Imperfections: CSA Summer ’14 ” Week #14

 In CSA Newsletter

Carrots, from Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman. Click to enlarge photo.

Lately Zea has been asking me about being perfect. The gist of a kid’s song she heard the other day is about how no one is perfect, but we all try our best.  Since hearing the song, I think she’s asked me about 20 times, “Why aren’t we perfect, Mom?”

Outside of the surprising difficultly I’ve had in providing an acceptable answer to Zea, it got me thinking about perfection and vegetables.

Just as there is incredible diversity in the shape of the human body, so too is there in vegetables. And just as magazines and the media tout what a perfect body looks like, grocery stores do the same with vegetables. We begin to think vegetables look only one way and sometimes forget and/or don’t realize that there is diversity beyond the shelf.

As a CSA member, hopefully you’ve begun to understand some of the diversity of shape and look that vegetables can have.  We don’t believe in mimicking the grocery store concept of perfect in our shares… there are many heart-shaped potatoes and eggplants with noses that are of the highest quality in terms of freshness and flavor. To take these perfectly edible, delicious vegetables and waste them just because they are funny shaped… well it doesn’t feel right. Food is food and the same amount of work goes into the eggplant with the nose and the one without.

(A short digression… my favorite vegetable to date in all our years of farming was an eggplant with what looked like two small sagging breasts and a small little tummy below. A perfect emblem for all us mothers and breastfeeders out there.)

Of all the vegetables we grow, carrots experience the greatest misrepresentation of what’s normal.  Slender and skinny just isn’t how all carrots grow!  Contrary to this beautiful drawing from Farm Anatomy, many carrots come out of the ground looking differently. Here are some of the common shapes we find outside of ‘normal’:

The top bulge: In this look, the bottom of the carrot is slender, but the top is quite chunky.

Two-legged: Both legs are generally even in size, but not always.

The male: Two-legged as described above, with a correctly positioned and proportioned (relative to the legs) extra appendage.

Lovers legs: This is when two single carrots grow wrapped around one another.

The runway carrot: This is a special form of the two-legged, wherein the slender double legs have hip-like curves at the top and appear to be frozen in step.

Under pressure: With just the right water content and pressure, this stressed out carrot will form a straight-line crack from the bottom up.

The stump: A carrot who has lost its bottom tip during harvesting. They are short but as equally delicious as the others.

The Crazies: Shapes so strange, one can’t describe them. Still edible!

For every perfect crate of grocery-store quality carrots we harvest, there is a full crate of B-grade, or imperfect carrots like those described above. We have made a decision as farmers that we cannot stand to see such perfectly edible, delicious carrots go to waste. So we will be putting these different-bodied carrots in your boxes. We hope you will discover that they taste the same. And before you begin to feel frustrated that your peeler won’t be able to accommodate these alternative shapes, remember that it’s best to scrub a carrot anyway.  Peeling removes the most mineral-dense and nutritious part of the root.

We hope you have fun with your carrots and the rest of your food.

With gratitude,

the Noltnerwyss family

In the Box:

  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Green Beans
  • Pepper, Anaheim (~3)
  • Pepper, Carmen Sweet
  • Pepper, Red Bell
  • Pepper, Yellow Bell
  • Potatoes, White
  • Sweet Onion, White
  • Tomatoes, Heirlooms
  • Tomatoes, Romas
  • Tomatoes, Slicers

REGs only:

  • Broccoli

EOs only:

  • Globe Eggplant
  • Watermelon

Weekly Recipes:

Summer Week #14: Wednesday, September 10th” Group B EOs