Saturday, June 25, 2011

Garlic Scapes "R" Us!

Here are a few photos of what is taking all of our time right now, our beautiful and scrumptiously delicious garlic scapes, which thankfully waited until after our son's wedding to mature and be ready for selling at the farmers' markets and to area chefs. We hit the ground running after his wedding and have been going full-speed to get them harvested and sold over the past two weeks.

We have loved being back at three local farmers' markets, greeting last year's customers and making new ones, too! We have even opened up our farm for a few days of 'U-pick' and had lots of fun helping those people pick the scapes (which believe me, is SO much easier than picking strawberries!). 

Here are just a few pictures of some of our garlic scapes and farmers' market activity.

(Photo: Dick and Diana, our first appearance at the markets for 2011, at the Ypsilanti Downtown Farmers' Market sponsored by Growing Hope - we are FAR less frazzled in this picture than the one taken a year ago on our very first market appearance as new vendors!)
(Photo: Our Garlic Scape sign board - we are very close to finishing our logo development and then we'll be off to the races with a banner, real business cards, t-shirts for us, a stamp for the little paper bags that we'll put the heads of garlic in, even a Facebook page, etc, etc! I really don't know why we set up our chairs, since it is very rare that we sit down!)

(Photo: Elephant garlic scapes - these do not curl, and elephant garlic is actually not garlic, but a type of leek.)
(Photo: My favorite view of our fields this year. I love looking at the winding road leading to our farm at the end of the dirt road. If you look carefully, you can see differences in the field showing evidence of the 42 varieties we are growing this year.)
(Photo: one single beautiful garlic scape, ready to 'head north' to flower - this is a Killarney Red. This is still fine to cut and eat, but left to shoot up further, it will start to get stiff enough to hold up the flower, thus the garlic category "hard neck" or "stiff-neck". We only sell the scapes when they are still very tender. )
(Photo: Also a Killarney Red, which has not even done its first loop yet, edible at this stage, but it will still grow some more before getting stiff.)
(Photo: One perfect Killarney Red, perfect to pick for eating and also perfect to pick to wear as a bracelet!)
(Photo: Yes, we do eat garlic scapes in addition to taking their pictures and selling them. Here is an easy and beautiful way to use them. Just lay the whole scapes on top of a piece of fish to cook and you end up with perfectly seasoned fish, perfectly cooked scapes, and a gorgeous presentation!)
(Photo: Froggie scape, taken by my good friends at Frog Holler Farm, Brooklyn, MI)

(Photo: my car's bumper stickers with "No Farms, No Food" from The American Farmland Trust on the left and "Know Farms, Know Food" from Ann Arbor-based on the right)
We are bringing fallow farm land back into organic production and want people to know and enjoy both our farm and our food.

My friend Megan at Hand Sown Farm in Manchester writes on her blog that 'farming is not romantic........but it is glorious." I could not agree more. :-)

Lastly, we have had some press lately in the on-line version of the Ann Arbor News at:

1) an article that mentions our green garlic
2) an article about our garlic scapes
3) another article that mentions our garlic scapes

We are more than a bit surprised to have this press, but it makes us very happy. We love what we are doing and fall into bed both contented and exhausted each and night. The best part? Waking up to the birds singing outside of our bedroom at the crack of dawn, eager to go see what 50+ things need to be done today! :-)

Remember that the garlic scape season is very very short, only 2-3 weeks. I hope you haven't missed them where you live. If you are living in the upper Midwest, the season is now! 

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Nutrition and Cancer Survivorship Videos

I've been absent from my blog since my son's wedding but I'll come back with more farm and food updates in a few days.

In the meantime, I can't wait to share these three terrific helpful videos made specifically to help cancer survivors begin to wade through the maze of nutrition information available, or even possibly in contrast, the lack of information provided at their own cancer center.

These three videos were made by my colleague Karen Sabbath at the Harold Leever Cancer Center in Waterbury, CT,  and they each reinforce exactly what I have said in my book and on my website and blog. They are a great resource easily available for people to get started with the question "What can I do to help myself?" after a cancer diagnosis.

Please share them with friends and relatives who may need some initial information to get started and then feel free to steer them back to my book A Dietitian's Cancer Story, website, and three blogs,, for even more 'information and inspiration' to stay on the cancer survivorship path to a healthy new life.

General Nutrition Guidelines for Cancer Survivors

Putting It All Together: Cooking Demo

Dining Out Guidelines for Cancer Survivorship

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wonderful Wedding Weekend

Exhausted but exhilarated is an accurate description of how I feel this morning. I don't have any photos to share but details keep zooming through my mind's eye and heart as I reflect on all the joys we felt during the past week's activities.

We shared a lot of love and food over the weekend, with as much as possible of the food coming from our local farmers and producers, so a wide section of our community was involved with the 'wedding wows'. :-)

We now know that we can easily and comfortably feed 32 people at a sit-down meal in our barn and that we can enjoyably entertain a large number of people at an 'open house' in our farm home's large rooms. Funny thing though, even with our big open house, our kitchen was always filled with people (I think many of them were waiting to be first in line when the rhubarb scones came out of the oven!).

So now my husband and I are entering the 'after June 12th' phase of our life. We are disorganized but moved into our farm, both boys are now married and I have two daughters - woohoo - I love it!!, and our 'city house' is in the process of being sold.

I think today we can finally start 'just' being garlic farmers. So, I need to keep this post short because it's time to get organized and ready to harvest our garlic scapes to sell at three local farmers' markets starting tomorrow (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons). Whew!! On Friday morning, we'll have time to look at each other and again, enjoy the feeling of being both exhausted but exhilarated!

I'll end with the grace I read at the rehearsal dinner. I tried, but I was not able to read it with wanting to cry tears of both joy and happiness in addition to gratitude at being present for my older son's wedding.

As we begin this meal with grace,
Let us become aware of the memory
Carried inside the food before us:
The quiver of the seed
Awakening in the earth,
Unfolding in a trust of roots
And slender stems of growth,
On its voyage toward harvest,
The kiss of rain and surge of sun;
The innocence of animal soul
That never spoke a word,
Nourished by the earth
To today become our food;
The work of all the strangers
Whose hands prepared it,
The privilege of wealth and health
That enables us to feast and celebrate.

~~ John O'Donohue, from his book To Bless the Space Between Us

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mystery vegetable revealed!

Such good guesses. Now I want to get an Italian seed catalog, too! I was told this mystery vegetable is puntarelle (Catalogna de Galatina), a relative of chicory. If you do a search with that term, you can see images that pretty clearly match the photos I shared in previous posts, although the version I was sold was still immature, not fully bulbed out at the bottom.

I bought these beautiful, bitter greens at the Ann Arbor Westside Market from Dragonwood Farm in Clinton, MI. Now I am inspired to see what other vegetables are at the markets that are new to me! How about for all of you? Please comment if you find one. :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mystery vegetable guesses getting closer!

Kateri asked how I fixed it. I cut the mystery vegetable (on the left side of the photo) into short pieces, each about the length of the asparagus pieces at the top of the photo and did a quick stir-fry with some fresh kale, the asparagus, and tofu, which I served over quinoa because that was quicker to prepare than the brown rice I usually use.

Yes, in the immature state this vegetable is used as a green. Yes, it is very commonly grown and served in Italy, particularly around Rome. BTW, I knew none of this, but the wonders of the internet have brought me up to speed.

My husband really tastes his food, and he called this stir-fry combination a 'wake-up' meal! In contrast, last night I used about that same amount of the mystery vegetable, again cut up and then added to a quart of turkey broth and meat bits that I used to finish cooking a full pound of pasta. Other than color, it was not a stand-out part of the dish. (no photo, sorry). I had tasted it raw (white root end and the green tips) again last night and yes, it was still a taste that says "I'm on center stage, not in the wings!" The taste is beyond 'peppery' to what I would call 'bitter'. I added it to the broth for just a short minute before combining the broth with the drained (and not quite done) pasta.

It is not lemon grass, salsify or scorzonera, all great guesses but not correct. However, the guesses are getting closer, closer! :-) In Italy, it is commonly served when mature by meticulously cleaning and carefully cutting each stem in half length-wise, putting them in water for 30 minutes to curl up, grating the bulb over the drained greens, and then finishing with an anchovy-based dressing.

I wonder if I have given you enough hints to pull something else up from your memories or even google a few key words I have mentioned to venture another guess or two.

Back to wedding planning for me, plus house and barn tidying! I'll check in tomorrow to see if anyone else has a flash of insight!

BTW, my bluebird woke me up at 5:54 AM today, singing right outside our bedroom window. I can't think of a happier alarm clock. I was able to take a photo of him at 7:04 but it was too blurry to post. I have to work on not being so excited with the camera. :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Keeping my eyes open - two new things!

Strolling (as opposed to dashing, which my husband and I have been doing continuously for the past two years) allows one to see more and to savor what is seen. Occasionally, when strolling and allowing time to focus on what one is seeing (i.e. savoring), something new can be found! In this case, on our first two days of feeling like we have crossed a threshold without even seeing it (i.e., far less dashing), I saw two unexpected things: 1) a brand new, to me, vegetable for sale at our local farmers' market, and 2) a new critter home in an unexpected place.

I am going to post up photos, without names to see if anyone knows what they are looking at and would like to tell us all (or even just a good guess!) in the comment section. No worries, I'll let you know eventually but I'll give you a few days to ponder and/or make comments before I chime in again.

(Photo: New critter home in the garlic field)

(Photo: New critter home in the garlic field - close up)

(Photo: New vegetable)

(Photo: new vegetable next to oranges for size comparison)

(Photo: new vegetable - close up)
A friend who read my previous post with the EB White quote about the difficulty of knowing how to plan the day when deciding whether to "save the world or savor the world" offered a very good point. She thought that learning to savor a section of the world may lead one to working at saving it, thus those choices are not mutually exclusive and actually complement and support each other.

So yesterday my "Action Alert" post urging people to make time and find courage (or maybe the other way around) to write a letter to the American College of Surgeons supporting the need for nutritional services for cancer patients was certainly about "saving the world", but it was also about "savoring the world" because nutritional support during and after a cancer diagnosis promotes both extension of life and quality of life (and personally, if push comes to shove, I will chose improved quality of life over extension of life hands down).

Today my post about taking the time to notice the small things, to find delight in new things, is first about savoring the world but also about saving the world. I'll illustrate that connection with two of my favorite quotes by Aldo Leopold, author of the classic book A Sand County Almanac:

“ not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals.”

“The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals….In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.”

My new vegetable (hint: well-known in another country) and my critter taking up new residence in our garlic field are representatives of the fountain of energy flowing through the universe, of which I am a 'plain member and citizen'. While I have always savored being outdoors, it has been the writings of Aldo Leopold, which I first read back in the early 1970's, that helped me understand and commit to respecting and advocating for the land community, in fact needing to be its steward, needing 'to save' my little corner of the world wherever I have lived.

As I drive down the dirt road to our farm (to which we have finally moved 99% of our stuff, which will likely always have unopened boxes), as I think about my younger son's wedding last summer, my older son's wedding next weekend (and like my future daughter in law, I am unexpectedly calm today), my new vegetable, my new critter, bluebirds waking me up at 6 am singing outside my bedroom window, new and old friends, etc, etc, it is not an exaggeration to say that I frequently have tears of happiness in my eyes (which, darn it, are a hazard when dodging potholes, gullies, and sink-holes along our dirt road!).

So enough musing a week before my son's wedding. Of course we have a million things to do or think about, but we cannot wait !!! to welcome home our family and friends, to our new home, 'down on the farm', for one of life's happiest occasions whether we are 'ready' or not! The next week will be the happiest chaos I can imagine........... :-)

Inch by inch, row by row, I have made it this far; we have made it this far, and together we will savor every single second of it. :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"
Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, June 3, 2011

Action Alert: Please write NOW to support nutrition in cancer centers

I have recently learned there is an opportunity to provide input/comments about new standards the American College of Surgeons is proposing for their Cancer Program Standards, which cancer centers will need to meet in order to receive accreditation. The deadline is tight (the new standards will be published July 1, 2011 with implementation January 1, 2012) so this is the time to act.

My letter follows. It has already been sent. Please do not copy it word for word but feel free to use it for ideas. I would suggest writing a personal paragraph of how including nutrition as a component of your cancer care did help or would have helped you or a loved one.

Now or ?????? who knows when another opportunity will arise again, at least from this aspect of care. Every possible open door is critical to try to get in. Yes, as I stated in my letter, it is inaccurate and incomprehensible that any cancer center could call itself 'patient-centered' or 'comprehensive' without providing proactive nutritional care as appropriate for all people diagnosed with cancer.

Please send the letter to the following email address
UPDATE: The committee meeting to review last comments is Wednesday, June 8, 2011. Please send in a comment before that date. Please feel free to share this opportunity widely. 

I should be working on the million+ details for my son's wedding, but this oversight or omission is too important for the 1.4 million people who will be diagnosed with cancer this year in the US. Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts on this urgent issue! 

Thank you very much,
Diana Dyer, MS, RD

June 3, 2011

To Whom It May Concern:

It has come to my attention that the changes The American College of Surgeons is proposing for their Cancer Program Standards that must be met in order to achieve accreditation do not include a standard that requires an accredited cancer center to provide nutritional counseling, or even more appropriately, nutritional intervention (i.e., Medical Nutrition Therapy, MNT) as indicated by proactive nutritional screening.

To be able to say that an accredited cancer center is providing "patient-centered care" and/or is providing "comprehensive cancer care" without including the professional expertise of a Registered Dietitian (RD) as a full-functioning member of the oncology team of professionals is both inaccurate and incomprehensible.

Cancer never/rarely happens in a vacuum, and nearly all newly diagnosed cancer patients already have a host of nutritionally related diagnoses that can compromise the effectiveness of cancer therapies and the quality of life (pre-existing diabetes being just one example). In addition, breast cancer patients frequently gain weight during cancer therapies, which is now well documented to increase the risk of a recurrence and death from breast cancer. Providing this type of information and appropriate proactive nutritional intervention and support by an RD (preferably an RD who is also a Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition, CSO) should be required for accreditation by all cancer centers.

It has also been estimated that up to 40 % of all cancer deaths are caused by malnutrition, not the cancer itself. Malnutrition as an expected outcome of cancer treatments is an "outdated" belief. Research continues to demonstrate that maintaining adequate nutritional status during cancer treatments (proactively and individualized interventions) is critical to optimizing the best outcome from those treatments.

Lastly, it has also been well-demonstrated that late intervention (the "crash and burn" scenario) happens all too often when the only nutritional intervention a cancer center provides is the bare minimum standard of having the  staffing and expertise of an RD be "available" (and typically reactive) but not proactively as a full-functioning member of the oncology team. This type of intervention is simply "too little, too late" and so sad to say, usually wasted time, expertise, expense, and hope.

I will end by rewording a statement I made earlier in this comment. All accredited cancer centers that strive to provide "patient-centered care" and/or "comprehensive cancer care" without question need to include the professional expertise of a Registered Dietitian (and preferably one that is also a Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition, CSO) as a full-functioning member of the oncology team of professionals.

Your patients will benefit from having a strong standard that includes proactive nutritional oncology care as an expectation of true comprehensive cancer care, and they will also thank you.


Diana Dyer, MS, RD
Ann Arbor, MI
• Registered Dietitian and multiple-time cancer survivor
• Author: A Dietitian's Cancer Story (1997, in continuous publication with 13 reprints)
• Proceeds donated to the Diana Dyer Cancer Survivors' Nutrition and Cancer Survivorship Research Endowment at the American Institute for Cancer Research (funding research projects since 2000)
• Former Elected Board Member of The Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association (Initiated the Survivorship Subunit, Standards of Professional Practice and Standards of Professional Performance, Certification Specialty for Oncology Nutrition)
• Invited Speaker to the American Society of Breast Surgeons Annual Meeting, 2007, 2005
• Website:
• Blog: