• Eat Your Broccoli… Or Die
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    By Lonnie Evans

    broccoli2If your parents ever had to force you to sit at your dinner table over a cold plate of broccoli until you finally finished them, it’s time to call them up and thank them. New research from a team including OSU scientists along with researchers from Texas A&M funded by the NIH shows that vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage can not only help prevent cancer, but may also treat it when concentrated and used as a treatment for metastasized cancer.

    The key is a compound called Sulforaphane that those vegetables, called Cruciferous vegetables, create when they’re chewed.

    Dr. Emily Ho, principal author of the study and a director in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, spoke about the power of the findings in a press release.

    “There’s significant evidence of the value of cruciferous vegetables in cancer prevention, however, this study is one of the first times we’ve shown how sulforaphane can affect a histone methylation and alter gene expression in metastasized prostate cancer cells,” she said.

    This is a bit complex, but basically it means they can control the DNA of the cancer cells and use it against them.

    “It begins a process that can help to re-express tumor suppressors, leading to the selective death of cancer cells and slowing disease progression,” Ho continued.

    Clinical trials have not yet begun, but the suggestion that this phytochemical, Sulforaphane, might be able to fight late stage metastasized cancers has enormous implications. The most immediate being that I bet you all eat a big plate of broccoli with your dinner tonight.

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  • Corvallis Outdoor Farmers’ Market Starts April 20: A Sign of Summer
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    Next Saturday, April 20, might not be the official first day of summer, but it will certainly feel like it. Rain or shine, it’s the start of the outdoor farmers’ market on 1st Street in Corvallis. Most of the familiar faces from last year will be there, according to Market Director Rebecca Landis, as well as a few new ones.

    “We have to try and preserve the continuity and create some opportunities for some new vendors,” she said.

    It’s still a little early for many fruits and veggies, but that doesn’t mean the market will be limited to nursery plants. Thanks to high-tunnel greenhouses, some of the larger farms can grow crops year-round. Grains, heirloom beans, onions, shallots, rutabagas, turnips, rhubarb, radishes, and a wide assortment of greens should make an appearance, as well as cheese, honey, jams, fresh salsa, cut flowers, and more. Several small farms will offer their sustainably raised meats, too, although “Protein is not just meat at the market,” Landis said.

    While the focus is on farmers and their offerings, shoppers will also find prepared foods.

    “It’s really important that we have some restaurants and baked goods,” Landis said. “When you go to the market and look at all this food, you immediately get hungry. It’s way worse than going to the grocery store and shopping when hungry because our stuff is way more attractive.”

    Shoppers will find crepes courtesy of Creperie du Lys, beverages from the Purple Moon Espresso Booth, burritos and quesadillas from Zia, and pancakes with local blueberries and “soysages” from Earth’s Rising. The latter also makes a mean veggie burger, according to Landis.

    “It’s very well seasoned and even people who are not vegetarians if they’re given a bite of it they’ll say, ‘Hm… I have to revise my thinking on this,” she said.

    Musicians of every stripe will also return. Landis has secured a lineup for every Saturday and Wednesday, too.

    “It ranges from a large fairly loud marimba ensemble with a lot of people and really big instruments to one person alone with a guitar singing and everything in between,” she said.

    On top of the official bands, buskers “insert themselves into every nook and cranny,” helping create the happy chaos that is the Saturday farmers’ market.

    “There’s our music that we’ve chosen, and then there’s the music the community chooses to bring to us,” Landis said. “That’s a part of Corvallis.”

    The first day of the market also features the Procession of the Species through the middle of the market at around 12:30 p.m., and the Walk MS down the multi-modal path. Come enjoy the fun!

    The Corvallis Farmers’ Market at 1st Street and Jackson is held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., April 20 to Nov. 23, and Wednesdays at the same time and place, April 24 to Nov. 27. For more information, visit http://www.locallygrown.org or https://www.facebook.com/Corvallis.Farmers.Market.

    by Jen Matteis

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  • Peace Seedlings: Andean Roots Take Hold in Corvallis
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    While the warm winter season has seemed odd to many of us, it’s been a great boon for some of Corvallis’ root vegetables—including some more unusual species trans-located here from South America’s Andes  Mountain regions. Armed with a prolific harvest of these new-to-us Andean tubers, Dylana Kapuler and Mario DiBenedetto, founders of local organic seed suppliers, growers and breeders, Peace Seedlings, are in the process of introducing significantly greater variety into our local diet—a movement they hope will be perpetuated throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

    Peace Seedlings is a second-generation Corvallis company, evolved from Peace Seeds, started by Dr. Alan Kapuler and his wife Linda. Peace Seeds was born when the couple began replanting the seeds from their expansive garden each year. Their seed collection now contains 10,000 to 15,000 samples, many grown in their own plots, and some the product of wildcrafting, or collecting seeds from the natural world. Peace Seedlings, like Peace Seeds, employs entirely organic cultivation and collection methods, including composting, crop rotation, biodiversity in planting, and a complete avoidance of synthetics and poisons. And, thanks to the weather, fertile soils, incredibly hard work, and probably some great karma, this year’s Peace Seedlings Andean root crop harvest has been the most prolific yet.

    Andean Tubers of the Willamette Valley

    Have you ever marveled at the stunning biodiversity of our beautiful, blue-green planet—only to experience overwhelming boredom on a nightly basis at the monotonous components of your own dinner? Alan Kapuler firmly believes that both our local ecosystem and our personal nutrition can be enhanced by introducing into

    our daily diets crops whose niches are currently monopolized by a single plant—think potatoes, tomatoes, and grains including common corn. Often these unusual crops boast unique and alluring flavors, gorgeous colors, and distinct nutritional profiles.

    “There is this possibility of other food plants that we don’t know about,” noted Dylana Kapuler. “There are all these different root vegetables in different families—really diverse, instead of having all your plants closely related, like potatoes and tomatoes and all these things.”

    “[The Andean peoples] picked food plants that were prolific and productive because they couldn’t go to the store and they didn’t have much meat—it was a very profound agriculture,” added Dr. Kapuler. “The greatest root-based agriculture in the world.”

     

    Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius)

    The yacon tuber visually resembles a potato or yam, but its texture and taste is entirely its own—plus you can eat it raw.

    “After you dig them up, they turn a darker red and get even sweeter,” said DiBenedetto. “They’re really good on salads and just by themselves.”

    Linda Kapuler compares the crunch of a yacon to a water chestnut, but juicier and sweeter. With its low levels of sugar, it’s an excellent choice for a sweet, nutritive snack.

    “You can juice the tubers and cook them down, not even that much, and it makes a molasses, very similar in color and consistency, probably even more nutritional,” added DiBenedetto, “especially since the sugars are mostly inulin, which promotes probiotic growth in your gut.”

    Stored properly, yacon crowns can be harvested each year and replanted. Peace Seedlings anticipates that these tubers will only grow in popularity, as they’ve been doing exponentially for the past five to ten years.

    “It’s one of the most productive tuberous plants you can grow,” said DiBenedetto. “It’s a five- to six-month growing season; you plant it in the spring and harvest in the fall, a little longer than potatoes.”

     

    Mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum)

    Mashua is another highly proliferative South American root crop (the tubers can comprise up to 75 percent of the plant’s dry weight) that grows without abandon in our Oregon climate. It also sports a beautiful—and edible—flower that you may recognize: mashua is in fact a tuberous-rooted nasturtium.

    While many of the Andean root crops seem relatively impervious to Oregon’s potato-related pests and diseases (mashua, like wasabi and horseradish, contains pest-resisting isothiocyanates), some have not escaped the notice of gophers and other root-loving garden critters. So how does Peace Seedlings produce such a beautiful, blemish-free harvest?

    “Mashua is hot!” explained Dr. Kapuler. “In South America, they grow all of these in the same bed because mashua tubers prevent the rodents from coming into the beds; they don’t eat the mashua at all.”

     

     

    Oca (Oxalis tuberosa)

    A staple in Peruvian and Bolivian diets, oca tubers grow in a stunning diversity of colors, and, like other Andean root crops, they grow prolifically in the Willamette Valley’s ecosystem.

    “They’re smaller, but they definitely put off more tubers than a potato, and this has been one of our best growing seasons for them,” said DiBenedetto, as he and Dylana Kapuler unearthed an impressive mound of the tubers.

    But don’t dig them too early in the season—you can harvest oca tubers as late as November or early December.

    “They start tuberizing at the end of October or so, but they hold on until winter,” said DiBenedetto.

    “You can interplant these with things that don’t live as long,” added Dylana Kapuler. “They live longer than most of your garden plants, and they’ll still be green.”

    Eaten raw, oca has a distinct crunchy texture that works great in salads—cooked, the tubers are soft like a potato. Oca also has a diversity of flavors from sweet to tangy, and it’s easier to prepare than a potato: eat it raw, boiled, or mashed, no peeling required.

     

    Mauka (Mirabilis expansa)

    Mauka is certainly one of the most obscure of the Andean root crops, having only been “re-discovered” outside of Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

    “This is the first time we’ve had seeds—this is the root, and the tops here are edible,” said Dr. Kapuler. “It’s one of the rarest food plants known… It took 20 years to get seeds for this plant.”

    Most parts of this plant are edible—leaves (which can be cooked or eaten raw in salads), stems, and especially the roots. The roots are often described as a tasty mix between potatoes, parsnips, and sweet potatoes.

    Perhaps best of all, mauka grows extraordinarily rapidly, with extensive root mass—as shown by the success of Peace Seedlings after only one year—and the plants themselves can grow over one meter in height within a season.

    An invaluable tome of Andean root crop knowledge, dive into Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation (published by The National Academies Press in 1989) for more information.

    As described by Dr. Kapuler, “It’s the original reference to all of this, besides the people and their culture.”

    You can find Peace Seedlings’ yacon tubers at Corvallis’ First Alternative Co-op, and their yacon and oca at Sundance, Kiva, and The Corner Market in Eugene. For a list of local organic seeds offered by Peace Seeds, visit http://peaceseedslive.blogspot.com.  To grow your own Andean tubers, email peaceseedlings@yahoo.com, or call 541-752-0421.

    by Genevieve Weber

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  • Veganizing Your Holiday: Delicious Meals, No Animal Products Necessary
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    Let me preface with this: I am kind of vegan. When I’m at home, unless I am busting out some traditional Swiss cheese dishes for some rare occasion, no animal products pass my lips. And let me also preface with this: the food I eat is YUMMY. Not to mention, my breath has been delightful since cutting out animal products. (Except for when I eat bananas. What is up with that, bananas?!)

    It started over a year ago, when I demolished Laughing Planet’s double chocolate cookie and learned that it was vegan. “But it’s the best cookie I’ve ever eaten,” I thought to myself. “HOW CAN THIS BE??” I was furious. I am a notorious baker and epicurean. In high school, my friends would come to my house to make cookie dough, and when we were done with the dough we had half a tray of actual baked cookies to show for it. What I’m saying is, when it comes to deliciousness, I know my stuff. Then here comes Laughing Planet, with its vegan mouth orgasm, and my entire gastronomical world was upended.

    I used to look askance at vegans because I simply didn’t understand what they ate if it didn’t involve milk, eggs, or at the very least, cheese. Now I get it. There is actually a whole world of yum that you can craft from veggies, fruit, nuts, soy products, wheat gluten, and coconut oil. (Dear heavens, coconut oil! Any baking recipe that calls for oil, replace it with coconut oil—it makes everything better.) It might sound weird to the uninitiated, but it is true. And there’s only one way to get over those feelings of confusion and wariness: try out some vegan fare for yourself. On purpose.

    If you have a potluck to go to, make it for that—then you’re not stuck with the dish if you don’t like it. It’s worth trying out. We could all be a little less dependent on the animal industry, not just for cruelty reasons (although the large-scale livestock industry as a whole is super-gross—I mean, REALLY), but to be better stewards of ourselves (yes, meat can have its place, but the American diet relies on it above and beyond recommended amounts), and our environment (growing meat and dairy requires far greater amounts of energy than plant farming, and produces far more waste—and methane).

    This will be my first holiday season as a mostly-vegan, so I sought help from my friend, Shannon Noel Pfingsten, a fellow gourmet and vegan of five years. She had a surfeit of holiday appropriate vegan recipes to share with me, and they all sound delicious:

    Entrée: Thanksgiving Pot Pie. While time-consuming, it feeds a real crowd and is, in Shannon’s words, “super-duper delicious.” Find the recipe at http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/thanksgiving-pot-pie/

    Dessert: Triple Nut Chocolate Tart. So good it becomes a holiday tradition. http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/triple-nut-chocolate-tart/

    Appetizers: Mushroom and Nut Pate (healthier than animal-based pate). Find it at http://vegetarian.about.com/od/saucesdipsspreads/r/walnutpate.htm

    Spinach and Artichoke Dip. Having personally enjoyed this dish, I vouch for it completely. Oh boy, do I. Shannon subs the sundried tomatoes with green chilies. Go to: http://theveganmouse.blogspot.com/2009/10/veganmofo-spinach-artichoke-dip.html

    It’s also quite fun to peruse vegan recipe sites. Some greats are www.theppk.com, www.vegetariantimes.com, http://mobettavegan.blogspot.com/, and http://theveganmouse.blogspot.com/

    You can also find a ton of great cookbooks at the library. Anything by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Dreena Burton, or Colleen Patrick-Goudreau will serve you well.

    I hope your animal-free explorations are gratifying. I will say this: my vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe is even more popular than my non-vegan recipe; and not just because I will show up to your picnic with a bowl of just cookie dough (no salmonella threat from vegan dough, folks!). If you can’t muster the energy to whip up a whole vegan dish, get thee to Laughing Planet for a cookie! Or for a crowd, grab a pack of Oreos or Trader Joe’s Joe-Joes—those things have been vegan all along. Ohhhh snap.

    by Mica Habarad

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