Friday, May 11, 2012

Produce Notes from Allen....74 local items!!

Keep your questions coming!  Here are some of the questions asked this week.

"I found Rhubarb on a list of vegetables that have the least amount of pesticides used on them.  Why do we only have organic?  The organic are more expensive and sometimes there are none."

You will find Strawberries on the list of fruits that have the most pesticides used on them.  We try to buy only organic Strawberries for that reason.  It doesn't make sense to me to have one item organic, and one not, when they are so often used in combination.  Many members are familiar with lists of what to only buy organic, or what may be relatively safe to not buy organic.  Many members do not, or will never buy produce unless it is organic.  We hope that this decision serves most members well.  At this point in the season, the supplies are increasing, and now that most of our Rhubarb is local, we are starting to see lower prices as well.

"I cut open a Melon and it was green inside. I was upset that it wasn't orange, because I wanted vitamin A. What happened to my Melon?"

This member bought a Galia Melon, which slightly resembles a Cantaloupe.  It is green on the inside, a color which wouldn't surprise a Honeydew eater.  (Although we occasionally carry orange flesh Honeydews.)  She wanted me to warn people what color fruits are on the inside, and I replied that I could not do that, although we do identify all Watermelon by color.  If you are concerned about the color of each fruit, google them before you shop.  You can find our daily produce selection updated Monday through Friday at: click here
As far as the vitamins go, I leave that up to you.  I am the produce buyer, not the vitamin buyer.  I think that you can't go very wrong when you eat any fruit in place of another.  By the way, galias are very high in Vitamin A.  She did say that it was delicious, and you can find out for yourself when they return to our shelves next Friday.

"How can hydroponic produce also be organic?  I know that stuff is added to the water.  How can you add stuff to the water and still claim that the produce is organic?"
It is not the coop that makes the claim that something is organic.  A farmer or producer may make that claim after they have been inspected and certified by an independent party (such as CCOF or NOFA).  All produce sold as organic at the coop has been certified by an independent party.  Many nutrients, fertilizers and various chemicals may be added to the water for hydroponically grown organic produce.  Many nutrients, fertilizers and various chemicals may be added to the soil for field grown or hot house grown soil based organic produce.  The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances may be seen at: click here  Organic doesn't mean "free of chemicals".  Anything added to the soil or water must be considered benign, safe for consumption, and will be described in the USDA National Organic Program.

"How can I know which produce items are locally grown?"
 We only identify items as locally grown when 100% of that item is sourced locally.  For the last few weeks, a great deal of the Lettuces and Kales were locally grown, but we were not able to supply all of our needs for the item locally.  Now that we are starting to have access to more and more local produce, there are three easy ways to identify the source of each item.  
Go to our daily menu (click here) and click on the column "Origin".  The origin of each item is also on the shelf price sign of each item.  If you would like to see all of the local items at a glance, see the green highlighted lists, updated Monday through Friday, at the front and rear of the produce aisle.

Allen Zimmerman - Produce Buyer - General Coordinator