Tuesday, February 4, 2014

free. citrus.

We were soaking up some free wifi at the local marina when someone walked past and said "Free citrus, come help yourself." Mrs. Greedy-Guts was up seconds later following the man with the box, begging a bag from the marina store and loading up. He said his neighbor, five miles up the road, couldn't use all the fruit his trees produced. So here were two big boxes of grapefruit and oranges fresh off the trees. And free to boot! 

Fresh fruit is something Americans don't get enough of. The grocery stores may be crammed full of beautiful-looking produce, but it isn't generally anything near fresh. Our tomatoes (and many other fruits) are picked green and chemically ripened (read Tomatoland to find out more). Most of the fruit is grown in other countries and shipped long distances to show up in our large chain markets. Fruit is bred to be a consistent size and to resist bruising during shipping. Taste and vitamin content aren't considerations in the industrialized plant breeding process.

Fresh really matters in food storage. Last fall I purchased a bushel of sweet potatoes directly from a farm in VA (for a mere $13). After some experimentation, I settled into four recipes we liked: African Yam, Black Bean Chili, Spicy Oven Fries, and the basic mashed with butter. We finished up the potatoes in January. The potatoes lasted perfectly well for four months stored in canvas bags with nary a bad one. They were delicious! After finishing them, we started in on the butternut squashes purchased the same day. Try keeping a supermarket sweet potato for four months in a canvas bag. 

So, thanks, neighbor! We really appreciate the shared bounty from your trees. The first grapefruit we devoured was heavenly! Looking forward to the rest of the bag.