Small Farm Beauty

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I have them. You have them. We all have them. Imperfections. The keen fruit observer will notice that commercially grown fruit is generally quite uniform, and fruit from smaller, local farms often isn’t. For example, family farm–grown apples, compared to those produced in a big agricultural operation, may come out with imperfections—stems at an angle, variations in color, russeting, bumps or blemishes, slight scarring or spots. We think of it as more “homemade.” The good news is, while not always picture-perfect, fresh fruit from smaller, local farms is almost always superior in flavor.

Russeting on Pippin apples from Heart of the Valley Orchards in Watsonville, CA.   

It is important to us at The FruitGuys to support small, local, and family-run farms that practice sustainable farming techniques. These farms produce a wide variety of unique, tasty fruit, often with variations in appearance caused by an infinite number of weather and growing conditions—as many as nature will supply. Perhaps the sun shone through branches in the orchard, giving one apple cheek more color; maybe one tree got a bit more water than its neighbor or one side of the tree had more wind exposure than the other; and there’s always the selective grace of pollinators and the random visitation of pests.

Variations in fruit (and lack thereof) aren’t just due to nature and cultivation practices, but in the sorting of the harvest. Large growing outfits have conveyor belts with sorters, and so much overage that they can choose fruit with uniform sizes and shapes. At smaller farms, good fruit isn’t wasted simply because it “doesn’t fit the mold.”

So when you find an imperfection on your fruit, remember it’s just the nature of things. And see if it doesn’t just taste that much better.

Heidi Lewis writes about farms, bees, and fruit from her home in Sonoma County, CA. She's been with The FruitGuys since they were FruitKids.


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Our online magazine offers a taste of workplace culture, trends, and healthy living. It features recipes for easy, delicious work meals and tips on quick office workouts. It's also an opportunity to learn about our GoodWorks program, which helps those in need in our communities and supports small, sustainable farms.