Greetings from the produce department! Despite the cool weather in the area we’ve been extremely busy sourcing new local and organic products. The weather has reduced all quantities of local produce. Farmers in the area have reported zucchini and cucumbers are done for. Unless you stop by the co-op and pick up Honey Hill Organic Farm’s greenhouse grown cucumbers that is.
Yesterday, I visited River Bluff Prairie Farm near Sherrill, Iowa to check out some concord grapes. It was a beautiful day and I was grateful to be able to visit such an amazing and magical place. Pulling into the drive I finally saw the vines and jumped out of my car to meet the family. I later learned these grapes grow on vines over 100 years old and have never been sprayed. When I asked about fertilizer I was informed it was merely grass cuttings that came from the rows after mowing. I was immediately given a sample of the grapes and I can only imagine what my face looked like once taking my first bite. The pleasant sweet shock was written all over my face! I looked at the farmers in amazement that such a little, plump grape could cause such excitement! After taking a tour and learning more about the farm, I was on my way back to the co-op with a car that smelled like grape jelly. Although these grapes are seeded, don’t let that deter you. The recipes you can use these bad boys are in are worth every bit of work. As it turns out, I was advised on how to make grape pie. It turns out to be one of the simplest things in the world. If you’d like to hear more, or grab a recipe from the co-op, please stop on by and ask the produce department for one and we’ll be glad to share! Don’t forget these grapes are ideal for jelly, juice and wine making!
Besides the beautiful landscape that transcends this area during the fall, we’re also fortunate for a bounty of fall root vegetables and squash. We’ve brought in two varieties of sweet potatoes from Tree of Life Gardens. All the squash in the store is also coming exclusively from local farmers. We are carrying butternut, acorn and spaghetti and we’ll see more varieties arriving in the coming weeks. ‘Tis the season for beets as well! This week we will begin exclusively carrying only local beets as well. Adam’s Garlic from Cassville, WI delivered a second shipment of purple carrots that are not only vibrantly colored but pack a major beta carotene punch! Little Maquoketa Organics will have their Pumpkins and varietal squash in soon also. There is a rumor around town we’ll be having a pumpkin carving contest here in the store so please stay tuned!
- Apples and pears are now coming in from out West. Here in the Midwest some early varieties are being harvest. We should be seeing local apples in soon.
- Pears are also in full swing in the western U.S.. Around the time of frost is when we’ll see the local ones arrive here in the area.
- Berries have been difficult to source. The U.S. berry season is wrapping up quickly. We have strawberries and raspberries here at the co-op but they’re going fast! Come and get yours now!
- Citrus is extremely limited here in the U.S. In November we’ll start to see more availability from our neighbors in the southern U.S.
- We still have a large supply of melons. There is nothing like a seedless watermelon to remind us of summer!
- Pomegranate season has begun! We have an ample supply in the store and we all LOVE them!
- Peppers are coming in full force, especially locally. Here at the co-op we’re carrying red bells, yellow bells, green bells, Italian frying peppers, poblanos, jalepeno, banana peppers and serranos.
- Brussels sprouts have arrived! These are usually best after the first frost as it sends the sugars straight to the Brussels making them so tasty!
- For those of you on the hunt for parsnips, we’ve been hearing rumors the harvest is starting shortly, as soon as I see them they’ll be arriving!
- Local lettuce is in short supply but we’re crossing our fingers that Two Onion Farm will have some available to get our hands on.
- Broccoli and Cauliflower markets are still tight. The spike in pricing will continue according to commodity reports. Bugs and weather have unfortunately impacted the season.
- Tomatoes are still plentiful but winding down. If you’re looking to make salsa, tomato sauce or do any canning please keep us in mind. We encourage members to take advantage of our case discount program.