The Best Olive Oils Made in the U.S. – WSJ.com

MEDITERRANEAN OLIVE OILS have long been held up as the gold standard, but there are a number of good reasons to look closer to home when sourcing bottles for your kitchen. According to studies out of the University of California, Davis, for instance, nearly two-thirds of Mediterranean olive oils labeled extra-virgin—meaning extracted mechanically (without the use of heat or chemicals) solely from the fruit of the olive tree, and meeting a variety of chemical standards, including no more than 0.8 percent free fatty acidity (FFA), which is a marker of decomposition—aren\’t actually extra-virgin at all.

Though it is, of course, possible to find European oils from reliable and ethical producers, it is also worth trying the many flavorful, utterly pure olive oils made right here in the U.S. Producers across the country, from Florida to Oregon to Hawaii, are growing and pressing olives, and many are putting labels on their bottles that clearly state date and location of harvest. Even better, many American olive oils taste fantastic. Domestic bottles are increasingly winning awards at international competitions. They are also typically fresher than imported oils, and therefore frequently boast brighter, more complex flavors. At right, a few standouts.

—Georgia Freedman

The Workhorse

The most affordable high-quality domestic oil on the market is Trader Joe\’s Extra Virgin California Estate Olive Oil. Pressed from olives harvested in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the oil has a nuanced flavor with a slight grassiness and a subtle peppery finish. Flavorful enough to use as a dipping oil with a bit of vinegar and salt, it\’s also suitable for everyday sautéing, frying or any other high-heat preparation where a bolder oil would lose its flavor. $6 for 500 ml, at Trader Joe\’s stores

The Lonestar Star

Texas, America\’s second-largest producer of olive oil after California, has an ideal climate for growing varieties like Arbequina, a Spanish olive, and Mission, a California native. Texas Hill Country Olive Company uses a mixture of these two varieties to create their award-winning Miller\’s Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which has a distinctly olive-y flavor that will remind you that, yes, the oil is in fact extracted from the olive tree\’s fruit. Reminiscent of cured black olives, this oil makes a robust dressing for anything you might bolster with whole olives, from simple pastas to broiled fish and Niçoise salad. $26 for 500 ml, texashillcountryoliveco.com

The Pioneer

Forty years ago, the Durant family helped found Oregon\’s wine industry in the Willamette Valley. Now Paul Durant is bringing olive oil to the region. After a few seasons of experimenting to see which varieties do best in the colder climate and what agricultural practices help produce the best fruit, Mr. Durant has begun to focus on Tuscan varieties like Frantoio, Leccino and Pendolino. His Oregon Olive Mill Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a robust, grassy, spicy and slightly bitter flavor that works well in hearty dishes like roasted vegetables or grilled steak, where it can be a nuanced alternative to black pepper. $19 for 375 ml,

More listed on the article…

via The Best Olive Oils Made in the U.S. – WSJ.com.

Advertisements

8 foods you should really get at your farmer’s market… by Emily Main

I know I know… I should really be posting some original stuff. 🙂 We’ve had company in town and I’m trying to get through my Organic Chem online (self taught… awful) course before I startup Anatomy and Phys 2 in a couple of weeks.

I did think this article was really interesting though and wanted to share!

8 Foods You Should Always Buy at the Farmers’ Market

You get more than just better taste and fresher produce when you buy these eight foods at your local farmers’ market.
BY EMILY MAIN

Fresh, Local & Fair

Farmers’ market food tastes better, simple as that. But that’s not the only reason you should start hitting up your weekly market as much as you can. Whether you care about your health or the health of the planet, there are dozens of reasons to support local farmers, including buying vegetables that have higher antioxidant levels and haven’t been fumigated with toxic chemicals. When you buy these eight foods in particular, you’re supporting less-toxic food production and could even save a farm or two, all while getting the best-tasting food you can find!

Tomatoes

Surprised? Probably not. A bland, mealy grocery-store tomato will never rival a fresh-from-the-farm-market tomato. And there are more benefits to local tomatoes than just taste. In Florida, where a third of the country’s fresh tomatoes are grown, slavery of illegal immigrants on tomato farms is a persistent problem. And farmers in that state apply five times as much fungicide and six times as much pesticide as farmers in California, which supplies another third of the country’s fresh tomatoes.

Carrots

You’ll never find anything but standard orange carrots at a supermarket, but you’ll find them in every hue, from purple to white, at local farm stands. Those colorful varieties, particularly purple carrots, have higher antioxidant values than commercially grown orange carrots, according to a study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. They’re also better for the planet. The energy required to store carrots when they’re out of season or being shipped long distances accounts for 60 percent of the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with carrot production.

Berries

Grab a pint of local strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, and you’re doing the planet a favor. Because they perish quickly and have relatively short shelf lives, berries are often shipped from farm to distribution center via air freight, the most fossil-fuel-guzzling form of food shipment, from South America, Mexico, Canada, and even as far off as Poland. You’re also doing domestic growers a favor: According to Food & Water Watch, the United States imports $220 million worth of strawberries, while selling just $1.5 million worth of domestically grown berries.

Onions

Oddly enough, buying local onions could help save a farm. A few years ago, the U.S. government loosened trade restrictions with Peru, and the result has been a glut of imported onions that has dropped the price local farmers can get for their crops by half. As a result, domestic onion growers have slowly been cutting back on the number of onions they grow. All of Peru’s onion exports aren’t doing farmers there any good, either. The primary pesticide used on Peru’s onion crops, methamidophos, has been linked to sperm damage in farmers.

Asparagus

Sales of this crop have also benefited from our neighbors to the south. Asparagus imports from Peru have grown steadily over the past decade and now account for 51 percent of the asparagus we consume. The vegetable is now Peru’s largest agricultural export. The USDA requires all shipments of fresh asparagus from Peru to be fumigated with the dangerous pesticide methyl bromide, a neurotoxic chemical suspected of causing cancer. If that’s not bad enough, the chemical shortens asparagus’s shelf life, so it doesn’t even taste good by the time it arrives at the store! The best-tasting stalks are at the farmers’ market, even if the asparagus season is fleeting.

Peaches

Domestic, imported. Organic, nonorganic. Peaches just don’t taste good any other time of year than in midsummer, the height of their season, because they don’t hold up well during transport. Another benefit to buying local? Pesticides. According to the Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers Guide to Produce, peaches are treated with more pesticides than any other fruit. Buying local means you can grill the farmer to see which chemicals, if any, he or she uses.

Grass-Fed Beef and Dairy

Like organic food, the environmental impact of animal products has more to do with how they were raised than how far they traveled—which is why buying local beef and dairy is important. Animals raised entirely on grass produce 8 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions and 30 percent lower ammonia levels than corn-fed animals raised in confinement. Since the term grass-fed isn’t always reliable (it’s not well regulated), local venues allow you to ask farmers direct questions about how their animals were raised.

Anything Organic

Despite the feel-good factor of supporting local farms, where your food is grown accounts for just a fraction of its environmental impact. It’s how your food is grown that matters most. According to agricultural researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, 11 percent of your food’s environmental impact comes from food miles, whereas 83 percent comes from how it was grown, particularly when it’s grown with the greenhouse-gas-intensive fertilizers and pesticides used on chemical farms.

A Reason to Choose Organic Tomatoes Year-Round – Shape Magazine

A Reason to Choose Organic Tomatoes Year-Round

Monday, 7/23/2012 at 11:56:30 AM

By Jennipher Walters

Ah, summertime. When the living is easy, flip-flops are the norm, weekends are spent at the pool, and the tomatoes are extra fresh and delicious. Seriously, is there anything tastier than a tomato straight from the garden? While many of us are more likely to enjoy food from the garden or Farmer’s market in the summer (especially those in areas with cold winters!), new research suggests that farm-fresh organics may be the way to go year-round.

A recent study out of the University of Barcelona found that organic tomatoes contain higher levels of phenolic compounds —organic molecules found in many veggies that have health benefits — than conventional tomatoes. Previous research has found that organic tomato juice and ketchup contain higher polyphenol content than juice and ketchup made from conventionally grown tomatoes, but this was the first time tomatoes were studied before being processed for tomato products. Polyphenols have been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, and even some forms of cancer.

So why are the organic tomatoes so much better than traditionally farmed ones? It comes down to fertilizer, according to the study. Organic farming doesn’t use nitrogenous fertilizers, and as a result, plants respond by activating their own defense mechanisms, which increases the levels of all antioxidants, study author Anna Vallverdú Queralt told ScienceDaily.

Continue reading

Experimentation time! Beets…

20120801-111050.jpgSo in honor of finally making it to my local green market, I decided to pick up a vegetable I’d never prepared before – but love – beets.

Apparently they’re one of those “power” foods. Here’s why:

  • high in vitamin C, potassium, niacin, pantothenic acid, and B-6.
  • Raw beets are high in folates
  • low in calories
  • contain phytonutrients which provide antioxidants and help inflammation
  • recent studies have shown regularly consuming them can shrink tumors
  • some great other facts found here
  • Also their greens have great nutrition too! (next step for me will be figuring out what to do with those…)

So since I’m new to cooking beets I decided to go easy!

  • I cut off the tops of the beets, coated with olive oil and tossed into the oven at 425 for 40 minutes or until tender. (I had no idea what that meant, so I poked mine with a knife and it went in easily.)
  • Let cool, rub off skin (I used latex gloves. Don’t need red hands at my shoot tomorrow…)
  • and chop into cubes. Voila!  From there I’ve seen recipes saying to splash with lemon juice or toss in some goat cheese or feta. Have fun with it. (yeah I really just said to have fun with beets…)
  • Ps – it’s jack russell approved. 

Here’s to a successful farm stand trip – and where you can go for yours…

20120719-160842.jpgIn an ideal world, we’d get all our local produce from local farmers that we know and trust to be pesticide free.

I just had an awesome trip out to Amish country to visit my gma and stocked up on fresh goodies.

Here’s a link to find where you can get yours! http://www.localharvest.org/

and if you’re in NYC like me, here’s a PDF of local green markets – http://www.nyc.com/link.aspx?site=http://www.cenyc.org/files/gmkt/map.pdf