August 2012 Produce Parable
Adam Calder, Produce Manager
Local red and yellow watermelon from TableTop Farm, Nevada.
There is much to be said about the
weather this year in Iowa, and not much of it is actually good. The
warm, early spring lulled us all into a false sense of optimism for
the coming season and instead of a great growing season we ended up
with one of the worst droughts in decades. Many are the brown fields
of corn or crispy lawns. There is an upside to all of this dry
weather, and that is the flavor of the local produce.
When plants are stressed (as they are
during drought conditions) they start to react in all sorts of
interesting and complicated ways. Those reactions end up creating
hot produce that is hotter than normal and sweet produce that is
sweeter than normal. The plants know they might not get everything
they need to survive, so they start throwing everything they have
into the fruit/vegetables they are making in an effort to reproduce.
They also spend a lot of time and energy sending out ever expanding
and deepening root systems. The deeper they go, the more nutrients
they bring back with them and all of that nutrition goes right into
the produce. This makes for hot peppers, radishes, onions and
arugula that will set your nose hairs aflame, or tomatoes, sweet
peppers, carrots, cucumbers and sweet onions so sweet you will think
you are having dessert for dinner. If you really do want some produce
for dessert, they you have to try some of the Growing Harmony Farms
and Hassevoort Farms cantaloupe. They have ripened perfectly in this
weather, and are at the peak of the season right now.
The lack of rain this year has also
been good for disease and pest control. Those tomatoes have even
more energy to direct towards delicious fruit if they don’t have to
spend a lot of effort fighting off leaf blights and bugs, and blights
and bugs don’t do well when it is dry out.
If you aren’t convinced, come in and
try some of our produce. The beefsteak tomatoes and cherry tomatoes
that are aquaponically farmed at Hassevoort Farms in Leon, IA will
knock your socks off with their flavor. The beefsteak variety is
about as basic a tomato a person can find so they have never been one
my favorite tomato, but when they come from Hassevoort’s farm, they
are worth their weight in gold. Tomatoes grown specifically for
their amazing taste, like the certified organic heirloom tomatoes
from D&D Ag or Small Potatoes Farm, are almost transcendent in
their amazing smells and flavors. The Berry Patch is growing some
great gold tomatoes that are a beauty to look at and have less acid
in them than red tomatoes so they are perfect for people with
sensitive digestive systems.
Or try some of our onions and garlic,
sure to pack that potent punch you were looking for in your next
salad, salsa or sauce. Even the basil is exceptionally aromatic and
tasty this season, as are the zucchini, summer squash and eggplants.
You just can’t go wrong if you are
buying Iowa produce, so why not pick some up today?