Here is what I loved back in 1978: White Tic-Tacs and flying with my dad in his small single-engine airplane. Every year our family would load up and skim the clouds from Philadelphia to New Orleans to see my grandparents. Once we were on the ground, the program was like clockwork: hugs first, then my grandfather’s proud amazement, “Bob, I heard you on the P.A. when you were coming in. Sounded fine.” We’d be ready to hop in the chocolate-brown Chrysler that smelled industrial-sweet like a sun-baked plastic dashboard, grass-stained floor mats, and a freshly overfilled gas tank. Then the rattle of my grandmother’s purse which signaled the coming of the tit-for-tat Tic-Tac trade: “If you want your Tic-Tacs, you’ll need to give me some sugar.” My grandmother smiled as I leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. She would pucker big and lay a kiss on me that knocked me back, staining my skin six layers deep in waxy, rose-bud red that seemed never to wipe off.
Rain Kissed: I was reminded of this grandma kiss when Dan told me this week about his conversation with Esteban at Martinez Farms about last week’s rain in Watsonville. Strawberries, which we have included in the crates the past few weeks, are a very delicate fruit – as fragile as a young boy’s cheeks kissed by a Tic-Tac-wielding grandmother. “Dan,” Estaban told him, “I’m going to blow your mind right now.” He leaned in so Dan would hear the weight of his words. “When it rains on a field of strawberries that are ready to pick, the raindrops bruise the very fragile skin of the strawberry. We have to throw all of those out because they can’t be packaged and sold.” He said that the berries that are still white and firm don’t get hurt, so when they ripen in a few days, they can be picked. “As long as it doesn’t rain again,” he added ominously. Dan asked why the organic farm’s strawberry fields were located in different areas of Watsonville. “Strawberries can taste very differently based upon the soil and even on when they were harvested in the day,” Esteban said. “If it rains in one place, another place may not get rain, and thus we will have berries for you.” Strawberries are also highly susceptible to bacteria. Organic farmers like Esteban even caution their workers to scrape the dirt from their boots when moving from one field to another to not track natural bacteria from one patch to the other.
Check out our In the Mix pages for information on these two great fruits.
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Enjoy and be fruitful! – Chris Mittelstaedt