Monday, July 03, 2006

Non-sustainable Farm Stands

I don't understand farm stands. We have one locally, Larry's Produce, that it all the rage with some folks. We stopped there today at about 4pm and the parking lot was packed. People ran around with yellow plastic wheelbarrows (there are no hand baskets), butting in front of other people, ignoring that there was a world around them.

But that doesn't matter. What matters is that we loved Larry's last summer. Good produce, most of it locally grown, at great prices.

This year the stand opened a month late, in June. Today was our first visit. It was late in the day and everything was understandably picked over.

But the green peppers were bruised and mal-formed, many of them with pale spots and dark tinged-stems. The eggplants were covered in flies. The peaches were bruised yet hard. And people had picked through the tomatillos and torn the husks down to check them out.

When we got home I discovered the asparagus was from Washington state and was in terrible condition. It was old and water-logged, and tasted like the cardboard it had been shipped in. The avocados were dark skinned but rock hard, and sported Chiquita stickers.

Only the tomatoes were any good. But I don't think it's tomato season yet, here in the Bay Area. My tomatoes are still green on the vine.

So my question is, should farm stands strive to stock only what is local and fresh? Wouldn't it make sense for Larry's to carry the delicious local strawberries, cherries and kiwis that are grown right down the street?

I don't care how cheap the produce is if I can't use half of it and the other half tastes like it arrived at my kitchen via the Panama Canal.

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