So where’s the pomegranates Uncle Vern? Honestly, did you ever think you’d be excited about pomegranate season? Well, despite all the hype, that old “Wonderful”—that’s really the name of the variety—that came over from the old country and grampa had out shading the pump, and Solomon used to help describe his beloved is still the best eating variety; and the one we’re waiting for.
And as every farmer and all of you who have been here awhile know, they’re at their best when they get so full of sugar they crack their skins. I haven’t seen what I’m lookin for yet, but soon as we do, Brittney will extend the invitation with her weekly letter and; Lord willin, they’ll be available for 2-3 weeks.
Last week I tried to cram “perfect produce in an imperfect world” into an unjustly small space but this cracked pomegranate thing is a perfect segue so here goes.
People have been trained by North American produce retailers to buy with their eyes and it’s a fairly easy schooling because we Americans naturally believe we’re experts at everything.
Now in rural France, on market day, it’s quite rude to pick your own produce. Instead, you would ask the farmer for a kilo of peaches. He in turn would ask you what you were going to do with them—eat them out of hand, make a cobbler—and when; today or next Thursday. With this information, he picks the perfect peaches for you perfectly because a) his reputation is on the line, and b) he’s going to see you again next week where he’ll ask how you liked the peaches, hoping for a magnifique!
So here’s the conundrum. A cracked pomegranate is unmarketably defective through normal channels, but it’s the one the farmer would choose for you if you said you were going to eat them (versus decorate for fall.) Same goes for checks (like stretch marks) on a nectarine or a cantaloupe.
And since these delicious imperfections render the fruit unmarketable in our culture, guess what farmers have done? Yep, naturally, we’ve planted varieties we get paid for instead of the ones we don’t; those selfish farmers.
It’s going to take awhile, but I think we can fix this, especially within the organic movement which has a better educated, more adventurous clientele, but we’re going to have to go slowly and win acceptance for perceived imperfections in exchange for magnifique bit by bit.
Because another challenge is this: often what makes a produce item delicious also reduces its shelf life. You’ll remember the donut peaches we had for about 4 years. Since I planted them just for AHO, I chose the 3 most delicious varieties that came about a month apart. This year when we had the farm tours, I would stop by the donut peaches to talk about grafting and everyone would say: “You grafted out the donut peaches?! I loved those things, my kids loved em, why Uncle Vern?” Because Blanca spent all her time apologizing to people for how fast they broke down. Next year you’ll have “Beach Baby” French nectarines from the same patch.
If everyone looked exactly the same, what a boring world this would be. It’s our imperfections that make us unique and if you start lookin around, in most cases beautiful. VIVE LA DIFFERENCE!!!