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