long-time readers know that i've been a big fan of the food movement that dare not speak its name. for years and years, before it became chic among the foodies, in fact.
i first ran into the basic concept when i was living in fanta se, when michael romano first mentioned it to me the summer he was at el farol for a couple of weeks. i believe he had picked up the whole slow, local, organic thing from alice waters before the actual european group was formed.
(in fact, he made all of us then-impoverished artists an extravagant supper of quail eggs and other tidbits in a memorable japanese-spanish fusion paella one evening, oh so long ago. . .and i remember him researching in the library for whether it was possible to get new mexico goat cheese from goats fed on local wild herbs. . .)
and i have always been ms. local and organic, when possible. thus it was with high hopes that i joined the cobble hill csa this year.
now that the csa is nearly over, i have to say with deep regret that i can't recommend it to my fellow brooklynites. the quality is terrible, the farmers are unreliable, and the otherwise well-meaning liberals who run it are the utter parody of self-righteous do-gooders.
except for the egg and meat people: dines farms is excellent, and their staff is wonderful. the chicken, eggs, and sausage are delightful; i praise them highly.
but the vegetable farmer, "farmer bill" of green thumb farms, is a nightmare. alas, i have yet to receive a fair quantity of quality vegetables from him this year -- his farm should be called "black thumb of evil taste."
for the last 6 weeks, he has kindly supplied us with 2 lb. diseased sweet potatoes infected with black that to me seemed to indicate charcoal rot or perhaps a virus. the interior of the potatoes show large black streaks with a strange texture (not quite as bad as the picture, but shockingly similar), hard, nearly mummified at one end, and a nasty taste.
this is on top of the wormy yellow cauliflower with a strange, spongy texture (just as gross as the wormy corn he gave us in the summer), small, blemished, misshapen vegetables of strange types no one would eat -- last week we were given pounds and pounds of 3 types of unusual radishes, the japanese watermelon daikon, spanish black, and chinese rose -- but honestly!
am i to eat novelty radishes raw for an entire week? -- small amounts of novelty asian greens. . .who is willing to eat tat soi for a week, i ask you?
the tomatoes he supplied rotted the very next day. in fact, the only edible vegetables we received were the early lettuce and mizuna, the italian eggplant, the baby carrots, the fava and lima beans, the romano beans, the purple mustard (try feeding most people purple mustard!), the raddichio, the young onions, and the red peppers.
in short, nothing i couldn't have gotten cheaper from the brooklyn farmers market on saturdays. the rest of the vegetables were just strange stuff of little general cooking use that frankly only a crazy person like myself would be interested in eating; my dh just stared at the stuff in shock.
the later lettuces have all had a bitter taste and tough, leathery leaves. the small, misshapen, and instantly rotten fruit supplied by hepworth farms was nearly always bruised in transit.
when it appeared at all -- this week hepworth didn't even bother to show up! no warning. but "double share" next week, we were told.
how convenient: for them! i paid these "farmers" US$500 in advance and so expected quality, organic local food.
i certainly got anything but. organic food can be of very high quality, unblemished, without large bugs crawling through, tasty and attractive.
alas, these farmers don't seem to be in the mainstream of current organic techniques.
what made matters worse was the 'tude of the csa members. the cobble hill csa isn't, as i had thought, an eco-business arrangement that promoted sustainable and quality agriculture.
rather, it's an insurance policy for bill and hepworth farms. you pay, and they dump all the leftover junk they can't unload at the hamptons markets for the ultra-rich on you.
if there's nothing or very little left, well, too bad. you're not guaranteed anything, or of any quality.
when i mentioned my disappointment with the low quality on the csa mailing list, boy howdy did the knives come out! it's amazing how crazy these activist foodies can be.
instead of saying, yes, the corn was wormy, and it was regrettable, and that next year the farmer will stock up on bt, it was carefully explained to me how wormy corn was in fact the best corn. that i was oh so wrong not be happy to receive fat juicy wriggling worms!
how dare i doubt farmer bill who sells his produce to movie stars in the so-glamorous hamptons.
enough! i'm skipping my last few weeks because i just can't endure these people a moment longer.
once again, i encourage everyone to check out your local csa for next year. a csa can be a good thing.
just make sure it has a high reputation for quality and that you're not surrounding yourself with marxist moonbats.