Beautiful, but not perfect (looking) pears grown at Persephone Farm.
(Excerpted from our weekly CSA subscriber email written by apprentice Rachel)
What’s been on my mind lately…food waste. Not the most glamorous subject, but an important one. As subscribers to the CSA of a local farm that practices sustainable agriculture, well, you’re the choir about to receive a sermon. But for those interested in going a little deeper into issues related to the mega-industrialization of agriculture, and those of us (like you) doing our small part to seek out food that’s both more delicious and healthier (for everyone), there’s always more to learn.
One of my favorite recents reads is The Third Plate, by chef and farmer Dan Barber of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture outside New York City. Barber pushes us to rethink the way we eat, to work towards practices that are healthier for us and our (current and future) environment. It’s a fascinating book, and a lot of interesting things are coming out of Stone Barns, too. One I recently ran across on the Stone Barns website is an essay on food waste, “The Good and the Bad of Saving the Ugly.” Author Jane Black writes about a legendary peach farmer (if there can said to be such a thing) Mas Masumoto:
“With water scarce in California, peach farmer Mas Masumoto decided to try something different. This summer, he used between 20 percent and 30 percent less water to grow his Gold Dust peaches. The tactic produced an intensely flavored fruit, but one that was about 20 percent smaller than normal. His loyal retail outlets — stores like the progressive Berkeley Bowl — took them. But customers weren’t buying. After years accustomed to buying peaches as big as softballs, shoppers saw the smaller fruit as flawed or somehow unworthy.”
See the rest of the article, and have a look through the Stone Barns website. Would you dare to eat a smaller peach?
As CSA subscribers, you’re already doing so much help fix what’s ailing our broken food system. As you know, at Persephone, we don’t use chemical inputs, rely heavily on manual tools and the sweat of our brows, and eat all the vegetable seconds ourselves! Very little goes to waste on this farm; it’s one of our most fundamental principles, in practice from reusing berry baskets (thanks for returning them!) to building our own compost from farm food scraps and crop residues. It’s not easy, and as you know, it’s not necessarily cheaper — in fact, sometimes it’s just the opposite. Our irregular-shaped fruits and vegetables sometimes sustain a bruise in those square boxes we put them in; and if you find a worm or bug once in a while in your food… well, we do our absolute best to wash and scrub out all the crawlies, but at least you know we’re not using poison!
What else can we all do? Think about our food choices, rethink what’s beautiful: the perfect, round, huge peach? Or food that has an optimal balance of taste, nutrients, and responsibility to the earth? We’re glad you’re helping us do what we do. Thanks as always for your support!!
Photo: Leslie Newman