Volume 7, Week 5, September 27-28, 2013
GRAPES. First off, thanks to all of you who have written such glowing appreciation for the Autumn Royal grapes over the past several weeks. I don’t think we’ve had such a quantity of positive feedback for any single item in our six years of harvesting abundantly. Besides the large, black, crunchy, seedless part, there’re a couple things we are able to do because we’re AHO that made them such a delight to you. Because we know the EXACT quantity you need, that is the exact quantity that’s harvested each week. The grapes in your box—like most everything—were on the vine day before yesterday. Most people have never had a truly fresh grape before and you guys chomped through about two acres a week of ’em.
Second, a conventional grape is gassed with SO2 to seal up any cracked berries so they don’t decay. SO2 is the biblical brimstone, or burning sulfur, and that sulfur taste permeates the grapes you’re familiar with in the store. Of course there’s the “I’m such a great organic farmer part,” but by now, you know that farming’s a lifelong learning endeavor and the recurring lesson’s humility so we won’t go there.
When my friend Rick brought me a bunch of these Peonies a few years back saying he was going to plant a few acres and do ’em organically, I told him “Whoa!! Rick that is hands down the most flavorful grape I’ve ever eaten in my life, they’re a party in your mouth! I wonder if Americans will work with the seeds to get to this awesome Concord/Muscat flavor?” Time will tell.
PURPLE POTATOES. My friend Grant loves the challenge of growing heirloom spuds organically, and this Purple Passion variety is his passion; high in anti-oxidants, flavorful, and just plain cool. We hope to build this relationship over time so he can plant specifically for you.
POMEGRANATES. Okay, I’m going to try something, and I KNOW you’ll let us know what you think. We pack a boat load of organic pomegranates and here’s the dilemma. Everybody wants a bright red, really sweet Wonderful (that’s the name of the predominant ancient variety). The deal is, they don’t get that way until they crack open. They literally burst their skins to let us know they’re ready. Around here, the only fruit we eat, take home, or pass around to friends is cracked, but this best fruit is unmarketable because it’s flawed. Because we have the opportunity to educate here, I’m going to take a risk and send you this defective fruit in a couple weeks. You won’t be able to use it for holiday decoration, but me thinks you’ll dig it, if not, another humility lesson for Uncle Vern.
NON-PRODUCE SUBJECT. I saw a birthday card with this toothless, gnarled old cowboy with a shack, a cactus, and a scrawny cow in the background that said: “If you’ve got your health, you’ve got just about everything,” and on the inside it said: “except a fast horse, a beautiful woman and plenty of money.” This falling with the tree episode—see last week’s letter—has really impacted (no pun) my outlook. We just don’t bounce back (there’s another one) as quick at 56 as 26. When you don’t feel good, it affects everything, but mostly your attitude towards all of life.
Other than not doing stupid stuff, nothing improves our wellbeing, our attitude, and our ability to deal with life like what we choose to put in our mouths. I think the truism I’ve learned is: The closer food is to its natural state, the healthier it is. As it gets processed and refined and changed, that change just isn’t good for us. Another way to say it is: If Great-Gramma wouldn’t recognize it, watch-out. To me, the biggest reward for this whole AHO adventure is knowing just how good it’s making everyone involved feel, one bite at a time. And when you feel good, I know you’re gonna do good. EAT HEALTHY!!!