Beets Anyone?

Beets are one of those foods that many people find mysterious. I know I stayed away from them like they were toxic for most of my life. Joining a CSA has many effects on people, and one of them is to force us to re-examine food in a new light. As for the beet, we have made our peace, and now I have become an envoy for others to find this peace, and to enjoy the beet or what it is- tasty, versatile, and surprising.

I have heard some of your comments as many of you discover the beet, while others are locked in battle with this tuber, convinced there is no room in your life for this much-maligned root. To that end I am posting a few unusual recipes that may help pave the road to peace with beets. There are many beet muffin recipes out there, but the chocolate ones are a delight in both color and taste.

We are in the midst of beet abundance at the farm, and that means if you want to pickle them, can them, or engage in any other bulk beet bonanza, this is the time to let us know. You can make beet chips by slicing them rather thin with a mandolin (or meticulously by hand, thinness and uniformity are paramount here), and dehydrating them until crisp. The natural sweetness of beets makes these chips quite tasty.

What many people don’t know is that beets are processed for more than half of the sugar produced in the US. The sugar beet is a different variety than the beet we get in the CSA or what is sold in grocery stores. It is bred specifically for its high sugar content. To get to the end result, pure white sugar, they must be highly processed.

Beet sugar, like cane sugar, is mostly sucrose. Like many processed sugars, there are many people raising concerns over the effect of highly processed sugars in our diets. As if the sugar controversy doesn’t cause us enough confusion- Good? Evil? Benign? Or Harmful?- other issues have surfaced lately that for most of us may actually simplify the issue.

Like many commodity crops, sugar beets have been increasingly genetically modified for insect, fungus, and Round-up resistance. This has put beet sugar squarely in my list of foods to be avoided, as I don’t have any faith that GMO technology has been properly vetted for safety in the food chain over the long term. Since the industry still refuses to voluntarily label GMO foods, and our government won’t require it of them, it seems easier just to avoid any food that isn’t labeled “GMO free”.

If you are ready to confront your beet issues head-on, we want to help. We are growing three varieties this year- classic dark red, Chioggia (the red and white striped beet), and the golden beet. Next week I’ll post pickled beet recipes, if you have a favorite, please send it to me for the CSA.

This Week’s Harvest: Summer Squash, Cucumbers, Lettuce, Potatoes, Beets, Garlic, Onions, Leeks, Chard, Green Beans, Dill, Basil

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