Monday, November 23, 2009

Kohlrabi Wrestling

I’ve had a 3 pound kohlrabi rolling around in my refrigerator for over a week now. I brought it home after a recent work day at the GrassRoots Garden, trimmed off its gangly cabbage-like leaves, crammed it into a rear corner of the fridge, and proceeded to ignore it.

Actually, I’d been procrastinating because other than nibbling on it raw, I hadn’t the slightest idea what to do with a massive 3 pound kohlrabi. Lamenting my uncertainty to fellow gardener, Claire, she raved and recommended a curry treatment. Huh.

After a little research, I learn that kohlrabi is low in calories, about 19 per ½ cup; it’s high in fiber, potassium, calcium, vitamin A and C. It has a mild cabbage-like flavor and a moist, crisp texture. I’m told to look for 2” bulbs; if larger, peel them. Right. The kohlrabi is very popular in Northern India, and has made its way to Israel, China and Africa. It is also used in Italian, French and German cuisines.

This evening I decide it's time to confront the behemoth taking up way too much refrigerator space. I hack away--peeling and whacking it into bite size morsels. I have a small bag of lentils which I pre-cook while wrestling with the rock-hard rascal. The remainder of the dish comes together quickly and by the time my jasmine rice is cooked the kohlrabi is tender (20 minutes). I suspect my 8” specimen takes a little longer than the average 2” bulb. I’m not sure my rendition is authentically Indian, but it sure is good.

Kohlrabi Indian Curry
Inspiration from Fondy Market (

1 Tbsp oil
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 Thai chilies, split open, seeds remaining
1 large onion, chopped
1 green finger pepper, seeded, cut into rings
1 large tomato peeled and chopped (or 1 14 oz can)
1 T tomato paste
2 medium kohlrabi globe (1 pound), peeled and cut into ¼ inch cubes
kohlrabi leaves, rib removed and cut into strips
1 cup cooked lentils, liquid reserved or 1 can chickpeas (14 oz)
3 cups stock
salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in heavy pan. Stir in turmeric, coriander, cumin, chilies, and onion. Sauté on medium heat until onion browns about 8 minutes.

Add chopped tomatoes, pepper, tomato paste and sauté another 5 minutes.

Add kohlrabi, lentils, and stock. Cover and cook until kohlrabi becomes tender—about 9 minutes.

If using kohlrabi greens add in the final 5 minutes of cooking.

Garnish with cilantro. Serves 8.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Food Safety Bill

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will mark up S. 510, the Senate version of major food safety legislation already approved by the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, November 18.

The bill focuses on foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, not meat and poultry which is regulated by USDA.

The bill includes several key reforms that would put real teeth into federal regulation of large-scale food processing corporations to better protect consumers. However, the bill as written would also do serious harm to family farm value added processing, local and regional food systems, conservation and wildlife protection, and organic farming.

The good news is the HELP committee could fix those problems with the adoption of some common sense provisions to retain a crack down on corporate bad actors without erecting dangerous new barriers to the growing healthy food movement based on small and mid-sized family farms, sustainable and organic production methods, and more local and regional food sourcing.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the National Organic Coalition, have fashioned just such a set of common sense provisions that must be added to S 510.

 - The bill should provide small and mid-sized family farms that market value-added farm products with training and technical assistance in developing food safety plans for their farms.

- The bill should direct FDA to narrow the kinds of farm activities subject to FDA control and to base those regulations on sound risk analysis. (Current FDA rules assume, without any scientific evidence or risk analysis, that all farms which undertake any one of a long list of processing, labeling or packaging activities should be regulated.)

- The bill should direct FDA to ease compliance for organic farmers by integrating the FDA standards with the organic certification rules. FDA compliance should not jeopardize a farmer's ability to be organically certified under USDA's National Organic Program.

- The bill should insist that FDA food safety standards and guidance will not contradict federal conservation, environmental, and wildlife standards and practices, and not force the farmer to choose which federal agency to obey and which to reject.

-  Farmers who sell directly to consumers should not be required to keep records and be part of a federal "traceback" system. All other farms should not be required to maintain records electronically or records beyond the first point of sale beyond the farmgate.

From The Community Food Security Coalition


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