by Devon Kohler
I am excited to share that Monday marked a huge step forward in my “Farm to Aisle 2” quest. Mara and Doug McFarland of Rise and Shine Farm in Marshfield met with Bobby McPhail of Foodies in Duxbury to discuss a possible partnership. Foodies to is fully committed to bringing Rise and Shine produce into the store and will hopefully begin in full force during the coming growing season. As somewhat of a teaser this weekend Foodies will be featuring Rise and Shine carrots, which I know I mentioned before are as sweet as candy – no joke, my kids ate them for dessert last night! Also, Foodies chefs are going to cook up some Rise and Shine Gilfeather turnips, which will be available this weekend in the prepared food case. Don’t miss your chance to sample this heirloom treat.
As a brief aside, the Gilfeather turnip has an interesting and somewhat mysterious history. In the early 1900s, John Gilfeather of Wardsboro, Vermont, introduced the turnips through what is assumed to have been some form of hybridization using white turnips (probably of German decent) and rutabaga. During his lifetime Gilfeather tried to keep the turnip proprietary by cutting off the tops and bottoms before selling them. Lucky for us, someone was able to sneak away the turnip secret so the Gilfeather turnip lives on and is one of only two heirloom vegetables registered in Vermont. The Gilfeather turnip’s sweet taste, tender flesh, and mild, spineless greens have put Wardsboro, Vermont (a town of 900) on the map. The town holds a very popular Gilfeather turnip festival every fall and people from all over the country put in orders each year to make sure they get their fair share.
Based on the results of my not necessarily statistically accurate SurveyMonkey questionnaire, this newly minted Rise and Shine/Foodies partnership should meet a substantial consumer demand. 100% of those who responded indicated that they would purchase local food if it were available at our local grocery store and are willing to try unfamiliar local foods as well. In addition, over 90% indicated that they are willing to potentially pay more for local items.
This move toward locally grown produce is going to take a substantial consumer mind shift. If we truly want to become dedicated local eaters we need to be willing to cut around the occasional hole or blemish. Beware of produce that looks perfect. We are so used to seeing shiny blemish-free produce in the grocery stores, but it is almost impossible to achieve that level of perfection without the use of potentially dangerous chemicals. If the bugs didn’t touch it at all you should be highly suspect of what might be on/in it. Rise and Shine carrots come in all different sizes and shapes – don’t expect uniformity. The Gilfeathers might have a few healthy nicks. Just give the veggies a good scrub and maybe a quick peel and then taste what you have been missing! Good luck getting those Foodies roasted turnips before I do and check out the Gilfeather Turnip Soup recipe below. Also if you are interested in sampling more of Rise and Shine Farm’s winter produce visit the Marshfield Winter Farmer’s Market at the Marshfield fairgrounds this Saturday.
GILFEATHER® TURNIP SOUP Recipe
¼ lb. butter
1 cup half and half
3 lbs. Gilfeather turnips,
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
peeled & chopped
salt and pepper to taste
4 large onions, chopped
fresh spinach, washed and de-stemmed
1 clove garlic, minced
8 cups unsalted chicken stock
Melt butter in 5 quart kettle and sauté chopped onion and garlic until soft but
not browned. Add stock and chopped turnips and cook until tender. Drain
and reserve some of the liquid. Purée mixture in food processor until smooth.
Put through a food mill or sieve and return to kettle. Add seasonings and half
and half. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
Add reserved cooking liquid if soup is too thick.
Sauté spinach in a small amount of olive oil until just wilted. Use spinach as a garnish on top of the soup before serving.