Friday, August 17, 2012

Produce notes from Allen......136 Local Items!

You don't have to wait until next Friday to ask, 
"What happened to organic Lemons?"  

The harvest is over for now.  There is some fruit that is out there in southern California, slowly ripening.  It is green right now and we can't predict when they will ripen.  It is disconcerting when something that we take for granted becomes unavailable.  All we can offer is non-organic Lemons or organic Limes.  Let this be an opportunity to try something different.

"What ever happened to?"

- Organic Russet Potatoes
The quality of the new crop so far is so poor that when I ask suppliers if there have been improvements in quality, I get responses that include: "not for pickies", (I am very picky), "no returns", "no credits", "even our restaurant clients won't buy them", and "not good enough for Park Slope Food Coop".  We'll keep asking 

- Vidalia onions
The season ended early this year.  Enjoy the local organic sweet onions.  When they are exhausted, we'll then get Peruvian.

- Nappa Cabbage
This crop does not fare well in heat waves.  We expect to see some very limited, but very beautiful nappa this Monday.  Very limited plus very beautiful equals very expensive.

- Baby Bok Choy
Heat in California adversely affected the crop.  We took a one week time out, and found a local source for the coming week. 

-Spring Onions
Well, it is summer and we did enjoy a nice long run.

- Champagne Grapes
These tiny grapes have a tiny marketing season, which has now ended

- Artichokes
Too scarce and too crappy and too expensive to carry until weather cools a bit.

- Pink Lady Apples
We tried Chilean pink ladies during the late season apple vacuum.  We received Argentine fruit, which we thought was good enough to fill a vacuum, but after several tastings we decided to wait for new crop apples instead

- Longans
They came and blew out so fast that most members did not even see them.  They return on Tuesday, again limited

- Organic Cherries
The last batch we tried was sour and had small amounts of mold.  So, we rejected them and said farewell to the cherry season.

- Organic Blueberries -  
Strictly speaking, the crop is not quite exhausted, but the quality and value season is over.  I might have tried to stretch out another week or two, but more often than not that leads to problems.  

I teach other produce buyers, that as far as seasons go, "Don't get in too early and don't get out too late".  Of course I don't always get it right, and for that our soup kitchens are grateful.

Many produce suppliers, as well as produce stores, sell two types of Plums, red or black.  They don't differentiate between varieties, and shoppers never get to learn which Plums they like best, never developing their favorites.  (I remember when there were two kinds of Apple, red and yellow, until the USA discovered Granny Smith, and suddenly there were three!)  We care about varieties of Plums at the coop and we annoy the ____ out of our suppliers urging them to provide us with the best varieties.  They would be happier carrying red or black.  Our members look forward to the first Santa Rosa, wonder where are the Larodas, wait for the Friars, and savor the Mariposas.  It's been a tough Plum season so far, with very few varieties making their way east, and prices have been very high. Pluots (crosses between Plums and Apricots) have also been expensive and many of the varieties have so far been unavailable.  We have enjoyed several varieties of Amy Hepworth's Plums this year but it has been increasingly difficult to distinguish the many varieties, which have too often arrived , mislabeled or unlabeled. Today we surrendered and gave up our attempt to identify each Hepworth Plum. Here is our current list

Red plum
Redder plum
Reddest plum
Reddish plum

I hope you read this, Amy Hepworth, and recognize what you've done to my OCD.

Allen Zimmerman - Produce Buyer - General Coordinator

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