PLOVGH

Plovgh is a cooperative of farmers, growers, and ranchers that sell directly to their customers.

Now Harvesting: Popping Corn

Fitkin Popping Corn (Fit-Pop) - Cedar Falls, Iowa
Harvesting: November 2013

Learn
Around the year 1612, early French explorers through the Great Lakes region noted that the Iroquois popped popcorn with heated sand in a pottery vessel and used it to make popcorn soup, among other things.

Cultivate
Popcorn has a long agricultural history. Precisely how popcorn originated is a topic of debate, though it did originate in the Americas. Some experts believe that corn was developed by centuries of breeding and crossbreeding wild grasses like teosinte. When farmers are considering seed selection, expansibility and maturity are two key factors. Maximum popping potential hinges on the corn reaching full maturity and there are many factors that can prematurely terminate plant development such as drought stress, disease, and frost. When harvesting, farmers wait until the corn has cured on the stalk as much as possible, but not so long that it is damaged by fall moisture or by corn stalks falling over. Once picked, the corn must be dried until it reaches its optimum moisture level of 13.5% to 14%.

Taste
Popcorn is delicate and starchy, and depending on what topping you choose, sweet or savory. Jim Fitkin’s popping corn is unique in that it has a subtle taste of the Iowa prairie where it was grown.

Identify
One of the more desirable traits of popcorn is expansibility; a measure of the volume ratio of popped corn to unpopped corn. Popcorn kernels can come in two shapes: “Butterfly” which are irregular in shape and have a number of protruding “wings”, or “Mushroom” flakes which are largely ball-shaped, with few wings. Jim’s popping corn is grown in northeast Iowa and is a hybrid variety with mushroom-like kernels.

Prepare
We all know that when popcorn is heated it expands from the kernel and puffs up. But why? The folklore of some Native American tribes told of spirits who lived inside each kernel of popcorn, and who grew angry if their houses were heated. The real expansion happens because the kernels have a hard moisture-sealed hull and a dense starchy interior and under the right temperature, pressure builds inside the kernel, and a small explosion - or “pop!” - is the end result. Once popped you can eat popcorn with whatever toppings you choose; salt, butter, chili flakes or cream and sugar. When it comes to Jim’s popping corn, we’re staunch traditionalists and hold true to this recipe complements of the McVay family.

21 11/13

Production of our popcorn was cut by over half last year due to the drought. Northeast Iowa, where I farm, was hit the hardest last year by the drought. This year we had a record wet and cold spring which then turned into a “flash drought”. At this time Northeast Iowa, although still dry, is the wettest part of Iowa. Our yields should only be slightly below trend line.
- A conversation with Jim Fitkin of Fitkin Farms in Cedar Falls, Iowa earlier this season
13 11/13

Get on the map

Below is a snapshot of where Plovgh members are beginning to organize. Do you see your neighborhood or city or borough on the map? No? Well, here’s where to get started.

17 10/12

The future of agriculture is not conventional

This organic nonsense has to stop.  I’d like to politely request that those who don’t know agriculture cease writing about it as though they do, stoking an already divisive debate that misses the heart of the problem we face: We’re not sure how we should be growing food, and thus we’re not sure how to eat.

Anyone who suggests that a crop can be raised without the provision of nutrients and pest management should not opine on agriculture.  Roger Cohen, I’m talking to you.

Saturday’s opinion piece, shows me just how far off course the discussion of agricultural production has gotten because it spreads misinformation and focuses squarely on the wrong problem.  If we continue to debate organic versus conventional, continue to view food choices as an emblem of class, and continue to use the nine billion future people of the world as a gauntlet that the human race must run, we are in trouble because the question is not first about production.  It’s about distribution.

We produce enough to feed 1.3 billion more people than we actually do.  And that’s in American proportions.  In 2000, the USDA reported that Americans consumed almost 2,000 pounds of food per person per year.  Meanwhile, 1.3 billion tons of global food production goes to waste each year.  Production by any method, standard, or label is not our most pressing problem.

Getting production where it is needed and wanted is another story.  We’ve got a billion or so people on this planet consuming too much of the wrong kinds of calories and another approximate billion getting too few of the right nutrients.  Most food production happens far from population centers, and timing is everything whether you’re moving kale to market or wheat to a mill, so properly matching supply with demand is tricky.  Here we are in 2012, endowed with information and technology that together can make just about any transaction instantaneous.  Yet we rely on supply chains that emerged in the 19th century to connect us with our food.

The diversity that agricultural products present complicates matters too.  Because of weather, seed variety, origin, soil conditions, and a host of other factors, not every tomato tastes the same and sweet corn from my home state of Minnesota is like corn from nowhere else.  I value that distinction in my food.

On the whole, our economy does not.

We produce and consume food within a structure that was built for undifferentiated, commodity products.  The processes that move vast amounts of crops from harvest, to processing, to wholesale, to retail, to you keep the producer and the consumer conveniently separated – by about $0.84 for every dollar you spend.  The anonymous middle of merchants, distributors, sellers, and superstores has driven consumers to rely on certifications like organic to tell them more about the products they’re buying than anyone else will.  Producers, in turn, seek that certification as a way to distinguish their products in the marketplace. 

Because so far they are all we’ve had to rely on to see something, anything, through the haze of the modern food system, labels have an inflated value.  But don’t let that fool you into thinking that only spoiled rich folks, as Cohen would have it, feel strongly about the short- and long-term effects their food has on themselves, their families, and their environments. 

Look at Growing Power, where Will Allen has built an urban farming empire-of-everyman.  Look at the Bed-Stuy CSA of Brooklyn, where middle income families subsidize shares so their lower income neighbors can participate in getting food directly from farms.  Look at the verdant farmers market culture in northern Iowa.  Look at the efforts of farmers in Tchula, Mississippi, to grow food – not corn, not soy, not cotton – to feed their county first, and everyone else they can thereafter.

If anything, the debate surrounding how we produce and move food should unite us.  Articles like Cohen’s are a soap box, and soak up our energy with debate when they should instead focus on shared principles: sufficient food to feed our people, production technology and innovation (from nutrient-rich composting techniques and drip irrigation, to GPS systems in John Deere tractors) that facilitate efficient and sufficient food production, soil and water systems that promise years and years of sustained agricultural production, and access for every single person to the abundance that we now know, but that our great-grandparents did not.

The science should focus on how we get there.  I’d like to see, for example, a comparison of per-acre nutrient yields and revenue for six different production systems: conventional and certified organic commodity, conventional and certified organic fruit and vegetable under mass production, conventional but diversified fruit and vegetable production, and fruit and vegetable production under what we might call “beyond organic”, “practical”, “sustainable”, or whatever term most effectively conveys the rational approach of a growing number of farmers to use the best means they have to produce a crop that is healthy, high-yielding, and good to eat.  Personal experience suggests that the last of these, which takes place right now on small- and mid-sized enterprises, is our greatest hope.

The future may not be organic but it is also not conventional.  We should set aside the debate about organics and start identifying at a large scale an alternative path for the production, distribution, purchase, and consumption of the food that we all rely on for sustenance.

10 09/12

PLACE YOUR ORDERS
This Week’s Harvest:
Natural Earth Farms - Calverton, NYYoung family farm, Certified Naturally Grown Daikon radishes: $3.50/bunchEscarole: $2.00/head
Rottkamp Farms - Glen Head, NY50 acre, fourth generation family farmBroccoli: $2.00/headCauliflower: $2.00/headLeeks: $2.00/bunchCollard greens: $1.50/bunchOnions: $1.00 eachShallots: 3 for $1.00Scallions: $1.00/bunchParsley: $1.00/bunchCilantro: $1.00/bunchNorth Fork Egg Farm - Southold, NY
Raised cage free on organic grain and pastureEggs: $7.00/dozen
Fitkin Farms - Cedar Falls, IAIowa family farmYellow popping corn: $3.00/bag (2 lbs)Carissa’s Bread - Amagansett, NYMade with hand-milled whole wheat flour from Amber Waves Farm and a natural rising agent first cultured in Amagansett forty years agoOne whole wheat loaf: $7.00Two whole wheat loaves: $12.00Plovgh mixed bag: $12.00/bagDon’t know what to get? We’ll pack a bag with a variety of provisions for you to pickup.
Orders are available for pickup at:
Veronica People’s ClubGreenpoint (map)Saturday, December 1710am-2pmDekalb MarketDowntown Brooklyn (map)Friday December 16Saturday, December 1711am-5 pm Brooklyn Night BazaarWilliamsburg (map)Saturday, December 175pm-1am

PLACE YOUR ORDERS

This Week’s Harvest:

Natural Earth Farms - Calverton, NY
Young family farm, Certified Naturally Grown 

Daikon radishes: $3.50/bunch
Escarole: $2.00/head


Rottkamp Farms - Glen Head, NY
50 acre, fourth generation family farm

Broccoli: $2.00/head
Cauliflower: $2.00/head
Leeks: $2.00/bunch
Collard greens: $1.50/bunch
Onions: $1.00 each
Shallots: 3 for $1.00
Scallions: $1.00/bunch
Parsley: $1.00/bunch
Cilantro: $1.00/bunch

North Fork Egg Farm - Southold, NY
Raised cage free on organic grain and pasture

Eggs: $7.00/dozen

Fitkin Farms - Cedar Falls, IA
Iowa family farm

Yellow popping corn: $3.00/bag (2 lbs)

Carissa’s Bread - Amagansett, NY
Made with hand-milled whole wheat flour from Amber Waves Farm and a natural rising agent first cultured in Amagansett forty years ago

One whole wheat loaf: $7.00
Two whole wheat loaves: $12.00

Plovgh mixed bag: $12.00/bag
Don’t know what to get? We’ll pack a bag with a variety of provisions for you to pickup.

Orders are available for pickup at:

Veronica People’s Club
Greenpoint (map)
Saturday, December 17
10am-2pm

Dekalb Market
Downtown Brooklyn (map)
Friday December 16
Saturday, December 17
11am-5 pm
 
Brooklyn Night Bazaar
Williamsburg (map)
Saturday, December 17
5pm-1am

13 12/11

Earlier this fall, local artists, vendors, musicians and more congregated at Dekalb Market for the inaugural Brooklyn Night Bazaar. Since November, Dekalb Market has been a second home for Plovgh. This weekend, the Bazaar is setting up shop in Williamsburg. Plovgh and some of our Dekalb Market cohorts will be making an appearance (be sure to have Brian from Nile Valley make you a juice with some collards from Plovgh farms). So come for the music, and leave with some Iowa popcorn. We’ll see you all Saturday night.

Earlier this fall, local artists, vendors, musicians and more congregated at Dekalb Market for the inaugural Brooklyn Night Bazaar. Since November, Dekalb Market has been a second home for Plovgh. This weekend, the Bazaar is setting up shop in Williamsburg. Plovgh and some of our Dekalb Market cohorts will be making an appearance (be sure to have Brian from Nile Valley make you a juice with some collards from Plovgh farms). So come for the music, and leave with some Iowa popcorn. We’ll see you all Saturday night.

13 12/11

McVay Family Popcorn

In the McVay family, Sunday night wouldn’t be complete without an enormous bowl of popcorn. It’s been happening that way for decades. After a day on horseback at the farm or at the end of a Minneapolis weekend, someone (usually Lizzy’s mama, Kita) pulls out the kettle, heats the oil, and drops the first kernel in. Once it pops, you know you’re on your way to goodness. 

When Plovgh returned from Iowa farm visits with a case of Jim Fitkin’s yellow popping corn, Kita tried it out. She now swears by it, as does Lizzy, who thinks it has hints of Iowa prairie, much like her preferred drink, Templeton Rye. Here’s what you can do with the popcorn.

1. Get a bag of Jim Fitkin’s popping corn.

2. Cover the bottom of a saucepan or kettle with a thin layer of the oil of your choice.

3. Turn the stove on high heat.

4. Add a single kernel to the pot and cover.

5. Wait for the kernel to pop to indicate that the oil is sufficiently hot.

6. Cover the bottom of the pot with a single layer of popping corn.

7. Cover and gently shake the pot over the heat for a few minutes or until popping noises have ceased.

8. Transfer the popped corn to a bowl.

9. Add melted butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary, and cayenne as desired.

13 12/11

Plovgh is back in Greenpoint!

Earlier this year, Plovgh got started with a few weeks of farm pickups at Veronica People’s Club in Greenpoint. Those initial weeks were a humble beginning to a much bigger project and served to test the Plovgh concept with farmers, our neighbors in 11222, and the lovely proprietors of VPC. We then spent all summer and fall talking with more farms and communities in more places, and commencing to build Plovgh. Starting on Saturday, and every other week thereafter, VPC will once again be a Plovgh Pickup Point. Come on out, Greenpoint. We can’t wait to see you again.

       

12 12/11
Here is what’s available to order this week for pick up at Dekalb Market in Downtown Brooklyn or The New School in the West Village. Let us know what you’d like and we’ll get back to you with your order confirmation.
Pickup Dates:
Dekalb MarketFriday, December 9 or Saturday, December 1011am – 5pm
The New SchoolFriday, December 9 2 – 4pm
This week’s harvest:
Natural Earth Farms - Calverton, NY
Young family farm, certified naturally grown
• Escarole ………………….. $2.00/head
Rottkamp Farms - Glen Head, NY
50 acre, fourth generation family farm
• Beets with greens ………………….. $2.00/bunch• White Cauliflower …………………… $2.00/head• Kale …………………………………… $2.00/bunch• Broccoli ………………………………. $2.00/each• Red Boston Lettuce ………………….. $1.00 each• Cabbage …………………………….. $1.00 each• Collards ………………………………. $1.00/bunch• Leeks …………………………………… $2.00/bunch• Scallions ………………………………. $1.00/bunch• Parsley …………………………….….. $1.00/bunch• Cilantro …………………………….. $1.00/bunch

Plovgh mixed bag……..$12.00/bag
Not sure what to get? We’ll pack a bag with a variety of produce for you to pickup.

Here is what’s available to order this week for pick up at Dekalb Market in Downtown Brooklyn or The New School in the West Village. Let us know what you’d like and we’ll get back to you with your order confirmation.

Pickup Dates:

Dekalb Market
Friday, December 9 or Saturday, December 10
11am – 5pm

The New School
Friday, December 9 
2 – 4pm

This week’s harvest:

Natural Earth Farms - Calverton, NY

Young family farm, certified naturally grown

• Escarole ………………….. $2.00/head

Rottkamp Farms - Glen Head, NY

50 acre, fourth generation family farm

• Beets with greens ………………….. $2.00/bunch
• White Cauliflower …………………… $2.00/head
• Kale …………………………………… $2.00/bunch
• Broccoli ………………………………. $2.00/each
• Red Boston Lettuce ………………….. $1.00 each
• Cabbage …………………………….. $1.00 each
• Collards ………………………………. $1.00/bunch

• Leeks …………………………………… $2.00/bunch
• Scallions ………………………………. $1.00/bunch
• Parsley …………………………….….. $1.00/bunch
• Cilantro …………………………….. $1.00/bunch

Plovgh mixed bag……..$12.00/bag

Not sure what to get? We’ll pack a bag with a variety of produce for you to pickup.


06 12/11
Here is what’s available to order this week for pick up at Dekalb Market in Downtown Brooklyn. Let us know what you’d like and we’ll get back to you with your order confirmation.
Pickup Dates:Friday, December 2 or Saturday, December 311am – 5pm
This week’s harvest: 
Rottkamp Farms - Glen Head, NY
• Beets with greens ………………….. $2.00/bunch• Butternut squash …………………… $1.00/each• Kale …………………………………… $2.00/bunch• Broccoli ………………………………. $2.00/each• Green leaf lettuce ………………….. $1.00 each• Cabbage …………………………….. $1.00 each• Collards ………………………………. $1.00/bunch• Scallions ……………………………… $1.00/bunch• Parsley ……………………………….. $1.00/bunch• Leeks …………………………………. $2.00/bunch
Jim Fitkin - Cedar Falls, IA
• Popping corn ……………………….. $2.00/bag (2 lbs.)

Here is what’s available to order this week for pick up at Dekalb Market in Downtown Brooklyn. Let us know what you’d like and we’ll get back to you with your order confirmation.

Pickup Dates:
Friday, December 2 or Saturday, December 3
11am – 5pm

This week’s harvest:

Rottkamp Farms - Glen Head, NY

• Beets with greens ………………….. $2.00/bunch
• Butternut squash …………………… $1.00/each
• Kale …………………………………… $2.00/bunch
• Broccoli ………………………………. $2.00/each
• Green leaf lettuce ………………….. $1.00 each
• Cabbage …………………………….. $1.00 each
• Collards ………………………………. $1.00/bunch

• Scallions ……………………………… $1.00/bunch
• Parsley ……………………………….. $1.00/bunch
• Leeks …………………………………. $2.00/bunch

Jim Fitkin - Cedar Falls, IA

• Popping corn ……………………….. $2.00/bag (2 lbs.)

29 11/11