We all love to make “yams” for Thanksgiving, but did you know that you are actually eating sweet potatoes? Perhaps you already know that they are different, but I think there are still some folks who do not. Keep reading if you want to know more.
I was a docent at The UC Botanical Garden for several years back when I had another life as a professional cook in the East Bay Area. I love learning about our foods both botanically and culturally and I hope I can interest you as well. In the United States we refer to an orange fleshed sweet potato as a yam, but they are really two completely different species. Botanically yams are a root while sweet potatoes are a stem (tuber). The true yam does not grow in the northern hemisphere. They are only grown in the Caribbean, Africa and parts of Asia. The Yam can grow up to 150lbs and 4.5′ in length. Their flesh ranges in color from white to yellow to pink and they have a very thick, scaly, alligator like skin. Their flesh is also very starchy and dry. Yams are more closely related to lilies and grasses than to sweet potatoes, which are in the morning glory family. Sweet potatoes are native to tropical regions of South America. Peruvian sweet potato remnants dating as far back as 8000 BC have been found. You can eat them raw, baked, boiled, steamed, roasted, broiled, grilled, fried and just about any other way you can think of!
There is a food origin documentary on Netflix called High on the Hog and in Episode 1 it delves into the differences between the two species and discusses how some traditional “American” dishes came into our combined cultural heritage while the origins were historically obscured. The series is based on the book “High on the Hog” by Dr. Jessica B. Harris and is well worth the read if you are at all interested in how our “American” food culture came to be. It is about the literal “roots” of our food culture.
At The Natural Grocery Company, we have a variety of different sweet potatoes to
choose from year round. The orange flesh varieties are known as “moist fleshed” and the white
fleshed varieties are known as “dry fleshed.” Here are the types we carry at both our stores:
Garnet-An orange fleshed variety that is the most popular. This is the traditional “yam” we eat at
Thanksgiving. With a dark red skin and bright pumpkin colored flesh, this sweet potato is great
prepared almost any way. It is very sweet and has a nice creamy, velvety texture when cooked.
Jewel and Beauregard-Both types have an orange flesh. These varieties have tan skin and tend
to be a little sweeter than the Garnet. I like to use the Beauregard in my sweet potato pie recipe.
It is very moist when cooked and has a texture that is not as velvety as the Garnet. Great for
making sweet potato fries or chips!
Hannah– This variety has a light tan, almost white skin with white flesh. The white flesh is
crumbly and has the texture of a russet potato when cooked. This year, I will be making a
Hannah sweet potato pie with cardamom and vanilla.
Japanese– Also a white fleshed variety, this sweet potato has a very dark purple skin. Because of
its drier texture, I like to slice these, drizzle with olive oil, cinnamon and cayenne and bake at
350 degrees until they soften and turn a golden brown color. They are also nice in soups.
Purple Stokes/ Okinawa sweet potato- This super food variety is my favorite! With a bluish
purple skin and deep royal purple flesh, this sweet potato has a texture very similar to the Garnet
but has an extra sweet earthiness to the taste. Originally from the Americas, this variety was
introduced to Japan in the 14th century and has become a staple on the Island of Okinawa where
it is eaten almost every day. This is believed to be the reason why Okinawa has the largest
percentage of people living over the age of 100 (more than any other country). This variety has
150% more antioxidants than blueberries and is wonderful prepared almost any way. Try using
these in a pie (beautiful) or mashed instead of regular potatoes.
Add some extra antioxidants to your Thanksgiving table and gain some insight into where OUR foods come from, celebrate our diversity and give thanks for the ability to come together!
By Laura Wilt, Communications & Marketing, The Natural Grocery Company
Join us for live music, order a glass of wine and a pizza, get an early start on the weekend, support music education in schools!
For over a thirty years Fito Reinoso has made the Bay Area his home and is the only Cuban born based sonero in the area performing a variety of styles, from the most recent urban Havana grooves to “timba” to the classic son and cha-cha-cha, all with a voice reminiscent of the late and beloved legendary Cuban singer, Beny Moré. His dynamic personality and showmanship has led him to collaborate with some of the top musicians who reside in Cuba and the United States. Most recently, he has been in the studio recording his fourth album, featuring special guests such as Kina Mendez (Gitana Master Vocalist from Spain), Mayquel Gonzalez (Cuban Trumpet player with Mezcla and Irakere), Grammy-Nominated Cuban Bay Area vocalist Jose Luis Gomez, as well as showcasing young Bay Area talent including Patricio Angulo (timbal), Colin Douglas (traps), Matt Lucas (congas), Sam Bevan (bass), and Bob Crawford (piano).
Fito Reinoso relocated to the Miami, FL area after the start of the pandemic. He is in the Bay Area for a short visit, and we are thrilled to be able to share this event with the community.
ABOUT SUNJAMS FOUNDATION
The SunJams Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to use music to build healthy communities. They present live outdoor concerts as a way of bringing people together who also believe in the healing power of music. Their goal is to help fund music education in local public elemenatry schools because they believe that music education is one of the most effective means of helping kids develop healthy learning habits ans a positive connection with school.
In order to make this possible, they invite you to support their unique fundraising program that consists of backyard concerts. These concerts feature local talent and professional musicians playing a variety of musical genres. These picturesque concerts take place in a private and relaxed outdoors venue.
We also sponsor live music events in other venues in an effort to reach wider audiences.
Come enjoy the good company of friends, food and music while helping subsidize kids’ musical education!
SunJams a 501c3 foundation, (EIN) / TAX ID 47-4435137.
TICKETS are through EventBright
There two types of tickets:
1) SunJams Partner, with a donation to support music education. This ticket includes a glass of wine( or a beer), and helps support the musicians. $25
2) General Admission which helps suppoprt the musicians. $10 donation suggested ( food and beverages available for purchase at the Annex, seating as available).
COVID RELATED SAFETY MEASURES
For each person eating or drinking inside this business, please provide:
– Proof of full vaccination against COVID-19
– A negative COVID-19 test result from the past 3 days
– Photo ID
Face coverings are required indoors unless actively eating or drinking.
The Annex is preparing organic meals for Thanksgiving again this year. We have traditional turkey and vegetarian options available for a group of eight plus we offer turkey, vegetarian and vegan meals for individuals. You can purchase whole pies in advance. Also all of our sides can be purchased as stand alone items so you can mix and match to customize your Thanksgiving Meal.
Orders can be called in or placed in person at The Annex or Berkeley Natural Grocery.
El Cerrito Prepared Foods Annex (The Annex) 510-526-5150
Berkeley Natural Grocery 510-526-2456
If you prefer, you can order everything from the Thanksgiving Menu on our website, pay in advance and pickup on Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Turkey reservations have begun.
We offer slow grown turkeys from Diestel Family Ranch. Diestel Family Ranch is a California family-run sustainable ranch since 1949. Their turkeys live in harmony with the environment, and they allow them to grow slowly and naturally, with plenty of room to roam on their ranches in the Sierra foothills.
Everything is produced according to strict animal welfare and environmental standards. From their commitment to regenerative agriculture, to the fresh pine-wood shavings that line their barns, to the natural and organic cleaners they use, to the generous spaces they give their birds to roam, to pioneering innovative new processes, they make only choices we’d be proud to talk about – like deciding to become one of the first turkey producers to earn a Global Animal Partnership Step 5 rating.
Diestel does not use cheap filler feeds, no animal by-products, no antibiotics, and no chemicals used for fast growth promotion.
Here at The Natural Grocery Company we only offer birds that are verified non-GMO and we offer several options that are certified organic.
- Natural Turkey: all natural, free range, no hormones, verified Non-GMO $3.99/lb
- Organic Turkey: all natural, free range, fed organic feed, verified Non-GMO $5.79/lb
- Heirloom Organic Turkey: all natural, free range, fed organic feed, verified Non-GMO $6.79/lb
- Diestel Smoked Turkey: fully cooked, ready to eat, verified Non-GMO $5.99/lb
- Organic Oven Roasted Turkey: fully cooked, organic turkey, ready to eat, verified Non-GMO $7.79/lb
Turkeys can be ordered in approximate sizes (10 pounds and under, 10-12 pounds, 12-14 pounds etc). Your turkey will fall within the size range you reserve so the price will vary depending on the specific bird you pick-up. Limited numbers of turkeys are available in each of the size ranges. Order early to secure the size you want.
Reserve yours now in-store or by calling.
El Cerrito Natural Grocery 510-526-1155
Berkeley Natural Grocery 510-526-2456.
We are having some live music at The Annex on Friday, October 29, 2021 from 4:00pm-6:30pm!
You can look for Fairtrade certified avocados for your next treat! – When you buy Fairtrade avocados, it means producers are paid at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price (if not more) and earn the extra Fairtrade Premium, which they can invest in their communities and improve the ecosystem through reforestation and prevent water contamination.
Season: Fair Trade Avocados are available in mid to late October. An avocado is ripe when it yields to gentle pressure when squeezed. In some varieties, like the popular Haas, the fruit’s skin will turn from green to black when ripe. The California Avocado Board has a nice little guide to how to tell when an avocado is ripe by variety.
Flavor: Although it is mild, the taste of avocado is very unique. The flavor itself is very subtle and is earthy, grassy, and nutty but fresh. Some people even describe it as buttery. The texture is smooth and creamy.
Storage: Store unripe avocados on the counter until they ripen, then stick them in the fridge, where they will keep for up to a week. Do not store unripe avocados in the fridge — they will never soften. Ripen too hard avocados by placing them in a paper bag with a ripe banana. Ripe bananas emit ethylene gas that causes some fruit (avocados included) to ripen quickly. In either case, don’t suffocate the fruit for long with airtight plastic. Without oxygen, pears will degrade faster and their natural moisture may encourage mold.
How to use: Most of us in the US automatically think of guacamole when we think of avocados. The modern variations on guacamole are endless, but the dip originated with the Aztecs and has been around since at least the 15th century (and probably before).
Avocado pairs very well with strong flavors like citrus, alliums (think onions and garlic), chiles, cilantro and tropical fruits (think mangoes). Avocados are primarily eaten raw, but cooked avocado dishes are appearing with more frequency. Note: some avocado varieties don’t do well cooked, as they get bitter. Haas is a good choice if you plan to apply a little heat. Avocado oil has a fairly high smoke point and is pretty tasty drizzled on veggies and in vinaigrettes.
Nutrition: Avocados are nutritional powerhouses: the fruit is loaded with healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber, including Vitamins C and K, B vitamins and potassium. They are high in fatty acids (omegas -6 and -3), which are important in brain function, metabolism, and bone, skin and hair growth. The fats in avocados may also help promote heart health. Interestingly, people with latex allergies are sometimes allergic to avocados as well, due to cross-reactivity. Assuming you’re not allergic, the fruit is also good for your skin.
Changing Lives Through Food
The del Cabo Project’s roots stretch back to 1980, when husband and wife co-founders Larry Jacobs and Sandra Belin began farming in coastal California. By fate, their paths crossed with a group of struggling farmers in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico and together they embarked on a radical mission united by passion.
Today, they farm nearly five thousand acres of field-grown and greenhouse-grown herbs, tomatoes and other delicious veggies.
We Thrive Together
“Our mission is brought to life through the collaboration with our del Cabo farmers — who passionately grow organic products all along the Baja California coast. Our work together provides these farmers with thriving and sustainable farming economies that have transformed and empowered their communities.”, says the del Cabo people.
Putting People First
The del Cabo collective was born in 1985 when co-founders Larry and Sandra met a group of small-scale farmers in San Jose del Cabo. They found these farmers to be some of the best people on this planet who worked really hard, but were not in the right place to make a good living.
The goal of the del Cabo collective was to connect these communities with good products and teach them how to grow food in a way that’s healthy for them, for the consumer, and for the planet.
Less Plastic for Our Planet
Jacobs Farm del Cabo is excited to introduce their newest paper-based pack as an alternative to single-use plastic clamshells. In this year alone, the new paperboard pack is projected to reduce their plastic waste by half a million pounds!
The introduction of paper-based clamshells is part of our steady and multifaceted shift away from plastic toward more sustainable materials, and we’re proud to announce that Del Cabo’s new paperboard pack is as clean and green as it gets!
The pack is made with 100% recycled paperboard and provides a clear view of the bright and flavorful product inside with a plant-based, cellulose window that is certified compostable both commercially AND at home!
The Natural Grocery Company will always ask for this packaging from our distributors but it may not always be available.
Season: In October Del Cabo grows their Fair Trade tomatoes in Mexico
Flavor: Sweet & Juicy, “Nature’s Candy”.
Storage: Keep unwashed in their container on the counter. If they begin to soften you can pop them into the fridge for a few extra days of shelf life. Optimal storage is between 55F and 65F.
How to use: Crudite, snacking, pasta, and salads.
Nutrition: Promotes skin health, improves vision, decrease the risk of oxidative stress, and an excellent source of Vitamin C.
Photo from Fair Trade International
- Fairtrade banana producers are paid a Fairtrade Minimum Price that acts as a safety net against falling prices. This price varies by region, factoring in local conditions and aiming to cover the average costs of sustainable production.
- Plantation workers and small-scale banana farmers also receive a Fairtrade Premium – an extra sum of money that farmers and workers invest in business or community projects of their choice. Banana workers have often used the Premium to improve their housing, build schools and clinics, or offer other benefits they see a need for.
- The Fairtrade Standards are designed to improve employment conditions and protect the rights of workers in the large plantations where the majority of export bananas are grown. In recent years Fairtrade has undertaken pioneering work to define and progress toward living wages for banana workers.
- For smallholder farms, Fairtrade supports these banana growers to improve their income and their bargaining position in banana supply chains that are often dominated by larger entities.
Season: Bananas are grown in tropical areas and can produce nearly year-round, so seasonality is not particularly relevant to the fruit. Bananas are not grown in California.
Flavor: The flavor changes as they ripen. Green bananas are more starchy, very firm and less sweet. As they ripen the taste has been described as having melon, pineapple, candy and clove flavor notes. Yellow bananas have higher sugar concentrations and therefore taste sweeter. Finally, when the peel has become brown, the banana contains notes which are reminiscent of vanilla, honey and rum and the texture is very soft.
Storage: Ripen green bananas on the counter. You can also store them on the counter – but note that they will continue to ripen, and sometimes quickly, depending on how warm it is. If they are too green for you then put them in a plastic bag with an apple to help ripen them.
You can also use bananas’ ethylene gas to your advantage: to ripen a hard avocado overnight, stick it in a paper bag with a ripe banana. The banana’s ethylene gas will work its magic on the avocado, making it perfectly ripe and ready for your next batch of guacamole.
How to use: The most common way to eat bananas is of course, out of hand. But they’re also used for a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Very ripe bananas are perfect for baking in dishes such as Banana Bread.
Bananas freeze beautifully — just peel them and stick them in a zip-top bag for use in smoothies or banana ice cream. If you’re going to freeze them, go one step further and make chocolate covered bananas for an instant dessert.
Nutrition: Bananas are really, really good for you! One medium-sized banana will give you about 12 percent of your daily fiber needs, plus lots of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, potassium and manganese. Bananas even have a bit of protein, iron and calcium.
Our stores only carry organic produce!