Quick Trigger

Monday, I referenced snagging some produce from a vendor’s compost box at my local farmers’ market. (I love how the tomato on the market’s site isn’t perfect–very honest)

I also bought some stuff from that vendor and couldn’t help notice the many decent-looking peppers and squash in their compost bin as I paid.

I promise the other side looks just as goodOut of curiosity, thrift and faithfulness to you, dear reader, I asked the farmer if I could look through the box. “Have at it,” the woman said in a tone to which I’ve grown accustomed.

At it I had.

I could understand why most of the items were set aside for composting. There were a bunch of peppers and tomatoes with a moldy spot. Even these, though, were quite salvageable. In the worst case, you just cut away half of the item.

Still, some produce, like the yellow pepper pictured above, was perfectly good. All I can think of is that it looked a little hunched over. Squashed or not, though, it still spruces up my salads!

What’s more, farmers at this market–bless their hearts–donate excess items to a local food pantry. So the compost is stuff deemed not good enough for charity. Yet, with a tiny bit of effort in some cases and none at all in others, this “compost” can become “lunch.”

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  1. Kaylen
    Posted November 6, 2008 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    I get an organic basket delivered every week, and the farm that puts it together has a good system for dealing with peppers that are on the small side or have a small bad spot — they just give you two. Many of the peppers are crooked, so I don’t think they worry about that :-) Works for me.

    That pepper does look good!

  2. Robert
    Posted November 6, 2008 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes I think that there is a moralistic approach that many people have, rather that a scientific or objective approach, when it comes to mold on food or food that may have gone stale. It seems that these people see one mold spot and it is their moral duty to rid themselves of it immediately. There is no thought of if the mold spot is small, the rest of the fruit or cheese or whatever may still be good. Stale food is the same way. The fact that stale bread makes great bread crumbs, stale tortillas make great tortilla soup, or stale tortilla chips can be cooked in salsa and served with eggs (as is done in Mexico), is of no concern, just throw it out!

  3. Posted November 6, 2008 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Kaylen, I think farmer’s market shoppers are prepared for some funky-looking foods. That’s why it surprised me to see such supermarket-style culling.

    You’re onto something, Robert. One bad spot and it’s as if the food has been tainted.

  4. Posted November 7, 2008 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Hey Jonathan,

    all this upturned-noses-at-questionable-shapes-and-sizes of produce (or food in general) reminds me of a Chris Rock routine in which he chastises Americans for being so picky and wasteful about food. “In America,” (paraphrasing here) “…we have so much food, there is SO MUCH that we’re even allergic to it. We’re allergic to cheese, to nuts, to milk, to shellfish, to…” you get it. There are a bunch of expletives in there, per Rock’s modus operandi, which makes it funnier than it looks, but anyway, yes. Let’s just cut off the piece that’s moldy and move on. Usually the rest is more than edible (in my experience).

  5. William
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Another thing FM vendors do with subpar produce is cut away the bad part and slice the rest for samples.

    Man, samples get me every time. I think I’m just going to buy a few things but then I taste a tomato, or a new apple, or some cheese,… I fall every time.