How you can help those impacted by the Thomas Fire

December 21st, 2017

Support Relief efforts across Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties to provide support to our Southern California neighbors.

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Feeding the firemen fighting the Thomas Fire: José Andrés of World Central Kitchen hands out Ojai-grown tangerines from Churchill Orchards collected by Food Forward.

 

The Thomas Fire is something that we Southern Californians always knew in the back of our minds could happen, but we likely never really thought it would happen to us. Yet it did. And what we witnessed in the face of crisis is a strong, resilient, compassionate, and proud community. Food Forward would like to recognize that, as a community partner in Ventura for the last 7 years, we are in this together, with you all.

As the Thomas Fire continues to burn in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, displacing many of our Food Forward family and impacting the entire region, many of our produce recovery events in the area have been postponed in respect to those who have been affected and in response to poor air quality. All harvests will be postponed until the New Year, and farmers market gleans will happen on a case-by-case basis.

This tragic event has left a scar on our community, and it will continue to impact the Ventura Branch and our friends in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. In the coming weeks, Food Forward will be working with regional partners to establish a coordinated response; one that considers the long-term effort of supporting those affected while rebuilding our community. We will keep you posted as these opportunities emerge and when there are ways for you to get involved. Thank you to those who have already helped out with Emergency Relief in some way. For those of you looking to get involved now, we can recommend a few things:
 

FINANCIAL DONATIONS 

Our friends at the United Way of Ventura County are accepting donations for fire victims in Ventura County. You can also donate directly to victims on Go Fund Me. 
 

NON-FINANCIAL DONATIONS

The Red Cross has been inundated with donation items, and volunteers are sorting through these piles of generosity. Before collecting all of the unwanted items in your house and dropping them off at a site, please check to see what can be of use. You can call the local Red Cross at 805-987-1514.
 

VOLUNTEER

The Red Cross – providing evacuation centers for displaced community members.
World Central Kitchen – cooking and distributing meals to 2,000 evacuees and first responders twice daily.
Food Bank of Santa Barbara County – distributing emergency food to those in need for the entire week.
L.A. Kitchen – organizing volunteers, food donors, and chefs to to help prepare wholesome, healthy meals for Californians affected by the wildfires.

We also recommend reaching out to your local church and community organizations, as many of them will take on the sustained relief effort for those impacted.
 

If you have ideas and or specific ways that you think we can make the most impact in Ventura County, please contact our VC Branch Office at 805-630-2728. We will be back in action with regular events as soon as the dust settles. We hope that you can take this down time from harvesting food to help with disaster relief.

**If you or another member of the Food Forward family was impacted by the fire, let us know. We would love to support in any way possible.**

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Double YOUR Impact on Giving Tuesday

November 26th, 2017

You can help Food Forward recover TWICE as much fresh produce on Tuesday, November 28 by raising funds or donating on Facebook. For one day only, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be matching up to $2 million raised on Facebook for nonprofits.

 

giving-tuesday

 

Tuesday, November 28 marks the beginning of Food Forward’s End of Year Fundraising campaign! From now until the end of the year, it’s our goal to raise $100,000 to help bring more fresh fruits and vegetables to people in need than ever before. For every $1 you donate, Food Forward will get 11 pounds of produce to our neighbors who need it most.

 

Want to DOUBLE your impact on Giving Tuesday?

 

For one day only, November the 28th, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be matching up to $2 million raised on Facebook for nonprofits. Facebook will also waive its fees!

How can you take advantage of the match and help jumpstart our End of Year Campaign? On Tuesday, simply go to the Food Forward Facebook page, hit the donate button, and make your contribution. It’s that easy!

OR…

Consider launching your own Facebook fundraiser. Click here to check out the new page on our Food Forward website to find out how you can create your own fundraiser. In a few short steps, you’ll be set to tell the world how much you care about fighting hunger and food waste!

Be sure to donate early before the match runs out! Donations from 8:00 am EST on November 28 will be matched — up to $50,000 per nonprofit, or $1,000 per fundraiser.

But, wait! There’s more!

If you make a $200 donation on Facebook or mobilize your friends and family to raise $200 or more for your campaign on Giving Tuesday, we’ll send you a free Food Forward Weekender (pictured below). This generously-sized sturdy carryall will tote-ally be your new favorite bag!

 

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Please note! You can only get your free Weekender on Giving Tuesday. After your donation has been made through Facebook or your campaign reaches $200, email Pam Guerra with your name and address. Then we’ll mail you a Weekender!

 

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Community Service Opportunities at Food Forward

October 27th, 2017

10.27.17 – Fall is the perfect season to start looking into places to do community service. Schools are getting started, the holidays are coming up, and it’s the right time to start planning your resolutions for the coming year. While we look for volunteers to come out and join us all year round, and have community service opportunities nearly every day of the year, now is definitely a great time to get started!

Harvest Food, Fight Hunger, Complete Community Service

How do you complete community service at Food Forward?

To get started, head on over to our volunteer calendar, find an event that works for you, and submit our quick registration form to sign up. We’ll send you a confirmation email when you sign up, and a reminder email before the event. If you have any questions, you can get in touch with our volunteer team at an point by emailing volunteer@foodforward.org.

Sign Up for Community Service Opportunities

A happy Food Forward Volunteer

Thumbs Up! Photo by Zack Warburg

What is Community Service?

Community service is exactly what it sounds like: serving your community! There are so many reasons that people volunteer their time to serve their own and neighboring communities.

Whether you’re completing required volunteer hours, have some spare time, or just want to give back, everyone is welcome to volunteer. We make it easy for you to sign up and come out, and if you need proof of community service, we’re more than happy to verify the time you spend volunteering with us.

Students at the CSUN Day of Service

Where can I complete Community Service with Food Forward?

All over Southern California! You can complete community service hours at any of our food recovery events in Los Angeles or Ventura counties. We have events at different locations nearly every day of the week.

Our volunteers are out at over 20 farmers markets every week, and depending on the season, many fruit and produce harvests as well. To see all of our upcoming volunteer opportunities, check out our volunteer calendar.

How to confirm my volunteer hours?

It’s easy! Sign up for as few or as many events as you’d like on our volunteer calendar. Once you complete your required hours, send us an email at volunteer@foodforward.org. Let us know that you require proof of your community service, and we’ll send you our official form.

Please give us up to a week to process your volunteer hours form. If you know you’re going to need verification, it’s best to let us know early so that we can get it to you on time!

If you have a different form that you need us to fill out, that’s no problem either! Bring it out to each event you come to, and have your Food Forward Event Leader sign off on the date. If you have any questions, get in touch with us at volunteer@foodforward.org.

Our proof of community service volunteer hours form

Why choose Food Forward for your service project?

Why not!? Food Forward’s service events are fun, outdoor, and social. You can sign up for one event or as many as you’d like, and all of our volunteer opportunities are short and sweet as an orange. Even better, you will get to see the impact that you are making immediately. Nothing is sweeter than that!

Sign Up for Community Service Opportunities

Volunteers completing community service at a farmers market

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New Fruitlings, welcome aboard!

October 5th, 2017

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We are completely CITRIFIED to announce that Richard Weinroth has formally joined high-level activities across Fruitland as our first Director of Programs. Richard comes to Food Forward after nearly a decade-long stint as the Foodbank Director at MEND Poverty in the San Fernando Valley. He has been like family since Food Forward co-founder Erica Kopmar first handed three boxes of fresh-picked backyard oranges to him in Lake Balboa in the summer of 2009. In addition to leading triage efforts post-Katrina in New Orleans, as well as cheffing and owning his own restaurant, Richard has hands-on experience in hunger relief.

Food Forward Executive Director Rick Nahmias explains, “Being able to bring Richard’s huge brain, heart and vision into our organization is truly a dream come true. He’s been on the sidelines of the creation and growth of all our programs, coaching and supporting us, but knowing he will now be right in the mix with us as we amp up our capacity, geographic reach and volunteer engagement, is an opportunity we are incredibly excited by and grateful for. The clincher though was his nifty Hot Wheel collection.”

 

579183_337858832936758_21317562_nRichard Weinroth at an early Food Forward fruit pick
 

“I see this as a job that I get to do, not a job that I have to do. I’ve loved what Food Forward does since our very first phone call nearly 9 years ago when, as the Foodbank Director and Chef at MEND Poverty, I showed up in my old Fiat to pick up a few boxes of freshly picked oranges, not far from where the Food Forward’s Fruit Cave now stands. I look forward to being part of Food Forward’s passionate team and working with our thousands of volunteers focused on doing our part to end food waste, and helping bring fresh and healthy food to so many families’ tables.” – Richard Weinroth

We are also excited to welcome Pamela Guerra as a full-time Development Associate. Pam comes to us after a stint at 826LA and recently graduating from UC Irvine with a master’s degree in urban and regional planning. She brings a great mind and an artistic eye to our growing development team and, from the looks of the wonderful creativity she brought to our recent staff retreat and scavenger hunt, we can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us.

“Having previously worked on the academic and policy side of food insecurity and food waste issues, I am looking forward to becoming involved with a different piece of this complex puzzle by working with an organization that rescues produce and connects it to those in need. I’m also a fairly recent transplant to Southern California, and I am excited to serve my community by helping address the very basic needs of food and nutrition.” – Pamela Guerra

 

pam-head-pineapplePamela Guerra: Head Pineapple at Food Forward’s 2017 staff retreat

Please help us welcome both these new talents to our family and feel free to drop Rich or Pam an email to say hello!

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Wasted: The Story of Food Waste

October 3rd, 2017

10.3.17 – Join us on Wednesday, October 18 for a special screening of Anthony’s Bourdain’s ‘Wasted! The Story of Food Waste’ followed by a Q&A with Food Forward Founder/Executive Director Rick Nahmias.

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WASTED!
The Story of Food Waste

A ZERO POINT ZERO FILMS PRODUCTION
WITH SUPPORT FROM THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION

October 18, 7:30 PM
 Laemmle Monica Film Center

 

After the screening, Former Los Angeles Times Food Writer Mary MacVean will moderate a conversation with Rick Nahmias, Founder and Executive Director of Food Forward, an organization leading the way in food recovery here in Southern California.  Joining the panel is chef, author and food activist Sammy Monsour, of Preux & Proper.
 

Reserve your tickets here!

 
STATEMENT FROM EXECUTIVE PRODUCER/NARRATOR ANTHONY BOURDAIN:

“I’m not an activist but the intent of this film aligns with something that’s very much personal. I came up in kitchen regimes where you live by an absolute rule of using everything and wasting nothing, and of course, as a traveler, I see again and again how circumstances force people to cook incredibly well with the often very little food available to them. One film isn’t going to cure all of society’s ills but if a few people start thinking about what they’re eating for dinner in a different way or think twice about throwing out what is often the best stuff, it’s a good day.”
 

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Rebuilding the lives of torture survivors

October 2nd, 2017

9.29.17 – Food Forward receiving agency Program for Torture Victims (PTV) goes above and beyond to assist a vastly underserved population: survivors of torture and persecution rebuilding their lives here, in California. A healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables is crucial to client recovery.

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PTV offers medical and dental services to torture survivors

 
Food Forward is proud to work with so many incredible agency partners who receive our recovered fruits and vegetables. Just in the last year, we have donated rescued produce to 166 hunger relief agencies, some of whom distribute to an additional 350 direct service agencies. Receiving produce from Food Forward means organizations are better able to meet the needs of their clients, who may not otherwise have access to the fruits and vegetables essential to a healthy diet.

One of the agencies we’ve started supporting this year, through the Farmers Market Recovery program, is the Program for Torture Victims (PTV). A Los Angeles-based agency, PTV is the first of its kind in the nation. Through their unique nonprofit model, PTV rebuilds the lives of torture survivors from over 70 countries who have stood up for freedom, democracy, and human dignity. PTV helps to heal physical and psychological wounds, making it possible for survivors to start a second life here in California and work toward a world without torture.
 

ptv1A PTV client and staff member, Claudia Vargas, share their support for the organization

 
Refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world are resettled in here in Los Angeles. Although they’re not a group we often hear about, survivors of torture are often among these populations. State-sponsored torture is used to punish, take revenge, and create terror. It’s shockingly prevalent, with over 110 countries engaging in state-sponsored torture in the last decade. PTV also assists victims of persecution, defined as systemic mistreatment or violence against a group of people. Anyone can be a victim of state-sponsored torture or persecution– people of any age, religion, race, gender, or sexuality.

PTV offers comprehensive services to its clients, including counseling, medical care, legal support, and healing groups. Now, PTV is able to supply clients with fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables each week, gleaned by Food Forward from the West Hollywood Farmers Market. Since our partnership began in July, Food Forward has recovered and donated over 1,100 pounds of fresh produce to PTV.
 

ptv-la-staffRemarkable PTV Los Angeles staff members: Claudia Vargas; Trip Oldfield; Maggie Shackelford; Dr. Cynthia Willard; Carol Gomez; and Carly Boos

 
Trip Oldfield, PTV’s Executive Director, said, “For many torture survivors, they arrive in the U.S. with little more than the clothes on their backs. Having access or the means to buy fresh fruits and vegetables is usually something out of reach, but it’s also something that’s crucial to their health and road to recovery. PTV is extremely grateful for the wonderful produce that Food Forward has made available to our clients.”

We’re honored to be a partner to a group doing such remarkable, important work in our Los Angeles community.

As part of the Food Forward family, thank you for supporting our work with impactful agencies like the Program for Torture Victims. Because of the robust food recovery community we’ve built, Food Forward is able to support survivors of torture with fresh, healthy foods as they reenter society and reclaim their identities.
 
Learn more about the Program for Torture Victims: http://ptvla.org/

Learn more about Farmers Market Recovery: https://foodforward.org/about/farmers-market/

Sign up to glean at the West Hollywood Farmers Market: https://foodforward.org/events/

 

ptv4PTV Development Director Cam Vu shares the impact of persistence

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The peaches shine: a Q&A with Mohawk Bend

September 27th, 2017

9.27.17 — As part of September’s #ProduceChange initiative, Mohawk Bend in Echo Park is offering a unique pizza to benefit Food Forward’s work to fight hunger and food waste. We chatted with Chef Drew to learn about his Peach Forward creation and why Mohawk Bend is so passionate about giving back to their community.

image6The Peach Forward pizza is available at Mohawk Bend through September. $4 from each pizza sold benefits Food Forward’s produce recovery work.


We chose peaches to kick off Produce Change because they’re so emblematic of this time of year. So, what makes Peach Forward the perfect way to enjoy peaches?

Peach Forward balances all of those sweet, end-of-summer flavors from the peaches and tomatoes with the spicy, smokiness of Chorizo de Bilbao. The peaches shine in this savory dish because their consistency allows them to hold their own next to the dense Spanish sausage and tangy, peppery layers of mozzarella, arugula and goat cheese.


Mohawk
 Bend has been quietly supporting — and drawing attention to — local nonprofits for years, every month of the calendar! We think Piece of the Pie is such a cool project. What’s been the most rewarding part of organizing that initiative? Have there been any challenges?

The most rewarding part is connecting our favorite organizations with our guests! We love to share and celebrate the amazing work happening in our community.The only challenge is choosing who to highlight each month. There’s so much good happening all over Los Angeles.


We were fortunate enough to be a Piece of the Pie recipient all the way back in 2013, so clearly, you’re a fan! What excites you about Food Forward?

Everything! We love your mission, values and ethos Your mission aligns so well with our values. We hope everyone in Los Angeles (and beyond!) discovers your food rescue and hunger-fighting program.

 

Your support of Food Forward is just one part of your larger effort to build a better world — to produce change — through the food you serve. How else does Mohawk Bend share this ethos with its customers?

As a neighborhood business we believe in supporting our local economy and other businesses with values similar to ours. This means, whenever possible, local vendors get first priority. As such, we are proud to source our menu from an array of local brewers, regional farmers and thoughtful California makers.

 

Click here to learn about Produce Change!

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A few peachy questions with Clementine

September 21st, 2017

9.21.17 — As part of September’s #ProduceChange initiative, Clementine is offering a peach-tastic Indian Summer chicken sandwich to benefit Food Forward’s work to fight hunger and food waste. We sat down with Annie Miler, long-time Food Forward friend, and Chef/Owner of Clementine, to ask what inspires her to Produce Change.

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Annie Miler at Food Forward’s annual Spring Melt gala

 

Peaches were the perfect way to kick off Produce Change, because they’re so emblematic of this season! So what makes the Indian Summer sandwich such a perfect way to enjoy peaches?

When you grill a peach it makes the flavor more intense – there are also these wonderful caramelized bits too. The sweetness of the peach is a nice counter to something savory – like the chicken we marinate in masala – we thought it would be a great way to showcase the peach for the season.

 

You’ve supported Food Forward since the earliest days, even dreaming up and hosting our first annual Spring Melt. What excites you most about Food Forward as an organization? 

There is an overall efficiency to Food Forward. Such a devotion to making the most of every resource available and getting food that would be otherwise wasted to people who need it. It is the epitome of sustainability.

 

Do you think chefs and restaurateurs have any responsibility to shape the way diners understand our food system?

We all have a responsibility to understand the food system. Any extent that I can help with that, I most definitely will.

 

Your support of Food Forward is just one part of your larger effort to build a better world — to produce change — through the food you serve. How else does Clementine share this ethos with its customers?

As a company we encourage each person who works here to become part of a larger community. We start with being kind to each other with the idea that it can have a direct impact on the service that we give – and then we hope that will spread into the world. #pebbleinthepond #ripple

 

Click here to learn about Produce Change!

indian-summer-1Every purchase of the Indian Summer sandwich helps Food Forward recover 33 pounds of fruits and veggies

 

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How Much Food is Wasted in America?

September 18th, 2017

9.18.17 – Back in 2015, we dove into the topic of Food Waste to learn more about how much, why, and how perfectly edible food winds up in the landfill. Studies have found that 30% – 40% of the food we produce in the United States is ultimately thrown away. But what does that mean? What does it look like? How much is that, really?

We Need More Studies on Food Waste

Before we dive into the dumpster, it’s important to know that the information we have is not perfect. All our knowledge about food waste comes from studies which use various different methods to estimate how much food is being lost or thrown away. Not only do these different studies use different methods to measure food waste, but many studies also have different definitions of what counts as “food waste”.

This past summer, The New Food Economy took a look at some of the studies we have on food waste and suggested that some estimates may be too big, and others, too small. In a recent update to their 2012 report, the NRDC also acknowledged the difficulties of gathering and verifying data.

Rather than discounting the information that we have, we need to see these as reasons to continue investigating the food we don’t eat. We need more studies that measure food loss at all levels of the food chain, and more efforts to standardize our methods and language. In the meantime, we need act on what we do know about food waste. You may be as astounded by some of these numbers as we were.

Tomatoes and cucumbers in a dumpster

Food Waste by Weight

According to a 2014 EPA study, America throws away more than 38 million tons of food every year. That’s the weight of 104 Empire State Buildings, with a bit to spare. Or, to put it another way, that single year’s worth of food waste would be enough to balance a scale with of all the Blue Whales left in the world, multiplied by 10, stacked up on the other side.

One year of American Food Waste = 104 Empire State Buildings

Food Waste by Volume

In his book “American Wasteland,” activist and author Jonathan Bloom estimated that the United States could fill a college stadium with the amount of food it wastes … in a day. Imagine trying to fit 365 Rose Bowls into Pasadena, or any city for that matter, to hold a year’s worth of American food waste.

The Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena CA

Food Waste by Cost

Food waste isn’t just big and heavy. It’s also very expensive. $165 billion / year expensive (Update: the more recent NRDC report placed this at $218 billion / year). For context, that’s almost as much as the State of California’s entire budget last year.

Food Waste by Nutrients

A very recent study attempted to measure food waste not in weight or dollars, but in nutrients. Writing in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the authors estimated that the amount of food thrown away in the United States in 2012 would have been enough to feed 190 million adults every day that year. They went further, looking at the different vitamins and minerals lost with wasted food, and argued that the nutrition lost could have ensured that all women in America could get their Recommended Dietary Allowances of Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, and Fiber.

Food Waste by Footprint

Last but certainly not least, we can look to measure food waste by its footprint and environmental impact. It takes a huge amount of resources (in addition to money) to grow and produce food, and is near impossible to recover those inputs once the food winds up in the landfill. Farmers and producers use around 25% of all of America’s fresh water just to produce the food that nobody eats.

Finally, when we throw away food, the landfill is not the end of the story. Organic waste breaks down at the dump, releasing methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas. The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization puts the total carbon footprint of food wastage around 4.4 GtCO2: that’s 4.4 gigatonnes (4.4 billion tons) of carbon dioxide. How much is that exactly? It’s more greenhouse gas than any one country, except for the U.S. and China, emits. That’s right: our collective global food waste is contributing more to climate change than nearly every country in the world.

Food Waste's Environmental Footprint

Wrapping Our Heads Around Food Waste

We hope that, by exploring different ways to think about the amount of food that we throw away in the United States, we can really start to see how literally massive this issue is. This is only the beginning, but it’s important to check how big the pool is before you dive in.

Read More About Food Waste

A Dumpster Full of Eggplant

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Produce of the Month: Tomatillos!

September 12th, 2017

9.12.17 – Pronounced “tohm-ah-TEE-ohs,” September is the last month to search for this tart fruit. Tomatillos are also known as husk tomatoes, Mexican green tomatoes, and jam berries. Learn more about this delicious fruit in this Produce of the Month blogpost. 

tomatillo2

Photo courtesy of Hans Peter Meyer, Flickr

Background:
Tomatillos look like tomatoes hidden under a paper-like husk. A cousin of the tomato and the Cape gooseberry, tomatillos are known by a variety of names, including husk tomatoes, jam berries and Mexican green tomatoes. If you peel back the husk you will find a firm, slightly sticky fruit. Tomatillos can be found much of the year, but their main season generally ranges from May through October which means August is a perfect time to look for these little gems. Allowed to mature, the vivid green shade might shift to yellow, red and even purple. Green tomatillos usually have a slightly tart flavor, though other colors can be sweet enough to be used in jams. Nutritionally, tomatillos are low in calories and rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, niacin, potassium, manganese, and healthy omega 6 fatty acids.

History:

Tomatillos are  members of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers.This fruit have been cultivated for millennia and were a staple food in ancient Mayan and Aztec communities. In fact, the Aztecs are credited with domesticating the tomatillo. They grow throughout the Western Hemisphere, and are a popular staple food in Mexico, where they are often called “tomato verde” or “green tomatoes” (not to be confused with American “green tomatoes,” which are simply unripe tomatoes).
Selection and Storage:
A tomatillos husk is a good indicator of its ripeness. Select tomatillos that have an intact, tight-fitting, light brown or slightly green husk. Fresh tomatillos with their husks still intact may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. They are best stored in a paper bag. Tomatillos last a week longer in the refrigerator if the husks are removed and the fruit is placed in sealed plastic bags. Tomatillos may also be frozen after removing the husks.

Recipe:

avocado-tomatillo-salsa-626x415

Avocado and Tomatillo Salsa
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free

Ingredients:
-2 large, 3 medium, or 6 small tomatillos, husked
-4 cloves garlic, skin on
-1 jalapeño pepper (more or less, depending on preference and heat level)
-1 shallot, peeled
-1 Hass avocado, pitted and scooped
-Juice of 2 limes
-1 bunch cilantro
-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:
1. Put a small skillet over medium high heat. Without using any oil, add the tomatillos, garlic, jalapeño and shallot and dry roast, turning occasionally, until there are many black spots on the vegetables, about 5 minutes.
2. Put the tomatillos and shallot in your blender jar. Peel the garlic and add it to the blender. Halve, seed, and stem the jalapeño and add it to the blender.

3. Add the avocado, lime juice, cilantro, cumin, and salt. Process on high speed until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning – it may need more lime juice or salt. If it needs more heat, judiciously add cayenne or any chili powder you prefer.

References:
http://www.foodreference.com/html/art-tomatillo.html
http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/2012/09/the-tomatillo-tohm-ah-tee-oh.html
http://herbivoracious.com/2012/09/avocado-and-tomatillo-salsa-recipe.html

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