As directed by the Franklin Community Co-op Ends Policy to “strengthen the social fabric of our community” and according to the cooperative values of equality, equity and solidarity, the board affirms the following statement:
Franklin Community Co-op — through introspection by and education with its member-owners, board, and staff — strives to become a fully inclusive, anti-racist, multicultural organization. To this end, we align ourselves with the work of existing anti-racist, multicultural organizations and seek their guidance to move toward meaningful change for the whole community.
The sap rose so early this year, maple buckets could be seen hanging the first week of February. I’m itching to grow things. Sprouting can calm the itch until I can get in the dirt. It’s easy to do, and the results are delicious. In 1975, my boyfriend (I’ll call him “Ronny”) and I drove across the U.S. in a blue Volkswagen station wagon he’d named Honolea (yes, as in Puff the Magic Dragon. I just want to give you the full picture, here). We didn’t have much and didn’t make it to California on that trip, but our last $150 paid for a 2½-room apartment in Denver. Ronny got a job right away at the university cafeteria, but it took me a couple of weeks longer to find work. There was rhubarb growing in our backyard, and Ronny occasionally brought home kitchen scraps, but there would be no paycheck for two weeks.
Looking for cheap, nourishing food, I learned about sprouting. When I decided on the subject for this article, I’d forgotten what an abyss the internet can be for those as naive and playful as myself. I began researching “what kind of nutrition can you get from sprouts?” and found several arguments, many of them angry and self-righteous. For those readers with strong opinions regarding enzymes, nutrition, ‘live food’ or related subcontext, I hope you’ll read peacefully, as this writing comes from an amateur foodie in the spirit of sharing.
Sprouts are nutritious. They contain protein, vitamins and minerals in varying quantities, depending on what you sprout. For example, sprouted lentils have lots of protein, vitamins B and C, magnesium, potassium and iron*. Sprouts also contain enzymes. Many of us have trouble with our digestion. Eating raw sprouts can help, and enzymes are one of the reasons. Anything that starts life as a seed can be sprouted. Any sprout contains more nutritional qualities than its unsprouted seed. Sprouts taste good raw on salads, sandwiches, or juiced. They can be stir-fried, baked or added to omelettes. It’s good to eat them when the seeds have cotyledons, the primary leaf of the plant embryo. For some beans, it’s also good to eat the leaf.
It’s fun to grow sprouts. Kids love to watch a seed’s progress, and it may inspire those previously unwilling to eat something green. The basic premise is to moisten the seeds enough for them to start. Simple, right? In 1975, we poked holes in the top of a mayonnaise jar with hammer and nail to drain the water. This didn’t work well with tiny seeds like alfafa, as we lost many of them down the drain before they grew to a size. Kits can be bought for larger quantities and varieties of sprouting, but a simple way is to use a mason jar. You can invent a strainer with a lid as we did, or use cheese cloth with a rubber band, or a sprouting screen.
My favorite seeds to sprout are alfalfa, clover, broccoli, and garbanzo beans. You’ll have to experiment with how many seeds to use at a time because as they grow they’ll take up more space. If they’re too crowded, they can get moldy. Eat sprouts within a few days. If they’re left out too long in warmer temperatures, bacteria can grow and make your sprouts unsafe to eat. Federal government regulations require professional food services to store sprouts below 41 degrees. So when they’re ready, put ‘em in the fridge.
Here’s a basic procedure to use for alfalfa seeds:
- put about 2 Tbsp. of seeds in a mason jar and cover with 2 cups cool w a t e r . Soak 8-12 hours.
- Drain the water, then rinse and drain again.
- Set the jar out of direct sunlight, but not in the dark, at room temperature with the draining cover on.
- Rinse and drain twice a day for 4-6 days. You’ll know they’re ready to eat when most of them are showing green.
Bean Sprout Book by Gay Courter (1973)
The Sprouting Book by Ann Wigmore (1986)
The Miracle Food by Steve Meyerwitz (1998) www.sproutpeople.org
*USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28
Do you love farmers’ markets, but can’t always make it on Saturdays? Starting this spring, you’ll have another weekday option to support local farms! Last fall, Franklin Community Co-op launched an internship program in partnership with Greenfield Community College, designed to start a new Tuesday afternoon/evening farmers’ market in downtown Greenfield.
Communications and Outreach Manager Sarah Kanabay conceived of the new market initiative and internship as a way to offer an alternative farmers’ market structure to small0scale new farms. The market is staffed by students, and unsold goods are purchased by community partners for use in their social service organizations. This relieves newer farms of the burden of having to find market staff and ensures that food waste is significantly reduced.
It was recently announced that this program, in an expanded partnership with CISA, was the recipient of a $25,000 grant from the Rural Community College Alliance, which will fund the student positions and enable the expansion of the program to other community colleges. Additional work is in place to explore the creation of a co-operative of western Massachusetts farmers’ markets, both within the internship program and in partnership with the Greater Quabbin Food Alliance and CISA. It’s the hope of the co-op, and of the College, that this opportunity will aid and foster farm entrepreneurship in Franklin County and beyond, and help food co-operatives in other communities identify and support new local vendors as they grow their businesses. It’s also the co-op’s hope that this new zero-food-waste model for farmers’ markets will remain a key component of the implementation of the program in other communities, ensuring wider access to healthy, local food within those locations.
The new Tuesday market will feature vendors of meat, produce, herbs, honey, clothing, and wool, and will begin in April, 1-6 p.m. weekly in the alley next to Green Fields Market. We hope to see you there!