Friday, October 05, 2012

Produce notes from Allen....151 local items!

Riddle: How can you tell when a carrot has to go? (See below for the answer)

After writing about a local farmer's kiwi berry failure, I was surprised by the number of members who were concerned and curious about this crop failure. The farmer did their best to salvage what they could of a crop that was heavily hit by hail in the spring. There was no damage to the trees and we all hope for a better next year.

I recently explained that because we avoided buying fresh produce from China, we almost entirely missed out on the recent Lychee season, as China has almost completely dominated the market.  I asked those in attendance at the 10/2 General Meeting if they agreed with this decision, and an overwhelming majority of those who responded did agree, nearly unanimously.  The Israeli Lychee season has begun.  The early offerings at the Hunt's Point Market were not good, but we hope to find better ones this week.

OMG! Some of you may register "sticker shock" at the increase in the price of Honeycrisp Apples. All of Amy Hepworth's minimally treated Apples cost the coop $30 per (38 pound)  case and that price has been constant for a good decade.  Honeycrisp had cost us $50 up till now, but last week we agreed to pay $70 for a case.  That price is in fact lower than prices we saw in the Hunt's Point Market for conventional Honeycrisp.  The demand for Honeycrisp is just too high and supplies continue to be limited.  This new price feels high, but it is fair.  If Honeycrisp busts your budget, let this be an opportunity for you to try something else.

The end is near!  Tomato supplies are rapidly diminishing and prices are creeping or leaping up.  We were lucky to even have Plum Tomatoes this week, as our supply from Hepworth Farm was expected to end.  I called our three (gigantic) national suppliers of organic produce, and none of them had any! None from Florida, California or Mexico.  I told Amy this and she said "I'm going to do this, I'm getting you what you need".  Late yesterday afternoon, she sent a team of pickers to see what they could reap at the last minute from a nearly completely harvested field, and her truck showed up with 31 cases of Plum Tomatoes early this morning.  We believe in supporting our local farmers.  Our local farmers believe in supporting us back.

The Mexican Mango harvest has ended.  That is the usual end of the North American Mango season, but now we have the last of the final California harvest.  This Mango is very expensive and will be still more expensive next week, and then it will be gone.  The Brazil harvest follows and the Brazil Mango is, well, for people who just have to have Mangos.  I am a huge Mango fan and will eat the somewhat fibrous Brazilian fruit, but I won't get happy until the world revolves a little bit more and the Ecuadoran harvest begins.  This California Mango is the best Mango you will have for a fairly long time. Enjoy one now.

Another OMG! Where are the Grapefruit?  Unfavorable weather has seriously harmed the California crop, and while the Florida harvest has begun, I have a report today from a fruitarian friend and supplier who lives in Florida and loves Grapefruit, who warned me that the early Florida fruit is much too sour. 

New organic items next week include Cranberries, Pearl Onions, the last of the Roly Poly Squash for the year, and a one day supply of White Satin Carrots arriving on Monday.

Allen Zimmerman - Produce Buyer - General Coordinator


Maybe that got your attention! It's been awhile since the frozen foods department made an appearance on here. Ahhh, it's good to be back.
Our biggest news is now we have LOCAL FROZEN SEAFOOD distributed by our new fish favorite, Gabe Stommel who has started a CSF (community supported fisheries) based out of Narragansett, RI. The sustainable seafood business can be quite difficult to keep up with, whether it's seasonal, farmed, wild or caught in your own backyard (not really). Gabe the Fish Babe prides itself on catching local, sustainable and seasonal seafood. They even have information on the boats they use as well as what each boat catches. pretty cool, right? As of now, you can find Blue fish (also known as Hatteras blue or horse mackerel) Scallops (caught off the coast of Georges Banks) Fluke (sushi grade!) Bonito (similar to tuna) What's even cooler about these fish as that when you pick up a vacuum sealed pack, you'll also find Gabe's information and a RECIPE for how to cook the fish. neato, right? i thought so too. So please, support our local fisheries and give Gabe a chance! In other news, our seasonal ice cream flavors are reappearing! Keep your eyes peeled for Adirondack and Blue Marble Pumpkin ice cream! that is all. for now.

What's happened to Liberté?

Liberté Yogurt has gone through some changes recently as you may have noticed.  Here’s some information:

Liberté Natural Foods was an independent company based out of Brampton, Ontario, a local producer by the Coop’s 500-mile definition. The milk for their cows milk products was bought from a Vermont farmers’ cooperative that we were happy to support being a fellow cooperative.

In late 2010, Yoplait brands acquired Liberté Natural Foods.  At first there was little change.  Then a few products were changed or discontinued.  Some lines – like the Goat Yogurt – were eliminated completely.  But similar to the way Stonyfield remains independently run though owned by Groupe Danone (Dannon), Liberté’s products did not change too much for the next year.

In July 2011 General Mills took control of Yoplait and Liberté line has undergone significant changes.  The packaging changed.  The large-sized lowfat style was eliminated.  And most significantly, the sourcing of the ingredients has changed and the manufacturing has moved.

The St. Albans Cooperative in Vermont no longer supplies the milk used to make Libreté yogurt. Production has moved to Tennessee.  The sourcing of the milk is hard to determine – possibly in Tennessee but I’ve also heard California.  The side of the container says “made with milk from cows not treated with rBST/rBGH” – the bare minimum standard for most milk products these days and in any yogurt we sell.

Liberté is cheaper than ever to buy.  While this may be reflection of the efficiencies inherent in huge corporations, it may also be a reflection of the ingredients used. 

Members still buy huge amounts of Liberté yogurt.  Many members may not have known about the changes in the product.  The Coop is not going to stop selling Liberté although it would no longer be considered “local” and does not appear to have any relationship to any farmers’ cooperatives. So long as members show a desire and there are not any other significant changes to the product, we will continue to sell Liberté Yogurt for the foreseeable future.

Cooperatively yours,
Peter the Coordinator who resides in Yogurtland