A Conversation With Emma Torbert From Cloverleaf Farm
We were fortunate to have the chance to speak with Emma Torbert from Cloverleaf Farm to hear about the unique structure they have and the sustainable practices that they use. Emma got her masters in Horticulture from UCD and worked for the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis for seven years. Cloverleaf is an 8-acre organic orchard and farm outside of Davis, California on the Collins Farm that specializes in peaches, nectarines, apricots, figs, berries, and vegetables. The Cloverleaf follows regenerative principles including no-till, rotational grazing, and cover-cropping. The farm is co-owned by Emma Torbert, Katie Fyhrie, Kaitlin Oki, Yurytzy Sanchez, Neil Singh, Tess Kremer, and Kyle Chambers; who all manage the farm together in a cooperative and consensus-based fashion. You can find The Cloverleaf Farm’s produce at the Sacramento Farmers Market on Sundays and at various grocery stores in Davis, Sacramento, and the Bay Area.
Cloverleaf seems to break the mold of what a traditional farm functions like. Traditionally farms are passed down generationally within families, but all of your farmers come from diverse backgrounds, how did that model get started at Cloverleaf?
“We started out a group of four women and then the farm passed through a number of different partners. As different people were leaving we were realizing that for the sake of future transitions and the longevity of the farm operation a worker-owned cooperative farm would be best, although we are currently still structured as a partnership. There are currently seven partners right now.”
“We’ve been working with the California Center for Co-op Development for the last four years trying to figure out a way that everybody can own equal equity in the farm. 2014 was the first time that we started profit sharing and equity sharing. The equity sharing is not yet equal but that is what we are working with the CCCD on.”
“One of our core principles in our vision statement is working as a team. An important thing in thinking about farm management for us is recognizing everybody’s different skills and working together without an established hierarchical structure. We rotate who gets to be the crew leader every couple of weeks, so they are essentially the boss for those two weeks, which means everyone gets a chance to step into a leadership role.”
How do you limit your greenhouse emissions?
“In terms of limiting our carbon footprint, we do a number of things. In terms of the transportation of our food, we try to deliver as locally as possible. We purposefully choose markets that are closer and do not take our products further than the bay area. We are always making the decision to try to sell closer to home.”
“As for what happens in the field, all of our vegetables get grown no-till. Our orchards and all of our annual crops are no-till, which means that we don’t use a tractor very often at all. In doing that we use less fossil fuel. We’ve also put solar panels around the farm, and can’t wait until we can add more.”
“Something else that really contributes to greenhouse gas emissions is water use. We use moisture sensors so that we use as little water as possible. We tread that fine line of watering as little as possible without stunting the growth of the trees in our orchards.”
What are your pest management practices?
“We are an organic farm so we don’t spray any pesticides while the fruit is on the trees. We do use pheromone sprays, which disrupt the mating cycles of a lot of stone fruit pests. We put out raptor perches and owl boxes. The main pests that we have trouble with are ground squirrels and gophers.”
How do you try to limit your food waste?
We’ve been trying lots of different things for many years and I feel like this year it’s all coming together, we have very little food waste coming from our farm right now. Our compost pile is pretty tiny right now considering the size of our farm.
“We have an Ugly Fruit club, which allows people to buy our third-grade fruit at a discounted price. We also create a lot of value-added products like jams and dried fruit, which allows us to still sell our less aesthetic fruit instead of wasting it.”
“Something else that we do is donate to the food bank, especially this year when we’re worried about our community being food insecure.”
Preparation for Virtual Back to School
Although back to school is very different this year, it is helpful to plan out snack breaks and lunches. Meal prep so that school at home is smoother! Many of our Back to school favorites are on sale 8/21-8/23 for owners!
Back to Schoool Essentials
Meli Wraps are a ziplock and plastic wrap alternative. These beeswax wraps cling to bowls and work great for holding trail mix!
Stasher bags are ziplock 2.0. They are freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe! These silicon master bags are great for snacks, soups, sandwiches, and more! Make soup in advance, portion out in these bags, and keep in the freezer. When you are ready to eat, place them in a pot of boiling water until thawed or throw in the microwave.
Be prepared with All Good hand sanitizer and sunscreen.
Love Bags makes tote bags, lunch boxes, and more. Best of all their fabric is 100% recycled plastics. Cleaning up the oceans with style!
Kleen Kanteen is a long-time favorite. We got in various sizes to ensure you can stay hydrated! They are insulated and will keep your water cool during this heatwave!
U-Konserve is great for meal prepping. We carry various sizes of these sustainable metal and silicone containers. Prep for the week and these containers stack nicely in the fridge!
Dip or Build
- Bell Peppers and Albacore Salad
- Taco Build (Sweet Potato or Mushroom)
- Pizza Build, use Naan, or make mini pizza dough!
According to Jane Goodall’s book, “Harvest for Hope”, when chimps were given a choice between organic bananas and conventional bananas 9 out of 10 times they would choose organic!
Interestingly when only given conventional bananas the chimps would peel the fruit before eating it, whereas with organic bananas they would simply eat the whole thing, peel and all!
Top Reasons to Buy Organic:
Organic is Better for The People
Overall the standard of living for workers on organic farms is much greater than conventional farmworkers. Conventional farmworkers have much more exposure to toxic chemicals and also tend to have a worse standard of life.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified pesticide poisoning as a leading cause of public morbidity and mortality.
Sadly, it is quite common for conventional farmworkers to commit suicide due to the stressful environment, and this is often done using the toxic synthetic pesticides themselves.
Globally, death from deliberate ingestion of pesticides claims more than 168,000 lives every year, which accounted for 20% of all suicides, and the majority of these incidents were reported from developing countries.
In addition, many organic farms are small family-owned farms, so when you buy local organic you can help support farmers in your community!
This is not always true of course as there are corporations switching to organic due to the demand from the public, and these farms, while still being better for your health and for the environment, may not necessarily be small and local.
However, if you do your shopping at the local farmers market or local co-op, the organic produce you buy is supporting local farmers!
Organic is Better for Your Health
Organically grown produce has little to no pesticide residue, so by simply buying organic produce you can drastically reduce your exposure to chemical toxins.
Organic foods may still have small amounts of chemical residue, mainly due to contamination from nearby conventional farms, as well as having trace amounts of organic pesticides.
Most organic pesticides are not synthetic and are derived from natural sources, such as minerals, plants, and bacteria.
Although organic agriculture still uses pesticides they tend to be much less harmful to humans and the environment because they are readily broken down.
In contrast many synthetic pesticides are known to persist in the environment as well as in people and animals too!
To better understand the difference between synthetic and organic pesticides it helps to think of a paper bag vs. a plastic bag. They are both bags, but the paper one is made of natural materials and the plastic one is made of synthetic, man-made materials.
If you were to take both bags, pour some water on them and leave them outside for a few weeks you will notice that the paper bag has been completely decomposed where the plastic bag hasn’t broken down at all and practically looks the same as it did weeks ago!
Organic is Better for The Animals
One of the biggest concerns with industrial agriculture is the horrific treatment of farm animals.
Chickens are crammed inside egg houses by the thousands without ever getting the chance to peck around in a field. Cows are denied open pastures and are instead confined to filthy areas where they have to live in their own feces. And pigs are kept in cages so small that they cannot even lay down.
Along with this cruel and unusual treatment, all of the animals are fed unnatural diets and are constantly pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics.
One option to prevent your money from supporting the companies that treat their animals like this is to go vegetarian or vegan, but for those who still want to have meat every now and then, there are more humane options.
One of which is to only buy organic animal products!
According to USDA Organic Standards, if an animal product is organic it is required that the animal is fed a natural diet that is 100% organic, not treated with antibiotics or hormones, and is allowed access to the outdoors year-round!
That means that when you buy organic you are ensured that the animal was provided with a more natural living situation, where chickens can peck and cows can graze.
Organic is Better for The Environment
Industrial agriculture is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation and climate change.
About 25 to 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to conventional farming practices.
The ecological imbalance caused by monocultures and excessive use of chemicals has resulted in water pollution, decreased soil fertility, and enormous increases in pests and crop diseases, which farmers counter by spraying ever-larger doses of pesticides in a vicious cycle of depletion and destruction.
Organic farming is much more sustainable than conventional farming.
Many organic farms engage in a variety of sustainable practices such as no-till farming, crop rotation, biological pest control, polyculture, and the incorporation of hedgerows. These practices reduce erosion and soil depletion and help to encourage biodiversity.
Most of these practices are actually very old, traditional ways of farming that are now being embraced by organic farmers in order to move away from industrial agriculture.
Every dollar that you spend on organic produce is a dollar that is supporting the well being of our planet for all future generations to come.
More on Pesticides:
A pesticide is any substance used to kill, repel, or control certain forms of plant or animal life that are considered to be pests.
The World Health organization describes them as such, “by their nature, pesticides are potentially toxic to other organisms, including humans, and need to be used safely and disposed of properly.”
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Services, evidence suggests that children are particularly susceptible to adverse effects from exposure to pesticides, including neurodevelopmental effects.
Because of the widespread use of agricultural chemicals in food production, people are exposed to low levels of pesticide residues through their diets but may also be exposed to pesticides used in a variety of settings including homes, schools, hospitals, and workplaces.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for the Pesticide Data Program (PDP), a national pesticide residue testing effort achieved through cooperative programs with State agriculture departments and other Federal agencies. The PDP tests both fresh and processed fruit and vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, poultry, and other specialty food items such as honey, corn syrup, infant formula, fish, and nuts for pesticide residues.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for analyzing chemicals detected by the PDP and determining a “tolerance level”. These tolerance levels are established based on the LD50 (Lethal Dose 50) for each individual compound. The LD50 is a substance toxicity test in which a subject group (typically mice or rabbits) are exposed to a toxic chemical and then observed until the amount of that chemical administered causes 50% of the population to die. The EPA uses the LD50 as a tolerance reference in order to determine the maximum amount of certain chemicals that may legally remain on food.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is then responsible for the enforcement of these tolerances set by the EPA. This is done through the annual Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program in which a broad range of domestic and imported foods are sampled and tested for pesticide residue.
According to the 2018 PDP annual summary foods tested that violated the tolerance level set by the EPA included mangoes, asparagus, cilantro, cabbage, canned cranberries, raisins, and canned olives.
Low levels of environmental contaminants, pesticides that have been canceled in the U.S. but their residues persist in the environment, such as DDT were also found on foods such as cilantro, kale, frozen spinach, and snap peas.
But where do these chemicals go when eating them?
Studies have shown that pesticides tend to accumulate in the fatty tissues and reproductive organs of mammals where they can stay for a very, very long time.
The long term health effects of pesticides are still largely unknown, however, an ongoing study known as the Agricultural Health Study has linked pesticides to many health problems including childhood development, immune health, and the development of cancers and other diseases.
While it may be efficient to exploit certain crops for mass production, conventional agriculture is a major contributor to land degradation, biodiversity loss, and air and water pollution due to the immense amount of synthetic pesticides and herbicides that are used to maintain massive crop monocultures.
Conventional agriculture is not farming. It is an unsustainable food production industry in which the best interests of consumers and the Earth as a whole are overlooked in the pursuit of profit.
That being said, buying organic is by no means a perfect answer to health, climate, and social justice issues.
However, it is definitely a conscious step in the right direction!
Written by Rheanna Smith, Education Specialist
Five Tofu Marinades
It is important to note that all these recipes will work great with baked, grilled, panfried, or crumbled tofu. These recipes work great in rice bowls, with veggies like bok Chou, onions, snap peas, carrots, and broccoli, or in a creative taco! Let us know what you create by posting a picture and tagging @davisfoodcoop!
Sweet Garlic Baked Tofu
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh garlic
- 2 teaspoons warmed honey
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons peanut or toasted sesame oil
- 1 block extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Place the grated garlic and ginger in a medium bowl. Add the honey, light soy sauce mirin, water, and oil. Whisk well to combine all ingredients
- Place tofu cubes in a single layer in an 8×8″ glass baking dish. Take care not to crowd the pieces of tofu. Pour the marinade over the tofu pieces, turning them to coat well on all sides.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Rotate pieces and bake for 15 more minutes, checking periodically that the liquid has not completely evaporated. Remove from oven and serve hot with dipping sauce or use in stir-fries.
Taco Tofu (Crumbed or small cubed)
- 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
- 1 Tbsp Water
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 2 tsp Chili Powder
- sprinkle of Cloves
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 Block Extra-Firm Tofu
- Best with diced onions and mushrooms!
- Mix tomato paste, water, and spices in a bowl. Add cubed or crumbled tofu and evenly coat.
- Heat cast iron with a little oil.
- Saute diced onions and mushrooms.
- Add tofu and cook on medium heat until onions are slightly translucent.
Ginger Baked Tofu
- 1 pound extra-firm tofu, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rectangles
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (2-3 cloves)
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced (2-inch piece)
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup Mirin (sweet rice wine)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Pat the tofu rectangles dry with a paper towel, and place on a sheet pan with a rim. Brush the tofu with the sesame oil. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping each piece over after 15 minutes. Carefully drain most of the oil from the sheet pan. Mix together the ginger, garlic, tamari, Mirin and maple syrup, and pour it over the tofu. Bake for another 15 minutes until the tofu is firm and the sauce has reduced. Remove from heat and serve, drizzled with the sauce from the baking pan and garnished with fresh minced ginger, sesame seeds and scallions.
Cilantro Lime Grilled Tofu
- 14-ounce block extra-firm tofu
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 bunch cilantro, washed and dried
- 1/3 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/4 cup black or white sesame seeds
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
- Beginning at the short end, slice the block of tofu into 8 even rectangles. Lay the tofu on a baking sheet and sprinkle with tamari. Let sit, flipping once while preparing the pesto.
- Cut the stems off of the washed cilantro and puree the leaves in a blender or food processor with the fresh ginger, oils, sugar, salt, and lime juice. The resulting pesto should resemble a vibrant green smoothie.
- Lightly oil the grill. Using a metal spatula, place the tofu on the grill and cook for 2 minutes. Flip and grill for 2 minutes on the other side. Remove to a plate and let cool, then toss with the cilantro pesto and garnish with ½ cup sesame seeds, black or white. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to use.
- 12 ounces extra-firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha
- 2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons white miso
- Slice the tofu crosswise into 8 squares. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over high heat. Add the tofu and sear until golden brown on each side. Reduce to medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of tamari, cook for 1-2 minutes, then flip the tofu and continue cooking until all the tamari is absorbed. Remove and reserve the tofu.
- In a medium sauté pan, combine 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, seasoned rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, 1 tablespoon tamari and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking to blend in the sugar. Turn off the heat and whisk in the miso paste until smooth. Gently add the tofu to the sauce, flipping once to coat. Let sit.
How to make Kombucha
How To Make Kombucha
If you followed our blog post last month about how to make your own kombucha SCOBY, then you are ready to make your first batch of kombucha! If you haven’t followed those steps yet, give it a try and you’ll be able to follow this tutorial in just a few weeks!
If you already have your SCOBY ready to go then read on.
Most store-bought Kombucha goes through two rounds of fermentation. The first round takes 5-10 days and is done with the SCOBY you have just made. The first round of fermentation is to build up probiotics in the kombucha from your SCOBY! The second fermentation is done in brewing bottles and does not use the SCOBY. The process is meant to build up CO2 in kombucha and infuse any other flavors. The second fermentation is not necessary for producing kombucha but I think it is well worth the week wait! Try some of the flavor combinations below!
- A 2 liter to 1-gallon jar
- More tea
- 2-3 brewing bottles
- Fruits and/or herbs
- Clean hands! This is an active culture and should only come into contact with very clean equipment
Once your SCOBY is complete, the liquid it is in will taste way to vinegary to drink! Dump all but 10-12 oz of that first batch. Then make some tea! The ratios will vary depending on the type of tea you wish to use. For this tutorial, I used Organic Jasmine from the Davis Food Co-op Bulk selection, but you can use earl grey, gun powder, white tea, oolong, yerba mate, or decaf/herbal tea. For each 1 cup of tea add ¼ cup unrefined sugar, agave, honey, or another sweetener. The sugar is necessary to feed the SCOBY! Let the tea cool to at least 80 Fahrenheit. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and in between touching anything, and I mean anything! Your SCOBY is a living culture and can grow mold if you are not clean in your processes. Remove your SCOBY, then add the tea to your jar with the small amount of original kombucha and place your SCOBY back on top of the liquid. Close the lid and set in a box in a cool place for 3-10 days.
After 5-10 days, make a new set of tea and set aside to cool to AT LEAST 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
While your tea is cooling, you can start the second round of fermentation prep! Remove your SCOBY and set aside on a clean plate. Pour some of the SCOBY tea through a filter (cheesecloth works well!) and funnel or carefully pour into your brewing bottles leaving about 1.5-2 inches of air at the top. Add some flavor and sweetener! Close the lids and set in a box in a cool place for 3-10 days.
Keep 10-12 oz of the original first-round kombucha and add the cool sweet tea, then gently put your SCOBY back in. Cover the jar with a breathable cloth. Place it in a cool, dark place for 5-10 days. The longer it sits the stronger and more tart or vinegary it will taste. This batch will be ready to bottle around the time your brew bottles are ready to be opened!
When you are ready to drink the finished kombucha after its second fermentation, place them in the fridge 4 to 6 hours before you plan on opening. If you open them at room temperature, the Kombucha will shoot out like champagne! Filter again and it is ready to drink! Yum!
Store opened kombucha in the fridge until you’re ready to drink!
- Ginger and Dates, (2-3 Tbsp of fresh ginger and 1 date per 16 oz)
- Ginger, Cardamom, and Sugar, (2-3 Tbsp of fresh ginger, 2-3 Cardamom seeds or 1/4 tsp of ground Cardamom, and 1 tsp of Sugar per 16 oz)
- Strawberries (no sugar needed! They are sweet enough!), (1-2 Large Strawberries per 16 oz)
- Lavender and Agave (3-5 lavender flower stalks and 1 tsp of agave per 16 oz)
- Lavender, Sage, Rosemary, and Agave (1-2 stalks of each herb and 1 tsp of agave per 16 oz)
- Elderberries and Blackberries (no sugar needed! They are sweet enough!), (2-3 of each berry per 16 oz)
- Mulberries (no sugar needed! They are sweet enough!), (2-3 berries per 16 oz)
- Making Kombucha on a budget? Save the bottles from store-bought Kombucha for the second fermentation. If you use these bottles, you will need to burp them every day, meaning you will unscrew the lid to release the CO2 build up! They cannot handle the pressure build-up and are prone to break or cause the lid to shoot off!
- Place the bottle of finished kombucha in the fridge 4-6 hours before opening! This will decrease the pressure to make it safer to open. If you leave the un-burped bottles in the fridge for too long before opening the CO2 pressure will simply build-up at the colder temperature and still shoot out like champagne! (see video!)
- Taste your first round fermentation kombucha before started the second round. See how it tastes, is it strong enough or does it need more sugar? After a few batches of fermentation, you will start to get a feel for what the kombucha should taste like before bottling!
Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist
6 refreshing salad recipes that best incorporate flavors of season. Whether it’s for a summer BBQ or a weeknight family dinner, these salads are perfect for any occasion.
Spinach STRAWBERRY GOAT CHEESE SALAD
The perfect sweet and savory salad with tender spinach, juicy strawberries, crunchy pecans and a honey dijon dressing.
Find the recipe here.
Chicken Caprese Salad
Sweet and tangy balsamic reduction drizzled over fresh basil and tomato paired with creamy avocado, grilled chicken and mozzarella.
Find the recipe here.
Orzo Pasta Salad
Hearty and full of Mediterranean flavors with fresh cherry tomatoes, tangy artichoke hearts, and crisp bell pepper.
Find the recipe here.
Kale and Blood Orange Salad
Crisp red onion, juicy grapefruit, and tangy feta cheese makes for the perfect burst of citrus zest in each bite.
Find the recipe here.
Crisp apples and celery paired with juicy grapes in a sweet and creamy yogurt honey dressing.
Find the recipe here.
CRUNCHY BELL PEPPER SALAD
Made with sweet crunchy bell peppers, fresh herbs, and a tangy balsamic dressing – this salad is full of textures and fresh flavors.
Find the recipe here.
Beans and Grains
What exactly is a grain?
What’s the difference between wholegrain and multigrain?
Which is better, dried or canned beans?
Read along to find out the answers to these questions but recipes, cooking tips, and more!
Both beans and grains are food staples around the world and can be found in every single cuisine! Recently beans and grains have been gaining popularity due to the affordability, versatility and nutrition that they offer. From the familiar corn cob and pinto bean to the avant garde anasazi and quinoa, there is a grain and bean out there for everyone. That being said there’s often confusion about which bean and grain options are the best.
Beans add diverse flavors and textures to your cooking while also boosting the nutrition by providing a good balance of fiber, protein and minerals like calcium and iron. Beans are a great kitchen addition that make for a dynamic meal with very little cost. Plus if stored properly dried beans can last for up to 2-3 years without losing significant nutrient value and taste!
Dried beans are one of the most affordable ingredients with many types to choose from.
You can easily buy them in bulk which allows you to get exactly the amount you need without excess packaging!
Most dried beans, excluding lentils, split peas, and adzuki, will require soaking overnight (or at least 8 hours) before cooking in order to properly rehydrate them. After they’ve soaked make sure to drain the soaking water and add fresh water to your cooking pot. Check out the Co-op Central guide for additional details on bean varieties, storage tips, and cooking times.
Canned beans are super convenient and great to have on hand for quick meal additions. While there tends to not be as much variety in canned beans as dried, there are still lots of bean types to choose from.
It can be especially handy to have canned garbanzo and soy beans, as these take the longest to prepare from dried.
A nutrition note on canned beans is that many have additional ingredients added such as sugar, salt, and fat and you should always check the ingredient label first before purchasing.
When it comes to fresh beans there are fresh shelling beans, like fava and cranberry beans which require shelling because the pod is inedible, and fresh whole beans, like romano and green beans which can be eaten whole. Fresh shelling beans are typically the same bean varieties that are found dried, while fresh whole beans are typically the same bean varieties that are found canned.
A benefit of fresh beans over dried and canned is that many varieties, like romano beans, can be eaten raw and do not require any cooking preparation. You can find these fresh beans when in season here at the Davis Food Co-op or your local farmers market!
When it comes to beans, dried are the most affordable option with the best variety to choose from. However, dried beans require proper storage and more preparation time for soaking and cooking. Canned beans offer the most convenience and are also an affordable option, but they limit the control of nutrients like salt and fat because many canned options have additional ingredients added. And lastly, fresh beans are a great seasonal option that can occasionally even be eaten raw offering unique flavors and textures.
Guide to Grains:
Grains, sometimes referred to as cereals, are small, hard seeds that come from different grass and grass-like plants. Today the most commonly produced grains around the world are rice, corn, and wheat, but there are many different kinds of grains! Whole grains are great sources of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and B vitamins plus they are very satisfying and filling meal additions. Check out the Co-op Central guide for additional information on types of grains, storage tips, and cooking times!
So what’s the difference between whole grain, multigrain, and fortified grains?
Whole grain means that all parts of the grain kernel, the bran, endosperm, and germ, are used. This is obvious when cooking rice or quinoa because the grain kernel is still intact, but can become more confusing when buying grain products like bread, pasta, and crackers.
Whole grains are the healthiest option because they offer the full nutrient and fiber content of the grain.
Back in 2005 the Whole Grains Council created a whole grain stamp that makes it easy to identify products made with whole grains! Many but not all products use the whole grain stamp so other good identifiers of whole grains are words like ‘stone ground’ and ‘whole wheat’.
Fun fact, popcorn is a whole grain!
Multigrain means that multiple different grains were used but none of them necessarily in their whole form. Due to this, the term multigrain can be deceiving because it is just referring to the number of grains and not the quality of the grains.
Multigrain products such as rice blends can be great options to diversify your cooking but it’s important to check the label because multigrain breads and cereals can sometimes be tricky!
Other names to look out for are numbers placed in front of grain such as ‘seven-grain’ or twelve-grain’. These are still multigrain products and may or may not contain actual whole grains.
Fortification is a process used to restore the nutrient content of grains that have been stripped of their natural nutrients during refining. During refining grain kernels are separated and the bran and germ are removed leaving just the starchy endosperm behind.
This is generally done because the bran and germ impart more earthy flavors that are not also desirable but in doing so the majority of fiber and nutrients are also removed from the grain.
This is why most refined grains are then fortified with essential nutrients such as B vitamins and iron. While fortification has made refined grains much healthier, they still do not compare to their whole grain counterparts and will be lacking in nutrients unique to that grain.
When it comes to grains and grain products whole grain is the best option because the grain kernels are still intact leaving all of the nutrients intact as well. Multigrain products can be good options to get a variety of grains into your diet but tend to be misleading as to the processing and quality of the grain so you should always double-check the nutrition label. And lastly, fortified grains are highly processed, do not contain the same nutrients found in whole grains and therefore should be the last option when buying grain products.
Bean and Grain Recipes
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
Kale and Chickpea Frittatas
Maple Pecan Granola
Peanut Tofu Ramen
Plant-Based Taco Tuesday
Looking for a way to switch up your Taco Tuesday? We have a recipe that is plant-based, protein-packed, and perfect for a laid-back weeknight meal. Watch the video below for an explanation of what ingredients we chose and a walkthrough of the steps. The ingredients and instructions are listed below.
1 to 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Apple cider vinegar
10-12 corn tortillas (use GF if desired)
Tofu “cheese” crumbles (1 C crumbled extra firm tofu, 1 tsp salt, 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast)
Garnishes: 1/2 cup salsa, avocado, fresh cilantro, lime wedges
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Coat the sweet potatoes in about 2 tbsp of oil, salt, chili powder, and cumin. Then put on a baking sheet in the oven for about 15 minutes. Stir and flip, then roast another 15 minutes.
- While this is roasting, saute the onions in about a tbsp of oil. Just before they are soft, add the garlic and jalapeño, saute for another minute. Then add the drained and rinsed black beans and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Cook until hot.
- Crumble extra firm tofu into a bowl, add salt and nutritional yeast. Mix well. This is your cheese!
- Warm the tortillas in a dry skillet or in the microwave.
- Let everyone fill their tacos with sweet potatoes, beans, avocado, salsa, cilantro, and cheese! Yum!
This recipe was developed by our Education and Outreach Specialist, Madison Suoja, and the demonstration was done by our staff member Rheanna Smith. Rheanna has a background in nutrition and food science, and along with working in many departments here at the Davis Food Co-op, she actively runs a food blog containing healthy recipes and nutrition tips. Keep an eye on our Co-op blog to see some of her recipes and give her Instagram account a follow for additional health tips and ideas, @rheannnabanana.