in this issue
Asparagus & Drugs
Just Asparagus
Delicious Dishes
Events This Week
Feed the Fire

featured links
What's New Online
Take Action
Om Organics


Tasty Bites 3.9.05
Event updates every week; more extensive edibles every so often

Asparagus & Drugs

Want to know something weird? California asparagus farmers, the largest U.S. producers of this stalky green, are being put out of cocaine growers in Peru! Who knew?

Turns out our government, as part of the War on Drugs, is subsidizing cocaine farmers in Peru to grow asparagus instead. Ah, of course! Since this program began, the average return to U.S. asparagus farmers has decreased 55%, and the average poundage of asparagus from Peru has increased from 4 million to 110 million pounds. Wow, that's a lot of cheap asparagus.

It's great to get a low price for our food, but isn't our own community's economic survival important too?

Read more in The New York Times.

Read more about Buying Locally & Acting Neighborly.

Just Asparagus

Asparagus is most often green - sometimes with purple streaks, and sometimes completely white. White spears are less fibrous with a more delicate flavor.

To remove the fibrous parts before cooking, bend each spear near the bottom. It will snap at just the right place. Alternatively, you can peel the bottom to remove the thicker fibers.

They're easiest boiled for 3-5 minutes and put under cold water to stop them from cooking further.

Look for: Firm, straight spears with compact tips. They should slightly squeek when you squeeze them. Avoid shriveled or slimy spears, and larger spears that are more white than green.

Storage: Refrigerate wrapped in damp paper towel and plastic bag, or standing vertically in water.

See some white and green asparagus and check out more recipes in What's in Season - Greens/Stalks.

Delicious Dishes

Unfortunately, rumor has it that distributors are currently charging chefs $50/case for organic asparagus. Hence, you'll be (or we were, rather) hard-pressed to find sustainably-grown asparagus in our local restaurants around town right now. Time, time, my child...

In the meantime, how about some tasty farm-fresh recipes to prepare your own dishes at home - right here, right now:

Creamy Lemon & Asparagus Risotto
Savory Bread Pudding with Asparagus, Gruyere & Herbs
Turkey with Asparagus, Mushrooms, Madeira Wine & Shallots
Gingered Beef & Asparagus Stir-fry
Oven-Roasted Asparagus & Leeks

Events This Week

Convert a Carnivore Day at Millennium
Wed, 3/9/05
Millennium Restaurant, 580 Geary St. in SF; 25% off your bill!
Bring a Carnivorous Friend into Millennium and you and your friend will receive a 25% discount off your entire bill, excluding alcohol. Convert A Carnivore in 2005!

Oliveto Coltibuono Dinner
Thu, 3/10/05
Oliveto Restaurant, 5655 College Ave. in Oakland
"Roberto Stucchi Prinetti from Badia a Coltibuono will join us for a somewhat impromptu special dinner. Coltibuono is one of Italy's best known Tuscan estates, well visited by many of you. Dinner will be a la carte and feature a menu substantially more Tuscan in style than our regular cooking. The menu will be a bit smaller and include pasta with game, roasted and braised meats, and classic Tuscan white beans. The day before this dinner, Roberto will be with us on a tour of some of Oliveto's farmers, in part collecting food from their fields for this dinner. We'll also present a good selection of Coltibuono's wines, including their Chianti riservas from 1993, 1994 and 1999, and their 1999 'Sangiovetto.'

"As a participant in a project to grow and market old varieties of crops in Tuscany's Valdarno, a graduate in viticulture from UC Davis' Ag Sciences division, and scion of Coltibuono's olive oil and wine producing family, Roberto has become one of the best people for us to talk to in depth about wine, agricultural economics, organic principles, politics, tradition, and globalization. He is articulate, thoughtful, and refreshing. He will be here throughout the evening for you to meet. Reservations: 510-547-5356"

Christopher Cook: "Diet for a Dead Planet"
Thu, 3/10/05, 7:00pm-9:00pm
Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave, near Dwight Way in Berkeley; Free
An evening with Christopher Cook, Journalist and author of Diet for a Dead Planet, a harrowing indictment of industrial agriculture's threat to food safety and the environment. Cook argues that America's food industry is in crisis, citing escalating levels of food-related sickness, chemical use, misdirected funding, and intentionally wasted produce, in a cautionary analysis that documents growing support of organic food and farmers' markets. Info: 510-548-2220 x223.

Meet the Farmer: Kristie Knoll of Tairwa-Knoll Farms
Sat, 3/12/05, 10:00am - 10:30am
Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, Ferry Building in SF; Free
Part of the CUESA Education Program. Get the lowdown straight from the producer.

Shop with the Chef: Kathleen Stewart of Downtown Bakery
Sat, 3/12/05, 10:30am - 11:30am
Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, Ferry Building in SF; Free
Part of the CUESA Education Program. See and taste the seasonal produce local chefs are buying and cooking!

Tony Mantuana: Cooking Demonstration and Book Signing
Sat, 3/12/05, 11:45am-12:30pm
Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, Ferry Building in SF; Free
Cooking Demonstration and Book Signing Tony Mantuano, Executive Chef at Spiaggia Restaurant in Chicago and co-author of The Spiaggia Cookbook.

National Nutrition Month Cooking Demonstrations
Tue, 3/15/05, 3:30pm-4:30pm
Berkeley Farmers' Market, Derby St. at MLK, Jr. Way; Free
Easy, delicious, inexpensive, seasonal recipes. Free copies of recipes and free samples! Chef Michael Bauce will be sautéing greens. Michael is a well seasoned instructor, knowledgeable in cooking, nutrition, and very familiar with the principles of Macrobiotic food preparation. Sponsored by the Berkeley Unified School Info: 510-548-3333. Wheelchair accessible.

Choices for Sustainable Living Course
Tue, 3/15/05-5/10/05, 6:30pm-8:30pm Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave, near Dwight Way in Berkeley
$25 (includes $18 course reader)
Choices for Sustainable Living is a course developed by the Northwest Earth Institute with the aim of motivating individuals to examine and transform personal values and habits, to accept responsibility for the earth, and to act on that commitment. In this 9-week discussion course, we will explore sustainability at societal, community, and individual levels. We'll exchange ideas on readings from many leading thinkers, including Paul Hawken, William McDonough, Lester Brown, and Donella Meadows. Please join us in discussing topics ranging from ecological principles and definitions of sustainability to food, sustainable buying, and business and the economy. Enrollment limited, please call to pre-register. Info: 510-548-2220 x233.

Feed the Fire!

Even a little snack. If you use these newsletters, use our website, or simply enjoy having delicious, organic food in the Bay Area, please support our programs that serve local, organic farms and the community. Om Organics is a project of the San Francisco Foundation - Community Initiative Funds, and can only continue with the help of contributions from conscientious people like you!

Any amount is appreciated!
You can make a donation:

  • via to
  • by credit card: via the SFF CIF donation page
  • by check: "Om Organics: Project of SFF CIF", 225 Bush St. #500, SF, CA 94104


© 2005 Om Organics 3.9.05-19