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Daikon Radish

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Certain crops can be grown in the shade and not in a clear-cut field with full sun. If you are growing the plant for the leaves, stems or buds, they grow well in the shade. Shade-grown crops mature slowly have a more intense flavor, and they include salad greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, and coffee beans. This type of practice also is environmentally friendly as it supports biodiversity and creates less need for fertilizers. These shade grown areas are also small ecosystems that act as an oasis for migratory birds.

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Agar-agar is a tasteless, dried seaweed derivative that acts as a setting agent like gelatin. However, unlike the animal-derived gelatin, it is a vegetarian substitute. Rich in protein and minerals, agar-agar, also called kanten, becomes gelatinous when dissolved in water, heated, and then cooled. It can even set in room temperature, unlike gelatin.

Agar-agar is widely used in Asia to make desserts and other dishes. You can find it in Asian grocery stores or natural food stores, and they come in blocks, powder or strands.

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Allicin is a sulfur compound in garlic that is responsible for its strong odor. When a garlic plant is attacked by pests or microbial pathogens in the soil, it produces allicin by an enzymatic reaction.

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Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that help to protect and repair damaged cells caused by free radicals. Free radicals are caused by environmental factors such as radiation or tobacco smoke, as well as molecules produced when our bodies break down food. By damaging cells, free radicals may play a role in causing cancer, heart disease, weakening of the immune system, and other illnesses.

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Photo by Heather Teoh


Native to the Mediterranean, artichokes are technically plants even though we consider them vegetables. The edible part of the plant is the flower bud and stem which is harvested prior to blooming.

The largest global producer of artichokes is Italy, while in the United States, California produces 100% of artichoke crop. One plant can produce more than 20 artichokes a year, harvesting in Spring and again in the Fall.

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Artisanal Food

Artisanal food refers to food that is made daily in small batches by the hands of a skilled master with years of experience in their craft. Food artisans source the finest ingredients from small farmers and are intimately involved with every step of making the product. Artisan businesses are small and family-owned, and they tend to sell their products at the farmer’s market, online, or at specialty grocery stores.

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Do you remember being a kid, and only eating the head of the asparagus leaving the stem to roll around your plate? Or maybe you still do that now.

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The ancestor of the beet originated in prehistoric times in North Africa and grew wild along the seashores of Asia and Europe. The vegetable was domesticated by 800 BCE, and by the 16th century, large and coarse beet roots were used as livestock feed.

In the beginning of the 19th century, the English blocked the shipment of sugar into Europe during the Napoleonic wars, and thus, out of necessity, the beet sugar industry was born with the first factory built in Poland.

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Developed in the early 1920s based on the teachings of Austrian writer and social activist, Dr. Rudolf Steiner, biodynamics refers to an spiritual, ethical and ecological approach to agriculture, food production and nutrition.

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Resembling little trees, broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable consisting of a stem that ends in a compact head of purplish-green to dark green flower buds. It belongs to the brassica family and is closely related to the cabbage and cauliflower.

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Bulgur Wheat

One of the oldest cultivated grains, bulgur wheat is the product of wheat kernels that have been steamed, dried and crushed. It is commonly featured in Middle Eastern cuisine, most notably in tabbouleh, a popular cold salad.

Bulgur is a whole-grain wheat that is easy to cook and an inexpensive source of low-fat protein. It is high in fiber, manganese, iron, and magnesium. It is also rich in folate, niacin, phosphorous, copper and zinc.

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Cactus Pads

Cactus pads, also known as nopales, are the edible stems of the prickly pear cactus, a member of the Opuntia species of cactus.

Cactus, a modified evergreen plant that originated in the deserts of Mexico, grows easily in desert and semi-arid climates. The cactus pad is a vegetable that is a staple in Mexican cuisine for centuries. It has a slight lemon flavor and it’s added to pico de gallo, tacos, fajitas, egg dishes and Mexican salads.

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California’s Drought

The drought plaguing California’s agricultural producers threatens uncertainty of pricing and availability we are conditioned to expect.  A drought this severe has not been documented since 1894. Did you know California is the tops state in producing agriculture? Our rain and snow fall 2013 – the third strike in the three year drought – yielded only a percentage of the average amount of water. To root this statistic in a concrete example, Fresno documented three inches of rainfall – an obvious reduction from its annual average of eleven inches.

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The most popular type of melon in the US, cantaloupe is a favorite among sweet tooths for its candy-like flavor.

It is immediately recognizable by its brown, shell-like rind that can be easily removed to expose the soft, orange flesh beneath.

Being descended from tropical fruits, cantaloupe does best in warm climates where it can complete its lengthy ripening process.

As a result, summer is usually the most ideal season for harvesting cantaloupe.

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Century Eggs

A Chinese delicacy, century eggs are duck eggs that have been preserved in a saline solution of ash, lime, salt, clay and rice for weeks or even months. When preservation is complete, the shell of the egg will become speckled, giving it an aged appearance. The yolk will become dark green, creamy and cheese-like, and the whites will turn into a dark-colored jelly.

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The chayote is a part of the gourd family, along with melons, cucumbers and squash.

Known for its pear-like shape and its fruity, fresh flavor, it is an essential ingredient to any imitator of Cajun or Creole cuisine.

Though the chayote originated from Mexico, the word itself deriving from ancient Aztec, it spread quickly across the Caribbean Ocean, then over to Louisiana.

Due to its toughness when eaten raw, the squash is hardly ever used uncooked in a dish, save for in salads or salsas.

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