Friday, October 5, 2012

Eating Well

It is a constant source of irritation that for whatever reason fresh fruits and vegetables purchased in supermarkets go off before you can eat them. There is a myth that Key West (and Big Pine) are stuck so far out to sea and distant from American Civilization that it is a wonder that food and fuel can even be supplied to these islands. They shake their heads these people who want to make Keys living out to be more remote and hardy than it ever really is, and mutter about the trials and tribulations of transport when confronted with freezer burnt or rotting vegetables for sale at astonishingly high prices. I see the delivery trucks barreling back to Miami every morning as I leave Key West after my night shift and when I go to the supermarket the freshly supplied lettuce and tomatoes look like survivors from a disreputable bar fight, bruised and battered and curling at the edges. Granted one cannot expect to be able to buy local foods in islands that long since gave up the struggle to grow even pineapples commercially, but there is an organic solution.

For $40 and curiously fifty cents, we get a box of vegetables delivered to our neighbors on Cudjoe Key, along with a helpful e-mail reminding me to go pick up the contents of my box. It's an extremely well organized operation and its very easy to participate. Drop a check, empty the box into a shopping bag and bob's your uncle!

As far as I can recall Annie's Buying Club is an offshoot of an organic grocery chain in South Florida that originally had plans to expand into the Upper Keys. Then 2008 happened and the comfortable middle class assumptions of the Era of Credit shrank and with the shrinkage organic shopping took a hit. Too bad but nothing deterred decent vegetables, and fruit for those so inclined, are making their way back.

I believe that the trucks bringing delicate fresh vegetables to the mainstream stores are over chilling their cargoes. A shopping expedition to Publix or Winn Dixie requires paying a lot of attention to the brown stains on the lettuce and bruises on the tomatoes. Take a fresh head of lettuce home and watch it turn to brown water. Not with this stuff, including this watermelon radish, a vegetable new to me, and my wife.

Cut it open and it's red inside and looks and tastes like a raw radish, yet it's the size of a tennis ball. Thanks to the Web my wife found a potential use for this root vegetable, thinly sliced and baked it makes an interesting chip apparently. Annie's supplies regular vegetables but adds small challenges each week which inspire my wife to stretch her repertoire. A large squash last week became a delicious starchy sweet side dish and this week's selection of kale, always a bitter challenge is forcing the wife to stretch her skills.

In the past we've tried Community Supported Agriculture but found the food supplied to be insufficiently varied and not useful enough to replace regular vegetable shopping locally. Annie's provides plenty of the stuff we normally eat in addition to the interesting surprises which makes it worthwhile for us. It's not as good obviously as having a local farmer's market in the neighborhood but on these scraps of limestone rock it's a pretty viable substitute. Perhaps it's a another note of gentrification or yuppification but it is a way to eat well, miles and miles from "civilization."

9 comments:

Singing to Jeffrey's Tune said...

Very interesting, I shall have to see if I have local compliment, especially in the summer as there are very little farmers markets(which boggles my mind from being from "UpNorth"). How are your farmers markets? Those vegetables looking great.

Anonymous said...

Local food, local buyers that's a trend to encourage. My farmer's market here in Texas sucks compared to the one I used to go to in San Francisco, but it's better than the grocery store.

Anonymous said...

Just another reason I make Key West my preferred vacation place and not my permanent residence-the farmers' markets in my southern home state are wonderful.

lys93 said...

here in the Midwest our farmers markets are wonderful. in west suburban Chicago most towns have one from June thru October on a given day/time. going tomorrow!

apparently you can make kale chips from the kale that are tasty and nutritious. haven't done it though.

how is your own veggie gardening going? winding down here in the farm belt.

Singing to Jeffrey's Tune said...

Likewise are our great in SWFL, they are just flip flopped to the fall/winter/spring with nothing in the summer.

Anonymous said...

We don't have much of Farmers Markets here in Montana. Too short of growing season and the prices are high. They are harvesting potatoes and gardeners are digging up their carrots and parsnips now that it has snowed and the temperatures at nights are about 18 degrees. The deep freeze seems to make them more sweet.

Bob from Livingston Montana

Joe said...

Excellent choice of reading material seen poking out from your shopping bag CS.

Joe

Tanner said...

Greetings fellow Ramrod neighbor, we were interested in this and were wondering what time the pick-up was? Thanks!

Conchscooter said...

Pick up is Tuesdays usually. They send an e-mail announcing the stuff has arrived (usually around 10:30 am) and you are free to pick it up after that, anytime. If after 6pm you are supposed to call ahead.
My motorcyle magazines live in my car so I can read them while I walk Cheyenne.I enjoy keeping in touch with the outside world.
Lyn: our vegetables have been eaten by iguanas so I have been pondering what we are going to grow and how to keep them out. landscaping is in our future. more to follow.