Thursday, May 15, 2008

More on Produce

It's been a month since I have written and a lot has happened. We continue to experience scattered high prices. As you would expect, high prices are driven by higher fuel costs, poor growing conditions and product scarcity.
You might be surprised to learn that much of the higher prices that you experience right now in produce is entirely normal and what you should expect in April and May, and follow a pattern that happens every year. (But certainly worse than ever this year.) The world food shortages and highest fuel costs ever have coincided with the predictable, seasonally normal high prices to produce a "perfect storm."

At the General Meeting on April 29 I reported that organic broccoli had gone to over $4.00 a bunch. I predicted that the price would soon fall as the current growing regions begin to warm up. Today the price is $2.52. There is every reason to be concerned about the future of our food, its cost and even its availability, but don't forget that late spring is when produce stops growing where it has all winter and is just starting up where our warm weather supplies come from, including of course, our local farms.

Here's what's locally available so far (not much):

Minimally treated apples continue to be available from Hepworth Farms: empire, fuji, golden delicious, honeycrisp, jonagold, mutsu, stayman winesap.

New York State organic asparagus started May 14, and the New Jersey conventional started on the 15th.

Other conventional local items are dill, arugula, mint and parsleys.

Sporadically available local organics include dandelions, mustards, arugula, spinach, lettuces, shallot greens, watercress, radishes, rhubarb, kale, pea tendrils and collards.

Fiddlehead fern supplies remain strong, but the local ramps are already winding down.

Remember that you can learn which produce is local by checking elsewhere in our website, or on the individual shelf signs, or by looking for the green highlights on the produce banners at either end of the produce aisle. Seek out the local items, learn how to eat something new; in exchange for a fair price, you will get the freshest, finest foods and do a little bit to keep local family farms alive.
—Allen Zimmerman

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