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Re: Spanish Clementines: A Guilty Pleasure

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Spanish Clementines: A Guilty Pleasure
  • From: "Sharon Gordon" gordonse@one.net
  • Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2002 09:19:49 -0500

It's a really wonderful thing to have such a personal and knowlegeable
relationship with the creation of your food isn't it?  And growing and
harvesting it yourself gives you many layers of sensory pleasure when you
eat it.  You remember the fresh spring air on the first day that it was warm
enough to plant.  Later you remember how striking it was to see the red of
the ripening tomatoes hanging over  the bed of yellow squash.  Then you
remember the sharp tang of the tomato plant as you brushed against the
leaves when you pulled the ripe ones from the vine.  Such a contrast to
lifting the syrofoam-like tomato from the supermarket shelf and placing it
gently in the gridded metal  cart...

In 2001 the medfly larva(live ones) were discovered in several different
shipments of clementines from Spain.  Some of them were found by port
inspectors, but some were found by consumers in clementines from their
grocers.  So the clementines were pulled from the shelves of stores in warm
states where the medfly can survive in the wild and shipped to northern
states.  Some ships carrying clementines were refused entry.  In the
meanwhile treatment plans and inspections were stepped up in Spain.  There
has been extra effort to see that the fruit has a full cold treatment of
32-36 degrees for 10 to 16 days to kill the larva.  But to be on the safe
side, they are still not shipping them to the warm citrus growing states.

I don't know if your apartment or work has a balcony that you could use for
fruit tree growing.  But if so, you could start any clementine seeds that
you find in the fruits you bought, or perhaps start a cutting.  The tricky
part comes about 5 years from now when the fruit starts to ripen.
Clementines like warm days and nights close to freezing which is why it is
so hard to grow them in the US.  It might be that you could roll the pots
out onto the balcony on sunny nonfreezing winter days and keep them warm at
night and they would would have enough warm and enough cold and enough light
and dark, though not in their traditional pairings.  Perhaps you could find
someone who has already tried this to know if it works.  Or maybe there is a
different variety of mandarin that this would work well for that you also
would find as tasty.

But my personal feeling is that clementines are the case where importing is
appropriate.  I know some people would like to see 100% of all things used
by a person produced within 50 or 100 miles of consumption.  My personal
preference is in the 90-95% range.  I'd just like to see the cabbage or pak
choy grown locally rather than shipped from California since it grows very
well locally.  And I find it ironic to drive past a field of ripe corn in
the midwest on the way to the grocery store where they are selling "fresh
corn from Florida."  However I do think it would be worthwhile to experiment
with growing clementines(and many other things) in greenhouses in sunny cold
areas using solar power for heating, and then using the natural night cold
to cool them each night.  It would take some fossil fuel to build and
transport the  greenhouse materials and solar panels, but after that the
fuel costs could be minimal.

I realize it would take some education to get people to pay a bit more for
fresh ripe local food than cheaper staler unripe food picked by exploited
workers in the third world, though fresh ripe tomatoes, once tasted, present
a fairly convincing argument.  More difficult might be to get people to use
ripe local grapes in the fall and raisins in the winter rather than the half
ripe grapes from South America.

For the most part though, I'd like to see every area go to mostly seasonal
eating with some local preserved or value added foods.  I'd like to see this
in the traditional sense of eating well timed currently growing foods,
keeper crops, root cellar fruit and vegetables, home canned foods, home
dried foods and also in the style of Eliot Coleman's Four-Season Harvest
method, where all sorts of fall and winter vegetables are grown to full size
in the fall and then held fresh in the ground in double insulated unheated
green houses for harvesting through the winter and spring.

Are there community gardens who are covering over their gardens in the late
fall with green houses and then individual bed/row covers using Coleman's
system?  I would think this would work well at the Clinton gardens where
Adam has his plot and in general from North Carolina or Virginia and
northward, though it might be important to have someone with remote
monitoring equipment who could run by and throw open the doors in the event
they had one of those rare surprising 70 degree winter days.  I know there
is a Canadian community garden that grows in a greenhouse year round.  This
might be hard to afford on a garden wide basis.  In some other countries
people are allowed to put up small (shed sized) permanent greenhouses on
their plots which they keep from year to year and to cover any beds they
like with plastic in the winter.  The plot holder finances these
improvements him/herself.
Anyone else have this individual option?

Adam, you mentioned you were out of homegrown tomatoes and had given many
away, having no room to store them.  It might be that trading or giving the
extras away is of more value to you in other ways such as PR, showing
apreciation, barter, or social exchange.  Another option though is to cut
them in half and dry them.  They take up very little space dried.  In the
winter you can plump them back up with warm water.  They make very flavorful
addtions to pasta sauces, mayonaise spreads, deviled egg filling, soups, and
casseroles.  They are also tasty slivered on salads and as pizza toppings
(artichoke and sundried tomato is an especially tasty combo).

Teach a person to garden and s/he will have a delicious life.

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