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Re: Spanish Clementines: A Guilty Pleasure

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Spanish Clementines: A Guilty Pleasure
  • From: budge@magicaldesk.com
  • Date: Wed, 04 Dec 2002 12:47:51 +0800

Adam -

I don't know that I understand agricultural policy (I read the things, but they don't make any sense), but I know a little about some of the import restrictions on various states from a friend of mine who does herbs - and if you need some obscure herbs, let me know and I'll put you in touch with him. I'm overwintering a Lesbos (as in the island of) oregano for him - the really rare things he likes to have a back up away from his green houses.

Every state can set it's own, more restrictive import requirements if they so choose. So, all of those states are warm weather states. This means that any of the pest insects from the Mediterranean won't just survive there, they'll thrive because there's no killing frost or natural predator. The Med fly is, of course, the most famous, but hardly the only one, and the Med fly isn't just dangerous to citrus. So they ban the import of items from areas that are home to insects that are likely to be dangerous here.

For what it's worth, I read in the paper today about a guy who found a black widow spider in his grown in the US grapes. Turns out that we actually ship grapes over seas and black widows have been known to turn up there too.

As to your clementines - while I *always* prefer locally grown when I can get it, the fact is I live in Minnesota. Without shipping, we'd have precious little in the way of tree fruits - only tree fruit reliably grown here are apples. Some grapes (Alexis Bailly Vineyards - where the grapes suffer), plenty of fabulous raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries in Wisconsin etc. But not much else. Besides, your Clementines are quite likely some farmer's cash crop, and that's not to be sneezed at.

Pamela Budge

Adam36055@aol.com wrote on 12/3/2002

I know everything about the vegetable soup in my freezer - I grew all of the
spices, the pole beans carrots and peppers in it, swapped tomatoes last
season with my neighbor who grew the garlic, and shook hands with the farmer
from upstate who brought the potatoes and parsnips into town. The sweet
potatoes came from another greenmarket farmer from 60 miles away in New
Jersey . Honestly, they didn't look as good as the plumped up Louisiana yams
that are all over the place, organic or the other kind - but when I can I buy
local. He wanted me to buy more, but I only had so much room in my small
kitchen, and then I would have been tempted to mash up a mess and bake 'em
with marshmallows - the waistline doesn't need that. I always have veggie
stock on hand, so it was pretty easy last Saturday afternoon ( there are some
good stock recipes in Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone", a
cookbook a friend gave me as a gift.) Turned on the Met Opera broadcast (
only good thing an oil company ever did) and started cooking down this
week's spaghetti sauce with some dried basil from last summer, some of that
bartered garlic and organic olive oil, canned tomato paste and plum tomatoes
which alas, come from far away California. The tomatoes I grew last summer
were real - the kind in the grocery markets now are like Potamkin
villages...all skin, color, water and no tomato - fakes. We ate or shared
all of ours last summer, alas - there being no room to put them up in our
small apartment.

OK, ok the Clementines. My folks, Middle European immigrants, used to buy
Florida tangerines (lovely oily skins, a fragrance that would fill the
kitchen) and later, when the tangerines were grown with thicker skins and
less fragrance, the Spanish Clementines that they remembered as holiday
treats as children. They still come to New York, using G-d knows how much
oil, via container ships from Nules in Spain. They even have the same old
time balsa wood boxes ( kept baseball cards in one as a kid, my box from last
year is filled with drying jalapenos). The peels will go into my compost
can, vastly improving the aroma and will end up in the community garden

A query for someone who understands agricultural policy better that I do -
the box bears this legend, " Not for distribution in AZ, CA, FL, LA, TX,
Puerto Rico or any US Territory." I can guess why, in citrus growing states,
but the other areas are a mystery to me. Does someone know the answer to this
question, and why we don't grow clementines this good in the USA?

The mind game I play is that, at least, because of EEC rules against GMOs,
that they are still real and that in Spain, the farm workers have some
medical benefits and are not as poisoned by pesticides as our Mexican
braseros - but I can't know for sure. No rain forest was depleted for these
babies, but I worry about the trucks and the ozone layer. But with the
opera playing, the soup and pasta sauce simmering, with a cup of tea and a
good book, the very peeling of the clementine, its' oil and intensely citric
aroma fills the room with the very essence of summer - a pleasure, however

Best wishes,
Adam Honigman

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