Friday, April 20, 2012

Produce notes from Allen.....60 Local Items!

 Spring is here and we're all excited about the new Spring Greens.   Spring, full of promise and vitality, is not, however, a time of plenty.  Historically, before the age of refrigeration, spring could bring greater privation than even the winter.  During the winter, Apples were still good, Roots, Squash, Potatoes and Onions were still storing well, and hadn't already been eaten.  By the time spring arrived, these storage crops were pretty much exhausted (in quantity and quality) and new crops had barely or not yet grown. We find ourselves on the verge of the local explosion, but still can't count on anything yet. 

 We have been surprised by several shortages, even if you may not have noticed them yet: 

 For a couple of weeks we were unable to get the larger sized loose Russets.  One of our suppliers still has some, but our largest supplier doesn't expect any until June!  We still have an abundant supply of Reds and Yukon Golds, primarily because Hepworth Farms still has an excellent supply from last year's harvest.  The first of this year's harvest of organic Red Potatoes is starting now, but at a price nearly double that of the storage crop. We only carry organic Potatoes because we can't be sure that the conventionally grown Potatoes have not been genetically modified.

 For the last 2 weeks Hepworth Farms has provided us with hundreds of pounds of Baby Greens, and Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative also provided some.  We had the expectation that the flood gates were opening, but we think we are now facing a severe shortage of these GreensHepworth Farms, our major supplier, has to bring all of its focus to the outdoors planting, and additionally has to cope with the current drought upstate.  They hope to have relief from the drought this weekend, but not be able to get to a harvest of Baby Greens for a few weeks.

Growing conditions for Spinach and Radishes have been terrible from California, but now we are lucky to be able to supply almost all of what we need now, thanks to Lancaster.  

 We have not been without Winter Squash for this long in memory, but the storage crops have long been exhausted and the new harvest from Mexico has so far been scarce.  

 We would not have had confidence in the sweetness of the Squash this early in the season anyway.  We look forward to a new Kabocha this Tuesday and we hope that it is sweet enough.

 We know that members have been disappointed by the lack of Raspberries.  We have gone many weeks ignoring the scarce, troubled crop.  Rain and cold have produced uneven quality, gaps in supply and a price of nearly $6.00 per cup.  No relief is in sight.  

 Blueberries flooded the market out of South America, but that season is ending this week.  The early Florida and Georgia prices are going to double (or more) the prices we have been seeing.   

 Strawberry prices seem to be dropping every week, the quality is improving, but maybe I should bite my tongue.

 Apple varieties are disappearing, Citrus varieties are ending, but spring is here!  The sky is blue, the sun will shine and fruits will stop being boring!  Vegetable supplies will increase, but we are still weeks away.

Allen Zimmerman - Produce Buyer - General Coordinator