Maury Feren is 100 years old and has been in the fresh fruit and produce business for over 85 years. He knows produce!
He wrote the following column about Amish Produce and small farms.
What is there about the produce that is sold by the Amish people that gives it that special taste?
It's got to be from lots of good things. First of all they rotate their crops. The land they use for growing is given a rest every year according to the item they grew that year.
I know it will drive you crazy but the Amish use cow manure live for fertilizer. I know it doesn't sound good but it does the trick. I stopped by two farm markets (Amish) on two separate occasions. I will talk about that later. The produce was shining. I couldn't believe it. This was an organic tomato farmer and he had set out a display of tomatoes that covered the whole stand. And the tomatoes looked like they were photo perfect.
I went to another stand not organic, Sustainable. The tomatoes were like a picture. I bought the sustainable tomatoes. Let me tell you why. Four extra-large tomatoes in a container was $4.50 against $6.00. I made a different purchase at another time and the tomatoes were only $3.00.
So here is what has happened. Farm markets have spread all over. Everyone is enthralled with them. In fact, we have gone overboard with our enthusiasm I can't blame a farmer for charging whatever the market will bear. They don't know what to charge. On one location I spent $3 for 4 peaches. At another I paid $6 for peaches not as good.
Price was not a factor in my choice I was looking for good taste because the produce was locally grown. It also fit my time schedule. When time is a factor it also saves money. Since the prices were so high I'm going to go off the local growers and just go to my supermarkets where I shop.
I thought about this for a long time. I said to myself "Why should I write a negative report on farmers that work so hard". But here is the point. You can go into a supermarket and purchase produce for a lot less money. Fresh corn 50-70 cent each for the farmer, Marc's 6 for $1 from Florida. Not much difference in taste either.
Peaches, nectarines $1.99 at Miles Market good quality, good taste. Another example I can't see paying $4 for a bunch of beets. If it was something exotic it would be OK, but it's just a bunch of beet greens and 3-4 beets. I can go on and on about this. These prices have bothered me for a long time.
I'm not trying to soften the blow but when I compare it to the gas prices, these people were trying to get the prices up to $5 a gallon not too long ago. Now they are selling at $2.40 mostly so why hit on the farmer. It's such a petty business but it can amount to big bucks at some point.
I can remember very well when I used to go out in to the country to purchase produce and it was priced reasonable. I'm sure I will get criticism on my comments but it is something that needs to be said. I am just astonished at the people that own farmers markets haven't backed down on their prices to date. I don't expect this article to change anybody's mind.
Yeah! The first local corn has been harvested it seems to be early and you have to make that decision by yourself. Do I want to buy fresh picked local corn or shipped corn from Florida? We will see where that will take you.
Another interesting little note. You may have seen and tasted the black seeded watermelons. They are much bigger and they weigh about 30lbs. They are longer in shape and you will see them on the fresh watermelon displays. The seedless round watermelon have good flavor too but not the sweetness of the elongated black seeded melon.
Look for heavy netted cantaloupes with a tendency to an orange color. Avoid slick melons and remember black spots don't do well. Be more careful about your grapes because we are heading to the end of the season.
Romaine Hearts remain as the stars of the vegetable patch, with local zucchini and long yellow squash coming to the forefront. Be sure to pick young zucchini for best flavor.
Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries dominate the berry scene. Check out the red raspberries for softness and decay. They can be a winner with yogurt or on fresh cereal. More to come later.
See more of Maury Feren's columns