It’s peach and tomato season, which means it’s time for a reminder that Fair Shares is not a grocery store. Unlike a grocery, we don’t buy in lots of extra produce to account for the amount of waste that grocery stores experience because they allow customers to touch every peach and tomato, squeezing, battering and bruising it until it’s ready for the compost heap!
Also unlike a grocery store, we purchase tomatoes ripe off the vine, so the flavor and nutrients are at their peak. The heirloom varieties are so delicate that we have to purchase them a bit under-ripe in order for them to make it to your home within one or two days of harvest and delivery. This is also why you only rarely find heirloom tomatoes at a grocery store. It’s a fine line we walk, and sometimes we don’t always win the game, but we always try because the flavor is worth it.
Before we got our walk-in a couple of years ago, we didn’t have a “Tomato Cave” which allows us to hold tomatoes at the proper temperature, about 55-60 degrees F. In a heat-generating warehouse like ours that costs over $800 a month to keep at 80F during the summer), it’s darn difficult to keep an already ripe tomato from over-ripening overnight. We learned the importance of having a No Squeezy the Peachy Policy the first year of Fair Shares, when our later-arriving members would have only oozing, split and bruised items to choose from. (sadface)
The fruits require being out of the walk-in for a certain amount of travel time from the farm to us, as well as the time it takes us to count, weigh, divvy, pack and transport it to your pickup sites. There’s a lot of shuffling to make all the food fit in the coolers. We try to be gentle so as not to bruise it, and even so, it sometimes ripens too quickly. This is why we sometimes recommend you eat your tomatoes and peaches right away (or even on the way home…). This is also why we select and place them in your bags for you, and we recommend being extremely gentle with your bags in loading them into and out of the car.
There’s nothing like a perfectly ripe, local peach (you know it’s perfect when the juice makes it all the way to your elbow). It’s sweeter, more flavorful and more nutritious than any grocery store peach you’ll ever find, but they bruise easily. Eat it anyway–you can add it to your yogurt or smoothie, or feed it to the baby if the bruise looks unappealing to you. Welcome to summer; it’s peach-thirty!