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Hudson Valley Backyard Farm Co

 

We create and maintain organic vegetable gardens in your backyard or business.

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Grow fresh, nutritious, delicious vegetables in your own backyard.

Grow your own fresh, nutritious, delicious vegetables! We will create and maintain an organic vegetable garden in your backyard or business.

I Cannon Believe It


Reason #1,203,486 for people to raise their own vegetables.

A few days ago we started hearing a noise at our house. It sounded like some kind of explosion. The people who own the farm behind where we live like to use fireworks so we didn’t think too much of it. However, we noticed the explosions seemed to be coming at remarkably regular and frequent intervals. Eventually my wife timed the interval and found the noise was coming every 90 seconds, all…day…long.

Since this was bothering us greatly, my wife tracked down the sound to the farm and talked to the farmer. It turns out the noise was coming from a cannon (yes, you read that correctly, a cannon), which the farmer was using to keep birds away from his sweet corn. The reason wasn’t particularly because the farmer thought the birds would eat a significant amount of his corn, but rather any damage they did would make the corn unacceptable to customers, who expect perfect vegetables, and he’d be unable to sell his corn.

Any vegetable gardener knows a pretty good percentage of every harvest is going to consist of vegetables which don’t resemble the perfection of  supermarket produce. The following are all vegetables I’ve harvested and eaten.

I don’t care if my cabbage has some holes

CabbageHolesCompareOr my tomatoes have some cracks or cat-facing

TomatoCat-faceCompareOr my squashes have some blemishes on their skin

SquashBlemishes

Or any of a number of imperfections my vegetables have when they’re harvested. They still taste good and they’re still very healthy. In fact, you can argue they’re healthier than perfect vegetables. Plants don’t have immune systems. They fight off pests using assorted chemicals they make and many of these are the anti-oxidants we hear so much about being good for us. Many other are known as phyto-nutrients and are also very good to have in our diet. Since these chemicals are formed in response environmental challenges, ugly vegetables are more nutritious than perfect ones.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it when I grow perfect veggies. I run into the house and say “Look! It’s just like it came from the supermarket” A perfect vegetable is very pretty. All I’m saying is if people could get their minds around eating imperfect vegetables, farmers wouldn’t have to go to extreme measures to protect their harvest and I wouldn’t have to listen to a cannon.

My Corn Went to an Atomic Bomb Test


I was reading Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson last night when I came across some information I just couldn’t believe.

The book is about how the wild plants eaten by our hunter-gatherer ancestors came to be the cultivated vegetables we eat today. It discusses, among other things, how we’ve bred out many of the nutritious elements and taste in favor of high sugar, starch and oil levels.

I was reading the chapter on corn when I came across the following information.

“Then  in 1946 the genetic researchers seized upon and even more surefire way to mutate corn seeds, blast them with an atomic bomb…This bizarre series of experiments took place on the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands as part of Operation Crossroads…A secondary goal was to study the effects of intense radiation on plants and animals…[A] week before the detonation, biologists ferried goats, pigs, and sacks of corn seeds to a few of the ships that were anchored far enough from ground zero to stay afloat but close enough to be bombarded with radiation.”

CornShucked425

Blue Mexican Sweet Corn: non-irradiated, high in nutrients

“The results of the experiment are spelled out in government document AD473888, entitled “Effects of an Atomic Bomb Explosion on Corn Seeds.” Although the report was written in 1951, it was not declassified until 1997…[S]amples  of all the viable kernels were collected and sent to a central seed bank called the Maize Genetics Cooperation Stock Center for future research.”

“Our modern supersweet corn came out of this collection of misbegotten seeds. One day in 1959 a geneticist named John Laughnan was shelling an ear of mutant corn from seeds he had ordered from the Maize Genetics center… Laughnan absentmindedly popped a few kernels into his mouth and was startled by their extraordinary sweetness…Lab test showed the strange-looking kernels were ten times sweeter than the so-called sweet corn of his day.”

Illini Xtra-Sweet Corn: from Irradiated seed, high in sugar

Illini Xtra-Sweet Corn: from Irradiated seed, high in sugar

“Laughnan was a geneticist, not a plant breeder, but he changed overnight into an avid entrepreneur…In 1961, Laughnan began to market the first of his supersweet corn varieties…Consumers fell head over heels for the sugary corn…Old-fashioned sweet corn, the beloved corn of our parents’ and grand-parents’ generations was about to be pushed off the market.”

As a result of this info I’ve decided to grow my own sweet corn this summer, which I generally don’t do because corn takes up a lot of space. I just don’t like the idea of eating corn developed by hard radiation. And I’m going to grow varieties a lot more nutritious than ordinary sweet corn.

I’m only about 1/3 of the way through the book but I think it’s great. I’m reading it as fast as I normally read fiction. The info is very easy to understand and despite what I’ve quoted above, it’s not a doom and gloom book. It also tells you how to get the most out of veggies you eat by giving you info on varieties to buy or grow and how to store and cook them to maximize their nutrition.

In case you were wondering, I highly recommend Eating on the Wild Side.

 

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