Friday, October 12, 2012

Produce Day!

Earlier this year, my niece, Stephanie, started a small produce co-op.
Tex and I have really enjoyed our produce packages . . . each week, we get a few fruits and a few veggies.  The varieties have been great . . . and that has helped to prevent us from getting into food ruts.  The price for these weekly colorful & vibrant bundles have been absolutely outstanding, and that's been a huge plus.

A couple of times recently, I've had the pleasure of accompanying Stephanie on produce day. 

I thought I'd use today's blog post to elaborate a bit on those excursions.

After arriving at our particular vendor's loading dock, we walk around and view the samples they have on display for that particular day.  From the samples, we choose which specific items to buy for that week and then we place our order.  While this may seem like a relatively easy task, it does come with one "minor" complication; we always need to keep in mind who of the co-op won't eat what.  I say, "we", but really it's my niece who keeps this all straight; I just stand around a smile a lot.

I like to smile.

There ya go.

Regarding who gets what, sometimes it's a "majority rules" kinda thing.  This week, for example . . . Tex and I don't eat corn; but we seem to be the only ones of the co-op that are so outrageously rebellious.  Earlier this week, a co-op member requested corn; and so corn was part of the produce package.  Easy solution:  I simply didn't take corn home; I left it for someone else to take.  Stephanie does a good job of keeping people's preferences and non-preferences in mind; so the rare time that a "no" item is part of a week's produce selection, it's really not at all a big deal.

After placing the order, we then go wait at the car.  Soon, a man pushing a hand-truck filled with boxes arrives at the car; and the three of us begin loading such illustrious boxes into the car.  A couple more full hand-trucks arrive, brimming with boxes;  and we load those boxes into the car, as well . . . which usually gets pretty interesting, considering the boxes are big and my niece's car, well . . . isn't.

Then, it's back to my niece's house, where we unload all of the boxes out of her car and into the designated sorting area in the garage . . . of which, such area needs to be large enough to accommodate not only all of the various boxes of produce, but also all of the individual co-op members' crates, as well.

Here's a photo of some of the produce from a few weeks ago:

By, the way . . . have y'all ever tried to lift a 50-pound bag of carrots?  Have y'all ever seen a 50-pound bag of carrots?

Now, the fun part!

Let the sorting begin!
Some items - pineapples, for instance - are easy to sort.  Pineapples are readily countable.  We know how many co-op members there are and how many pineapples have been purchased.  Easy math, and we know how many pineapples to put in each members' food crate.

Potatoes, on the other hand, are a completely different story.  Potatoes are sold by weight; not by count.  Yesterday while we were sorting, Stephanie told me she was going to let me distribute the potatoes.  Wasn't that so nice of her, y'all?!  She thought so.

So, there I was, standing over a huge box of potatoes; and all of them staring up at me with their goofy little eyes.  OK . . . if I take a whole lot of potatoes and divide that by the number of co-op members, I come up with . . . lessee . . . don't tell me; I  can do this . . . uhm, let's start with 6 potatoes each (and make sure that everyone gets a good mix of big potatoes and smaller ones).

Oh, fiddle.  After all that higher math, and sorting, there were still quite a few spuds in the box.  So.  I did the process all over again.

Some things are just a guessing game.  Sorting produce that is sold by weight and not by count (and that comes in very large boxes) is one such fine example.

All told, from the time we leave the house till the time we get back and get everything sorted into the members' individual crates, this portion of Produce Day takes about 3 hours; probably half of that involes loading or unloading boxes and then lots of bending during the sorting process. 
Hey!  Free exercise!

Here's a photo from a few weeks ago, highlighting just a few of the produce crates that we filled:

During the produce days when Stephanie is on her own, without anyone to help her (which is more often than not), she is the lone one doing all the loading, unloading and sorting; so I imagine that the 3 hours extends into even more time.

So, Stephanie, I just want to thank you for all the hard work you put in each week to provide the co-op with fresh fruits  & veggies.  You do an awesome job, and I appreciate both your time and your efforts!
And now, I think I'll go make some veggie juice . .
Salute, y'all!
Thanks for reading; y'all be blessed!

By the way, the only other aspect of produce day involves everyone coming by to retrieve and pay for their produce . . . but I'm not involved in any aspect of that; that honor rightfully belongs completely to my niece.

There ya go.