(Earth Eats theme music, composed by Erin Tobey and performed by Erin and Matt Tobey)
KAYTE YOUNG: From WFIU in Bloomington Indiana. I'm Kayte Young and this is Earth Eats.
GREG EMMONS: Driving a truck I don't have a lot of time, but I do carry a skillet and a crockpot that I can plug into the 12-volt system of the truck.
KAYTE YOUNG: This week on our show we head down to Paoli Indiana to learn about the nutrition prescription program offering weekly boxes of fresh produce, recipes and cooking workshops for people managing diabetes. And Josephine McRobbie talks with a business historian about her book Visualizing Taste, plus a visually stunning Thai curry soup recipe from chef Arlyn Llewllyn. Stay with us.
Earth Eats is produced from the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana. We wish to acknowledge and honor the indigenous communities native to this region and recognize that Indiana University is built on indigenous homelands and resources. We recognize the Miami, Delaware, Potawatomi, and Shawnee people as past, present, and future caretakers of this land.
Renee Reed is back with Earth Eats news. Welcome back Renee.
RENEE REED: Hi Kayte, it's good to be back.
The USDA is issuing a fifth round of Farmers to Families food boxes after congress passed another coronavirus relief package in December. As Harvest Public Media's Christina Stella reports some are warning that the boxes shouldn't replace more sweeping support.
CHRISTINA STELLA: Jackie Burk of Lexington Nebraska has managed the town's food box distributions since last April. Since then she's given away around 700 boxes of food every week. The program has helped the Lexington Community Foundation pay for other kinds of aid to residents.
JACKIE BURK: Rent assistance, utility assistance, just emergency funding. Assistance requests were really high.
CHRISTINA STELLA: But she says the program is only a band aid to the U.S.'s larger economic problems as the pandemic wears on.
JACKIE BURK: We're holding out that we get to sustainability and there isn't dependency on the food being there every week because there will be an end game to this eventually.
CHRISTINA STELLA: The USDA says it will soon spend another 1.5 billion dollars on produce, dairy, seafood and meats for the program. Christina Stella Harvest Public Media.
RENEE REED: Tom Vilsack, President Elect Biden's nominee for Agriculture Secretary met with leading fruit and vegetable growers last week and promised to work across agencies in advancing a nutrition agenda ensuring a "nutritionally secure America".
This comes at a time when the number of Americans experiencing food insecurity is rising and many have reported seeking assistance at food banks for the first time in their lives.
President Trump signed a relief package in December that included 26 Billion dollars in spending on agriculture. The majority of that money will go towards direct payments to commodity producers and towards domestic nutrition programs such as SNAP and the emergency food assistance program. Both programs that the USDA oversees. Vilsack told the two dozen other participants that the new administration is committed to additional stimulus and relief.
The group also discussed the need for immigration reform to combat labor shortages. According to the Food and Environmental Reporting Network, or FERN, half of all farm workers are believed to be undocumented and leaders in the industry have complained that the H2A for seasonal workers is inadequate. Vilsack also discussed the importance of including food producers in the conversation around climate change. FERN's AG insider reported that President elect Biden wants American agriculture to achieve net zero emissions of greenhouse gases. This idea has been gaining acceptance as climate change is seen by some as a threat to the security of the nation's food supply. Thanks to Toby Foster and Harvest Public Media's Christina Stella for those reports. For Earth Eats News, I'm Renee Reed.
(Earth Eats news theme)
KAYTE YOUNG: In the precovid days we used all five senses to pick out our grocery items. Now one sense is perhaps more important than others. Producers Josephine McRobbie spoke to business historian Ai Hisano about her research into the history of seeing our food.
JOSEPHINE MCROBBIE: In 2016 General Mills made the news when the company replaced the coloring in Trix cereal with natural dyes made from turmeric, radish, and strawberry. But just two years later GM went back to artificial dyes with a spokesperson saying that customers missed the cereal's bright vibrant colors and nostalgic taste. This tale of technicolor woes isn't a surprise to Ai Hisano who teaches in the graduate school of economics at Kyoto University.
AI HISANO: Consumers are sometimes stubborn about how their food looks.
JOSEPHINE MCROBBIE: Hisano is the author of Visualizing Taste: How Business Changed the Look of What You Eat. The book outlines how government regulation, consumer demand, mass marketing and AG and tech processes have created the foods available in the average U.S. grocery store. Her book begins in the late 19th century.
AI HISANO: It's the time when people's eating habits and diets changed quite a lot because of the rise of the food processing industry and also the distribution of the food as well as the beginning of federal regulation of food alteration.
JOSEPHINE MCROBBIE: Visualizing Taste is a deep dive into the history of food coloring. Hisano became interested in the topic as a grad student while researching GM's fictional character Betty Crocker.
[Old radio clip:
MALE ANNOUNCER: And here's Betty Crocker herself.
BETTY CROCKER: And this is what we're so excited about, my new marble cake mix!]
AI HISANO: The company started marketing their packaged foods, their cake mixes, and their colorful dishes as a presentation of femininity and creativity. Color got kind of the gendered cultural connotations so that made me think about the cultural and social history of color in the food industry.
JOSEPHINE MCROBBIE: As a case study in food color Hisano traces the development of cost-effective margarine in the 1870's and the subsequent response from butter producers.
AI HISANO: Dairy industry people who were really upset because they thought that margarine could destroy their business, so they lobbied to the federal government and also state governments so the government enacted regulation that restricts the coloring of margarine.
JOSEPHINE MCROBBIE: For a few years in New Hampshire it was even a law that margarine be dyed pink to distinguish it from butter. But margarine producers and marketers figured out some inventive ways around the color restrictions.
AI HISANO: One was to insert colored capsules along with the margarine in a package so that consumers could color their margarine at home. So that kind of suggests that margarine producers as well as consumers thought that margarine should look like butter or margarine should look like yellow.
JOSEPHINE MCROBBIE: The color of food or food packaging can give us visual information about whether the item is ripe, rotten, exciting, boring, healthy or unhealthy. But as Dr. Hisano says -
AI HISANO: Our ideas safety and dangers and also our ideas of naturalness are constructed throughout our history and also culture.
JOSEPHINE MCROBBIE: The modern grocery store developed novel ways over the years to optimize its lighting to sell food.
AI HISANO: One way to do that was to color the bulb of the lights that could make the food look more attractive. A lighting companies like GE developed certain types of lighting which make meat redder and also fruits and vegetables greener. So that lighting was used not only to make the entire brighter but also to make each individual food more appealing to consumer's eyes.
JOSEPHINE MCROBBIE: The development of a moisture proof cellophane was not just for food safety and easy of purchase but also aesthetics.
[Old Radio clip:
MALE ANNOUNCER: Cellophane has become an important part of American life, because it lets you see what you're buying. ]
AI HISANO: Producers as well as consumers I guess thought that fresh meat should look bright red. So when certain stores or supermarkets started their business they wanted to also make the meat section self-service. But it was quite difficult to package a slice of meat and keep the color red because of the lack of technology in packaging and also refrigeration in the early 20th century. So chemical companies like DuBois and other packaging companies developed this special film which could control the air inside the package so that it could keep the color of meat red or pink for maybe pork.
JOSEPHINE MCROBBIE: Recent studies have shown that more people are grocery shopping online accelerated in part by the COVID-19 pandemic. A sizeable number of consumers indicate that they'll continue to shop this way in the future. So what does this mean for the visualizing of taste?
AI HISANO: First I thought digitization and this increase among online shopping would deprive us of rich sensory experience but it's probably more complicated than it seems.
JOSEPHINE MCROBBIE: Dr. Hisano recently read an intriguing study of Japanese shoppers.
AI HISANO: They began to prefer online shopping even though they cannot really choose their food by themselves because store clerks choose food for them, and they think store clerks have better skill and better eyes to choose better quality food. So I thought it was really interesting, people started kind of relying on other people's senses to get their food. I thought maybe we are already losing entirely our senses but maybe how we use the senses have shifted.
KAYTE YOUNG: That was Earth Eats producer Josephine McRobbie speaking with business historian Ai Hisano. She's the author of the book Visualizing Taste: How Business Changed the Look of What You Eat. Find more at Earth Eats dot org.
GREG EMMONS: I was that I started out with prediabetes and then it went up to a diabetic level. And then I got it back down and I've kind of fluctuated back and forth and it's through that process is where I've seen that driving a truck is not the best job to work on those levels.
KAYTE YOUNG: That's Greg Emmons. He's a truck driver and a part time farmer working on managing diabetes. And he's a participant in an innovative nutrition program. We've talked on the show before about food as medicine. You might recall a story about Anderson Community Hospital north of Indianapolis. They were on a farm on site to provide fresh produce for patients and staff.
This week we're heading down to orange county to learn about the southern Indiana farm to health initiative. IU Sustainable Food Systems Science is lending research support to a community lead public health intervention in partnership with Southern Indiana Community Health Care and the Lost River Market and Deli, a natural foods coop in Paoli. I spoke with scientist Julia Valliant, she's a research fellow with Sustainable Food Systems Science, the Ostrom Workshop and at the Center for Rule Engagement at Indiana University.
JULIA VALLIANT: This program is called the Nutrition Prescription, or informally the nutrition box. And how it works is that the local medical clinic, which is a federally qualified health center that has four locations in two rural counties, they're recruiting from among their adult patients who have type II diabetes, a few people with type I diabetes and prediabetes.
Because the leaders of the clinic and the leaders of Lost River Market, some of whom overlap and are actually leaders of both groups, they were really inspired to create a way that more people in their community could learn how to cook with whole foods. And they're also inspired for Lost River Market to source more local produce and to reach more people in the community. And so they developed these box programs and cooking education programs really as like a win-win-win for the participants, for the market and for the clinic. And they're just trying those out for the first time this year in 2020. And they're having to do it during covid.
So the plan was for people to get together for weekly cooking lessons in a church that has a commercial kitchen, and to share a group meal at the end of the cooking class. And to also get a weekly box of produce, local produce and a recipe to go with that produce. And that is what they would learn how to cook in the cooking class, and that they would do that once a week for three months. And they've been doing that, only they've needed to pivot so that all of it happens online. So instead of meeting at the church for group meals they've been doing YouTube and the Facebook group to teach people how to cook and to get them talking about their cooking.
And we have a second group of people who actually are also patients of the clinic, but instead of doing the cooking education and getting the food boxes, they're serving as a control group. So they got as an incentive a really nice $60 gift certificate to the market, they're not doing education. So they're a comparison group or a control group, so we're learning from both groups of people.
And so once a week over the course of three months, people will come to Lost River Market, pick up their box of produce, it would have a recipe in it, and they would go online and watch Collin teaching them how to make the recipe. And then they would check in on the Facebook group by posting their picture of what they had made and doing a quiz about what that week's lesson was. Because most of the weeks also involve a nutrition lesson and it all followed a standard national curriculum called Cooking Matters.
KAYTE YOUNG [VOICE OVER]: Of course, I wanted to talk to the cook.
COLLING SPEAR: My name is Collin Spear, I'm a senior at Mitchell High School and I am the instructor for the Cooking Matters course. Basically I have collected ingredients and recorded the instructional videos for the program and taught the participants how to cook with more advanced seasonings and taught them more kitchen skills than they previously had before they started the class.
We did originally plan to do these in person before covid hit, but due to covid we decided to take a different route and I recorded them in my kitchen at home and then uploaded them and then had someone edit them for me. It worked pretty well; we have a little island in the kitchen. And so I scooted the island out, and set up, and I have a tripod that I put my phone on and recorded that way.
When we started the program back in early summer, we were doing a lot of tomatoes, potatoes, onions, local stuff like that and then as we've progressed into the winter we've done a lot of squash, we've done a lot of turkey, some meats and stuff like that. And it's just good food that doesn't have preservatives in it, doesn't have any added stuff like that. And a lot of it's organic, and so there's no pesticides or anything.
We center around the MyPlate idea, and each recipe that we do has at least three of the five MyPlate categories, which would be meats, proteins, stuff like that. Dairy, fruits and vegetables, grains, and oils. We incorporate at least three of those five into every meal and so people can kind of get a feel of what they need to be eating to feel good.
KAYTE YOUNG: Collin has been working at Lost River Market for several years and he has a lot of experience with fresh produce. I also had the chance to talk with Donna Charles from the medical clinic.
DONNA CHARLES: My name is Donna Charles. My role in the nutrition prescription program, as a nurse at Southern Indiana Community Healthcare I would recruit the patients to be in the program. We would do some data collection based on their A1C's to see if they qualified to be in the program.
KAYTE YOUNG [VOICEOVER]: I stopped Donna to ask what an A1C is.
DONNA CHARLES: An A1C is a test of your blood sugar. It averages out for the last three months. So it takes all the lows and all the highs, and it gives you an average number. And they made this test up so that diabetics couldn't be good two or three days before they went to their doctor and then their doctor sees the good numbers. So this test was made up for that reason, they can actually see what's been going on for the last three months.
So we ran numbers on A1Cs to see if patients qualified and then recruited the patients and then from there I would take their biometrics, their weight, waist circumference, A1C, and cholesterol levels.
KAYTE YOUNG: To qualify for the program, patients needed to have an A1C of 7% or greater which places them in the diabetic category. They also accepted a few patients in the prediabetic category who also had elevated cholesterol levels.
DONNA CHARLES: We took a baseline biometrics. If the patient had already had say an A1C or some blood test results in their chart recently we would take those and not have to collect them again. But if they didn't then we would take a baseline of the biometrics and then we do it again in three months and then we'll do it again when the program is completely over which is about 6 months.
KAYTE YOUNG: Greg Emmons is one of those participants. I met with him outside of the Lost River Market and Deli in Paoli in December after one of those Saturday evaluations with the program team.
GREG EMMONS: I'm Greg Emmons and I've participated in this program and I'm a full-time truck driver and also work on family farm part-time.
KAYTE YOUNG: I asked Greg what he grows on this farm.
GREG EMMONS: Used to do corn mainly and hay with cattle and now I'm basically doing hay and working on getting back into cattle.
KAYTE YOUNG: I asked Greg about his experience with the nutrition prescription program.
GREG EMMONS: I done the nutrition boxes which the food was provided, and they give you the steps on how to prepare it and what you need. Part of it was a little bit of a learning experience for me because I got to try different foods that I had not tried or even thought about trying together. I guess I would call it an enlightening experience on seeing a little different ways to use different foods as a meal that I hadn't actually considered before.
One of the big things I liked, I always considered sweet potatoes as something that usually cooked in the oven with like some butter or brown sugar and marshmallows. And in this program I had it as a Shepard's pie. I don't remember all of the ingredients in it, but I mean in place of your regular mashed potatoes it was the sweet potato which I had never really considered in that form before and it was actually very good. I mean it was something that after having it I would do the same thing again.
KAYTE YOUNG: Greg is not really new to cooking but as a truck driver managing diabetes, he's been pushed to get creative.
GREG EMMONS: Driving a truck I don't have a lot of time, but I do carry a skillet and a crockpot that I can plug into the 12-volt system of the truck. My skillet I mainly use just to heat some soups up or some other foods that I can do relatively quick that way. And then the crock pot, I have taken the time to get stuff ready and take it with me. So I've made my own like vegetable soup while I'm on the road.
There's times with what I do I'll skip lunch, and I do that quite a bit while I'm on the road. Just because of my particular job on my deliveries. So in place of lunch a lot of times there used to be a number of places on the truck stops that done it, and now there's not so much. Now they'll have the cups of say sliced apples or grapes, but at one time there was a lot of those places that also carried a package that would have carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, radish, with a little cup of ranch dressing. And some of them were just the vegetables together.
I don't see that anywhere as much anymore so what I've done a lot of times is Sunday evenings, run into the store and then I will pick up any number of things from grape tomatoes, broccoli, to cauliflower, celery, carrots. And when I get in on Sunday evening I would cut it all apart, rinse it all off, let it dry a little. And then usually put it sometimes in individual containers and take what I know I need for the week and then I've also carried like zip lock bags. So I can put a mix of stuff in it. And in my cupholder instead of... in one cupholder I'll have my water, and in the other one I can set the Ziplock bag in it where I can reach it going down the road. And I would snack on the vegetables at noon versus a fast-food place.
So this past year even before this program working with my doctor, I've been working on a number of ways to maintain the ability to keep my health card in order to do this job.
KAYTE YOUNG: Greg explained to me what he meant by "keeping his health card".
GREG EMMONS: My health card for my CDL license. You have to be insulin free basically. One of my grandmothers was on it and I watched her give herself shots daily. And I always said regardless of what, I don't want the shots.
KAYTE YOUNG: Avoiding those insulin shots has been a big motivator for Greg in managing his diabetes through diet and exercise. But he's coming up against some built in barriers related to his work.
GREG EMMONS: The length of what I've done, this past year and a half, two years even, and then with this program it's showing me a lot more where I'm dealing with the diabetes side of it, the sugar levels. I realize what they told me that I may need to consider a different job. I can see where that is actually gonna be more beneficial. And I've actually started looking at different jobs where instead of sitting in a truck 12-14 hours a day and then just laying down in the back, to going back to a job where I'm actually physically active throughout the day.
KAYTE YOUNG: So it sounds like he might be moving on from truck driving at some point. But in the meantime Greg Emmons is going to great lengths to make sure he eats right while he's on the road. After a short break we'll hear about what he's got cooking in the cab of his truck. Stay with us.
I'm Kayte Young, this is Earth Eats. If you're just joining us we're talking with Greg Emmons, he's a participant in a nutrition prescription program as one element in his plan to manage his diabetes. As a truck driver he's on the road all week. Where healthy eating is a challenge. Truck stop dining doesn't really support the dietary changes he's aiming for. Greg has taken matters into his own hands by prepping vegetable snacks ahead of time and by cooking in his truck. He takes an electric skillet and a crockpot on the road with him. I asked him what he's got cooking.
GREG EMMONS: Once in a while I will take some stuff that's already been, some soups that I've already cooked. And anything even from like a meatloaf or chicken breast where I've grilled them like on a Sunday and had that stuff where I can just put it in a container and then pull it out. Some of it would be reheated but then like the stuff I put in my crockpot, even though I've already precooked the chicken, there'll be times that I try to take frozen vegetables with me because I do have a small freezer and a fridge on my truck.
And I prefer the frozen foods on vegetables a lot of the times over the some of the canned stuff. Because you do have additives in canned stuff that you do not have in the frozen stuff. So there's more of a natural flavor then I can stick with like salt and pepper. I love peppers of any type so.
So I kinda carry a mix of that stuff whenever I do that so that I can then turn around and decide if I wanna just fill the thing up or whether I want to try to do it for just what I need for the day. And sometimes I'll do it where I'll fill it up and at the end of the day when it's ready, I've got it there to eat, I let it sit there and cool down then just pull the crock up out of the cannister and set it back in the fridge to keep it. I feel like I get a fresher meal with less additives in it.
KAYTE YOUNG: Of course I wanted to hear more specifics.
GREG EMMONS: I've done a soup, like vegetable soups. Chili. I have taken like a pork loin roast or chicken breast where I've cut it in strips and throw that in with vegetables. Sometimes I'll carry a mix of vegetables that are like mixed bell peppers, chestnuts, the water chestnuts, maybe some corn and beans, red skinned potato mixed in with it. It's just kind of varies on what type of frozen mix I pick up, and then I just let that sit in there and cook for 4-6 hours. I try to start it by noon. And the aroma of it circulates throughout the truck so you're wanting to stop but you know you need to keep going to finish your day out. But it's... I do a little bit of everything. I have even taken raw meats, like pork chops and chicken breast and just put them in that crockpot with just a little bit of water and some vegetables and just let them cook through the day.
KAYTE YOUNG: I asked Greg about his experience with the nutrition prescription program and if there were more recipes that he'd tried. He had mentioned the sweet potato shepherd’s pie.
GREG EMMONS: And another one, I'd had it before, and I can't remember how that was now. I think that was... I believe that was a soup that we made out of it. The butternut squash. And I have had it in the past where you just half it, clean it, clean the inside and then rub some butter on it and stick both halves in the oven and bake it and have it that way. Prior to this that I tried, and I hadn't had for years, it was something one of my grandmothers had done was the cushaw squash. You don't really see those that much anymore, but I can remember her making the pulp out of that, and I never thought much about it. And I knew she had made some pies whenever I was really young and then later on she quit making them so much. But I remembered that so then this past couple years I've got started on that and got me one a year.
KAYTE YOUNG: If you aren't familiar with this type of squash, it's a crookneck variety with a green and white striped skin. And some of these squash are huge, think the size of a small toddler. One a year is plenty.
GREG EMMONS: Past couple years I've got me one a year and cook it down so that I can put it back. And the past two winters like for around Christmas, the recipe I got actually makes two pies, but I've done that and that's another thing that I found versus going and get a cake or a bought a pie, I can make this cushaw squash pie and that helps me control my numbers for diabetes. I mean yes it is sweet in a way, but then there's natural sweetness to it that some of the natural sugars I've found don't affect me as much as adding sugar.
Yeah I like it a lot better. I stay away from sweets a lot more now especially through this program than what I used to, but I found too, that at this time of year through Thanksgiving and Christmas I can cheat more with one of those pies then I can a lot of the others. Especially versus a berry pie or apple pie or peach pie. I can eat more of one of the squash pies than I can one slice of the others.
KAYTE YOUNG: I always like it when the conversation turns to pie. Greg says he has shared support and tips with others in the program. His son has enjoyed some of the meals that Greg prepared, and he has been inspired to focus on his own health.
GREG EMMONS: When I went into this I thought well maybe I'll learn something out of this, and I felt like I have. Overall I think this is a good program, especially anybody that is willing to make some changes in your life and it's, that's what I would say is half the battle is the willingness to follow what you would learn out of this program and try to make that a daily habit.
KAYTE YOUNG: Let's check back in with the folks running the nutrition prescription program. I asked Julia Valliant about some of the barriers to good nutrition for people living in rural communities.
JULIA VALLIANT: We know that chronic, degenerative diseases are the main challenge for our health in this country perhaps especially in rural places. We know that rates of adult-onset diabetes are high. And conditions that go along with them like heart disease and high cholesterol, and that there are pharmaceutical tools that can help people care for themselves when they find themselves developing these conditions but it's also clear that they have a strong relation to food and drinks and that when people approach food as medicine that that can go a long way toward caring for their health. And that's part of what Lost River Market and the clinic were inspired to figure out a way to emphasize in their care of their patients and of their service to the community through food.
KAYTE YOUNG: I asked Donna Charles how she though the program was going for the participants.
DONNA CHARLES: When we do that biometrics as Lost River Market, Saturdays, the second one, we see a lot of changes. Mostly good, but we have seen some changes where patients either gained weight or gained waist circumference, things like that. But their biometrics, they're mostly good I think.
JULIA VALLIANT: And we've been learning from how this is going for the people by like Donna explained doing their biometrics or their health measurements before and after and also a questionnaire about their food routines and their covid cooking routines to compare before and after. And we're also just asking them how it went for them in general and so we're getting them telling us stories about how the project has gone for them so far, and how it's gone for Lost River Market so far because it's their first time doing it, and it's the clinic's first time doing it. And so as a last step we'll check in with everyone again in a half a year to learn what sticks for people. And what has fallen to the wayside.
KAYTE YOUNG: I asked how they thought the covid restrictions had affected the program.
DONNA CHARLES: So when I was recruiting patients to the program we had some patients that was interested in the program but then they would say "Do I have to go somewhere?" So when I would tell them that it was gonna be all online, they were very happy to participate. So I can see that that really played a role. Then you have other patients that would have really enjoyed the in-person classes but all in all I think they were all very pleased with the program so far.
KAYTE YOUNG: Another aspect of the online version was the Facebook group.
SAMEEN SIDDIQUI: I’m Sameen Siddiqui, I'm a sophomore at Indiana University and I'm a student intern.
KAYTE YOUNG: Sameen works with Donna and the Community Health Clinic. She assists with recruitment and data collection and she monitors the Facebook group where participants are checking in with each other and sharing the results of their cooking efforts.
SAMEEN SIDDIQUI: They all get a certain recipe to do each week so they're all posting the same food. But they're just different variations because everyone cooks a little different. But they have like pizza and squash and salad and just it's a lot of different varieties of food.
I think it started to develop in the beginning, people would just post pictures and they wouldn't really interact with each other. But I'm seeing like some key people that are, they'll comment on other people's pictures, and it's kinda cool to see that grow.
KAYTE YOUNG: And Donna had a unique window into the program since her husband was one of the participants.
DONNA CHARLES: So with my husband being in the program it really was, it opened up my eyes to the program. So it allowed me to see firsthand how the program was and what it was like instead of just being there as a nurse to take their test.
My husband absolutely loved the program, he loved getting the produce boxes, it was a surprise every Friday to get that box with the new recipe in it and to try the new recipes out and we still use them even today. So yeah, it's worked out well in our house.
KAYTE YOUNG: So it sounds like Donna benefited from having a family member in the program. Here's Julia Valliant on the ripple effects on the community.
JULIA VALLIANT: Yeah and another part of the beauty that's been striking to me is that we've recruited these 60 people to this program and they're doing it. They're the people getting the education. And they are part of these broad networks of people who are also benefitting from the program because people are sharing the recipes with their friends and neighbors and family. People are giving some of the food they make to their workmates and their neighbors and so really it's reaching this big web of people that goes far beyond the people that are actually in the program.
KAYTE YOUNG: Farmers in the community benefit too. One of the goals for Lost River Market was to source the produce of the prescription boxes from local fruit and vegetable growers as a boost to the local food system. The final stage of the program is the six month check-in this spring. Maybe we'll get an update, and we can check back in with Greg Emmons.
We've been talking with folks involved in a nutrition prescription program, part of the Southern Indiana Farm to Health Initiative with IU Sustainable Food System Science, Southern Indiana Community Healthcare, and the Lost River Market and Deli in Paoli Indiana. Find more, as always, on our website Earth Eats dot org.
All that crockpot cooking that Greg Emmons was talking about turned my mind towards soup. Remember that vegetable Thai curry soup Arlyn Llewellyn of Function Brewing made with us a couple of years ago? In case you missed it, let's hear it again.
ARLYN LLEWELLYN: We're gonna make our own curry paste. So the cheater version of this is that you absolutely could buy your own yellow curry paste.
KAYTE YOUNG [TO ARYLN]: But we're gonna go from scratch all the way.
ARLYN LLEWELLYN: Yes, absolutely. So we are gonna start in our food processor. So the best way is written for serrano chilies which are typically easy to find at the grocery store. You can use jalapenos, but I'm actually in this particular case going to use a mix of peppers that I've received from the chili woman.
These are aji pancas and Bolivian chilis that we will also mix up with some jalapenos.
(Sound of chilis being chopped)
So we wanna just kind of a rough chop on these. We come a long with a medium shallot, just gonna do a rough chop on that. So a really rough chop on some garlic cloves. And we're gonna get to one of my favorite ingredients, galangal. It's sort of like a fruiter version of ginger maybe. It's just, it's so bright and fresh smelling. I love it combined with ginger. It's kind of an ugly looking knobby thing. So just like ginger it's kind of tough so we want to break it down into relatively small pieces before we put it into the food processor. And then we're gonna get to a little ginger, I'm gonna peel that as well.
We are moving on to lemongrass, and it typically starts with a stalk that is 2 feet long, three quarters of an inch in diameter. The first thing you want to do is cut off the very bottom and then you cut it in half, and you peel off the tough outer leaves as well as the top half of the stalk. And you're left with the tender inner core. So we'll break down the lemongrass as much as we possibly can to try to help the food processor with that. And then some cilantro. So we're gonna go ahead and put these things into the food processor. And let the food processor do the work for us.
(Sound of food processor whirring)
Man take a whiff of that it's...
KAYTE YOUNG: Oh wow
ARLYN LLEWELLYN: Lots of bright flavors that you can take quite a few minutes to break a part. You can definitely smell the ginger and the galangal and the lemongrass, a little bit of the cilantro still. A little bit of heat released from those peppers and so far right now it's actually kind of looking more like you're making a green curry. That's about to change because we're gonna add a few spices.
So we want a half a teaspoon of coriander, a tablespoon of turmeric, which is gonna give you the bright yellow. We want half a teaspoon of curry powder. So we're gonna process this for a second, we've scraped down the sides and we're gonna process this for a second to incorporate those spices.
(Sound of food processor whirring)
And now we have our curry paste, so again the sage maybe you've skipped this and you're just opening a can of yellow curry paste and now we're gonna proceed we're gonna get that cooking. To that we're going to add three tablespoons of neutral cooking oil of your choice. We're gonna get this going over medium to high heat for just a few minutes, you want it to start to become extremely aromatic and start to caramelize a little bit in a few of the areas of the pot.
KAYTE YOUNG [VOICEOVER]: Chef Arlyn prepares the vegetables, one butternut squash peeled, seeded and cubed. She cautions against throwing all of the vegetables in a pot and cooking the soup for hours and hours. One of the advantages of making homemade soups is that you can control the different textures of the vegetables.
ARLYN LLEWELLYN: In this case we're not gonna put all the vegetables all in at the same time. Different vegetables are gonna take different amounts of time to cook to a desirable texture inside of the soup. So we're gonna start with the vegetables that need to take the most time to break down and be soft and get those going first and then we'll slowly add some more. And once we start adding those more delicate vegetables at the end that don't need to cook for very long, we're gonna take that soup off the heat pretty quickly.
KAYTE YOUNG [VOICEOVER]: Chef Arlyn strips swiss chard and kale leaves from their stalks. She chops the stalks into half inch pieces, chops the leaves into bite-sized pieces and sets those aside. Then she adds the stalk and butternut cubes to the simmering curry paste on the stove. Next she pours in four cups of water, or enough to cover the vegetables in the pot.
ARLYN LLEWELLYN: I'm ready to cook it for about 30 minutes. It depends really on the size of your vegetables. But you want them to start getting tender, not completely tender because we are gonna add more vegetables to it.
KAYTE YOUNG [VOICEOVER]: The last vegetable to prep is the sweet pepper, seeded and thinly sliced.
ARLYN LLEWELLYN: This thing has been cooking for about 30 minutes and the butternut squash is starting to get tender. The stalks of greens are starting to get tender. The nice thing about greens is that they never look like you're gonna fit them all into the pot and they cook down so much that it's not usually a problem.
So you can see that the hot liquid is already immediately wilting the greens.
KAYTE YOUNG [TO ARLYN]: It smells so good.
ARLYN LLEWELLYN: Good yes.
KAYTE YOUNG [TO ARLYN]: I mean you're getting all that curry but also now the fresh vegetables.
ARLYN LLEWELLYN: So now that our peppers and greens are in here we're gonna cook them for about 10 more minutes. Don't want to overcook it at this stage but don't necessarily want to be munching on raw peppers either.
So we have a Thai yellow curry vegetable soup that we've pulled. We've basically added all the vegetables to and they've cooked, those peppers and those greens have softened, and we're ready to just finish this up. So we're gonna add coconut milk.
So one of the nice things about Thai curries in general is the explosion of flavors that hit your mouth. You get spiciness, you get sourness, you get sweetness, right off the bat. And depending on some of other ingredients you might also get some funky complex notes, some bitter elements depending on the vegetables you use.
So in this case we're definitely going for sweet, sour, spicy and salty. So we've got our sweet coming in right now with some brown sugar. We already have our spiciness from the hot peppers that we put into the curry paste. We're definitely gonna need some salt and some acidity, so we're gonna add four tablespoons of white vinegar and some sea salt to taste. And then we get to do the best part which is taste and adjust.
Sweetness is coming through, there's definitely some spice. I'm gonna want to add a bit more vinegar and a little bit more salt. I was conservative on both of those initially because it's really hard to undo that.
Garnish it with whatever you fancy, toasted coconut, Thai basil, toasted cashews, rice noodles. We're here on a Monday making a soup for the Saturday tasting by design because whenever possible it's always better to make soups in advance because the flavors will really develop and marry. It's important sometimes I think to, if you're making something in advance and you don't think you like it, but it's kinda close to what you want but you're not sure. Don't do anything else to it, let it sit for a couple of days. You may actually love it exactly where it is once it's had time to hang out and mature.
KAYTE YOUNG [VOICEOVER]: The finished soup is a burst of color and flavor.
ARLYN LLEWELLYN: You get contrasting textures from the different vegetables. The butternut squash is quite soft at this point, but you still get some chew from the peppers and the greens.
KAYTE YOUNG [TO ARLYN]: Yeah the flavors are so complex and the tanginess, I was a little nervous when I saw that vinegar going in, but it's just so perfectly balanced with that sweet and all the all the spicy.
ARLYN LLEWELLYN: Awesome.
KAYTE YOUNG [VOICEOVER]: This aromatic soup cooking session took place back in 2017. You can find the recipe at Earth Eats dot org. We've got some new recipe videos on our YouTube channel. It's me cooking simple recipes in my kitchen with the occasional cat cameo. The latest one is my favorite kale salad with slow roasted tomatoes, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Just search for Earth Eats on YouTube.
(Earth Eats theme music, composed by Erin Tobey and performed by Erin and Matt Tobey)
That's it for our show this week. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time.
RENEE REED: The Earth Eats team includes Eobon Binder, Spencer Bowman, Mark Chilla, Toby Foster, Abraham Hill, Payton Knobeloch, Josephine McRobbie, Harvest Public Media and me, Renee Reed.
KAYTE YOUNG: Special thanks this week to Ai Hisano, Greg Emmons, Donna Charles, Collin Spear, Semine Zadike, Julia Valiant, and Arlyn Llewellyn.
RENEE REED: Our theme music is composed by Erin Tobey and performed by Erin and Matt Tobey. Additional music on the show comes to us from Toby Foster and from artist at Universal Productions Music. Earth Eats is produced and edited by Kayte Young and our executive producer is John Bailey.