the week's box of goodies so her customers will feel confident in using the food. In the winter, she grows alot of microgreens and sprouts.

But of course, the summer CSA is the mainstay of her operation, and the chance for her to grow the largest variety of veggies. Another specialty of hers is the unique potato varieties that she grows. Russets and reds don't figure in her customers' boxes because people can buy those just about everywhere. So she's always hunting for new and unusal varieties. And this visit was no different.

My sister has located a new purple potato that isn't on the market yet and doesn't have a name that I'm aware of. But she knows the developer so she got a line on several hundred pounds of seed potatoes. She tells us that these potatoes are deep purple with a creamy Yukon-gold-like swirl; very pretty. They are also high in antioxidents, which is one of the selling points of purple versus regular potatoes. (Studies has shown that purple potatoes can actually help lower your blood pressure, among other benefits.)

My twin sister and I were very much interested in these, so our CSA sister is shipping us a few pounds each to try them out this summer. I usually have good success with growing potatoes at the Lilliputian cottage, so I'm hoping that these few pounds will result in several months at least worth of winter eating bliss.

I'll keep you posted!

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