Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Eating Weed: Warm Purslane Salad with Garlic and Raisins

On Saturday, at the farmers market, I was able to buy purslane from a local, organic farmer. Why, you might ask, would I buy something that I could forage so easily (purslane, I've learned from the internet grows all over the world and in the United States can be found pretty much everywhere)? Because my town sprays everything. In spring and fall, especially, lawns are unnaturally green and weed-free. It's unusual to spot dandelions in the manicured lawns here and most homes seem to come equipped with a "keep children and pets off for 24 hours" sign because of recently applied chemicals. These all seem like good reasons not to harvest this edible.

Purslane thrives in poor soils and is a sprawling plant (though it can grow vertically as well). When the plant is young, the leaves and stem are both green. As it grows older, the stems begin to turn red. Many people consider purslane a weed (one of its nicknames is "pigweed") and just rip it out of sidewalk cracks and gardens indiscriminately.

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea if you were wondering) is a small succulent with yellow flowers and, like many succulents, has a clear substance flow from it when you break off a piece (such as the stem). The leaves are a good source of vitamin C (surprise, surprise -- a leafy green that's high in Vitamin C) and omega-3s. It also contains calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, and thiamine. Often, it's eaten raw as part of a salad (or the salad itself), but can also be steamed or sauteed lightly and served like you might a spinach dish. When you eat it like a traditional salad, you'll taste it's slightly lemony, slightly salty taste more distinctly than you will in the warm salad I made. 

When purslane goes to seed, the seeds are tiny and black, and can be dried and roasted, and are a good source of protein and fat. These seeds can also be ground into a flour. I haven't tried any of these things.

Instead, what I tried was a warm purslane salad. I use the term "salad," because I used red wine, lemon juice, and olive oil while cooking my purslane, which created a sort of vinaigrette. This dish worked well for two veggie-loving people, when placed on a plate with other seasonal veggies (such as fennel and yellow squash) and a small quinoa salad.

Purslane with Garlic and Raisins
Olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 pound purslane, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons red wine
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons raisins (optional)

Heat a skillet over medium heat and then add just enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Saute the onions until they turn brown, then add the purslane and minced garlic. Saute 2-3 minutes, until the purslane begins to wilt (depending on the size of your skillet, you may not be able to add all your purslane at once. This is okay). Add the red wine, lemon juice, and raisins, then cover the skillet for 2-4 minutes, until the purslane is wilted and raisins have begun to plump. Season with salt (to taste, I used just a sprinkle) and serve warm.
Warm Purslane Salad next to Quinoa

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Huevos Rancheros with Garlic Smashed Black Beans and Goat Cheese

Growing up, I ate Mexican food fairly often. My dad was raised in Texas and although my mom moved around a lot, she spent high school and college in Texas. When my dad was transferred to North Carolina in the mid 1980s, we discovered we discovered a lack of Mexican food. In city I grew up in, Mexican food options consisted of not much--and the only place even remotely close to the part of the city we lived in microwaved their entrees. Tex-Mex wouldn't even describe it--Taco Bell was a more authentic experience.

Fortunately, my parents had learned how to make Mexican food a decade earlier, when they lived in DC and had gone to Pizza Hut for the "Mexican Pizza" just because that was as close as they could get to the food they were used to finding everywhere. We made tamales, fish tacos, beef tacos, carne verde, and other dishes--including things like enchiladas and nachos that most restaurants would serve. We had Mexican or Tex-Mex at least once a week. Fridays, for years, were "taco night," at my house.

But huevos rancheros. That was a meal we had at least once a month, on a Saturday or Sunday, when my dad liked to make large breakfasts. Eggs and I don't always get along and so for years I'd get him to scramble mine, or just opt to eat refried beans and tortillas. I frequently opted for just beans and tortillas (and for that matter, still do).

The one restaurant we make sure we eat at when we visit family in San Antonio, Texas is The Original Donut Shop ("Hot Donuts" is what we call it), which has been in business for around 60 years. My dad ate there from time to time as a small child, and as my grandmother moved toward dying, the hot glazed donuts were one of the few things she would still eat voraciously. For years, The Original Donut Shop was only a donut shop (there are an unbelievable number of donut and kolache stores in Texas) but at some point it expanded into a cocina Mexicana as well and serves everything Mexican-breakfast from egg tacos to menudo (only on Saturdays) to, you guessed it, huevos rancheros. All meals are served with hand-patted flour tortillas (which I'll miss terribly now that I'm not eating gluten. Even thinking about it makes me a sad) that melt in your mouth.

There are dozens of ways of preparing huevos rancheros--but the way I enjoy them most involves poached eggs and no ranchero sauce (which I swear is just an invention of the Tex-Mex aisle in grocery stores, like "curry powder" to Indian food). This is the way my family made them (except when I requested scrambled eggs). We topped them with Paces Picante sauce, or with a homemade salsa, depending on what we had on hand. This is the way The Original Donut Shop in San Antonio makes them, except with fried egg and with bacon and browned potatoes on the side. This is the way my friend Anna made them when I was in Columbia, Missouri with Annie for True/False (a film festival) earlier this year.

Anna's variation interested me because unlike the versions I grew up eating, she smashed whole beans and simmered her eggs in store-bought enchilada sauce rather than a traditional water-poaching. We ate our huevos on top of stove-top crisped corn tortillas, smoothed with black beans, topped with and egg, and drowned in the enchilada simmer sauce. The meal presented beautifully and was filling--good for a day of wandering around Columbia and watching documentaries.

I resolved to make a variation of this for Friday breakfast the following week. Friday breakfast is an almost three-year tradition with my friend Rachael. Annie and Brenna joined this tradition about six months later. Friday breakfast forces us all to eat a real meal at breakfast once a week, gives us an opportunity to talk about our frustrations and success for the week, to discuss weekend plans, or boys. Rachael, Annie, and I are moving to separate cities soon and the thing I'll miss most about living where I do now may well be the tradition of breakfast with these three women.

Huevos Rancheros with Garlic Smashed Black Beans
Serves 4
2 teaspoons olive oil (just enough to coat the bottom of your pan)
2 garlic scapes, chopped (or about 1 tablespoon minced garlic)
1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons whole cumin

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
Taco spices
4 eggs

4 corn tortillas*
Soft goat cheese (optional)

In a small sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat and then add the garlic scapes or garlic, Saute 1 minute and then add the black beans. Heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbling. Smash the black beans with the back of a fork or spoon and add the cumin seeds and 3-4 ounces of water (or until desired consistency) and heat through.
Black Beans with Garlic Scapes

Meanwhile, heat the tomato sauce, 8 ounces of water, and taco spices (to taste, I used about a teaspoon of a taco seasoning mix my dad makes) in another small saucepan, or a skillet big enough to hold four eggs. When just simmering, crack the eggs into simmer-sauce, being careful not to break the yolks. (If the yolks break, no worries--you just won't have a runny yolk, but it'll still taste fine.) Return to a simmer and then cover the pan and reduce the heat so the sauce continues to just simmer for 3-5 minutes, depending on the size egg you're using, until the white appears cooked.

Heat your corn tortillas and spread one quarter of the black beans on each tortilla.
Smashed Black Beans Spread on a Tortilla
Using a large spoon, carefully remove your poached eggs from the simmer sauce and place one on each tortilla, the cover in remaining simmer sauce.
Topped with Egg & Simmer Sauce

Top with goat cheese (in the picture below, I'm using a soft herbed goat cheese). Serve hot.

*If you're not trying to create a gluten-free meal, feel free to use small (6") flour tortillas instead.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Black Raspberries & Urban Foraging

Black Raspberries on Bush
Brenna and I went foraging for raspberries on Wednesday, in a local park. I'd seen the raspberry bushes on walks/runs earlier in the season, and while searching for mulberries. The park is, unfortunately, regularly sprayed for mosquitoes--I can find the schedule on the city website, which I suppose is handy--and round-up is clearly used on the grass next to the paths. That being said, this park also has restored prairie and woodland, since it's along a stream.

Foraged Raspberries in a Bowl
The raspberry bushes were at the edge of the park, near a large golf course, and tucked under the trees. I'd expected red raspberries, but as we approached, I could see tons of black raspberries on the bushes. I should note here, the raspberry bushes near my childhood home were small red raspberries (and most years these bushes received a spectrum of herbicides soon after they flowered). The difference between black and red raspberries? Black raspberries have pricklier stems--terrific, since we didn't take gloves (but we'll know better next time) and they taste different. To me, black raspberries have less of a "raspberry" flavor, in that it's a subtler flavor. And of course, when they're ripe, they're not red.

For me, the act of foraging, especially urban foraging, is cathartic. There's something about the repeated motion necessary to harvest berries (or cherries, or apples, the only things I've urban harvested so far) that makes me feel grounded and focused. And going with a friend helps too--there's someone to talk to, someone to commiserate with when you get cut/scratched or when the food supply is low. But there's also someone to celebrate small victories with, which is something we probably all need a little more of--someone who will celebrate our small victories with us, someone who can appreciate little beauties.

Brenna's Jar of Berries
Brenna and I didn't collect nearly as many black raspberries as we did mulberries, when we went with Annie, but we collected enough to snack on, or throw over ice cream, or in the next morning's cereal. We probably even had enough to do something like a black raspberry muffin, or something similar. But we wanted to be sure we could taste the berries.

And there are more berries that'll be ready to forage in a few days. Berries, that even including the time I'll spend harvesting them, are cheaper than what I'd buy in the store and I know exactly when they were picked and where they came from. I'll have purple stains on my fingers to prove it.

Another thing I like about urban foraging--here I define the term as the act of finding wild edibles in the cracks and at the edges of built environments, though it can also refer to other types of gleaning--is that it feels slightly illicit, though I know it's not (that being said, in many places you can get chased away by residents or the police--I'm surprised it hasn't happened to me in this town; it's happened other places). A few years ago (2009) this trend was trendy. A quick Google search for "urban foraging" begins with a series of blog and news stories about urban foraging (and guerrilla gardening, a topic for a different post) dated in 2009. TIME magazine, however, just wrote an article  about urban foraging--mostly about New York. But it brings up some good points: know the history of the land you're foraging from. Know what you're eating isn't poisonous. If you're not sure, you shouldn't eat it.

In some cities, there are urban foraging groups you can join--or even tours you can take. Or, just seek out a book on urban foraging or even just wild, edible plants. In this state, spring brings ditch asparagus and dandelion. Summer brings sunflowers, berries, and day lilies gone rogue. Fall brings wild apples. And these are just the common plants most people know and can recognize.

On a semi-related note: Brenna, who grew up in Florida where many things are poisonous, often asks if creatures here are poisonous. When I tell her no, she eagerly picks them up. We found this little guy on one of the raspberry bushes, where we returned him soon after (yes, I've gendered the caterpillar). I believe this caterpillar is an Isabella Tiger Moth in the making--a "woolly bear"--despite the fact that these aren't commonly seen until the first frost. So, if you know differently, you should definitely correct me.

Isabella Tiger Moth Caterpillar on Brenna's Purple-Stained Finger

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Reduced Price Tropicana
I don't usually buy carton OJ--or any other drinks for that matter. But, my local grocery store had reduced prices on a few cartons of Tropicana orange juice on July 2--the store would be closed on the 3rd and 4th and the cartons expired on the 4th. And like many Americans--even food-choice conscious Americans--I like cheap food. "This will make a great smoothie addition," I thought to myself. My friend Rachael frequently makes smoothies with berries, orange juice, and yogurt--and on hot days (like all of July in most places in the US), a smoothie and other raw/cold foods sound much better than actual cooked food that requires standing over a hot stove or grill, or turning on the oven.

Back of Tropicana Carton
It wasn't until I got the carton home I read the logo print on the back of the carton: "16 freshly picked oranges squeezed into every carton." Well, my if this doesn't create a cozy image? I conjure up someone picking my oranges and hand squeezing them into my carton (though perhaps not through the little pour-spout hole). If I don't think too much about it--and to be sure, the marketing execs would prefer I didn't,--then I want to buy this orange juice. Not from concentrate. 16 oranges for my 8 servings. Seems like a good deal, and oh my, that zipper looks like it's just sealing in a plethora of oranges! And oh my, on the front, I can see that it's just like sticking a straw into an orange (something I definitely did as a kid--never as satisfying as I wanted).

But wait! I live in the midwest. There aren't orange groves nearby, exactly. And who is picking my fruit? And who's packing my juice? Marissa, over at We*Meat*Again asked today for us to think about our food choices in terms of workers (and I'm extending that invitation to you). I'd already started to do that when I read her blog post--but I hadn't started my research. Let's talk first about plant safety standards. Fair Warning just published this article, the first in a series about OSHA and safety conditions, in which Tropicana is a major target. Granted, the incident mentioned is from 2005--but it has last effects on the featured man, and he is not alone in workplace injuries.

As far as oranges go, 1 out of 3 oranges grown commercially in Florida goes to Tropicana. Who picks those oranges? Migrant laborers, some of whom are working illegally in the United States. What do they earn? $0.80 per 90 pound bag. Orange harvesting is moving toward mechanization--but the problem with that is that the machines will also harvest the unripe fruit on the trees. This fruit is meant to ripen the following year and this means lower future yields. These workers are exposed to broad-spectrum pesticides and fungicides, which can cause a host of medical problems. Of course, advocates such as The Crop Life Foundation, and its research unit, the Crop Protection Research Unit which describes itself as:
The Crop Protection Research Institute (CPRI) is a research unit of the CropLife Foundation. Established in January 2004, CPRI is a non-advocacy research organization focused on the economic analysis of agricultural pests, pest management, and pesticide use and regulation in the United States.
argue that without fungicides, specifically, we'd get 50% less orange juice from Florida. You know what? I might be okay with that. I probably don't really need orange juice--or oranges--in the midwest, no matter how much I enjoy them. And, I should probably pay more for them.

In case you've missed the news (I did), Tropicana is switching from wax-coated cartons to clear plastic bottles. This comes in response to "positive costumer feedback" about wanting to see the juice. In many communities, these bottles can probably be recycled. But given concerns about cancer-causing chemicals leaching from plastic, about landfills, about the cost of recycling plastics the environmental implications are hard to overlook. If you want to see the juice you're drinking, it seems to me like the answer is simple: buy a juicer and some oranges. Valencia oranges, if you like the taste of "fresh" Tropicana orange juice. Growing up, this is almost exclusively how I consumed orange juice. There's something satisfying about squeezing those oranges, about watching the juice fill the glass, about the scent of oranges in the kitchen for hours afterward. But, maybe that's just me, and the supposed luxury of time I was afforded.

During my research on this, I found a book called Squeezed: What You Don't Know about Orange Juice. Not something I've read, but something I would consider reading--or at least skimming. At the very least, I want to learn about the flavor packs employed by Tropicana (parent company PepsiCo) and other companies. In the mean time, I've got my unethical orange juice to ponder (and drink).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sauteed Red Chard with Garlic Scapes and Raisins

Sauteed Red Chard with Raisins and Garlic Scapes
There are many varieties of chard--Swiss chard, "bright lights" or rainbow chard, and red chard are what I see here most often (this has to do with their broad popularity, I suspect, which makes grocery stores more likely to carry these varieties), though I've also seen silverbeet. Apparently, if you buy/grow a variety with a colored stem, you shouldn't eat the stem because it's "tough," but as long as the stems are narrow-ish I've never found this to be a problem. Also, throwing away the stems seems wasteful to me. A solution: slice thinner before you cook them and throw them in before the leaves, if you find you're struggling with how tough the stems are. A little extra cooking solves this problem for me.

The chard is supposedly coming in, by which I really mean that it's starting to not look sickly in the stores. The local chard at the farmers market is still prohibitively expensive, but in a week or two that won't be the case. Nonetheless, I picked up some organic red chard from my local food co-op and rode home with it in my backpack--sticking out of the top.

In Austin, MN (if you read my post on BBQ hummus), this would've warranted strange looks. In my town, however, this type of behavior is pretty much par for the course.

Garlic Scape, at the joint
I sliced it up (about 1/4-inch strips) and then cut my strips in half. In an attempt to replicate a tapas I particularly enjoy (fresh spinach with pine nuts and raisins, sauteed with garlic in olive oil), I sauteed my chard with those ingredients, minus pine nuts--which are expensive and which I don't really love. And technically, instead of garlic, I used garlic scapes because those are in season here and I have a dozen I bought at the farmers market this weekend. A garlic scape, if you're not familiar, are the flowering stalk of hardneck garlic--and completely edible (and very garlicky). I first encountered garlic scapes three or four years ago in a small town in the Southeast, where they were a prominent menu feature at a seasonal-foods-only restaurant.
Don't garlic scapes look a little like snakes?
If you don't have garlic scapes or their season has ended where you live, that's fine. Use regular fresh garlic, minced.
A tangle of garlic scapes on my kitchen table

I ate this as a main dish for just myself, but you could certainly use it as a side dish for 2-3 people (depending on how much they like veggies!).

Sauteed Red Chard with Garlic Scapes and Raisins
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large garlic scapes, chopped (or about 2 teaspoons fresh, minced garlic)
1 bunch red chard (5-6 large leaves with stalks), cut into 1/4-1/2-inch strips
2 tablespoons raisins or currants

Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat, then add your oil and coat the bottom of the pan. Add your garlic scapes and saute for one minute. Add the chard and saute until it just begins to wilt, about 3-4 minutes. Add the raisins and a sprinkle of salt, and saute another 2 minutes. Serve hot.

On Coping Mechanisms

You know what usually happens on days like yesterday -- where I have pressure upped in one arena (professional) and a small series of (what now seem like negative, but maybe that'll change with distance) unexpected changes in another (personal)? I go on a bike, or a run, or a long walk. When I say a long walk, of course, I mean LONG. Unhealthy long. Exercise is my primary coping mechanism. A couple weeks ago, I was running six miles a day, every day, and swimming about two miles at the pool. Again, every day. I felt stronger at the end of the day. A good friend asked why I was doing so much, told me not to do anything he wouldn't do. He's blessed with a high metabolism and with being able to lose himself to television. I'm envious of both these qualities. I wasn't training for an event, I just needed to cope with something I couldn't name.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, perhaps), these changes and pressure increases all happened AFTER I'd worked out for the day, after I'd showered, after I was already tired, after several emotional drainings, after dark. A friend, who could read this, but probably won't, suggested back in March that I find another way of dealing with problems. He couldn't offer specifics, because over-exercise is my problem, but he did ask if it would help if I had someone monitoring what I was doing, someone who would say, "Hey, instead of going for a run, why don't you sit here and watch this show with me."

I appreciated his concern, or the appearance of it. But, I told him it wouldn't help, because that's probably the truth. I'd probably delay the negative behavior, I said, rather than argue about it.

This is my method of self-destructing, in part because it's been my method of self-destruction for a while. Easy enough explanation, right? And a cop-out explanation to some extent. "Escapism," I called it this weekend. My friend in Austin, MN said to call it escapism--to think of it that way--was to trivialize what is a real body-image issue. This is true, in part, probably (though I haven't figured out how entirely). But also,  I like the endorphin high. And I like to feel powerful for the few minutes that I'm doing this exercise or that. And for a host of other reasons, which I'd rather not go into, at least not right now.

But the thing is, I know in the end, it doesn't really help. It delays me thinking about whatever it is I need to think about. It causes a cycle of self-doubt and to some degree, self-loathing. I could bake instead (except gluten-free baking is so expensive!), or call a friend, or drown myself in a pint of ice cream (oh, more self-loathing), or any other number of supposedly "better" coping mechanisms. But I don't know that these things work for me. I'm not convinced most of these things work for anyone.

I want to know though: what are your coping mechanisms? I think I need to try a new one on for size.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Barbecue Hummus!

Hormel Nature Center Wildflowers, West Prairie Loop
I had the opportunity this weekend to go visit a friend who is living in Austin, Minnesota for the summer. My friend and I biked around town (deviant behavior! Most people drive everywhere, though the town is small, with wide streets and wide shoulders) and visited the Hormel Nature Center (aside from the people finishing up a bike race, we were the only people we saw the entire time we wandered) where we walked about four miles, looked at prairie flowers and grasses, waded through streams, and got attacked by swarms of hungry mosquitoes. After this, we biked to Hy-Vee grocery and picked up supplies for dinner. I wore sunglasses pushed back on my head and we both had on backpacks. My friend pointed out that at least one person gave us a strange look. We bought grapes, apples, and peaches (apples and peaches for immediately consumption), and the black-bean burger ingredients his pantry was missing. At the checkout, I told the bagger I didn't need a bag--I'd just put things in my backpack. Another strange look. My friend said the same thing and the bagger looked disgusted with us.

You should know, when I arrived, his host parents asked first if I was a cyclist also (yes), and if I was also a vegetarian (yes). Austin, Minnesota, if you didn't know, is the home of Hormel and, as my friend later shared, his host family makes gentle (my interpretation, not his) fun of anything remotely deviant. They consider his bike to work (3 miles) a long bike. He has a car there, he just doesn't use it--and is considering getting rid of it altogether.

While we were making Veganomicon black bean burgers (with vital wheat gluten and bread crumbs despite my suspected gluten sensitivity--he knows about this and offered to leave both items out; I didn't feel like trying to figure out how to fix it if it went wrong and now thing that these could both be left out with no problem, fyi if you decide to try the recipe), my friend mentioned that since his experiment with Swiss chard hummus worked out, he wanted to try making barbecue hummus next.

Barbecue hummus! What a great idea (crediting this to him)! I asked how he planned to make it barbecue flavored and he responded "um, with barbecue spices, I guess. I thought about using barbecue sauce but decided that would be cheating." I agreed (though that didn't make the idea of using barbecue sauce less appealing--there are a couple of barbecue sauces made locally that I adore). My mouth watered for barbecue hummus after my friend mentioned this plan.

And so when I got home Sunday, I proceeded to make my own variation of barbecue hummus. I wanted to use up some of my dried beans, so I used about 1/4 pound of dried lima beans and a cup of red lentils (I didn't measure, so this is very approximate). I soaked them before cooking, and cooked them on medium heat for about an hour, adding water as needed. I added minced garlic halfway through the bean cooking time, and at the end, added barbecue spice (which I had on hand as a "free" sample--meaning if I came in and spent at least $5 they'd hand me a tiny jar as a reward--from the local bulk spice dealer, Penzey's). The result: delicious!

I don't currently have tahini, so it isn't included in this recipe, but if you have tahini and like it in your hummus (and I do, don't get me wrong) you should definitely add it.

Barbecue Hummus (amounts are approximate)
1/4 pound dried Lima beans
1 cup dried red lentils
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon barbecue spices (I used BBQ 3000), or to taste
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional, to taste

Soak your limas and lentils by boiling them in water (I use approximately a 2:1 ratio for soaking) for 1 minute and then covering and allowing to rest, off the heat, for 3 hours. Add more water (I like my hummus thin, but not runny) and boil the beans and lentils for 30 minutes, adding water if needed. Add the garlic and continue to cook another 30 minutes, or until tender. Stir in the BBQ spice, paprika, and lemon juice, then blend until smooth (I use an immersion blender, but a food processor or mashing by hand would work also) . Taste and add salt, if desired.

Chill and serve.

Note: The hummus will thicken as it cools. Also, there aren't pictures of the hummus itself, because it turns an unappealing (on the camera) color. Mine looks prettier in person--BUT the exact color will vary based on the spices you use.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Product Review: Food Should Taste Good Hemp Chips

My co-op is running a sale for the first two weeks of July on Food Should Taste Good Hemp Chips (but none of the other Food Should Taste Good products), so I decided to give the chips a try. I love the FSTG sweet potato chips best, but haven't disliked any of their chips so far.

The same is true for these hemp chips, which to be honest, are glorified blue corn tortilla chips. In fact, organic blue corn is the first ingredient, followed by high oleic sunflower and/or safflower oil, THEN hemp seeds, corn bran and sea salt. All ingredients I can pronounce. Pronounceable ingredient lists is becoming increasingly important to me.

The chips have a nice crunch, are about the same size as traditional tortilla chips (but a bit thicker than many commercially available brands), and aren't particularly salty.
Chip Relative to Picture on Package

But I'd have liked a little more...hemp flavor. Hemp has a distinctive flavor--if you've ever gone the hemp nut or hemp seed milk, you know what I'm talking about, a mild nutty taste (geez, this is true of so many seeds that it feels like a non-description). It's there, but subtle.

If you've tried FSTG products before, you should give these a try. And if you haven't...maybe try one of the more interesting chips first. They aren't, nutritionally speaking, much better for you than regular chips -- similar calorie counts, more or less fat and protein depending on the variety you pick -- but they are lower sodium, which is important for some diets, gluten-free, non-GMO, certified vegan and kosher, etc. And they taste much better than most traditional chips I've tried (and I don't think that's just a psychological result of the name). These are the reasons you should try FSTG chips. And, if you're bringing chips and dip/salsa for a party, the hemp chips, or most of the other varieties would be great (maybe not the chocolate for anything but a sweet dip? I haven't tried it, but the website indicates these are good crumbled on ice cream. Hm....)

Also, if you're in the "you can get high off hemp; it should be banned" camp, you're wrong. Technically, you could get high off industrially raised hemp, I suppose, but according to my research its bred to have an incredibly low THC level (this is what gets people high) in favor of being much more fibrous. The THC that is present on the outer portion of the seed can be "dabbed off with alcohol" or scrubbed off with a brush. In other words, you'd have to eat a lot of raw hemp. A lot.