CSA 2011 – Week 12: Sugar Beet Case #3

Many of you know of Frank Morton, owner of Wild Garden Seed. Wild Garden Seed and GTF have been working together since 1994. Not all of you may be aware of the current court case going on between Frank Morton (represented along with others by the Center for Food Safety), the USDA, and the Sugar Beet Industry (Monsanto and other companies that financially benefit from the industry). The Center for Food Safety (CFS) originally filed a suit against the USDA when Frank and other growers of beet seeds realized that some growers in the Willamette Valley switched to GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) sugar beets. The USDA had allowed farmers close by to start growing these GMO sugar beets without any sort of testing. They sued the USDA simply because they did not want the sugar beets to contaminate their beets by cross pollinating.

Frank and the CFS wanted an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be done in order to protect organic growers and farmers from contamination. The Judge ruled in favor of CFS and Morton. However, then the USDA changed the rules and issued special permits to allow the commercial sugar beet growers to continue despite the judge’s ruling. The CFS and those who they represent decided to sue again after they had won, when nothing was going to be enforced. The goal was to make the growers remove what they had illegally planted. In this second case the Judge ruled in favor of Morton and the CFS again. Although, once again the USDA had completed a preliminary environmental assessment and said that the GMO sugar beet growers did not have to pull up the stecklings (roots of transplanted beets) because of safe guards (from cross-contamination) implemented by the USDA. The judges ruling was considered to be moot, or not valid, because of the rules being rewritten once again.

Following the second ruling, Morton and the CFS were getting ready to try again. Before they had time to file again, the sugar beet industry decided to sue CFS and the USDA for making it too hard for their industry. This means that the sugar beet industry got to choose where the case would be heard, and they chose Washington D.C, as opposed to San Francisco, where the previous cases had been heard. The D.C location makes it a bit harder for CFS and Frank, but I think that was their intention.

Contamination of Frank’s seed by the sugar beets would be terrible. The sugar beets could not only cross and contaminate his beets, but also chard seeds since they are all in the Beta vulgaris family. This threat of contamination could scare off customers, and he believes it does. Sugar beet contamination could affect his seed stock and future plantings. The whole thing is a sticky situation as well because of the patents that Monsanto has on the genes in the GMO sugar beets.

Because of these patents, no one but Monsanto can actually do any safety testing on their crops and publicize it. This patent also poses a threat to Frank and other growers like him; what if his crop does get contaminated? Does Monsanto own the rights to those seeds, or just the contaminated ones, or what? It’s not very clear, but one thing is – the USDA is obviously making up rules to keep the sugar beet industry in business while leaving Frank and many other growers like him feeling unprotected and unheard by the government. Hopefully the third time will be a charm!

What’s in the box? 

  • 1.5 lb Potatoes (nicola) – Steam, roast, or mash. These are versatile.
  • Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.
  • 3 onions(1 walla, 1 superstar, 1 red ) – Chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. They are very good caramelized.
  • Honey Orange Melon – Eat just like it is!
  • Charentais melon – Very flavorful French melon. Try salting it slightly before eating.
  • 1 colored pepper – Grill, roast, or just eat raw, they are very sweet.
  • 1 poblano pepper– Grill, roast, or add to a sauté for an extra kick. These can be slightly spicy and have a great flavor.
  • 2 Japanese cucumbers– Chop and add to a salad. Marinate and combine with tomatoes!  Try combining with melons and eat together.
  • 1 lb green beans– Blanch them and then sauté with olive oil, salt, garlic and herbs.
  • Squash (zucchini and cocozelle) – Grate and make fritters, or zucchini bread. Bake or sauté with onions, olive oil and salt.
  • Celery– Snack on raw, or use in soups!
  • Green Leaf lettuce– Make a salad, or add to sandwiches, make lettuce wraps!
  • Tomatoes (approximately 2 lbs)- Chop raw on salad, or sandwiches.
  • Corn– Grill in husk or steam. Add some butter and salt if you’d like.

Stuffed Onions
4 large onions
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups whole grain bread crumbs or brown rice
1/4 cup toasted nuts (almonds work well)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
Sea salt and pepper

Cut onions in half along the equator and remove the inner part of the onion, leaving a shell two or three layers thick. Make a small slice on the bottom of each onion shell so that it will stand upright. Place shells in a buttered glass oven dish.Chop the onion taken from the centers and sauté in olive oil until tender. Add rice or bread crumbs, nuts, oregano, cheese and parsley and mix well. Remove from heat, stir in the egg and season to taste. Fill the onion shells with the stuffing. Add a little water to the baking pan and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour.

Stir Fry Green Beans with Cashews
1 pound string beans, each end cut off
1/2 cup crispy cashews, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup filtered water, orange juice or chicken stock
1 tablespoon arrowroot mixed with 1 tablespoon filtered water
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

Combine ginger, soy sauce, water or stock, honey, sesame oil, garlic and rosemary. Mix thoroughly with a wire whisk. Heat the oil in a skillet or wok. Stir fry the beans until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add cashews and the sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Add the arrowroot mixture and simmer until the sauce thickens and the beans are well coated.