Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Bit about Potatoes and Today's Harvest Baskets

The potato was cultivated by the peoples of Peru, the Incas. The Spanish conquistadores found the potato to be a very cheap staple to feed their slaves (as aspect of "discovering America" not always acknowledged). It would yield a huge amount of bulky starch on little arable land. However, this was a food product that was also grown in Europe, first grown there in 1588 by the botanist Clusius. However, it was treated with a great deal of suspicion in Europe where the peasants saw the plant as evil. For a couple of centuries the potato received a bad rap in Europe, blamed for everything from scrofula to leprosy. For forty years, the French pharmacist and agriculturalist Antoine-Auguste Parmentier sought to turn the tide of the French public opinion. The peasantry had hiterto trusted nothing but grain before the Revolution, but after it millions of Europeans abandoned the tradition to take up potato nutrition at roughly the same time. This is a quote from the Austrian philosopher and scientist, Rudolf Steiner, and founder of biodynamic farming: "One can study the development of human intellectual faculties from the time when there were not potatoes to the time after their introduction. Potatoes at a certain time began to play a particular role in Western devlopment. Before potatoes were eaten a great deal, people grasped things less quickly and readily, but what they grasped, they really knew. Their nature was conservative, profound, and reflective. After potatoes were eaten on a larger scale, people became quicker in taking up ideas, but what they thought up was not retained and did not sink in very deeply. Very small amounts of potato find their way into the brain, and can can be very potent; they spur on the forces of abstract intelligence." (K. Castellitz and B. Saunders Davies, Nutrition and Stimulants, Lectures and Extracts from Rudolf Steiner, Biodynamic Literature, USA, 1991.) In Japanese macrobiotic tradition the potato is seen as extremely "yin" (cold, expanded, watery, dark); it needs to be balanced in cooking by fire, sea salt, butter, fennel, or cumin seeds. Baked in their jackets or skin, potatoes give more nutritional value as the nutrients and some protein lie just under this skin. When the peel is removed, any nutrional value of the potato is lost. They are great roasted and served with lots of chopped parsley, garlic, chives and basil and then served with a good crispy green salad. Now, after your potato meal, remember you may be full of great ideas, but don't expect to remember them in the morning!

For your baskets today, please find, yes, potatoes, parsley, swiss chard, carrots, delicious Gala apples and more.

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