Why Does Organic Food Generally Cost More?

by Beth Rankin

The Wild Ramp Market’s mission is to provide local food, regardless of the growing method used by its Producers.  That means there are farmers who use conventional farming methods which utilizes some sprays to minimize pest and weed damage to the crop, Certified Organic Farmers who have demonstrated to the Federal Government that they raise their food in a manner without chemicals, and a whole bunch of other farmers who use the methods used by Organic farmers but are not certified.mission statement

The concept of food free from chemical use of pesticides and herbicides appeals to some of the people who shop at The Wild Ramp, but there is reluctance by many to pay a bit more for that food.  So why does organic produce or produce grown using organic procedures usually cost a bit more?

I met with Connie and Carroll Devore of C&C Farm in Crown City, Ohio to discuss this pricing issue.  Connie had mentioned to me some time ago that when you start with organic corn seed at $38 a pound, you have to charge a bit more than seed available for conventional farming. I thought getting a bit more detail might be of interest to you.

sweet potato slipsWe discussed the current crop of sweet potatoes that will be available at The Wild Ramp. They purchase the slips (essentially, rooted plants) from Scott’s Farm  in North Carolina.  By the time those slips are planted when there is no longer any threat of frost, the soil has been prepared. That means organic compost was mixed into the soil in early spring. As the soil warms up and dries out a bit from the spring rains, it gets tilled up into hills that provide the right kind of growing space. Then, usually the end of May, the slips are planted.

It takes 90-120 days for the sweet potatoes to mature. Each slip can produce 3-4 large potatoes with several small ones.  Care has to be taken during the growing season to keep the hills weeded, as grass and other unwanted growth will remove nutrition and growing space from the Sweet potatoes.  That means weeding by hand, no spray. It’s a lot of manual labor.

In addition, moles tend to enjoy sweet potatoes as well. Carroll has built a number of traps that can catch the animals and they have also used a noise system that produces irregular sounds below the ground to discourage the animals from snacking.

C&C Farm purchased 100 slips of Covington sweet potatoes this year. Connie says they are sweet, full of flavor and not stringy.  That means they can expect about 300-400 large sweet potatoes.

from Scott's Farm website

from Scott’s Farm website

Once they sell out there will be no more. The Devores say the sweet potatoes can be stored in a dry cool place.  They have a cellar that also has their furnace so while it is generally cool, the heat from the furnace keeps the damp away. They also have stored sweet potatoes in their garage. Connie reports that she often has potatoes to use into the next spring when stored correctly.  Last fall I purchased sweet potatoes at The Wild Ramp, kept them in a paper sack on my enclosed porch, and enjoyed them for our Thanksgiving feast.

 

 

Harvest Pizza

On trip to California, Chris Crader and Brittany Lovell tasted pizza prepared in a way that was considerably fresher and different from what they had known back in Ohio. Returning, they started working on developing artisanal pizza.  Their first effort actually was cooked on a stone on their grill.  The power was out and Chris raided the cupboard, preparing the first attempt to what later became the Spicy Yuma.  They opened Harvest Pizzeria in Columbus’s German Village a couple of years ago. There is a plan to open another restaurant in another section of town shortly.DSC_0032

Using ingredients from local farms (including Chris’s acreage outside of the city) on a crust made from fresh dough prepared by the Omega Artisan Bakery in the North Market, the pizza is baked in a gas-fired stone pizza oven in the open kitchen.DSC_0012

Chris says that sourcing locally is easy as Columbus is surrounded by farms, so they obtain bacon and other meats, cheeses, and produce in season.  When their farms can offer something unusual they can run a special. I enjoyed a pizza with zucchini, peppers, kale and bacon, toppped after baking with cucumbers.DSC_0009

Production for the frozen pizzas we have at The Wild Ramp is prepared right there in their restaurant kitchen.  They parbake until the rise comes but has no color yet. They cool it and package it and then freeze it. When you take it home from The Wild Ramp market you preheat your oven to 500 degrees and bake for 8 minutes and have a wonderful opportunity to understand how fresh ingredients can make a huge difference. My suggestion, after baking the  Mushroom pizza at home,  is to place the pie on the rack as suggested, but place a cookie sheet on a rack about 4 inches lower. This will permit the heat to crisp the crust but catch any spills to keep your oven clean.

Mushroom

Mushroom

Daily Special

Daily Special

As is typically the case where ever restaurant food is available frozen for home preparation, there is some difference in appearance. So if you have the chance to visit the Harvest Pizzeria in Columbus, do so. But until then, enjoy the offerings found in the freezer at the Wild Ramp!

495 S. 4TH ST., COLUMBUS, OHIO 43206 614.824.1769

 

Tied in Knots

Following a stay in Germany, Brittany Baum returned to the United States and soon realized she missed eating the Bavarian-style pretzels she had enjoyed while overseas. Her education in communications,which had given her great marketing training, helped her analyze the marketability of these pretzels in the Columbus area. In 2009 she started baking at home and selling them at Farmers’ Markets.  As the demand grew she realized that working her full-time job and then going home and baking through the evening was not healthy so with full support by her husband, Brittany quit her job and in 2011 Brēzel   rented a space inside the North Market.DSC_0005

The income she had already earned enabled her to purchase the commercial equipment to set up her booth.  It is not a large space, maybe 20×20, and Britanny and the two employees that were there at that time (she has 8 altogether to cover being open 7 days a week) had their movements well choreographed.
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DSC_0012The pretzels are shaped into the classic style as well as smaller twists. There are many varieties and some offered seasonally, like pumpkin in the fall.  Other items available include pizza crusts and buns that can be used for hamburgers.DSC_0007

Business is good. The Columbus Convention Center is only a block away and people wander through the Market often when on breaks.  There are regulars, people who work in the Market itself or nearby, who come buy a pretzel daily.  Other shoppers at the Market stop and pick up from one to a dozen and she also gets large orders for parties.  She expanded to on-line sales which varies quite a bit and the shipping for large orders poses a welcome challenge sometimes because she did not set up for shipping when she planned her space.DSC_0024

Besides selling at The North Market, Brēzel products are available at about a dozen other locations in and around Columbus and at The Wild Ramp Market.

http://brezelpower.com/

Brēzel @ the North Market
59 Spruce St. Columbus, OH 43215
614.586.0523 | info@brezelpower.com

 

 

Sharing the Way

DSC_0012Connie and Carroll Devore have lived in their farmhouse in Crown City, Ohio for over 21 years. At an age when most of us “city folk” feel justified to take it easy, they are not planning on slowing down. On just over an acre of land they have continued a way of life that became not only economically practical over the years that they raised their families, but made a lot of sense to them when they started getting concerned about Big Ag and Big Business affecting the quality of the food they wanted to eat. The only way, they believed, was to grow as much of their own produce as they could.DSC_0021

Connie starts pouring over her seed catalogs as soon as they arrive in January and narrows down the succulent selections to provide a variety of tomatoes for salads, sauces and salsa,; peppers that run from sweet to piquant; and other vegetables, including sweet potatoes.DSC_0007

The seeds are started inside with grow lights and a fan to help stimulate growth. Soon it will be time to move the seedlings , ranging in size from 4 to 12 inches, to the greenhouse where they will start “hardening up”, the method to step seedlings through the process of moving to the garden. Planting typically is the middle of May for tomatoes.DSC_0003

When the Devores discovered The Wild Ramp Market last fall they were excited. Finally they could find foods that were local and information was available about the farms and the growing methods.  They tend not to eat much meat but feel pleased knowing the Wild Ramp selection is ASH-free (no antibiotics, no steroids, no hormones). DSC_0009

They will be bringing seedlings to the Wild Ramp Spring Fling Saturday, April 13 from 10-4 for sale. Connie reports that almost all are heirloom varieties and some are from certified organic seeds.

 

striped romanStriped Roman Tomato Organic

75-80 days. Very unique. These long, roma-shaped tomatoes have orange stripes running down the length of the fruit. Tomatoes are very thick and meaty with a nice rich flavor.

roma vfRoma VF

Premium canner, ideal for sauce and paste. Pear-shaped scarlet fruits are thick and meaty with few seeds. Determinate. 75 days.

 

olpakiOpalka Tomato

Also known as Gilberti. This is one of the best paste tomatoes we know, primarily because it makes sauce so good and sweet that you wouldn’t even have to add flavoring to it. Tomatoes are large, at least 5 inches long, and shaped like a banana pepper with a pronounced tip on the bottom. The fruit has very few seeds and is extremely meaty with a rich, sweet flavor. Although they make outstanding sauce, these tomatoes are good enough to eat fresh. Heirloom variety originally from Poland. 75 days.

cosmonautOrganic Cosmonaut Volkov

This Ukrainian tomato wins taste test after taste test. Perfect blend of sweet and tart, with a rich complexity. Fruits can range from 8-12 oz and are slightly flattened with a healthy red color and moderately green shoulders. Prone to cracking in wet conditions, but not nearly as much as Brandywine. Produces high yields even in cool conditions. Works well in low tech tunnels.

280px-Tomato_'Cherokee_Purple'_(Lycopersicon_lycopersicum)Cherokee Purple

80 days. An old Cherokee Indian heirloom, pre-1890 variety; beautiful deep dusky purple-pink color, superb sweet flavor, and very large sized fruit. Shoulders will remain green when ripe. Try this one for real old-time tomato flavor.

mtg lifterMortgage Lifter

This huge heirloom beefsteak (up to 4 lb.; average 2½ lb.) consistently wins taste-tests. Developed in the 1930s by a gardener who planted the four biggest varieties he knew and crossed one with pollen from the other three. He did this for six seasons and created a variety that produced immense, tasty fruit. He sold the plants for $1 a piece and paid off his $6000 mortgage in 6 years.

chianti roaseChianti Rose

This heirloom variety is fine skinned, heavy with flesh, it has some Brandywine in its genes, and truly delicious. It tolerates cooler summers than most tomatoes. But don’t forget to keep it watered as that does a lot to eliminate cracks. A very heavy producer.

 

country tasteCountry Taste Hybrid

This large, juicy beefsteak variety offers great “heirloom quality” flavor plus the disease resistance of a hybrid.Firm, meaty texture and rich, red color makes it a natural for both salads and fresh eating. Fruit can weigh up to a pound or more and holds well without splitting or cracking.

 

kelloggKellogg’s Breakfast Tomato

85 days. 1 pound pale to deep orange beefsteak tomato originally from West Virginia that are thin-skinned, meaty and have few seeds. Fantastic, sweet tangy flavor. Juice and inside flesh same bring orange color.

Connie and Carroll Devore

Crown City, Ohio

740-256-6445

devoreranch@gmail.com

A year and a half in Pauley’s Rowdy Acres

Jim Pauley grew up on a farm so he was very pleased when Stephanie indicated strong interest. Purchased about a year and a half ago, I visited their 30 acre farm, Pauley’s Rowdy Acres, last June and posted a blog then. When I heard there was a new goat kid I wanted to meet her.

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This is a LaMancha dairy goat.

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One of the first things I noticed is that it has tiny little ears, unlike other breeds, like the Alpines that are also on the farm. Stephanie says the LaManchas are friendlier than the Alpines, but Alpines generally are better milk producers.

The Pauleys are strong advocates for raising heritage breeds.  They raise animals for meat: Tamworth hogs, White Holland turkeys, Chinchilla rabbits, and White Brahma chickens. These chickens will ready around the end of April.

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Until farming became commercialized into an industry in the last 30 years, most breeds raised on farms for meat were what we now call heritage breeds. The industrial farms have developed hybrids using several of the primary breeds to find characteristics that would produce meat that is consistent  These hybrid animals are raised in pens, typically inside, and fed diets that result in faster than natural growth. An animal that grows quickly costs less to raise and the meat sells for less at the supermarket.  The American consumer seems to prefer inexpensive food to food that tastes good. In fact, so many people have been eating the hybrid meats for so long that they have no idea what the original taste is.

It is more expensive to raise a heritage breed to maturity because no hormones or steroids are fed to the animals to induce muscle mass. No antibiotics are used because the animals have room to roam and are not in crowded unsanitary conditions.  This means that when you eat this meat, you also are not taking antibiotics, hormones or steroids into your body.

The other thing I noticed at Pauley’s Rowdy Acres is similar to what I have seen on other farms where Wild Ramp Market Producers raise animals. The animals look healthy. They even look happy. Typically, they come over to the farmer, eager for a head scratch or petting. As we walked around the farm, Jim was carrying a feed bucket and of course you would expect the animals to react in an excited fashion. But what happened with the pigs made us all laugh.

DSC_0081They saw us approaching and they jumped the fence! These are huge animals that have been doing a fantastic job rooting and grubbing, clearing a 6 acre electric single strand fenced area that Jim will prepare for a garden once he moves the fencing for the hogs. They have been getting enough food,  supplemented with  minimal amounts of grain, scraps and leftover milk but they saw us coming, got excited and ran towards us. Jim met them and together, the three hogs, the goat that was following and the small dog walked back to the pen where the pigs cooperated by going back in and then got their treat.

“The characteristics of the Tamworth reflect the breed’s centuries of selection for an outdoor life. Pigs of this breed were expected to find their own food, especially mast (or acorns) of oak and beech forests”. You can find more info at www.albc.org/cpl/tamworth.html

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The Pauleys have constructed a small greenhouse and are starting seeds inside for planting.

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You can see by the fogginess of the photo how humid it was inside.  Their first goal is to raise food for their own family; four of their sons are still at home. But they also plan to bring excess produce to The Wild Ramp where we will get to enjoy freshly picked ripe beans, corn and tomatoes.

POP!

By: Stephanie Appleton

I have fond memories of the Sundays of my childhood.   In our small town stores weren’t open on Sundays. Sundays were reserved for family. In those days gas was cheap, and our family often went for Sunday afternoon drives. We would drive back country roads exploring the area. Sundays usually meant large lunches, and no cooking at dinner. Dinner in our house was popcorn and ice cream. We made popcorn with an air popper when I was young, but somewhere along the line microwave popcorn became the norm.

That Sunday dinner tradition has continued, though now, we are more likely to have apple crisp than ice cream. For years we bought microwave popcorn. Microwave popcorn is on my long, and still growing list of things I can’t figure out why we ever bought in to.  Apparently, we’ll sacrifice a lot in the name of convenience.

microwave popcornThe bags claim that this popcorn is gourmet, but really what is so gourmet about a lot of added preservatives and artificial flavors? Popcorn is quite delicious and nutritious by itself.

But you want convenience? Did you know you can make popcorn in the microwave without buying the prepackaged bags?  All you need is popcorn, and a paper bag or glass bowl and a plate.

Do it Yourself Microwave Popcorn Bag

1. Find a small paper bag.
2. Put in 1/3 C popcorn.
3. Fold the bag down a couple time so it will stay shut.
4. Microwave. You’ll have experiment to see how long it takes in your microwave. It took a little over two minutes in ours.
5. Dump it in a bowl. Add melted butter and your favorite seasonings.

Microwave Popcorn with a Bowl and Plate

  1. Choose a microwave safe bowl (glass works best) and a microwave safe plate to make a lid for the bowl.
  2. Put in about 1/4 C of popcorn.
  3. Microwave.  You’ll have experiment to see how long it takes in your microwave. It took a little over two minutes in ours.
  4. Be careful! The plate and bowl will be very hot!
  5. Add your favorite seasonings and melted butter.

Ah you want gourmet flavor do you? I bet we can do better than what is in those “Gourmet Popcorn” bags above. Call me a traditionalist, but I still love popcorn with real melted butter and salt. Here are some other things you can add to popcorn to change up the flavor:

  • steak seasoning
  • parmesean cheese
  • tobasco sauce
  • taco seasoning
  • lemon pepper
  • salt and vinegar

So, now with my popcorn, I have nostalgia, convenience with out the added chemicals, and flavor, and I can also have local! Shagbark Seed & Mill is now stocking their shelves at The Wild Ramp with locally grown heirloom popcorn! Our Sunday night dinner tradition has gotten even better!

shagbark popcorn

Stephanie Appleton is a small farmer in the hills of West Virginia. Find more of her family’s adventures at Adventures in the 100 Acre Wood.

Tasty Crumbs

By Sam Smith

From crackers to pasta, from pastries to granola, and trying to find alternative uses for tofu, Crumb’s Bakery is starting to make some noise for its originality.

Located in Athens, Ohio Crumb’s has been operating now for 27 years, serving the Athens community with its unique assortment of products that make it stand out among other bakeries. Since 1986, Crumb’s has tried to remain small, employing only about ten people and working on a cycle system, in which the different food products are made on different days.

The day I went was a cracker and pasta day.DSC_0026

The crackers, according to Crumb’s, are more of a unique take on what a cracker really should be. They aren’t the typical micro-perforating saltines you’ll find at your local grocer, but rather they are nutrition-packed, grain-infused, naturally-shaped crackers. And to ultimately produce these crackers, as well as its other products, Crumb’s makes an effort to use local grains.

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Cracker dough before pressing and cutting

DSC_0032The pasta sure is colorful! Crumb’s makes three different kinds of pasta, egg noodles, rice noodles, and tofu noodles. I was surprised at their use of tofu, but I later discovered that Athens has an abundance of locally made tofu, so using it is more of a local statement rather than a peculiar experiment.DSC_0034

Recently, Crumb’s has been working to offer gluten-free products in order to appeal to a wider base. Seeing as Crumb’s products can now be found in stores and supermarkets all across the state of Ohio -  Athens, Clintonville, Toledo, and Kent – Crumb’s has a duty to market itself to all possible costumers.

photo (18)Part of what makes Crumb’s different than other bakeries is its commitment to always show the costumer what they’re going to buy. Crumb’s does this by making all of its containers clear in order for the costumer to see what they’re really getting.photo (16)

Currently, Crumb’s is trying its hand at operating its own storefront with a quiet opening to test the consumers’ interest in shopping directly from them rather than buying their baked goods second hand at the grocery store. There are plans for a grand opening sometime in the next couple months.

So, if you ever find yourself in the Athens area, swing by Crumb’s Bakery on Columbus Road. You won’t be disappointed. Meanwhile, stop in at The Wild Ramp and buy some Crumb’s products there!

Crumbs Bakery

94 Columbus Road, Athens, OH 45701

athenscrumbs@gmail.com

(740) 592-3803

~~~~~~

Sam Smith is s senior at Huntington High School and shadowed Beth Rankin as she visited a number of producers in Athens and other places one day.

Milk, the Way It Used to Be….is Here

I asked the waiter, “Is this milk fresh?” He said, “Lady, three hours ago it was grass.”…Phyllis Diller

That may have been a comedy routine in New York years ago, but at Snowville Creamery, it is about right.  Located near Pomeroy, Ohio, the Snowville Cremery was started when Warren and Victoria Taylor became impressed with their friends’ Bill and Stacy Dick’s milk from their herd. Together, they began the enterprise in 2005.snowville2

Using a breed from New Zealand to improve the cream quality, the herd is primarily grass fed with supplemental grains including sorghum, barley and triticale.  The herd at the creamery is about 200 and several other farms nearby supply additional milk. DSC_0046

Brought to the creamery and stored temporarily in a large stainless tank, the milk is moved through pipes to the machine that handles the pasteurization process.  Snowville uses a high temperature short time  process with the milk brought through 60 stainless steel plates with narrow channels to 163 degrees for 20 seconds and then equally rapidly cooled again. Standard pasteurization, the kind that is used for the milk at the grocery store takes 30 minutes to reach 145 degrees, holds the milk there for 40 minutes, and then takes 30 minutes to cool again. That is a major factor why the Snowville milk tastes different.DSC_0042

Snowville provides whole milk, 2% , nonfat, and chocolate milk, half and half and whole cream.  They recently started making yogurt and crème fraiche. This week they started supplying vanilla yogurt and they soon will be selling gingamon, a mixture flavored with ginger and cinnamon. DSC_0043

Milk products are provided in half gallon containers. Although he has a machine that could put the products into quarts, Warren told me he would need to expand the creamery to have room for that packaging machine. Until then, he suggests that people who may need a smaller volume plan to share their purchase with a friend.DSC_0048

Snowville Creamery LLC. 32623 State Rt 143 Pomeroy, Ohio 45769 info@snowvillecreamery.com (740) 698-2340