June 2016

Why I Work To Make Clean Food Accessible To My Community

Chris Maykut and his daughter took fresh squeezed orange juice to her school and compared it with bottled brands for a little taste testing and nutritional experiment.

Are you formulating a hypothesis yet?

As a father of two public school kids, I have been able to witness firsthand what happens in the lunchroom of my children’s schools. As a foodie I’ve been surprised, disappointed and appalled.   This isn’t going to turn into a rant about what is served – I get the budget constraints and what the lunch staff has to work with. What shocks me is what kids bring from home and worse, the lack of knowledge and – honestly – concern for basic nutrition. Lots of Lunchables, candy, pasteurized juice and juice-like products. It’s pretty disappointing.

Fast forward to this year’s Science Fair, where I finally convinced my daughter, Raina, to engage in a nutritional science experiment.  She chose to compare three versions of orange juice in terms of (a) nutritional content and (b) blind taste preference.  She decided to examine variables between fresh organic orange juice from Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe, Odwalla pasteurized 100% orange juice, and…. the incomparable “Sunny D”.

While the nutritional analysis is fairly predictable, the tasting was what really stood out to me.  We conducted a blind taste test in her 4th Grade classroom at Greenwood Elementary a couple weeks before the science fair.  We predicted there would be a fairly even preference distribution throughout her twenty-five classmates, since the three options are fairly distinct from each other as far as sweetness, freshness, and flavor.  That turned out to be a very optimistic prediction.

Survey Results

Survey Says…

Not Freshly Squeezed

Sunny D

I knew things were going to go off the rails when the first taster tried the fresh, organic orange juice from Chaco. She scrunched up her face, spat the juice in a trash can, and blurted out “what the heck is that?” Wow. Twenty-two of twenty-five students voted Sunny D (option C on the example slips pictured) as their favorite. Only one student chose the fresh juice as their favorite and only three others even chose it as second.

What was even more surprising to me was the blind tasting at the Science Fair itself. While it was good that about 95% of adults preferred fresh, still 90% of students preferred Sunny D. The really disappointing reality was revealed in speaking to the parents themselves; while they generally preferred fresh, there was massive misconception about Sunny D itself.  Many thought that it’s “mostly juice” or has “good nutritive properties” and “some wholesome ingredients”. Aargh!

We can purchase a gallon of Sunny D here in Seattle for 99 cents – I wasn’t clear I could buy water for that price.  It’s a product that has absolutely no redeeming qualities, yet their marketing has established them as a “not bad” option for parents, while their formula is much more appealing to kids than real options.

The upshot: read ingredients and dedicate yourself to feeding your family good, wholesome food.  Fresh orange juice isn’t the best thing in the world for a healthy body, but Sunny D may be one of the worst.

 

Thoughts from the Owner at Chaco Canyon Organic Cafes
Chris Maykut

Chaco CanyonWhy I Work To Make Clean Food Accessible To My Community
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Weeds You Could Be Eating

Local plants that “invade” your garden beds but if harvested could nurture your bodies.

If you are from Seattle or if you have traversed Discovery Park during spring time you probably have been stung by Stinging Nettles. These annoying weeds that irritate your skin and cause a stinging sensation aren’t weeds at all but really a local edible plant. Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) are packed full of nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron and can be high in protein.
Although they can be eaten raw I wouldn’t advise it as a certain technique is required and failure to do so correctly will leave your tongue stinging. The sting is best removed by cooking them. Nettles are great in pestos, soups, sauces or in smoothies like we do seasonally in our Really Green Smoothie. Their leaves can also be dried to make a allergy fighting tea.
Lambs Quarter was our seasonal green in the Really Green Smoothie last year. Should we bring it back?

Lambs Quarter was our seasonal green in the Really Green Smoothie last year. Should we bring it back?

Now that you know about nettles you maybe wondering what other “weeds” you’ve been missing out on. Here’s a few other local weeds you could be eating.
Lambs quarters (Chenopodium album) also known as Goosefoot, having nothing to do with hoofed or feathered creatures, is another wild plant that grows locally.  Well, I guess you could say each leaf is in the shape of a goose’s foot. Lambs quarters contain high amounts  vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, and calcium.  They taste similarly to spinach and can be used the same in most recipes. You may seem them pop up late spring early summer.
berries

The delicious salmonberry

Berries, berries, berries. Thimbleberry, salmonberry and blackberries are a few of the many local edible berries. Salmonberries (Rubus spectabilis,  named so for their salmon coloring, bear fruit mid spring to early summer.  Thimbleberries (Rubus parviflorus), not meant for transport, can be eaten as you pick or expect to use them for jam as they fall apart quickly. We have multiple types of blackberries in the region including; Himalaya, Evergreen, and Dewberry. Look for blackberries mid to late summer.  All these berries are packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants play a large role in degenerative disease prevention such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease to name a few.  As with any foraging id advise to know the area. Often roadside berries are sprayed with harsh chemicals that you do not want to be ingesting.
Wrongful plant identification can lead to some nasty stomach issues and even death so don’t ingest unless you are 100% sure you have identified the right plant. A safer beginners route with some of the less easily identifiable plants maybe to purchase these from a local forager first.  We often purchase our wild edibles from Foraged and Found Edibles who you can find at the Queen Anne, University District, Ballard and West Seattle farmers markets.
There are so many PNW plants that are not only edible but delicious and nutrient dense. Next time your “weeding” your garden you might think twice about what you pull and what you keep.
Nichole Criss
Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe, West Seattle
Sources:
Plants and Animals of the Pacific Northwest by Eugene N. Kohloff
The Foragers Harvest by Samuel Thayer
www.Nutritionalvalue.org
Chaco CanyonWeeds You Could Be Eating
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Phinney Ridge Association Annual Rainbow Hop, Saturday, June 4th

There is something decidedly romantic about metaphors that compare humans to the living environment, specifically plants. We both grow roots, have great sensitivity and resilience, and always large amounts of uniqueness and charm. Plants and humans thrive in similar conditions; we both like sunlight, oxygen, and—perhaps most importantly—diversity. One of the main tenants of permaculture is to use and value diversity. Permaculture practices (where an array of plants share the same soil and benefit from an exchange of nutrients) are far healthier and more productive than monoculture systems, showing us that plants thrive among the diversity.

 

 

2016 RainbowHop_Poster_opt

 

When the Phinney Neighborhood Association called me about participating in this year’s Rainbow Hop, I had no shortage of ideas for the event. Rainbow Hop is the PNA’s annual pride event, meant to be a day of celebrating diversity, sexuality, and identity.  So many food and plant metaphors came to mind when thinking about diversity, love, and growth; but I thought most about the lessons of diversity that plants can teach us. Not only is variety of the natural world inspiring in its own right, but the importance of diversity to each plant’s ability to thrive and succeed is profoundly human.

In the spirit of celebrating diversity, we’ll be hosting a planting event for the Rainbow Hop where we’re inviting children (and adults!) to create their own colorful collaged pot where they can then plant their own flower start. We’ll have a variety of options for flowers, and we’ll be encouraging every planter to transplant their seedling into the environment around them to contribute to the beautiful diversity of our ecosystem.

We’ll be partnering with our awesome neighbors at Recreative for the event. We’ll be using 100% recycled materials for the pots: recycled jars and vessels that we’ll then collage with donated recycled paper to create colorful and celebratory containers. Art has always been held at the center of personal expression, so we’re excited to give kids the opportunity to create for the Rainbow Hop. And while the event will hold a metaphorical meaning for me, it is, after all, for families and children. So we’ll try to avoid the sappy, as there will be enough dirt, glue, and shreds of paper to dirty any romantic metaphors.

 

Annie
Greenwood Bakery Cafe

Chaco CanyonPhinney Ridge Association Annual Rainbow Hop, Saturday, June 4th
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