Greetings tri-state area! We’re moving full steam ahead into the growing season and have much to share with you. Many of the crops are transitioning back to U.S. farms and we’re seeing less and less come from international suppliers. Our local farmers have been busy during the last few weeks for which we are grateful. Below, we’ll be discussing what is going on with the local and not-so-local scenes, ugly fruits and vegetables and some other random produce news.
LOCAL FARM NEWS
Tree of Life Gardens down the road in Cuba City, WI has been working against the clock. We’ve received in numerous varieties of tomato plants from cherry tomatoes to large slicing heirlooms—we’ve got ‘em. Also, we have many types of herbs and other veggies that are screaming to be put into your garden or containers so come on by and check out the selection. As always, these plants are certified organic. We don’t stop there with planting; we also have all your soil needs covered. Need compost, potting mix, or tomato GRO? We’ve got you covered there also!
A new local farm we’ve added to the roster, Hideaway Gardens in Durango IA, has delivered their first round of local veggies. We have local bulk spinach and Easter Radishes. For the last week or so, we’ve had local asparagus in as well, coming in from South Slope Gardens from right here in Dubuque. The asparagus is picked twice a week so you can bet it’ll be fresh, tender and a great addition to any meal! Next week, we’ll have local slicing cucumbers in from Honey Hill Organic Farm in Potosi, WI. Other local growers, from a little further north in Viroqua, WI have also been busy. Keewaydin Farms has sent us some beautiful watercress and Harmony Valley has harvested the most beautiful ramps. It is an exciting time of year for local produce and this is just the tip of the iceberg!
'Tis the season for the end of citrus and the beginning of stone fruit! Who’s ready for peaches, nectarines, and pluots? WE ARE!! We’re seeing decreasing supplies of oranges, grapefruit, and mandarins but have no fear—we’ll still have them on the shelves, just not as many. White peaches arrived in last week. We’ll see other varieties of peaches this week as well as some nectarines. Following that, will be the Pluots (or apriums). What is a pluot you ask? Pluots are a cross (not a GMO) between an apricot and a plum. They are sweet, fragrant and juicy. They’re a staff favorite around here so we’re all super-excited about their grand arrival into the co-op.
The best piece of fruit I can remember eating was also the ugliest. It wasn’t too long ago, my counterpart Linda, Produce Manager at the Viroqua Food Co-op, handed me a bruised and browed pear. This particular pear had been removed from the sales floor due to aesthetics and rightfully so. It just wasn’t pretty. I’ll admit it, when I took my first bite, fireworks happened—in my mouth. Sweet and juicy it was. So juicy, I had to wipe my face off. It truly amazed me that something so ugly and unwanted to could taste so succulent and contain that much flavor. So why tell this story? We’re conditioned as consumers to choose the most beautiful produce from the store shelves. Whether organic or conventional, growers strive to meet these high standards. With the drought out west and other factors effecting quality, we as shoppers need to be more accepting of “ugly produce”. In the organic world, where traditional pesticides and fertilizers are banned, farmers face more hurdles in order to ensure the most beautiful of products make it to the store shelves. Let’s take grapefruit for example. All winter, our supplies have come from a producer in Texas. Unfortunately, the winds down in that region affected the skins on the grapefruit, making them not so pretty. But how about the taste—out of this world! So the next time you’re considering which fruit or veggie to choose on the store shelves—the uglier the tastier!