Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Week 6 Share

Fresh Stevia plant ($2.99)
Chives, 1 bunch ($0.99)
Romaine Lettuce ($1.29)
Broccoli, 1 lb ($1.69)
Tomatoes, 1 lb 10 oz ($4.85)
Strawberries, 2 lb 10 oz ($5.52)
Swiss Chard, 8 oz ($1.99)
Radishes, 1 bunch ($1.29)

Total share value: $20.61

A couple items in this week's share got my attention right away; the broccoli and the Stevia plant.  Why broccoli?  Well, for me broccoli represents the rut I was in with cooking vegetables.  I bought it every week at the supermarket and every week it ended up being boiled and served plain with maybe a little salt or some oil and vinegar dressing.  Nutritious, but boring. Time to get creative and not let this nice fresh head of broccoli suffer the same fate.

As for the Stevia plant, here is my second CSA WTF moment.  I knew of Stevia as a member of the non-sugar sweetener world, and had a vague awareness that it came from a plant, but certainly did not expect to ever see that plant sitting on my counter.  There is plenty of information on the Stevia plant and its uses on the internet, so here's rundown of what I learned.

The Stevia plant is native to Central and South America where it has been used as a natural sweetener (mostly for teas and other beverages) in that part of the world for hundreds of years.  In its natural form, Stevia leaves can be used fresh or dried and because the sweet compounds in the leaf are not metabolized by our bodies, it is a zero calorie sweetener.  This fact is of course why the food industry uses Stevia, but (no surprise here) in a highly processed form.  Products that contain Stevia will have "Rebaudioside A" on the ingredient list, as this is the single sweetening compound (out of around 7 found in the raw leaves) that is targeted during processing.  Unfortunately, this processing strips away the healthful antioxidants that are also found in the leaves.  It should be noted that the FDA has not approved the use of whole Stevia leaves as a food additive, only the highly purified Rebaudioside A product.  They cite as the reasons concerns over control of blood sugar and effects on the reproductive, cardiovascular, and renal systems.

At the moment I am not sure what (if anything) I'll do with this plant. For now, I'll add it to the herb garden and keep you all posted.

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