Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ugly Organic

The melons are coming into ripeness.
 These are a challenging crop for us to grow, and most years we don't succeed in harvesting really great melons in enough quantity to distribute. This first crop of fruit is on the edge of ripeness, but the plants are being hit hard by the next wave of bugs. So some of them don't look pretty, but hopefully the taste is not bad; and we should have enough to go around.
Remember when Organic was synonymous with Ugly? That was when the Organic movement was young, and things have definitely changed. Wholefoods Market has some produce that is beautiful and organic. But... let think about why that is...
As more pesticides have been developed and produced for certified organic crops, pest damage has decreased. That seems fine, but consider that pesticide use is often used to prevent bug damage that is cosmetic. Even organic-approved pesticides should be used with restraint, but Beauty sells better than Ugly. Another factor is the global scale of organic agriculture. Bugs and disease are often regional issues, so if Whole Foods can cheaply ship produce from half way around the world, that would be another way to make beautiful organic available.
I'm thinking of a truth-in-advertising campaign: Backsliding Beauty vs. Ethically Ugly. I'm not going to hold my breath for global organic to catch onto that trend, but I ask you to keep that in mind when you taste how delicious our occasionally ugly produce is!

Harvest List:
"farmer's greens" aka Vitamin Green from the seed catalog. This is a mustard family green that wants to be cooked.
Beet Greens
Green Bell Peppers
Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers (These have more of a but than we had expected)
Melons-- some canteloupe, a few honeydew types
Red Cabbage
String beans (yellow or green)
Walla Walla summer onions
New red potatoes

We give out a lot of basil in the summer months. It is always hard to figure out the best way to store it, but the key is: not too cold, and somewhat breathable plastic bags. Its a warm season crop and sensitive to temps below 45 degrees... our cooler is at best a few degrees above that, but most fridges are generally colder. Any wet leaves will start looking bad first, so keep the plant in the open until it dries. When you get your basil home, cut the stems again the way you would keep flowers fresh, then put them into a glass of water, and keep it on the counter. Here is a link to a further good method-- covering the plant loosely with a bag.

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