KevinTV

Reject Pickled Carrots: Another Reason to ‘Work for Food’

08.17.10

Just when I thought I’d posted about as much as one needed to about pickled carrots

My wife and I have been helping out Green Eggs & Ham lately with their labor crunch – heading out to the farm when we can arrange sitters to help bag produce for the market, harvest carrots like crazy, or whatever else they need done. They need hands, and if you have hands and time, they have a great ‘work for food’ futures program that you should take them up on. Let’s see: support local agriculture, help people, see where you food comes from, educational and colorful company, head-clearing work relative to the day job – and get top-shelf food in return. Win-win-win-win-win. Win.

Very quickly in our helping out did I find that there was produce that simply didn’t meet their stringent standards. I get it. The consumer understandably doesn’t want a potato, squash, or carrot that was previously visited by a slug or rodent, or that is cracked or damaged during harvest. And it makes no sense to spend scarce time trimming and fussing over defective produce when you have tonnes, literally, sitting in the field that needs harvesting. There’s no time: such is the nature of agriculture during harvest. So guess what. If you ask, they might just be kind enough to let you take the ‘rejects‘ or ‘goat food‘ home. A potential additional perk of their ‘work for food’ program, apparently. [I felt bad stealing the goats' food until I learned the goats prefer grass anyway.]

Both quarts of pickled carrots in the photo – and 5 others – were made from a portion of the morning’s rejects. The crazy pink/red color being the bleed from the cool purple varieties they grow. My 3 year old is gonna dig the white-carrots-turned-pink. Win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win.

Latest farm in the From Local Farms project: Sundog Organic Farm.

6 Responses

  1. COooool, cool, cool, cool, cool!
    Too bad they cancelled their annual picnic. You would have gone crazy over it… and so would the kids. (But, it was really quite pricey this year). Love them, though. Love that you took advantage of the completely edible and usable rejects. I am constantly telling my students that “that is so edible” and how much work it took just to get it to our table. Interesting experience to work at a farm with such abundance and not enough labour to harvest it all.
    Sad…. but, that is the life of the farmer these days, I hear.
    :)
    valerie

  2. Thomas says:

    Nice score! People get so hung up on what veggies are supposed to look like these days. A friend came over to visit and thought my cherokee purple tomatoes were somehow rotten because they were not red. For every perfect looking carrot that i grow, there are at least a handful that are somehow warped. Our fridge would be sorely empty if we kept only the perfect ones.

  3. Greg says:

    Excellent. As we have gotten to know local producers (first in Edmonton, now here in Manitoba), they soon start opening up about their challenges. Labour shortage is number one on every list. The rising demand for local, ethical and (where feasible) organic food needs to be matched with good ol’ chipping in with the work. One producer hires Mexicans (it’s not merely a stereotype/trope!) having had lacking results from locals and mixed results from WWOOFers.

    Let’s remember that locally produced food should by definition be close enough to travel TO as much as get food FROM, and the occasional help, especially at peak production times, is immeasurably motivating for the producer. Oh, and with few exceptions the price they set is always fair, if it’s simply impossible to help out (which is usually ‘paid’ in food), so no haggling. (Why is it that the more wealthy the shopper appears to be, the more likely it is they will sniff at the price? Maybe that’s how you get to be wealthy (monetarily)?)

    Okay, I’m done proselytizing. For now.

  4. Karlynn says:

    My first thought was “I could go work for rabbit food!” as our rabbit takes care of most of our veggie leftovers in this house and eats like the proverbial horse, instead of the rabbit she actually is. What an interesting concept, the labor for product trade..I am intrigued..

  5. Kevin says:

    Sarah – in this case, sour, but in a good way. ;)
    Valerie – it’s even hard for ME to get my head around the work and cost of getting veg to table, as when gardening it seems so easy!!! But even on a small farm scale, it’s a whole different wold of input costs, headaches, waste, and management.
    Thomas – that tendency of the masses explains machined carrots. The lack of education is sad.
    Greg – I can’t even begin to explain how much I feel that folks should get out to help with their food. It will help them respect their food, their farmers, and in no small way support a food system that needs to take some deep roots in order to effect some social good.
    Karlynn – there is an extremely long list of reasons that trading a hand at the farm for food direct with the farmer makes sense. I’m sold, clearly.

Leave a Reply