"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jerusalem Artichoke

It really isn't an artichoke at all.  It bears no resemblance to the thistle family of which the regular artichoke belongs.  There are probably thousands of people who eradicate this plant as a mere weed and would never think of it as a source of food.  Just like so many other plants.  Dandelion probably being on the top of the list.

Cleverly disguised as tall weeds
So, what is it? Jerusalem artichoke is also known as the sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple or topinambur, is a species of sunflower native to the eastern United States, from Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas. It is also cultivated widely across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.  That's according to Wikipedia.

Prior to moving to this part of Georgia, I had only vaguely heard of Jerusalem artichoke, but never had investigated it further. Then in survival preparedness discussions with other people, the item came up again.  One reason being that it is very much like a weed, seeming to grow in just about any conditions, and that if you don't pay attention to it, it can become an invasive nuisance.

I think on our next to last visit to the farmer's market over in Union County, we met a farmer who was selling gallon ziploc bags of the tubers, and Twyla recognized them right away.  They sorta resemble ginger, since they are a tuber, but their skin is thinner and the nodes seem to grow out straighter from the center axis.  Each one of those nodes of the main tuber is a potential new plant.

We bought two bags of them, and I guess each bag weighed a little over six pounds each.  We paid $5 a bag making them .84¢ a pound.  Not the cheapest food, but nowadays, anything under a dollar a pound is good, and we don't intend to ever have to purchase them again, since I plan to plant a fair amount of them in various places.

Jerusalem Artichoke in bloom
I will admit that I like a lot of different food and that I really like bold flavors, but I like this Jerusalem artichoke even though it is about as bland as you can get.  We sampled some raw before we bought it.  It is very crunchy like a firm, fresh apple.  Whatever flavor it might seem to have can only be described as earthy with just a hint of sweetness.  It has so few calories it could probably be compared to celery in that regard, so if you are on a diet and looking for that kind of munchie snack, I highly recommend it.  I think it beats the snot out of those stupid rice cakes.  Now, I know I would rather eat these than rice cakes after reading this excerpt:

Four sets of rats were given special diets. One group received plain whole wheat, water, vitamins and minerals. Anotehr group received Puffed Wheat, water and the same nutrient solution. A third set was given water and white sugar, and a fourth given nothing but water and the chemical nutrients. The rats which received the whole wheat lived for over a year on the diet. The rats who got nothing but water and vitamins lived for about 8 weeks, and the animals on a white sugar and water diet lived for a month. But [the company's] own laboratory study showed that rats given vitamins, water and all the Puffed Wheat they wanted died in two weeks. It wasn't a matter of the rats dying of malnutrition; results like these suggested that there was something actually toxic about the Puffed Wheat itself. Proteins are very similar to certain toxins in molecular structure, and the puffing process of putting the grain under 1500 pounds per square inch of pressure and then releasing it may produce chemical changes which turn a nutritious grain into a poisonous substance . . . I was shocked, so I showed the report to Dr. Clark, who shared my concern. His predecessor, Dr. Graham, had published the report and begged the company not to continue producing Puffed Wheat because of its poisonous effect on animals. Dr. Clark . . . went right to the president . . . "I know people should throw it on brides and grooms at weddings," [the president] cracked, "but if they insist on sticking it in their mouths, can I help it? Besides, we made $9 million on the stuff last year."
Paul Stitt, Fighting the Food Giants

Jerusalem Artichoke flower
Hat tip to this blogger.  One of many sites on healthy eating worth looking at.  If puffing wheat creates such toxicity, why would puffing rice be any different?  Why would I want to risk my body to find out?

It is also a really nice benefit that this plant will fit right in with all the other flowering medicinal and edible plants around the farm.

Could there be any negatives about Jerusalem artichokes? Well, for some people.  Twyla and I are definitely not your average people.  We love to laugh, so one of the side effects of this tuber is the source of constant fun.  I think I'll quote Wikipedia here for the explanation.

"The inulin is not well digested by some people, leading in some cases to flatulence and gastric pain. Gerard's Herbal, printed in 1621, quotes the English planter John Goodyer on Jerusalem artichokes:
"which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men."[5]

I may post again today if it rains, otherwise, I have a lot to do to get ready to receive our guests for tomorrow's Thanks Giving holiday.  We have so much to be thankful for.  First and foremost for our savior Yeshua (Jesus) for willingly sacrificing Himself for us.  The rest of the list is too long to post here.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Please don't make me disable comments because you couldn't maintain decorum and civil discourse. You can disagree all you want to, just don't get nasty.