Remembering Roots

By Lisa Moes

Farmer at Farmageddon Growers' Collective

Produce Keeper & Collective Manager at People's Food Co-op


The Dutch word gezellig has no direct English translation. Mostly it is an indescribable feeling of well being and a sense of ultimate coziness. My Dutch ancestry, my roots, are calling out to me right now, and this season is the height of gezellig for me. Tank tops are being replaced by sweaters, another blanket is going on the bed and hearty root veggies are taking the place of light summer salads. I am gravitating towards all things cozy.   

Often overlooked and under appreciated, root vegetables seem dull and unappealing. But if you have ever sliced a chiogga beet to reveal the amazing burst of pink and white candy cane stripes, smelled the tantalizing aroma of freshly cut celeriac or tasted the rejuvenating power of red beet juice, you know roots have so much more to offer.

Our produce department stocks a variety of organic roots to fortify and get you through the cooler season ahead. We are fortunate to receive weekly farm-direct root deliveries from amazing growers like Wobbly Cart, Groundwork Organics, Gathering Together Farm, Northwest Organics, and Our Table Co-op.

Below is a list of root veggies with nutrition facts and recipe suggestions. Since I eat all my food raw, I’ve included no-cook ideas to show how versatile and flavorful roots can be. By adding nutritious and tasty roots to your meals, my you find your own version of gezellig for the coming months!

Beets absorb minerals directly from the soil, making them rich in nutrition when grown organically. They are high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium and phosphorus. And save the beet tops! They are good sources of Vitamin A, calcium and iron.

Preparation: Beets can be boiled and served with vinegar or lemon, or they can be made into the well know soup borscht. I enjoy beets sliced thin and pickled with apple cider vinegar. A mix of red, chiogga and golden beets shredded with cabbage and carrots, tossed with ginger tahini dressing makes a filling winter salad. Juice them for a quick nutritious power on their own or add apple and carrot for sweetness.  Use chiogga beet slices to make raw ravioli circles and fill with a variety of nut cheeses, spreads and veggies.

Turnips are high in Vitamin C, and have a stronger, peppery flavor than rutabagas.  Turnips contain beta carotene and turnip greens are rich in Vitamin A.

Preparation: Rutabagas and turnips are similar and can be used in recipes together. Both are good roasted or mashed with potatoes. I enjoy raw turnips and rutabagas when ground into small pieces and used like rice.

Celeriac, sometimes called celery root, is still a bit unknown to a lot of people. Containing Vitamin C, essential minerals such as phosphorus, iron, calcium and copper, celeriac is an important part of the winter diet.

Preparation: Celeriac adds flavor to soups, stews and is nice mashed as a side dish. Enjoy as a more filling version of celery or make a raw version of potato salad using peeled and diced celeriac instead of potatoes.

Radishes are a good source of Vitamin C and are also naturally low in calories.

Preparation: Radishes are not usually cooked, however black radishes lend themselves to roasting quite well. Other than eating them fresh, radishes are wonderful pickled or fermented. Daikon and watermelon radishes are two of my favorites to include in kim chi, and ground horseradish makes for a spicy condiment to help clear any stuffy sinuses.

Carrots, a staple root, are known for beta-carotene which converts to Vitamin A, essential for healthy eyes and good bone and tooth formation.

Preparation: Carrots are often added to stews, roasted with potatoes or other roots, or made into muffins or cakes. Raw carrots are always an easy snack. I add carrots when I make kim chi for depth and sweetness. I also make a raw carrot ginger soup that is especially warming this time of year.

Burdock is high in potassium, B6, magnesium as well as a good amount of calcium, phosphorous, iron and copper. Burdock also contains the beneficial fiber called inulin, which promotes the growth of helpful bacteria in the large intestine, thus improving the immune system. This is especially important during the cold and flu season. 

Preparation: Peel and slice burdock and add to stir fries, soups and salads. Make into a healthful tea. I enjoy adding burdock to various raw meals, either shredded or chopped. And since it contains Vitamin B6, which regulates mood, burdock is helpful when the days may seem a little too dark and gloomy.

Parsnips need cold weather to convert the starch in the root to sugar, so they are at their best when the temperature drops. Like many root veggies, they contain a variety of essential minerals.

Preparation:  Use in soups, cut into cubes and puree for an added bit of sweetness. Roast or mash with other roots. My favorite parsnip recipe is to make them into chips - I slice them thin, toss with a little olive oil and salt and dehydrate until crisp. Yum!

When in doubt - roast 'em!  Cut veggies into similar sized pieces 1-2 inches, drizzle with olive oil, toss with salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, and roast at 425 for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.  Share with loved ones.   Co-op Tip! Leftover roasted root veggies transform splendidly into breakfast hash or burrito filling. 

When in doubt - roast 'em! Cut veggies into similar sized pieces 1-2 inches, drizzle with olive oil, toss with salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, and roast at 425 for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.  Share with loved ones. 

Co-op Tip! Leftover roasted root veggies transform splendidly into breakfast hash or burrito filling. 

School Aid Fruit: 90% Proceeds Go To Local Schools

School aid apples and pears, which fill a bin at People’s every fall, seem too good to be true. The little fruits embody everything that the Co-op stands for.

They’re organic. They’re local. At only 99¢ a pound they’re affordable. They’re delicious. But best of all; more than 90% of what you pay for them goes straight to schools in our community. Essentially, when you buy school aid apples and pairs you are making a donation to local schools, and getting local organic fruit in return.

The program is simple. A local farm sells the fruit to the Co-op and donates 100% of the price to community schools. The produce buyers at People’s are committed to buying and stocking these fruits—fruit that the store makes no money by selling—year and year again. Our produce department saves space on the crowded sales floor and sells (they usually add 10% to cover losses) and folks like you chose to buy the school aid fruit instead of any of the other plethora of choices in the produce section. School Aid works because a farmer, a store and shoppers all make the choice together to support their community.

The School Aid apples and pears can make a powerful difference in our communities. However, to understand the School Aid fruits and the program they make possible you have to know where they come from.

The apples and pairs that fill People’s School Aid bins all come from Mt. Hood Organic Farm. The farm lies to the south of Hood River, 6 miles, as the crow flies, form the summit of Wy’east. To call the orchard beautiful is an understatement.

The farm is as unique as it is picturesque. The orchard is the first property to draw from the east fork of Hood River. The melt water that irrigates the trees is as pure as it gets. Mt. Hood Organic Farm’s altitude means that the fruits grown there are usually smaller, but sweeter, than those produced by other orchards. Just like wine grapes from different vineyards, apples and pears from different orchards—with their unique micro-climates—have very different properties. The fruits’ size and unique flavor makes them perfect for light snacking or for school lunches.

One of the most unique things about the farm is the man who runs it; John Jacobs. He exemplifies the old proverb about good deeds: “don’t let your left hand know what your right is doing”. The school aid program is his invention; he just doesn’t want any credit.

John Jacobs has an inspiring vision for the world and in his words it looks a lot like “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.” In the Neighborhood, people know one another, and take care of each other. The philosophy informs everything that Mt. Hood Organic Farm does. The orchard was the first to grow and organic apples and pears in the region. Despite the financial challenges of farming in this way Mt. Hood Organic has worked tirelessly to be good to their neighbors downstream, their environment, and their customers.

Mt. Hood Organic Farm also gives back to their communities directly. Through the School Aid program thousands of dollars are donated every year to education. A few times a year the farm even hosts classes of kids who come out and pack bags of fruit to sell which raise money for class trips and other educational opportunities.

In Jacob’s neighborhood “People’s is the only grocery store.” The Co-op fits well into the vision of neighborliness that he describes. The Co-op has been buying organic apples and pears from the farm for 30 years. People’s has always given him the best price for his fruit. Produce buyers from other natural grocery stores consistently try to barter and undercut the asking price for the produce—making the difficult job of organic farming harder. The produce buyers at People’s, according to Jacobs, have never tried to haggle with him or buy fruit for less than the Farm knows they need to cover their costs and make a living.

People’s is also the only store in Portland to currently sell School Aid fruit. The store makes no money selling it, and gives up valuable retail space to do so. But offering School Aid apples and pears year after year is something that our produce team believes in.        

The little School Aid fruits stand for something huge. They stand for strong communities, for a long-term commitment to affordable organics, for high quality foods, and for a much-needed people before profits approach to life and business. It’s not often that a few little fruits can stand for so much good—or that your dollars can so directly support your community and values.

Farm Tour - This Saturday!

Farm Tour 2015: Cultivate the Connection

Saturday, August 22

8am - 4:30pm

Join us on a tour of three local farms and cultivate a deeper connection to our farmers and local food system.  We’ll start at Ayers Creek in Gaston, OR.  Then we’ll make our way to Mustard Seed Farm – our number one supplier of farm direct produce – in St. Paul, OR.  Final stop will be at Flying Onion Farm – one of our regular vendors at our weekly Farmers’ Market. 

Breakfast, lunch, goodie bag and transportation are included.  Tickets are $35 general admission and $25 limited income or kids. 

Tickets on sale now in-store at People's, Food Front and Alberta Co-ops.  

Local, Organic Cantaloupe on sale 50c/LB!

That's right, you read right!

Organic Cantaloupe from Hermiston, Oregon is on sale until Sunday night 8/2!

Every tried grilling these juicy melons?  

The smokey heat of the grill brings out the sweet, carmel flavor and gets juices flowing even before it hits your mouth.  

You've got the grill, we've got the melon.  Come on by!  


Come get your hands dirty at Grow Portland!  

We will visit one of the community farming at Grow Portland and lend a hand to this amazing non-profit that strives to create direct access to locally grown food by creating more opportunities for urban gardening and urban agriculture.  



Meet at People's at 8:30am to carpool to Grow Portland.

Work Party! 9am - 12pm

Lunch 12-1pm 

Return to People's at 1:30pm

This event is free and open to all.  Space is limited - email to register.