November 23, 2018
One of the best things about the farmer’s market is, without question, the ability to interact with the farmers and vendors. To shake the hand that helped produce and harvest your food is to bring back the human connection we have lost through big supermarkets.
This weekend, as I wound around the aisles drifting from one scent to the next, I was stopped by mounds of freshly picked oranges, lemons, and grapefruits. Standing behind the boxes with a friendly grin on his face was Mike, son of the owner of Triple “J” Certified Organic Farm.
As we struck up a conversation, I learned that he hauled those babies all the way from Mission, Texas, where he now works alongside his parents after quitting his job as an assistant principle. I asked him why the oranges looked yellow and the lemons looked green, to which he laughed and explained that there haven’t been enough consecutive cold days to produce the pigment we’re used to. But nevertheless, the flavor is all there.
Though supermarkets source their produce from all parts of the world to keep their shelves stocked year round, local citrus is at its peak in the dead of winter. Mike and his family have worked hard to meet the standards for organic produce, and all of their produce is brushed and cleaned, never waxed.
He also told me about the phenomenon that is “Texas Ruby Red Grapefruits.” According to Mike, there’s nothing like them anywhere else but here. The tart fruit that typically has to be drowned in sugar to swallow is delightfully sweet in season. He told me about a pie that his mom always makes with fresh grapefruit and strawberries without having to use any extra sugar.
I asked him what prompted him to make the switch from school administration to farm work, and he said he truly just loves the opportunity to spend time with his family every day and connect with so many different people at farmer’s markets. Plus, the farm definitely benefitted from his ability to “execute” as a former assistant principle. Someone has to keep those lemons in line…