Friday, June 4, 2010

First Delivery - June 4 - 1 of 2

Hi all:
This is the first of two posts. Blogspot only lets me upload 5 pictures to a post. I haven't figured out a way around that so if someone knows please let me know. The other post will be at the right in the archives labeled 2 of 2 with today's date.
First, I just want to remind everyone to rinse the produce. We don't wash produce before getting it out to our members. Washing damages produce and makes it harder to pack without damaging further. Produce should be washed just before consuming. This is also a good time to begin some of my soapbox preaching...sorry.
Produce you get in the store from who knows where has been over-washed in ultra-chlorinated water. That is one of the ways the food industry gets all of nature off the produce. So when you get produce from Parker Produce you may notice certain differences. You may find the occasional bug, the occasional garden soil, what have you. As a participant in a local food chain you are making a commitment to return to a way of life in which we begin to take more responsibility for our food. Washing produce is just the beginning and we thank our members for making that commitment. It takes more time to clean and prepare local, fresh, beyond organic food that hasn't been doused with chemicals and jet washed. It's worth the effort.
Below is a photo of the spinach row just prior to harvest. It's beautiful stuff! This is adult or full-sized spinach. It's really meant for braising. For an explanation of braising, please see the next post. You could also steam it or prepare it in any other fashion you like. I will say however that it's not meant to be eaten raw. Full-sized spinach is usually considered too tough to eat in a salad. I do it sometimes if there is no baby spinach in the garden but usually I braise it.
Here is a shot of some of the beet greens that are in the mix you'll find in your share. They are in there with baby spinach and Red Russian Kale. You'll find more about this mix in the '2 of 2' post.
Also, here are the scallions. These are wintered-over scallions which has several implications. As you can see in this photo, they've begun to set seed heads and I will soon have hundreds of thousands of seeds in this row. The scallions in your share have been reduced quite a bit. The picture doesn't really show it but these come up to my waist. I can't fit that in a bag! So I cut off the roots and the majority of the stalk and put the rest in with your radishes. These are a great early substitute for onions and also good cut up in salads and eggs and things like that.
The implications I was talking about have to do with the fact that you'll have to do a little more work to prepare these scallions that you do with spring planted scallions. Throughout the winter these hardy troopers are standing in snow, wind, ice, rain, sun and then do it all over again. That takes a toll on them. You may find some dead tissue in amongst the bunch or some on the outside of the scallion. That's normal. It's the plant's defense mechanism against the cold of early spring. It's like a layer of insulation. Just peel that part off to reveal the edible, delicious, oniony inside. Cut off the roots and then enjoy. I usually cut what I want off the top with a pair of sharp scissors. If I'm using it as an onion I will use a knife and cut from the bottom (the white part).

The radish! Each of you will find a French Breakfast Radish in your share. It's the odd shaped one with the white on bottom. They are meant to be that big! The other radishes allow me to step back up on my soap box for a moment...
The produce you find in the store all looks the same, has no bumps, bugs or signs of life. Our produce is different. We do not waist food! That's the bottom line. We certainly throw a fair amount of detritus and garden debris in the compost pile on harvest day. But if something just looks a little funny...we put it in the bag. That was the case with the radishes today. Some of them have worm markings on the outside. Personally, I just wash them thoroughly and eat them that way. If it bothers you all you have to do is shave that part off. You can use a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler. The amount of edible food that is wasted in the United States is estimated to be around 90% of the harvest! It's difficult to imagine that but I believe it's nearly accurate. Tons of edible produce is discarded right in the fields of this country because it doesn't look good. Then, at each stop along the way it happens again. In the field, in the packing house, in the grocery store, in the restaurant, in the kitchen, etc. The produce is whittled down until we only see and use the most perfect looking stuff. What a waste. We follow a different philosophy at Parker Produce. Why waste perfectly good food because a bug took a bite out of a leaf or a worm crawled by a radish or a tomato has a small crack in the shoulder. It will taste good.
That being said, we do try to present good looking produce. I was a bit surprised at how the radishes came out. I don't usually have that many with worm evidence. I'm hoping the next batch will weather better.
Finally, another salad mix. This one consists of a red romaine (Rouge D'Hiver) and Endive. I hope you all enjoy the share. Don't forget to check the other post at the right for additional information.

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