Thursday, June 21, 2007

Grape Harvest

It is easy to forget about all the work that is required to bring food to the table. We take fresh grapes for granted and expect that they will available most of the year. The Washington Post today covered the workers harvesting grapes in Mexico in 100 degree heat.
-Click here to read the article

Allen says we primarily get our organic grapes from California, with the exception of a few weeks in spring when they come from Mexico. I don't know if and how harvesting conditions currently differ in California from conditions in Mexico. According to Joe Holtz, the Coop supported the United Farmworks' Union (UFW) boycott of grapes for more than 20 years by not selling California grapes at the Coop. The UFW charged the growers with unfair labor practices--basically not allowing them to unionize the workers who were then working under unsanitary and unsafe conditions. The boycott drew a lot of attention to the primarily migrant workers' plight, and some improvements were made. When the UFW shifted their focus from workers'rights to their claim that the grapes were poisoned by pesticides, the Coop began buying organic grapes.

Coop Facts: Allen says that right now we are selling about 1800 lbs of organic red grapes and 1400 lbs of organic green grapes per week. He says prices will drop in July and sales will increase. The NY state organic grape season is obviously limited to the fall. California organic grapes are available from late spring to just before Christmas, and occasionally we get organic grapes from South Africa. Allen then fills in with nonorganic grapes from Chile.

Have you noticed how grapes now always come packaged in a zip lock bag? The bags help protect the bunches of grapes and prevent loss from grapes that typically fall off the bunch with handling. (At the Coop, no one would ever want to buy those loose grapes even though they were usually perfectly good, and they were bagged up and given to the soup kitchen.) But the downside is you probably wind up buying more than you would have if they hadn't been bagged and maybe you have grapes spoiling in your refrigerator now. Don't let that happen. Eat them while you read the article and appreciate.

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