Articles from July 2010



Going Beyond the Farmers Market

CSA Farm

CSA memberships enable farmers to get money up-front to plant their crops while consumers get a variety of fresh produce throughout their membership. Photo courtesy Ginger Ridge Farm.

Take your support of local food producers to the next level by participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and buying local beef in bulk from a local meat packer.

Don’t Buy a Burger, Buy the Whole Shebang
In addition to supporting local ranchers, buying beef in bulk means there are less trips to the grocery store and you don’t need to plan your meals around what’s on sale at the supermarket. Meat comes already packaged for freezing and is generally priced less per pound than the grocery store.

Ready to stock up the freezer? Consumers can purchase pre-packaged, 100 percent grass-fed beef in bulk from a handful of Big Island sources.

Where to Get Big Isle Beef in Bulk

There are two meat harvesting plants on the Big Island and both sell beef in bulk: Kulana Foods in Hilo and Hawaii Beef Producers in Pa’auilo.  Beef can be conveniently pre-ordered by sections: sides and front or hind quarters. Meat is sold by its hanging weight and there’s approximately a one-third loss of weight from cutting and trimming. Sides or halves, which average 300 pounds before cut up, contain meat from both the front and back of the animal. A side includes a little of everything the carcass has to offer: approximately 20 prime steaks, short ribs, roasts, stew meat, cube steaks, top round, chuck, about 80 pounds of ground beef and soup bones. You get about 200 pounds of actual meat from a 300-pound side.

Quarters average 150-170 pounds hanging weight. The front quarter includes rib and chuck cuts, plus brisket and stew meat. The hind quarter offers all the prime steaks and roasts, plus stew meat and ground beef. For info on where meat cuts come from off the carcass, check out our recent blog, Know the Basics of Beef Cuts | Taste It.

Team Up to Get a Share
If the amount of meat seems daunting when buying in bulk-team up with another family to purchase a share of the beef. Both harvesting plants also sell smaller, custom beef orders, such as steaks and roasts. While Kahua Ranch in Kohala doesn’t sell the larger sides or quarters of beef, it sells specific meat cuts in bulk, including lamb.

Big Island Grass-Fed Beef Sources

  • Hawaii Beef Producers, 776-1109 or JJ Meat Market, 775-7744
  • Kulana Foods, 959-9144
  • Kahua Ranch, 882-4646

Join a CSA

CSA Box

You'll get just-picked, locally grown produce in a CSA box, like this one from Ginger Farm in Mountain View. Photo courtesy Ginger Ridge Farm.

If you want to commit to purchasing locally produced food for a period of time and are game for trying new foods, get a community supported agriculture (CSA) share from a local farm. A CSA is a win-win for both the farmer and the consumer.

Here’s how it works: You pay up front, which helps the farmer with “seed” money to finance early-season costs. In addition the farmer is ensured a reliable customer base and can spend less time marketing his food and more time growing it.

In exchange, you get farm-fresh produce each week at harvest-veggies, fruit and herbs. Typically, your box of food is dropped off at a central location or you might pick it up at the farm. If you work at a large business, you and your fellow employees could ask for a workplace drop-off.

With a CSA, you are basically buying a “share” or subscription to the farmer’s food. Before you commit, ask the farmer what kind of produce to expect and be prepared to try food you’re not familiar with, such as beets and varied greens.  Food is typically delivered in a box and is super-fresh, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits. Similar to a farmers market, a CSA enables consumers to meet the people who are growing their food.

Big Island CSAs
For a list of CSAs (and Farmers Markets) on the Big Island, visit the Hawai’i Homegrown Food Network. The CSAs are divided by island area and listed after the farmers markets. Farmers markets are also a great place to ask about the availability of local CSAs. Market vendors who aren’t dedicated CSAs may also be willing to sell you certain produce each week-just ask.

Share

Meet a Local Cheese Producer: Dairy Milks to Music

Island FreshA mission of Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range is to encourage and support local ag products. To that end, we are featuring Big Isle food producers promoted in the local HDOA campaign, “Island Fresh-Buy Local, It Matters.”

Every few weeks, we will showcase one of the 12 different food producers featured in the campaign, along with a handy recipe using their product. These farmers, ranchers and aquaculturists hail from Hawi to Ka’u and from Kona to Hilo. One of them could be your friend…

By supporting our local food producers, we get fresh and better-tasting products. We also strengthen our economy and community, while helping preserve open space. Island Fresh-Buy Local, It Matters!

Hawai’i Island Goat Dairy
Happy Goats-Milking to the Music

Hawaii Island Goat Dairy“Dick and Heather Threlfall operate Hawai’i Island Goat Dairy with love and dedication and cares for his goats like family. Happy goats produce better milk and ultimately great tasting cheese. Dick still makes it a point to bottle-raise his goats, which listen to public radio and sometimes jazz while being milked.

Dick and his goat ‘ohana produce approximately 250 to 300 pounds of plain and exotically flavored cheeses per week. His award-winning Chevre takes 24 hours to make, while the feta is aged in brine for up to four weeks.

On 10 acres along the Hamakua Coast on the Big Island, the goats roam freely, grazing on tropical vegetation. Dick and his family of goats produce unique and high-quality cheeses for the locals to enjoy.”

Enjoy Local Flavors
An Ono Recipe to Savor the Freshness

Goat cheese is prized for its distinct tangy flavor and comes in a variety of flavors and textures. It is enjoyed by foodies all over the world and can be spread on
gourmet crackers and toast, crumbled into salads and dressings or added to fancy appetizers.

Goat Cheese Salad
10-1 cup servings
1 large bunch watercress, lettuce or other leafy greens
1 small red onion
2 cups local tomatoes
1/4 cup roasted walnuts
4 ounces crumbled local goat cheese
Dressing:
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop greens and slice onion. Cut tomatoes in halves. Chop walnuts into bite-sized pieces. Mince garlic. In a jar, mix dressing ingredients: garlic, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve. In a large bowl, layer greens, tomatoes, onions, walnuts, and goat cheese. Just before serving, pour dressing on salad and toss.

Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving
Calories 70• Total Fat 5g • Carbohydrate 3g • Protein 4g

“Island Fresh-Buy Local, It Matters” is funded in part by the County of Hawaii Department of Research & Development. The campaign was produced by the Hawai’i Dept. of Agriculture (HDOA) and the University of Hawai’i College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources (CTAHR) to help increase demand for, and familiarity with, locally grown commodities.

For info on more Hawai’i food products, visit
http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/add/products-database.

Share

Good to the Bone: Making Stock

This week we feature a guest blog by Devany Vickery-Davidson. She shares a stock recipe using local, grass-fed veal bones she purchased at the Waimea farmers market on the Big Isle. A food and travel writer who owned a cooking school for home chefs in Chicago, she lives in Hilo where her passion for great food is part of her blog, www.myhawaiianhome.blogspot.com. Vickery-Davidson also contributes to Ke Ola and Edible Hawaiian Islands magazines and is writing a food-centric novel about the Big Isle. She can be contacted at PineapplePrincess@hawaii.rr.com.

Why I Make Veal Stock

Veal bones

Veal bones with mirepox.

I love veal stock. It is velvety deep and rich and makes most everything taste better. I have been making my own stocks for years, but after I moved to Hawai‘i, I thought I would never find veal bones. Thanks to the folks at Big Island Red Veal, those bones are actually obtainable in Hawai‘i now. About now you are probably asking, “What is the difference between Beef Stock and Veal Stock?” Because the bones are from a young animal they contain more collagen, which when it breaks down into gelatin, gives the veal stock an unparalleled body you just can’t get from older bones. It really is just that simple.

But let me explain it in a simpler way: Beef stock tastes like Grandma’s Beef Stew.
 Veal stock is more velvety than actual velvet. Veal stock is a thing of beauty. 

In the stock department, nothing canned can compare to what you can make at home.  And unless you are buying stock in a gourmet market, you will not be able to buy veal stock at all.  I do not even buy stocks, which are really just broth in boxes, except in dire emergencies.

Veal Stock Method

First you must locate the Veal Bones. I only know one way to do this since I live in Hilo, town without a butcher. Go to the Waimea Farmers Market on the first Saturday of the month. Go early. Buy veal bones from the Hawaiian Red Veal booth.  (For info on local veal, see the Big Isle Grass-fed Beef Producers on our website.)

In the Roasting Pan
This method is for about 10 pounds of bones. You will need a large roasting pan and a very large pot.  Take those bones home and wash them. Then put them in a roasting pan, toss with a tiny bit of olive oil and roast them at 400 degrees for an hour, turning once half way through. Rough chop equal amounts of (about 2 cup each) onions, carrots and celery. Add them to the roasting pan.  Continue roasting for another 30 minutes. Pour in a small can of tomato paste and stir.

Move to the Stock Pot
Put everything into a large stock pot. Deglaze the roasting pan with about 1 cup of water, scraping to gather any caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour this into the stock pot. Add cold water to the top of the pot. If you wish, you can take some herbs and wrap them in cheesecloth and tie with a string for easy removal. This is called a sachet d’epices. I like to use some rosemary, fennel seeds, parsley stems, peppercorns and a bay leaf.

Don’t Allow Stock to Boil
Rule #1: DO NOT ALLOW THE STOCK TO BOIL! You want to cook the stock, of course, but slowly, at a low simmer. Your house is going to smell lovely for many, many hours. If the stock boils, fat is released into the water and makes a cloudy stock. Simmer the stock on low for about 12-14 hours, occasionally skimming any froth off of the top. Do no stir. At this point you will also need to add water to keep the bones covered.

In this process, you want to end up with about three-fourths of the liquid you started with.  At this point, strain all of the liquid through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a clean stock pot. Toss all of the solids unless you have dogs that like bones.

Packaged veal stock

Packaged veal stock.

Reducing Stock Deepens Flavors
Now the stock is ready for reducing. This enables the flavors to deepen and it will take up less room in your freezer as well.  Simmer on a high simmer (not boiling) for a few hours, stirring occasionally until the liquid has reduced down to half or less, depending on the depth of flavor you want. I generally reduce mine down by about 75 percent.  Pour into plastic containers and chill on ice. As soon as it has chilled, freeze or refrigerate. It will last refrigerated about a week and frozen about three months.

Photo credits: Devany Vickery-Davidson

Share

Graze Anatomy: ‘Plant’ a Cow to Reduce Global Warming

Can cattle, fed solely on grass, reverse climate change? Scientific studies are pointing in that direction.

Grass-fed cowsOf all the animals that humans eat, cattle get the worst rap from environmentalists. It’s because conventional, grain-fed steer consume more “energy intensive” food than other livestock. Cows also produce more methane—a powerful greenhouse gas.

Growing grain to feed cattle requires fossil fuel-based fertilizers, pesticides and transportation. It’s said that conventional cattle ranching takes from the planet, without putting anything back.

That mindset changes with 100 percent grass-fed cattle. In fact, Michael Pollan, author of “the Omnivore’s Dilemma,” states, “Grass-fed beef has a much lighter carbon footprint” than its grain-fed counterpart.

Grass and soil store carbon
Grass-fed animals rotate among pastures of perennial grass, trimming the blades like lawn mowers to spur new growth. Their tramping works manure and other decaying organic mater into the soil, turning it into a rich layer of humus. The humus feeds the grass plant’s roots, which helps maintain the soil’s health by retaining water and microbes.

It’s a well-known fact that trees draw carbon dioxide from the air and store it as carbon—an important natural process that curbs global warming. Soil rich in organic matter does the same. A Duke University study found that grass stores vast amounts of carbon too—it gets shelved in its underground root mass. In fact, natural grasslands can be just as effective at sequestering CO2 as forests.

Hawaii PasturelandPasture reduces topsoil erosion
Not only does pastureland absorb carbon, it also prevents erosion. According to eatwild.com, an informational website on pasture-based farming, the U.S. is losing three billion tons of nutrient-rich topsoil each year.

It’s believed that growing corn and soy for animal feed using conventional “row” farming methods causes a significant amount of topsoil loss. “Compared with row crops, pasture reduces soil loss by as much as 93 percent,” reports eatwild.com. A University of Wisconsin study compared the loss of topsoil in pastured land and rowed crops. It found sloped land devoted to corn and soybeans lost six times more topsoil each year when compared to sloped pastureland.

Beef with a Better Carbon Footprint
Yes, methane gas is a by-product of ruminant digestion—a process where plant-based food is digested by initially softening it in the first of four stomachs, called a rumen. The semi-digested food is regurgitated and re-chewed as “cud” before again swallowed for further digestion (goats, sheep, bison, deer, antelope and nine other animals are also ruminants). The resulting gas is even more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping the sun’s heat. While cattle fed-and- finished on grass produce more methane (by eating high-fiber grass) than grain-fed cows, their net emission, or carbon footprint, is lower because grass-fed animals help the soil sequester carbon.

Proving this fact was a study by the Institute for Environmental Research and Education. It found raising ruminants on pasture offsets the animals’ methane production and may actually reduce greenhouse gases. More research needs to be done on this issue. To see a graph detailing the study’s findings, visit http://eatwild.com/environment.html.

According to TIME magazine, some researchers hypothesize that a one percent increase in carbon sequestration on vast acreages of healthy, productive land could be enough to capture the total equivalent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Hawaii Grass-fed cowsGrass-Fed Beef and Climate Change
As the grass-fed beef industry requires healthy and productive pastureland, it seems logical that grass-fed cattle can play a key role in reversing global warming. With the planet feeding nine billion people by 2050, it makes sense to eat food that’s cultivated using environmentally sound and sustainable methods. The Natural Resources Conservation Service reports, “properly managed grazing is one of the most energy-efficient ways of producing food and fiber.”

Photo credits:
Hawaii pastureland:  Mark Thorne
Closeup shots of numbered cattle::  Fern Gavelek

Share