Friday, December 23, 2011

Produce notes from Allen........87 Local Items!

Q.  Mark H asks, "Why do we sell the Green Beans with the fruit?" (& Burdock, Radicchio, Endive, etc.) 
A.  The 28 foot "fruit" display is set at 2 different temperatures, the first 16 feet at about 46º and the last 12 about 38º.  Green Beans, Cucumbers, Basil, etc., must never get too cold (they will rot) and the entire 56 foot run of "vegetables" is set at about 38º.  Some of the vegetables at the other end of the "fruit" run from Green Beans need to be dry and cold, and could be stocked near the Mushrooms, but we just don't have enough room.

Q.  "I get it", says Mark, "but why is the Basil sold from that box?"
A.   It is very difficult to store and display Basil.  Its ideal temperature is between 50 and 55; it won't withstand temperatures below 48.  It also doesn't like to get wet or blown upon.  We built the "house of Basil" to protect it.  At home, wrap Basil and protect from too much chill, using the drawer or door of refrigerator.  If Basil has roots, try keeping it unrefrigerated, with just the roots covered in water. Best bet?  Eat it or make pesto right away.

Q.  Lisa M asks, "Carrots are orange.  Where did all of those other colors come from?"
A.  Orange Carrots seem normal to us, but they are a relatively new development.  Purple, red and yellow Carrots have been known for over a thousand years possibly originating in the Afghanistan region.  The orange Carrot did not appear until the 16th century in the Netherlands.  Many believe that the Dutch developed the orange Carrot to honor King William I, William of Orange, but there is no evidence to support this.  So all you traditionalists, you hybrid avoiders, this gives you something to think about!
This is a great week for eating rainbows.  We have Rainbow Bunch Carrots, Rainbow Chard, Rainbow Cherry Tomatoes, Rainbow Fingerlings.  Even the Turnips are a blend of gold, scarlet, white and purple top.  Many members choose to eat rainbows because the colors are produced by various phytochemicals that naturally occur in fruits and vegetables.  Some of the more familiar ones are anthocyanins, the blue in Blueberries.  Lycopene causes the red in Tomatoes, carotene the orange in (orange) Carrots, pycnogenols the reds and purples in Grape skins.  Many members appreciate the antioxidant qualities, among other health benefits that these phytochemicals provide.  I'm happy to eat phytochemicals, and fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but that's not why I like to eat rainbows.

We eat (and shop) with our eyes.  We cook with our noses.  We serve and we share with our hearts. Eating rainbows makes us happy.  That's good enough for me.

Allen Zimmerman - Produce Buyer - General Coordinator

Friday, December 09, 2011

Produce notes from Allen.......85 Local Items!

"Beauty is only skin deep".  Not true!  
True beauty is under the skin, in humans and also Red Bananas.  

Red Bananas when delivered.
Red Bananas when ripe.

They are really "beautiful" when they are delivered, but oh so "ugly" when they ripen.  It is only when they ripen to the stage where they soften and the skin darkens and even blemishes, that they really taste great.   Taste is ultimately in the mouth of the beholder, but I believe that the Red Banana is sweeter, moister and creamier than the yellow "Cavendish" variety.  If the skin turns you off, I recommend that you peel it off and discard it.  This is a "politically correct" choice that you can make.  When you eat a Red Banana you are helping to preserve a species.  By creating demand for them, more of them may be planted.  The sustainability of the ubiquitous Cavendish is uncertain at best and many banana experts (some from the largest growers, i.e. Dole, Chiquita, etc.) believe that it is in fact doomed to extinction.  All it takes for you to do to support biodiversity is to eat something delicious.


I've written about the Subarashii Kudamono Asian pear, locally grown in Coopersburg, PA.  We now have exclusive access to their LilySan variety, the last harvest of the season.  This gigantic fruit has a delicate crispness and is bursting with juice.  Kris, who works on this blog with me, describes the flavor as "perfect, slightly floral, with a clean sweetness that leaves you wanting for another taste.  Your very own Cynthia Pennycooke is shown here, displaying the size and beauty of this rare fruit.  Trust me, wear a bib.

Did you ever wonder why so many produce markets build geometric displays of fruit, often using a pyramid?  I love pyramid displays, not just because they are beautiful.  I have been accused of having OCD, but that is not true.  I am afflicted with Obsessive Compulsive Order, and a perfect display makes me so happy.  I know that we sell our produce too rapidly to always pay attention to the beauty of display or to gentleness of handling, but Nicole and David were as proud of their effort as I am.  Here they are displaying a perfect Tomato display:

I hope that you too are inspired to make our beautiful produce even more beautiful every time you handle it.

85 locally grown items
Allen Zimmerman - Produce Buyer - General Coordinator

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Be sure to eat your *fractals!

A fractal has been defined as "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole."  There is no better example in our produce aisle right now than this baby Organic Romanesco Cauliflower from Lancaster Farm Fresh Coop in Pennsylvania.

Coop member Marc points out that it more closely resembles a Calabi-Yau manifold.  For those of you unfamiliar, extra dimensions of spacetime are sometimes conjectured to take the form of a 6-dimensional Calabi-Yau manifold.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Produce notes from Allen.......88 Local Items!

Our members love to cook, and they sure love to eat. 
For the two week period ending the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the coop sold:

5760 lbs. Honeycrisp Apples
8900 Valencia Oranges
2900 bags Cranberries
5500 lbs. Organic Red Seedless Grapes
3000 lbs. Mangoes
2400 lbs. Organic Green Beans
2000 lbs. Organic Loose Beets
2460 lbs. Organic Loose Broccoli
1700 bunches Organic Broccoli
5900 lbs. Brussels Sprouts
8600 lbs. Carrots
1080 bunches Organic Collards
4800 bunches Organic Kale
3300 lbs. Mushrooms
9200 lbs. Onions
2700 bunches of Parsley
11300 lbs. Organic Potatoes
10600 lbs. Organic Sweet Potatoes
1300 lbs. Organic Pumpkins
7500 lbs. Organic Winter Squash (3100 lbs. Butternut alone)
2000 lbs. Shallots
3100 cups Cherry Tomatoes
2000 boxes of Clementines
300,000 lbs of produce!

We lift a case an average of 7 times.  Together we lifted over 2 millions pounds of produce alone!


1055 Turkeys!

Pete, who worked in the produce aisle Friday morning, shared some ideas on how to use a few items. I asked him to offer a few words about the Jerusalem Artichoke.
From Pete: 
"Jerusalem Artichoke, that knobby brown tuber near the Radish and Turnips, is a vegetable that is high in potassium, iron and fiber.  Neither from Jerusalem (it was first cultivated by Native Americans but became popular in the Middle East) nor an  Artichoke (its flavor is reminiscent of Artichokes) it is great raw, peeled, shredded or julienned in salads (soak in cold water and drain first).  You can also slice it and use in stir fries as you would Water Chestnuts, or roast it like you would a Potato. When roasted it takes on a nutty flavor and creamy texture."

Actually, the Jerusalem Artichoke is related to the Artichoke; they are both members of the daisy family. "Jerusalem" is a corruption of the Italian name for sunflower, "girasole", which means "turns toward the sun". Most vendors have reduced the name to Sunchoke, but I prefer  preserving the romantic linguistic history contained in the name.

But, you ask, "Why did you take the word "Swiss" from our Chard listings?"  
Ursula, coop member and former receiving coordinator, who is Swiss, says,  
"I'm sorry but this vegetable does not grow in Switzerland."  
If you can offer evidence to the contrary.  I will reconsider.

88 local produce items

Allen Zimmerman - Produce Buyer - General Coordinator

Friday, November 25, 2011

Produce notes from Allen.....103 Local Items!

I'll start with a couple of members' questions:

Q- KB asked, " I haven't noticed any local, organic Brussel Sprouts at the coop the last few weeks, just the "USA" variety and some smaller ones from Holland.  It seems a bit early for the season to have ended.  Will we be getting more? " 

A- " It is not so much that it ended, but that it may not exist at all.  Last year we had so many local Brussels Sprouts Stalks offered, by so many farmers, that we were unable to make any of them happy, (but we were!)  This year, only one of our farmers had any, but the stalks were so poor, that they sent us only the few sprouts that they were able to salvage.   Even those few sprouts were so poor, that we had to reject them, because they turned yellow so quickly.  We see none at all coming.  The crop failed because....rain, floods, hurricane, you name it. "  

For Thanksgiving week, we were able to package some very expensive Organic Brussels Sprouts; I hope everyone got what they needed. 
Q- " We haven't had any kind of Melon in the past few weeks.   The supermarkets + produce stores in the area all have Cantaloupes + Honeydews.   What's happening? "

A- " The seasons for USA Cantaloupes and Honeydew ended and that is when we stopped carrying them.  We are willing to carry imported Melons, but there is a reason why we are not carrying them now.  The headline of "The Packer", the national produce newspaper for 11/10 was 'Market Uneasy after Cantaloupe Outbreak'.  We have not gotten a favorable report for Honeydew flavor yet, not even from the suppliers who want us to buy them.  If you find a good one in a store, let me know, but unless I have assurance of safety and good flavor, you don't want me to buy them.  We received a favorable flavor report, and had not heard of any recalls of Organic Cantaloupes, so we added Organic Mexican Cantaloupes this week. "

We were able to find 60 pounds of Organic Turmeric from Hawaii.  Turmeric with 2 r's, not tumeric with 1 r.  We do not carry tumeric, because there is no such thing. *

Now that the local Tomato season is over, I calculated the total pounds of tomatoes we bought from Hepworth Farms this year:
39,960 pounds of Mixed Color Cherry Tomatoes
30,075 pounds of Red Tomatoes
27,100 pounds of Heirloom Tomatoes
17,875 pounds of Plum Tomatoes
6,225 pounds of Yellow or Orange Tomatoes
121,235 pounds in total, or 1,082 pounds a day!

We have had our first arrival of Organic Florida Grapefruits.  Sorry California, this demonstrates the difference between good and great.

We may have received our last Organic Grapes of the year.  The quality is going down and the price is going up.  We reached the same decision last year, also on the day after Thanksgiving.  Of course, if we learn of a great late season grape, we will try them. 

Q- "I love Grapes; what am I going to eat?!"

A- Something else.  Be positive about it; try something new when the season of your favorite fruit 

Allen Zimmerman - Produce Buyer - General Coordinator 
* Except in the Yogurt Case 
(Information Courtesy of Kris)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fair Trade Indeed

Have you ever wondered how Fair Trade actually works?  How much money actually goes where and to whom?  Check out this breakdown from Interrupcion (their Blueberries are currently in stock in our produce aisle.)

*Click on the image to view larger

Friday, November 18, 2011

Produce notes from Allen.....130 local items

We have a good supply of Black Futsu winter squash and Mutsu Apples.  I never intended for this blog to provide recipes but it's hard to resist just thinking about "Futsu a la Mutsu".  This is more of a how-to than a recipe.  Cut the top off of a Futsu Squash and fill it with chopped Mutsu Apple and bake at about 350º for about an hour.  Some people would add brown sugar and raisins, season with nutmeg, cinnamon, maybe ginger.  You can do whatever you want, for example, add walnuts, chopped pineapple, or ruin it with cranberries. You could add a bit of butter, or some booze.  Keep it simple or go crazy.  You can do this with any Squash and any filling, but you know you want to serve "Futsu a la Mutsu".

Many members ask how you eat Red Bananas.  They eat just like Bananas.  As they ripen, the skin gets darker and the Banana softens. They can be moister, sweeter, creamier than the yellow "cavendish" variety, but not as completely predictable. If you do accidentally peel it before it ripens, you can slice it and fry it. 
We could not get as much Tatsoi as we wanted, but the farmer did have some Red Tatsoi.  It looks a bit different. with a flatter leaf.  It's probably the prettiest green (I mean red) this week. 
The local Orange, Purple and Green Romanesco Cauliflower seasons are off to a slow and late start. We have all three today, and they are beautiful.  Marketed to us as baby vegetables, they are pricier than we wish, but since they are so tiny, they may be more accessible to households that can't eat their way through a normal sized Cauliflower.  The florets of the Romanesco are perfect fractals, and much admired by Kris (Fibonacci) Marx.
Having avoided Enoki Mushrooms because we couldn't find them domestically grown, I did some research, and learned at the New York Produce Show, that all Enoki Mushrooms are indeed grown in Korea.  We focus on local, but love all of the world's produce, and well, I really missed eating them.  We got some in yesterday, and I ate some last night.  Those tiny little things are packed with flavor  and very fresh.  I hope you enjoy them.
Pretty - Purple - Peruvian - Fingerling - Potatoes.  Say that three times fast. 

It's staring to get cold outside, but we still have 130 local items.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Nog Blog, Part 2

The nog made with real eggs is here. You'll find Organic Valley Eggnog on the shelf with the quarts of organic milk. Enjoy!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Produce notes from Allen.....121 Local Items!

Where are the Mangos?  When the organic Mexican harvest ended, we tried the conventional ones from Brazil.  They were not very good, and just as we decided to drop the Brazilian Mango, a small harvest of California Mangos began.  This very expensive California Mango was one of the best Mangos I have ever eaten and many members have made the same comment.  Unfortunately that brief season has ended as well.  Organic Mangos should start up again from Ecuador soon and this Monday we will try a conventionally grown Mexican Ataulfo Mango, the tiny kidney shaped yellow Mango and hope that we all like it.  Supply has been choppy for the last couple of months and occasionally you were disappointed.  Sometimes seasons for various produce items overlap seamlessly and sometimes it seems like nothing is working right.  The last couple of months with hurricanes and floods (and miserable weather affecting regions we are all less aware of), have led to some disappointing periods when some of our favorite foods have temporarily disappeared.  Instead of having an "OMG, no Mangos!" reaction, take this as an opportunity to try something else... a Rambutan, which is a relative of the Lychee and the Longan. It looks like a Lychee on LSD. It is relatively available from southeast Asia year round, but most of that harvest is irradiated.  We carry it only when available from Honduras or Guatemala, where the fruit is not irradiated. Incidentally, members have asked about Mangosteens, which we do not carry.  All Mangosteen imports into the USA are irradiated, so we will not carry them until the post harvest treatment changes.
Clementines are here!  We waited for the Spanish harvest and the first Clementine is very good.  It will improve over the next few weeks and the price will likely get lower by the week.  This first one is a bit tart, which many of you like, but kids love them because they are sweet.  We will get deliveries almost daily; look for increasing sweetness with each delivery.
Speaking of sweetness, some members love Japanese Sweet Potatoes because they are sweeter that the Garnets and Jewels, but others love them because they are less sweet! 
Every year, we hope that the Pumpkin supply and quality will last nearly till the end of the year.  This year, despite the mountain you will see today at the front of the produce display, we fear that there will not even be enough to get to Thanksgiving.  If you are counting on a Traditional Pie Pumpkin, do not wait!  By next week we may have only the "weirder" Pumpkins, weird only on the outside, but they are Pumpkins on the inside.  If it comes to this, try the Cheese or Blue Queensland Pumpkins, or Jarrahdale, Musque de Provence, or Seminole Squashes (which really are Pumpkins) or take a walk on the wild side and try any Winter Squash instead.
There are times that produce items that we take for granted disappear, like Green Grapes, Mangos, or Heirloom Tomatoes.  It is difficult to hang up signs explaining the absence of something that isn't there, at the location where something isn't.  If you are wondering about an item when you are shopping look at the produce menus that we provide at the front and rear of the produce aisle, which is posted daily, Monday through Friday.   If you request something that we are not carrying, it is frustrating and fruitless for the folks who try to find these items in the basement.   The daily menu of items that we have in stock is posted on our website here - Daily Produce Pricelist

 - Allen Zimmerman -
Produce Buyer - General Coordinator - Lover of Cabbage

Monday, November 07, 2011

Hubbards! Get Your Hubbards HERE!!!

Stuff them full of rice, sauteed vegetables, or roasted meats!  They go great with any meal.  
Only two out of these three can fit in your cart.  Choose wisely.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Produce notes from Allen.....146 Local Items!

New additions to our local Apple menu are Cortland, Cameo, Ida Red, Jonagold and Stayman Winesap, bringing total number of local apples to 14.

Members who are craving Clementines are seeing them in many stores.  I have had many requests for them, but have never bought them before the end of November.  At the urging of a supplier who said that they had good ones from Chile, we tried a box.  Here is what I wrote to the supplier who asked if we liked them.  "First, they didn't taste very good.  Second, they were extremely gas-ripened, to the point that some of the skin was gas burned.  Third, they were a variety of early Murcott Tangerine, and not Clementines.  They are  a 'clementine' for stores that don't care about how good their food tastes.  I do thank you for offering them, because I have been getting curious anyway.  I think I will be waiting for the first good one from Spain, and that probably is 2 or 3 weeks away."  
So eat the Fallglo Tangerine instead.  They are sweet and flavorful enough to enjoy and very juicy.  Good now, they will be improve with each picking over the next couple of weeks.
Blueberry prices have plunged.  They are now $1.75 per cup.  Organic is still over $6 for a small cup, so we are waiting for them to become more reasonable.
A couple of weeks ago, I explained our Papaya plan and then, of course, Hawaiian organic Papayas disappeared completely.  They have now returned and supply for the near future looks strong.
Not so with the Rainbow Bunched Carrots.  Apparently we can eat them faster than our suppliers can bring them.  We are trying to encourage stronger supplies.
We used to call it "Indian" Corn, then started calling it Ornamental Corn.   Now we call it Popcorn, because although you may use Popping Corn as an ornament, you can eat it.  It pops very nicely.  Put an ear in a paper bag and microwave for about a minute and 20 seconds (times vary, depending on the microwave).  You may remove the kernels and prepare as you would any other Popping Corn
Coop member James asks, "Where are the Enoki Mushrooms?"  We stopped carrying them when domestic growers stopped growing them.  Now most of the US supply is flown in from Korea, and we didn't think that made much sense.  What do you think?
(Over)abundant supplies at the end of the local Organic Green Pepper season will bring the price down to $.89 per pound beginning next Tuesday!
It now looks like we may not see enough Pie Pumpkin to last through November, possibly even not through next week!
Now that we have made a mountain of one million tons of Butternut Squash up front near the Bananas nobody can find them any more.
We have probably received the last of the Local Cherry and Heirloom Tomatoes from Hepworth Farms.  A few odd cases may trickle in next week, but it is very unlikely.  The next Tomato we will try will be the New England grown Hothouse Tomato grown by Deep Root.  They will be kind of pricey, but they are likely to taste better than most of what we will be able to source until next summer.
It's getting cold outside, but we still have 146 locally grown items!
- Allen Zimmerman . Produce Buyer . General Coordinator

Pine Kitty Litter is back!

The Feline Pine is gone for good, so we now have Guardian Angel pine litter in aisle 4. It's on the bottom shelf between the One Earth cat litter and the World's Best Multi Cat litter.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Come out and help these farmers in need!

Blue Moon Bash to Benefit Farmer Friends
Blue Moon Bash
At Southpaw
125 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11217
Sunday, November 6th 2011
3-8pm | Admission $20 Donation
All day event featuring live performances and food. Enjoy Blue Moon clam chowder and tastings from local restaurants including Amy's Bread, Palo Santo,
Aliseo Osteria Del Borgo and more!

100% of the proceeds will be donated to Ray Bradley of Bradley Farm and Kira Kinney of Evolutionary Organics for flood relief from tropical storm Irene and subsequent storms. The two neighboring farms were under as much as 6 feet of water, drowning 90-100% of crops intended to be harvested and sold during the most profitable months of the market year. Alex & Stephanie Villani of Blue Moon, who have sold alongside Ray and Kira’s stands at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket for over a decade, are organizing this fundraising effort, along with dedicated customers, to help their dear friends recover from these extreme losses. Read more about the flooding of these farms.

We hope you can join Ray, Kira and the folks from Blue Moon at this fundraiser, complete with delicious food and drink, awesome raffle prizes and great bands—for a great cause.
Purchase tickets or make a donation on-line:

Bands include:

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Cold Water Laundry Detergents for 90% energy savings

90% of the energy your washing machine uses is for heating the water. Washing in hot or warm water has become increasingly unnecessary as advances in clothes washers and laundry detergents have made it possible to get white and colored clothes perfectly clean in cold water. Except when washing out particularly tough stains or allergens such as dust mites every load of laundry done in hot water wastes energy. If you use cold water, you will not only save money, but also make your clothes last longer and prevent color bleeding.

We recently decided to sell Tide Coldwater because Consumer Reports rates it as the 3rd most effective out the dozens of detergents of all types that it tested. Our other cold water detergent is Biokleen, a powdered detergent on the top shelf in the purple box.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Nog Blog

Yes, it's Nog season again. For the soy nog fans, this years brings a new, organic choice: Earth Balance Organic Soy Nog. Bring on the nog...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Produce notes from Allen....139 Local Items

Subarashii Kudamono (meaning wonderful fruit) brings us two Asian Pears this week, from Pennsylvania.  One commonly found variety, the Hosui (mild, sweet, crispy, very juicy fruit) is joined by the Asaju (sweet, slightly tart, very crisp, and very juicy.)  I like to peel Asian Pears, particularly the Hosui, but the skin is edible.  Keep refrigerated as they are already ripe.
We have such sexy Potatoes including six kinds of fingerlings, 3 golds, red, blue and russets.  Don't overlook the fantastic deal on White Potatoes, $2.55 for 5 pound bag.  They are good for mashing, frying, baking and....... eating.

We've just about squeaked past Halloween, having endured a year with very few Pumpkins surviving the rain and floods.  Jack-O-Lanterns were not often available in sizes we sought, and the price was somewhat higher.  Now it appears that there may not be a strong enough supply of Pie Pumpkins through Thanksgiving; but we are still hoping to squeak past Thanksgiving too.

Before the season ends, try the Sweet Mini Peppers.  Just pop off the stem and eat the whole thing, seeds included, as they are small and tender. For the record, the real name is "mini sweet"; we'll try to rectify this next season.

The Fingerling Potato varieties currently available are the:  Austrian crescent, French, Ruby Crescent, Russian Banana, Rose Finn, and Ozettes.  I prefer the French ones because they are more oh la la!

The frost is on the Pumpkins.  Upstate farm temperatures dropped into the high 20's Thursday night, and that will have some impact on availability of some crops. (Hint: don't wait too long to buy local Tomatoes.)  If crops manage to survive the next couple of nights, a warming trend may keep our local numbers up.

Look forward to four new Apples from Hepworth Farms next week.  On Tuesday we will be adding Cortland, Cameo, Stayman Winesap, and Ida Red.

139 local items

Friday, October 21, 2011

Produce notes from Allen.....151 Local Items!!

Local Quince has arrived.  It's high pectin content makes it an ideal addition to jams.  It is not suitable for eating fresh, as it is sour, dry and hard.  On the other hand, it is very fragrant and pectiny.

The Mexican (non-organic) Papaya has been very limited of late.  There have been concerns about salmonella, and the extensive testing and scrutiny has slowed the imports.  We will try the Hawaiian Organic Papaya, which hasn't always ripened properly.  We hope that they will ripen properly this time, even though I've heard that doing something over and over again, and hoping for a different outcome is a definition of insanity.  We do not carry the non-organic Hawaiian papaya, which is both irradiated and genetically modified.
Ribier Grapes (black with seeds) were very popular, but hard to find.  We have ordered 45 cases to arrive next Tuesday.
Persimmons are here.  We have the hachiya, which is ovoid and a bit pointy.  When unripe, the high tannin content is harshly astringent.  There are very sweet and juicy when ripe, which is when they are softer than a baby's cheek, any cheek will do.  The fuyu, which is flattish, does not contain tannin and can be eaten even when it is still hard, but juiciness and sweetness will increase with ripening.
Members often ask if they can eat Gourds.  The answer is no.  I am then asked, "why not?"  I don't eat gourds, I don't eat trees, I don't eat shoes...... I don't know why.
Fresh Chanterelles are under $10 per pound, the lowest price we've seen!
Cheeses Pumpkins, suitable for vegan diets, are so named because their shape resembles a "loaf" of cheese that has been tied in a cheesecloth bundle.  Sweet, meaty flesh, perfect for pumpkin pie.
151 local items

Friday, October 14, 2011

Produce notes from Allen.....144 local items

Two words.....LOCALGINGER!

There is a gap in supply of the Hawaiian and Peruvian ginger. We are probably selling out right at the moment you are reading this. We do not know when these imports will return (we avoid the ginger from China.) Well, lucky us! This Monday we will receive 200 pounds of freshly dug young local (!) ginger  from Old Friends Farm in Massachusetts. 
Organic cranberries are now available. On Monday we will receive the first local ones from New England.

Good selection of Seeded Grapes include Concords, Niagaras, and the very limited Ribier.
Organic Cantaloupe season is ending in the middle of next week.
We received our first delivery of a very limited item, the minimally treated Chestnut from Hepworth Farms. We only got in 150 pounds, so they may already be gone. We hope to receive more next Tuesday.

We have had some quality issues with Andy Boy (conventional) Broccoli Rabe. It has been turning yellow too quickly. At the same time, we have had some local growers offer Organic Broccoli Rabe. This very fresh, high quality Broccoli Rabe is different in appearance. Organic Broccoli Rabe is usually harvested at an earlier stage in growth, with slenderer stems and no florets.

George Carlin once did a routine about blue foods.
"Why is there no blue food? I can't find blue food - I can't find the flavor of blue! I mean, green is lime; yellow is lemon; orange is orange; red is cherry; what's blue? There's no blue! Oh, they say, "Blueberries!" Uh-uh; blue on the vine, purple on the plate. There's no blue food! Where is the blue food? We want the blue food!"

We have the blue food. I will concede that none of them taste blue, but this week we have all-blue potatoes, (with bluish interiors; the Adirondack blues are white inside). We have Blue Hokkaido Squash and Blue Queensland Pumpkins, which kind of, sort of, look blue.

The Local Tomato season is nearly over. 
We may continue to receive Cherry Tomatoes and Heirlooms, but all of the rest of the Tomatoes will sell out this weekend and may not return. 

What will we have in place of the gigantic Tomato displays?  
Jack-o-lanterns coming Tuesday!

Allen Zimmerman  -  Produce Buyer - General Coordinator

Friday, October 07, 2011

Produce notes from Allen...143 Local Items!! Another Record...the bear of winter looms

New Apples coming Tuesday, Empire and Mutsu
Red bananas are back!  They came in less ripe than we wished.  You can speed up the ripening process by putting the bananas in a paper bag with an apple.   Apples naturally emit ethylene gas, which is perfect for ripening bananas.
Enjoy the short local season of the local (grown in Pennsylvania) Kiwi Berry aka "passion poppers". They are a cousin of the larger kiwi, with a tender edible non-fuzzy skin. 
Organic Cantaloupes heading into their probably last week.
Sycamore Honeydews, the best honeydews of the year, also likely to end next week.
Monstera deliciosa - taste somewhere between a pineapple and a banana with a hint of strawberry. Sure, you can just buy a pineapple, some bananas & a strawberry.  But where's the fun in that!? Each one comes wrapped in a sheet of instructions (read them!)  They're one of the most interesting and unique fruits we order!

Have you tried the Local Salad Mixes?  With the first northern frosts on the horizon, your time to enjoy these tasty greens is ticking away.  The Spicy Greens mix is especially tasty and gorgeous.
Pears! Pears! Pears!  We have received raves about the Bartlett Pears from Hepworth Farms.  They really are not very pretty, but they taste brilliant, and take almost no time to ripen.  Did you know that you can test a pear for ripeness by gently squeezing its neck (the narrow part closest to the stem)?  When it gives, slightly, to gentle pressure it is ripe.    Asian Pears, however, do not need ripening; they are harvested when ripe.  Cactus Pears-what do you do with them?  Cut about 1/4 inch off each end, and make a cut about 1/4 inch deep connecting these cuts.  Peel the skin off and eat what's left. There are small seeds that are too hard to chew and too many too discard.  Just eat them, along with the sweet, very juicy fruit, with taste somewhere between strawberry and watermelon and a slightly floral scent.
Attention all crossword puzzle fans!  The word aril, usually defined as a seed covering is a fleshy seed cover which arises from the funiculus (the stalk of the ovule).  But you already knew that.  The membrane surrounding each juicy little "pod" of the Pomegranate is an arilMace, by the way, is the aril of Nutmeg.  A recurring question this week has been, "how do I know when a Pomegranate is ripe?"  Pomegranates are harvested ripe and ready to eat.  
Another new record - 143 local produce items
- Allen Zimmerman
General Coordinator - Produce Buyer

Local Farm Update: Flooding Effects

Flying Rabbit Farm:

"We're not totally dry yet, on one side is the Susquehanna River and the other a creek which has rerouted itself into our fields.  We're trying to see if the railroad or DEC can help us correct this, but our crops are sitting in it, mostly the kale.  I'm not sure if there is much we can do right now.  The mature lettuce we had we cannot harvest so we're waiting to see if our last planting will do anything.  This is the second time in eight years we've lost our crops due to flood and it's frustrating; the creeks aren't cleared and no one wants us to touch them*, so we're trying to figure this out.  In the meantime, our season could be over. I'll keep you posted." - Mary

*Farm Services will now help them clear the creek.

Lucky Dog Farm:

 "We are no longer receiving anything from Lucky Dog.  The flood shut them down." 
- Angello's Distributing

Friday, September 30, 2011

Produce notes from Allen......140! All Time Record!

Here comes the next great apple- the Snow Sweet, developed at the University of Minnesota, the same Pomologists who gave us the Honeycrisp.  It's a sweet apple, with just a bit of tartness.  Its snow white flesh is very slow to turn brown after cutting.  This makes it an ideal apple to cut into slices for snacking and for salads.  Great for cooking, baking, canning, freezing, for cider, sauce.  It's also really great for eating.

The Macoun apples have started a bit early this year.  It's a great eating apple, also good for apple sauce.  Pronounce it "macown", not macoon.  Most people will think you are weird, but farmers will be impressed.

Many members have expressed a desire for Grapes with seed.  We now have Concord and Niagara Grapes with seeds.  On Monday 10/10 we expect our first Ribier Grapes, a huge long black grape with seeds.  The season for the seeded varieties begins later than the seedless.  The only grape with seeds that we have not been carrying is the Red Globe.  We have been unsuccessful in the past (horribly unsuccessful), keeping the red seedless and the red seeded varieties from being inadvertently mixed.  We have gotten many complaints from people who then inadvertently bought the wrong kind, so we will not be able to carry the Red Globe until everybody promises to be good. 

The Lychee season has probably ended for the year.  I'm trying to trick the Lychees into making me wrong. 

It looks like the Corn season is over.  Now that conventionally grown sweet table Corn could include some product that may be genetically modified, we will not be carrying sweet corn this winter.  If we can find a grower who will guarantee non-GMO product we will carry it, but it may be difficult to find one.

Oyster mushrooms herald the beginning of the fall variety of mushrooms.  Look for other varieties soon, including chanterelles and lobsters.

Amy Hepworth has dropped our cost of Heirloom Tomatoes to $1.50 per pound (from $2.00).  Next week she is cutting our cost per cup of Cherry Tomatoes to $1.50 per cup (from $2.00).  She wants us to eat more Tomatoes and she wants us to eat them faster. 

We have 10 kinds of Winter Squash this week, and will have at least 13 next week.

We have a new PSFC all-time record for local items - 140!

- Allen Zimmerman
  General Coordinator - Produce Buyer

Support Your Local Farmers: A call to action from our members.

Few New Yorkers are unfamiliar with the plight of our local farmers upstate.  Hurricanes Irene and Lee, reaped an enormous amount of damage upon them.  The timing could not have been worse.  The flooding of fields just weeks before the fall harvest is catastrophic to the finances of our beloved local growers.

Most of these farms rely upon credit to get themselves through the spring, summer and into the fall.  Fall's harvest is how most farmers pay down their debt, buy new equipment, order seed for the spring, and (hopefully) provide themselves a small cushion to get through the winter.  This is an over simplified description of how roughly 36,000 New York State farmers go through season after season, year after year.  The margins are nearly as thin as it gets.  In spite of it all, they accounted for $4.7 BILLION in sales in 2010 (per New York Farm Bureau).  That is an average of $130,000 per farm.  So when Richard Ball of Schoharie Valley Farms "estimates that losses in gross revenue will be in the $100,000 plus range", one can better put their difficulties into perspective.

These farmers need whatever help they can get.  Agriculture does not fall under FEMA.  Much of their assistance will call upon renegotiating loans from the USDA or FSA (Farm Service Agency).  In light of this, there are many other supportive groups and efforts emerging.  Please take the time to look at the links (any words highlighted in blue) below*.  Times are tough for many people right now.  Not everyone can contribute; but please consider passing some of this information along.  

Evolutionary Organics:  
Check out this novel, and very transparent, approach Kira is taking.     Click Here

Benefit organized by Blue Moon Fish (Grand Army Plaza Fish Monger) 
November 6th 2pm-8pm at Southpaw on 5th Avenue 

Cooperative Recovery Fund:
Three cooperative development organizations have come together to organize a relief fund. 

*This is a list in progress.    Any suggested additions are welcome, please email me at 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Produce Notes From Allen.....128 local items

Despite the problems farmers are having with the heavy, unrelenting rains, we have 128 local produce items.

More than 70 of these items are coming (entirely or in part), from Hepworth Farms. Amy Hepworth reports that it feels like she's functioning in a swamp. There are some items like Cucumbers and Zucchini, that are still out there, but they can't be harvested, and it is feared that the rest of those crops will be lost. Amy is not complaining when she reports this and says that most of the farmers around them are already shut down for the season. It does look like a great deal of the local harvest will end early, and Amy as well as other local farmers are hoping for a strong supply of storage crops to help pay the bills. There is some fear however, that some of the late crops, like Pumpkins, will not fare well at all.

We have heard from our major supplier of California Avocados, Sundance Natural Foods Company, that the avocados that we will receive on 9/29 will be their last of this year's harvest. The next harvest out of that region will begin in December. In the interim, we will have to make do with Avocados from Mexico, and if that crop in turn becomes exhausted, we will begin buying Avocados from Chile. Since we have been buying Avocados directly from Sundance, we have been able to keep the Avocado prices down, relative to what they will be in a couple of weeks. Prices are at a record high; our members have been slightly shielded from them by our relationship with Sundance. Prices will go from bad to horrible in October.

The external quality of the Thai Coconuts is not that great, and no improvement is in sight. What we have is as good as it is going to be for the near future. Please try to get past the cosmetics. After all, you don't eat the hull anyway.

In addition to the minimally treated Asian Pear, we are now carrying a Pennsylvania pear from Subarashii Kudamono. Their first offering is the AsaJu Pear, a thin skinned juicy variety.

Organic Pineapples are scarce; we expect to sell out this weekend

The harvest of local Baby Arugula that we have been carrying in cups, as well as loose, has failed due to the rain storms. We are lucky that a new local harvest of bunching Arugula has begun.

We were lucky to learn of a farm in Pennsylvania that has managed to produce some Green Beans. (There were none in the entire Hunts Point Wholesale Produce Market of any quality.) We have been offered a small amount of local Organic Beans for Monday.

Local Broccoli has returned and we expect Local Organic Broccoli Rabe to return this Monday.

Oyster Mushrooms this Monday will herald the return of an expanded selection of Mushrooms for the fall.

Enjoy the Local Corn while it lasts (not much longer!)

We have a new, very cute product from Amy Hepworth, cups of Mini Sweet Peppers. The harvest of Local Sweet Peppers will end very soon. Don't wait to try these!
Look for gorgeous new Blue Potatoes under the Avocados, opposite the display of the other Potatoes.

Many members are aware that there has been a recall of Cantaloupes in the past 2 weeks. The Cantaloupe in the news is causing listeria infections and calls have come to the coop from members who fear that we may have this melon. The offending fruit was grown in Colorado, ( we have never ever had a Colorado Cantaloupe in the coop. Really never ever). The recalled Cantaloupes are conventionally grown. All of our Cantaloupes were organically grown in California. They are delicious, SAFE, and are helping me get over the end of the Watermelon season. Enjoy them without fear!

Gerry of Hepworth Farms

Small but MIGHTY!
Gerry of Hepworth Farms in front of $23,365 of local produce ready to be received last Friday.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Produce Notes From Allen....125 Local Items

Excepting the organic Red Delicious (in their last week of storage season), All Apples Are New Crop. New crop organic apples are scarce or unavailable. Local Macintosh and Jonamac begin next week.

Pixie Tangerines, unexpected at this time of year, are delicious. Try them now or wait until November for clementines.My advice-don't wait!

Cherries will end this weekend. Champagne Grapes ended today. Concord Grapes were delayed until next Tuesday by rain.

The Hepworth Peaches and Nectarines are fantastic. They won't be here forever...

Watermelon season winding down, but not done yet. Yellow Seedless arriving Saturday Sugar Baby with seeds arriving Monday.

A great deal of Arugula was destroyed by flooding and we won't see bunched Arugula for a while. Organic Green Basil, Organic Thai Basil, Organic Purple Basil, may have been entirely lost to flooding, but perhaps may have a brief return before the fall.

Local Broccoli is back, but ltd. this week. Lots more starting Tuesday. Local Scallions, loose Salad Mix, and Cilantro ruined by excessive rainfall.

Look for a brief return of many varieties of Summer Squash this Monday for a day or two.

Local Baby Tatsoi is tender and a great addition to your salads. Try something new; buy just a tiny bit and find out if you like Tatsoi. By the way... you DO.

There were huge losses of Cherry Tomatoes in the Hepworth fields this past week. Price has gone up a bit as a result, but Amy Hepworth is working hard to keep up our supply through the end of the season. We are discussing a tryout of Mini-Heirlooms Tomatoes; look for them soon!

Welcome back Local Organic Watercress, hot and spicy. Think wasabi in a green leaf. Your sinuses will thank you.

Allen Zimmerman
General Coordinator
Produce Buyer

Flood Updates

(A Non Profit Organic Farmers Co-op
in Lancaster, PA)
"Thanks to everyone for having patience with us in dealing with the weather. Bridges have been washed out and fields have been flooded. Eli from Elm Tree Organics called me Wednesday evening around 1am and said the water in his basement is above his shoulders. A small portion of his field had winter squash bobbing in the water are splitting by the second."

Angello's Produce
"I was re-routed twice just on my way to work (of course I live an hour north of the office)....the streams are wild and wicked up this way too. Westminster (Farm) is all but done except for some roots they were able to salvage, and Markristo (Farm) is out too. Miller's Crossing (Farm) is reassessing currently, and won't have anything available for a while. Soggy.... We've had more massive flooding here in the Hudson Valley this week, so Saturday availability is, well, perhaps a bit lackluster. Taliaferro (Farm) in New Paltz lost 16 of 33 acres. Stoneledge Farm is completely flooded and finished for the year. Lucky Dog (Farm) completely flooded and shut down."

Finger Lakes Organic Growers' Cooperative
"Mary Dolan just informed me that their fields are under water. They
cannot harvest anything for Monday. That means we have no more kale available,and of course, no mesclun.
There must be a lot of farmers out there hurting worse than we are
here on the high lake plain."

Hepworth Farms
could not deliver on Thursday because the highway outside of their farm (NY route 9W) was closed due to massive flooding.