By Heidi Lewis
“Shoot!” was likely what Annie Oakley said if she missed a shot. Cursing and shootin’ went hand-in-hand in the old west. She may have muttered “shucks” or “jeepers,” which were also considered pretty bad in 1910. The gravity of the ersatz swear words may have changed over the years, but profanity expert Timothy Jay maintains the core 10 swear words used by 80 percent of people have remained consistent for the past 20 years.
In his paper on taboo words, Professor Jay says, “The uniquely human facility for swearing evolved and persists because taboo words can communicate emotion information more readily than non-taboo words.” When you see the fresh pea shoots in your TakeHome case this week and joyfully exclaim “Shoots!” consider adding some of the colorful assertions from back in Annie Oakley’s day: “Yippee ki-yay!” “Bees knees!” “Cat’s meow!” or “Hot Diggety Dog!”
Sprouted pea shoots are really something to get excited about, taste-wise and nutrition-wise. Their levels of vitamins C and A and folic acid are higher than other fresh fruits and legumes of comparable weight. Dried peas have long been an important legume in human history—“Pease porridge” a protein cornerstone, and steamed, shelled, fresh peas an exquisite treat. But now the advent of modern sustainable and clean-growing methods make sprouted pea shoots a great way for us to enjoy this dynamic super food.
Mark Schneider of Living Waters Farms in Strawn, IL, says pea shoots grown in controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) “are grown like peas in your garden, except not in soil.” Some folks that are concerned with the potential spoilage of traditional alfalfa or clover sprouts will prefer pea shoots, as there is no seed to consume. “Also, it’s grown in a drier environment, and as they sprout over 10 days, you’re getting a leafier green.”
Preparation: Cut off the pea root “sponge” for the amount of stems and leaves you are ready to use. Add leaves and stems to stir fries, salads, sandwiches, or soups, and compost sponge.
Storage: As the leaf is part of a living root, it will last up to 10 days in the fridge in a plastic bag or the sealed container of your choice (glass is good). Pea shoots will store best if they are dry to the touch when refrigerated.