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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fruit friends

  The economy has inspired a lot of neighbor-to-neighbor activity, and (more visibly) media awareness of community activities that already exist, and the way those communities are innovating solutions for their needs themselves.

Foraging for Fruit Gains Popularity (, 6/10/09, shared by a Facebook friend) is an article about looking around you, seeing what you have to offer, and giving or trading it with others. As one participant remarks, A fruit tree is really made for sharing with your neighborhood.

It's a sweet article about all sorts of little personal projects that have blossomed into larger organizations of people picking fruit for food banks, harvesting and pruning orchards for elderly neighbors, and working out elaborate social networks of ripe fruit reporting so people can trade when the fruit on their trees is at its best. The idea expands beyond the community/victory garden in which apartment dwellers may garden for their own table, to discuss how neighbors with private gardens can better share their surplus.

These sorts of exchanges have always occurred: I think very fondly of the coworkers who have brought in baskets of ripe lemons, apricots, plums, and avocados to the office. There are also jokes about how, in certain neighborhoods, you have to lock your car doors and roll up the windows, or in the morning you'll find your car filled with baskets of zucchini and string beans dumped by rogue urban farmers.

The novelty, I suppose, is that technology is playing a slightly increased organizing role in these exchanges, allowing more people to participate than the ordinary do-gooder neighbor could otherwise handle. Another novelty angle may be that the major media, ever seeking stories about impending doom, remained stunned that people are capable of self-organizing for positive reasons. (I half-expected to read articles about 'unregulated and dangerous fruit anarchy.')

If you have more bounty from your yard than you can handle, this article is a reminder to share it, regardless of whether you do that through a Facebook group or by ringing your neighbor's doorbell and offering a sack of lemons.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:50 PM

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Spring Farmer's Market

On March 24th, I went to the Farmer's Market to see what our local farmers were offering despite the very cold, dry, generally strange winter we'd had.

Despite the cold, there were plenty of options:
-an abundance of oranges (especially the large navel oranges, but also smaller "juice" oranges, and various mandarins)
-pomelo (the giant green citrus fruit that are periodically mistaken for giant grapefruit, though they have a subtler, milder flavor than the average grapefruit)
-kumquats (which I see used more for festive decorations than I do as food)
-a few yellow pears (but very few - the pears you see in stores right now, especially the brown pears, are likely from South America)
-Asian specialty greens like bok choi, gai lon, the round-edged mustards, and others (available here year-round, usually)
-onions (green and yellow)
-mints (a wide range, including the strangely named "chicken mint")
-daikon radishes (which are fabulous, but which I don't do anything with, for some reason... I need a recipe for pickling them, I think, so I can serve them with other things)...

Plus the items I chose:
-broccoli (to cook with tofu, black bean sauce AND Vietnam-style chili garlic sauce)
-tomatoes - which were a bad idea, because it's too early, and they were from far, far away, sold at the little stand that always has a wide range of foods, but which always look likve they've spent too long on a truck. (I suspect the stand sells conventional produce from a distributor in northern Mexico, since they often have off-season items which aren't quite at their prime.) I mixed these into a pasta sauce containing canned, diced, roasted tomatoes, capers, and garlic - their firm texture held up after simmering, which was pleasant over pasta.
-strawberries - Real California strawberries!! It's early in the season, and so they're not as sweet as they'll be in a few months, but they were firm and fresh. A basket of strawberries is at least half of a perfect breakfast.
-red chard. (Prepared the way the broccoli was, above.)
-gai lon (which got wilty before I got to it, since I didn't seal it's bag well enough, so I composted it. It was just a buck, so I don't feel too bad.)
-lettuce (huge, gorgeous, loose-head. In sandwiches and salads.)
-prunes (Steven's choice)
-golden raisins (which are good in my cinnamon oatmeal)
-dried peaches (mmmmmmmm)
-leeks (for soup, with potatoes and garlic)
-and Sukhi's Indian specialties: spinach parathas, pumpkin parathas, samosas, mint chutney, and a strange sour-cream based "paratha dip" which was too rich for me.

We also bought quite a few fresh flowers, for an experiment in printing anthotypes, which I'll write about later.

My favorite summer fruits and veggies are still a few months away, but it's definitely worth going to the farmer's market when I have chance to wallow in freshness, and know that I'm eating foods that are locally grown by local farmers.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:45 PM

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