What is the sound of one cuke rotting? July 6, 2012Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: handling perishable produce, one hand clapping, perishable produce, sustainability, zen
Silence Dogood here, and please forgive me for riffing off the famous Zen koan “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” But geez. Don’t you just hate it when fruits and veggies go from being unspeakably luscious to rotting in a day or two?
It’s not just cukes, of course, though they’re notorious, especially if you have to cut them in half and then try to preserve the second half in the fridge. (Our friend Ben hates cukes, but I’m trying to eat more of them after reading about their health benefits. Still, even putting them in a salad and on a sandwich, there’s no way I can eat more than half a fresh cuke a day.) It’s also bananas, which in my experience have exactly one day of perfect ripeness between being too green and starting to get those brown spots and nauseating overripeness, much like the scent of paperwhites with their undertone of decay.
And what about mushrooms, cilantro, arugula, baby greens, green onions, tomatoes, sliced melons, raspberries, and prechopped veggies like bell peppers, onions, or sweet potatoes? Eat them the day you buy them or else.
I’m not a fan of wasting food. But sometimes life intevenes—OFB hates melon, for example, so if I want to indulge, I need to buy a slice, not a whole melon, and sometimes something comes up so I don’t get to it as soon as I’d planned. Fortunately, we have three compost bins, so anything that passes our edibility measure can help enrich our future crops. But it still makes me sad.
Just this morning, one of our neighbors gave us a bag of Romaine lettuce that was bolting to seed. Once lettuce bolts, it’s way too bitter to eat. I’m trying to figure out how to sneak it into our compost bins while thanking her for her generosity. It really will make great compost! But I doubt she’d appreciate that.
I have no answers here. When agronomists have meddled with the nature of fruits and veggies—which is to rot and spread their seed as quickly and effectively as possible—the result has always been a loss of flavor, fragrance, and delicious texture in the fruit or vegetable. The hard, mealy tomatoes and apples in our stores are testament to this. But what’s the alternative?
The French, Italians, and Japanese have a way to counter it: They buy fresh every single day, and only the produce and other foods they plan to serve that day. I’m willing to use this market model, too, despite the sacrifice of time and cost of gas. But even so, sometimes work, life, and general craziness intervenes, and you’re left with the sound of one (or one-half) cuke rotting.
When that happens, what do you do? I’d love to hear your solutions.
‘Til next time,