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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Green Zebra Market hits the road!

Coming to a video screen near you - Green Zebra live videos! I'll be filming while I'm on the road heading to farms, as well as on location at market sites. You can see the first video below! Feel free to post any video requests and questions about the market you would like me to answer in the comments!


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Building a Canadian National Food Strategy: What's Next?

Although a nation-wide food strategy has been a major strategic goal of food security and community nutrition organisations over several election cycles, the citizens of Canada have yet to see such a plan come to fruition. This despite the fact that a national food strategy formed a plank of the 2011 Conservative party platform (a promise which was confirmed by past Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in a meeting with his provincial counterparts that same year). At that time, the intention was for a comprehensive policy to be developed and released by April of 2013.


During the 42nd federal election campaign, Food Secure Canada released a questionnaire to assess the national strategy plans of all five major political parties. The Liberals, NDP, Greens and BQ responded, while the Tories abstained. Based on the responses given by the Grits, here is what we might expect from the incoming government:

  • Support and supply of funding for a national food security strategy
  • Cooperation with not-for-profit and other non-government organisations to develop and deliver food security programs, including information sharing between government and advocacy groups
  • Devotion of an unspecified percentage of program funding towards experimentation, evaluation and innovation, but no commitment to a livable income as a method of guaranteeing food security
  • Focus on a food sovereignty approach to reducing insecurity in Northern Canada (local/sustainable)
  • Expansion of the Nutrition North Canada (NNC) subsidy to additional communities; increased oversight and accountability (worth $40M over 4 years)
  • No commitment to a Healthy School Food Program (est. at $1B over 5 years)
  • Increased funding for provincial and territorial skills training programs, with no specified amount to go towards agricultural careers
  • Assessment of farm income-safety nets
You can read the detailed answers from each party to the survey questions here on FSC's website: 4 Parties are in Favour of a National Food Policy.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Another day at the Green Zebra, another obscure-ish squash. This time it’s a large crookneck, again from God’s Little Acre farm in Surrey.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about squash, especially the non-traditional ones, it’s that they can be very difficult to identify. Crooknecks seem to have a very characteristic shape (bonus fact: a crook is the hooked staff of a shepherd) but still get called “summer squash” and other generic titles whenever google feels like it. Apparently crooknecks come in large and small sizes, with the small ones being most popular for their sweeter taste.

The recipe I tried out called for small crooknecks but I only had this big guy lying around. As you can tell from his beard, he’d been lying around for quite some time.

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After giving him a very close shave, I cut him in half, removed the seeds and chopped him into inch-wide pieces. His hull put up quite a fight, which apparently, is typical when crooknecks grow large.

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Not understanding the difference between large and small crooknecks I baked the pieces of squash with the rind on. Given the sweat I'd worked up trying to cut through the rind, I was pretty skeptical of leaving it on, but with a healthy dose of skepticism, I followed the recipe as directed. Sure enough, the rind remained rock hard, but the flesh was easy to separate after it had been baked.

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I added some tomatoes to the recipe to give the dish some color then added the egg and ricotta mixture.

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After a few minutes on broil to add some color to the top, we’re finished! Bonus learning: only half of my broiler seems to work.

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This recipe received 5 stars on food.com, which this dish definitely did not live up to. The ricotta is so mild, it’s hard to tell it’s in there and the squash was on the bitter side. This may have been due to how long it had stayed in my pantry and according to google, the flesh generally worsens as the squash matures. So, don't wait too long to use your crooknecks! Alternating squirts of Worcester sauce and sriracha definitely made it more edible.

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Nutritional Information:
As it turns out, summer squash (including crooknecks) are an excellent source of carotenoids, which are the pigments that give our fruit and vegetables the yellow/orange/red colors. Beta-carotene is one of the most well known carotenoids, which we commonly obtain from carrots.

Carotenoids are antioxidants and are particularly important in protecting our eyes against macular degeneration and cataracts. The trick to obtaining these nutrients is that they are primarily found in the skin, so my dish did not do my eyes any good. If you’re going to be eating skin, remember to buy organic (from the Green Zebra, perhaps?) to avoid the nasty pesticides used in conventional farming.

If you’re considering a squash dish, know that they retain a large part of their antioxidants through steaming and freezing, not so much through boiling and microwaving.

 1C cooked crookneck squash1C cooked potato
Calories36136
Fat (g)0.8g0.16g
Carbs(g)7.8g31.4g
Dietary Fiber(g)2.5g2.8g
Protein(g)1.6g2.9g

I chose potatoes as a comparison because they could be substituted quite easily to make a potato omelette. Squash gives you significantly fewer calories due to the lower carbohydrate content. It’s worth noting that while squash gives you fewer carbs, it gives you quite a high ratio of dietary fiber, including polysaccharide fibers like pectin which support blood sugar regulation and protect against type 2 diabetes. 

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Really gourd soup (Tinola Manok with Opo)

By Evan Duxbury

Another day volunteering at the Green Zebra means another chance to pick up some obscure produce; this week it’s Opo squash aka. lauki squash aka. calabash aka. the bottle gourd.

 

It’s big, green and it’s about the length of my forearm. I’d never seen one before but apparently this grows locally, again provided by Jas at the “God’s little Acre farm” in Surrey. Apparently this is one of the earliest cultivated vegetables. It was grown, however, less for eating and more because it could be dried and used as a water bottle, hence one of its many names.

Upon searching for what one could possibly do with this, I first searched by the name “lauki” which turned up countless Indian recipes. All of which looked delicious and not too difficult, but they called for a lot of obscure Indian ingredients: wadis, chana dal, adrak and asafoetida to name a few that I do not typically carry in my larder.

A quick search for Opo squash turned up some Filipino recipes, one of which was for tinola manok. Thankfully, the ingredient list was plain enough that I could look forward to dinner in about an hour.

Peeled Opo Squash

Although the recipe called for the squash to be peeled, I feel like it could have been left on. The peel wasn’t unlike a zucchini and came off quite easily.

Sliced Opo Squash

Inside, it looks a lot like a zucchini as well, though much whiter and slightly chewier.

Sliced again Opo Squash 

Once sliced, we’re ready to get to work on the rest of the soup. In truth, this recipe was very straight forward. I elected to cut the Opo and the chicken into smaller pieces than the recipe called for so that the consumer wouldn’t have to work so hard or make such a mess to enjoy the meal. I grabbed some Thai chillies and added 10 to the broth to add a little bit of a kick. After sampling one and nearly having my face melt off. I scooped out five of them. The final product wasn’t too spicy, so 10 chillies probably would have been fine (unless you diced them, which would turn your soup into molten lava).

Tinola Manok

Obligatory Nutritional Conclusion

Opo squash provide very little energy to consumers. Delivering a minuscule 14 cals per 100g, it is often recommended by dietitians for people in weight loss programs.
In fact, Opo squash seem to provide very little of everything. Here’s how it stacks up when compared to a butternut squash (per 100 grams):

Opo Butternut
Carbohydrates (g) 3.3 11.7
Protein (g) 0.6 1.0
Fiber (g) 0.5 2.0
Calories 14 45
Fat (g) 0.02 0.10

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Red Russian Potato Pancakes

By Evan Duxbury
I volunteered with the Green Zebra crew this past weekend to help bring some of the best local, organic produce to the people of the Downtown East Side. I was blown away by the selection we had on offer, in particular these Red Russian potatoes from God’s Little Acre Farm in Surrey.
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Despite their dark, matte exterior, these potatoes are violently violet on the inside and could add some excitement to your grandmother’s traditional potato dishes.
I was told they could be treated like any potato, so I decided to try mashing them and frying them to see how the texture would turn out and to see if the color would stick around. Poof. A fairly straightforward journey down boiler road led to a purple vortex of flavor and texture.
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Waxy potatoes don’t have a lot of starch, so when mashed, they don’t absorb dairy very well and you get a gluey, watery result. The Red Russians seem to be a very versatile potato as they came out light and creamy without packing as much starch as a typical russet. These potatoes held up very well texture wise and you can see that the color seems to be sticking around.

Mashing alone seemed too simple, so I mixed in some flour, cheese (I’d recommend a spicy cheddar), egg and garlic then fried the mixture, yielding these potato cakes (recipe here).
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In this second phase, you can see that the purple is harder to distinguish against the browned crust of the cakes. Delicious though! I served them with a slice of bacon, some sauteed kale and some yellow zucchini (also from God’s Little Acre)
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Conclusion
 These were nice potatoes to work with and yielded a great mashed texture. Since the purple hue of these taters were their defining quality, I’d recommend steaming or baking as these cooking methods tend to keep more color in potatoes.
I wasn’t able to find any nutrition information for the Red Russians in particular, but purple potatoes in general appear to stack up like this:
The values are approximations but they provide a rough idea about the purple potato nutrition. (source)

1 medium size potato (213 g)

Purple

White

Carbohydrates (g)

42.7

33.5

Protein (g)

4.85

3.58

Fiber (g)

2.85

5.1

Calories

200

147

Fat (g)

0

0


That purple potatoes appear to have more carbohydrates and less fiber than white potatoes is disappointing. However, the increased protein is a bonus, and they may even help prevent colon cancer.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Fall at the Market

There are many great things in store for you during fall at Green Zebra Markets! This is the last week for Okanagan peaches and nectarine, and local non-GMO corn, coronation grapes, and italian prune plums won't be around for much longer, so stock up! We have some beautiful organic Red Flash and Bosc pears from Farmer Walter of Harvey's Organics, and fantastic varieties of no-spray winter squash from Farmer Jas at God's Little Acre. Jas also has his amazing bunch carrots, lemon cucumbers, green beans, cauliflower, and much more to share with us. Leafy greens from Fresh Roots in Vancouver are looking beautiful, especially their bunch beets - don't forget, the greens are delicious too, and taste like Swiss Chard.

Fairly soon we will be getting in more Organic dry items to help get us through the leaner months from our friends at Fieldstone Organics - we already have their fantastic whole green peas, lentil soup mix, and green and french green lentils, but will hopefully also be getting chick peas, sunflower seeds, red kidney beans, speckled peas, and black lentils.

Join us at for your favorite fall comfort foods at one of our three locations:

Every Sunday
DTES Street Market
11am-3pm
Pigeon Park, 399 Carral St (@Hastings St)

Every Wednesday
Marpole
3-7pm
St. Augustine's Church, 8680 Hudson St (Corner of 71st)

Every Thursday
Musqueam
3-6pm
Musqueam Community Centre, 6735 Salish Drive

Monday, 29 June 2015

Self-Watering Planter Workshop this Sunday!

Need garden space? Why not build your own self-watering planter, perfect for yard, deck, or balcony! Join Rachel Elves at the Coquitlam Farmers' Market workshop this Sunday, July 5th. Only $15 to register, and you get $10 of market money to spend! Special thanks to our sponsor, Vancity! Register herehttp://www.eventbrite.ca/e/self-watering-planters-tickets-17431354651