Monday, April 19, 2010

Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Argentina, Chile, China, Turkey, Brazil & the USA

I was thirsty. I went to the cooler at the local store and grabbed a bottle of Dole apple juice which "contains concentrate from Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Argentina, Chile, China, Turkey, Brazil & the USA." That's what it says on the label, kind of re-assuring I guess.

There's an apple orchard right down the road from here. If you live over the mountains to the east side of Washington state, they have a million apple trees and Dole says some of the juice might come from there, unless it came from Brazil or Hungary.

I'm betting a Hungarian apple would taste better than one from Brazil, but that's beside the point.

New York Apples Flying to India. The Produce News, published in New Jersey since 1897 reports: "In its first year of marketing to India, New York apple growers are expecting to ship 50,000 cartons of apples to that nation this year."

Watch the sky, the next plane you see might be flying all the way from Albany to New Dehli with a load of crispy apples from the Adirondacks.

Meanwhile, China has become a major apple producer. Nothing wrong with that, but why don't they just send the apples from China to India -- it's a lot closer.

What do I know? I know they grow wonderful apples in New York state. I've been there and tasted them.

Years ago, I saw apples growing in the highlands of Zimbabwe, at an altitude over 5,000 feet, in cool country with cold, rushing streams and pine trees. The apples grow well there.

Asparagus. Washington fields are expected to yield over 27 million pounds of asparagus this season. You can always get asparagus from Mexico, but it's far from fresh.
In early spring the California crop comes and that's much better. But the very best is grown right here and right now. I'm going to eat all I can.

Blueberries. The federal government has agreed to spend $14.7 million to buy surplus blueberries for school lunches and other nutritional programs.

That's because we have too many farmers growing too many blueberries. This happens over and over again. People started eating more blueberries, so farmers, being smart guys, started planting more blueberries to get into this market. Only there's no rule that would stop any farmer from planting as many blueberries as he wants. They were all seeing dollars signs, but now the supply has gone way up -- so guess what happened to the price?

Comes in the federal government to buy up the surplus and goose the price a little bit.

Wait 'til the Tea Party people here about this -- Socialist Agriculture!

Cabbage Flowers Blooming. I just now saw the first bloom of the pale yellow cabbage flower. Fairly soon the whole field will become quite lovely, as the cabbage plants -- grown to bushes now, their second year -- bring forth a cloud of blossoms.

The farmers will set bee hives in the cabbage fields for pollination. And, later this summer, tiny pods will form with even tinier black seeds inside -- cabbage seeds for other farmers around the world.

Tulips Were Early. Skagit Valley tulips bloomed two weeks early this year because of the mild winter. But it was different in England. They have a tulip-growing region in the "fens" of Lincolnshire. These old wetlands have been diked and drained and look like our fields, but without mountains in the background. Two visitors from Lincolnshire came to see our tulips this season, but they reported their own tulips were three weeks late, because of the coldest winter in 30 years.

The weather is different all over, it seems. You can read a full report of these tulip visitors in this week's LaConner Weekly News.

Curly Purple Kale. Meanwhile, I visited Mother Flight Farm, Glenn & Charlotte Johnson's 20-acre organic spread. They had some dozen plants of curly, purple kale -- really pretty dark purple. The kale wintered over because it was so mild this year, and the mild frosts made the kale leaves tender and sweet. We snacked right in the field and it was tasty.

Frog Hospital, the book. The publication date is likely to be mid-May. It will be at some local bookstores and at amazon. com. A description of the book, written for, goes like this:

"Frog Hospital is a story about LaConner, a small town at the mouth of the Skagit River, where it flows into Puget Sound. In LaConner, there was once a grocery store in a quonset hut, run by Mr. Grobschmidt. Clyde, an old drunk who lived out on the river, thought that Mr. Grobschmidt looked like a frog, so he took to calling the store the "Frog Hospital." That became a local joke. Now the quonset hut, Mr. Grobschmidt, and Clyde are all gone, but that's how I came up with the name.
"Frog Hospital begins in LaConner and leads out to America and the places I've seen in the past ten years. Then it comes back home. That's the theme of the book, coming home. You will find it easy to read and very likable."

Spring Subscription Drive. Many thanks to those readers who have sent in checks. Your dollars are greatly appreciated. But there is still time -- the spring drive is not over. You can support Frog Hospital by writing a check for $25 made out to Fred Owens, and mail it to Box 1292, LaConner WA, 98257. Or you can go to the Frog Hospital blog and pay $25 with the PayPal button. Thanks a bunch.

T-shirts still on sale. Frog Hospital t-shirts are now available in three sizes -- XL, L and M. You can buy them in LaConner at La Crema coffee shop, or order them from me direct.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

send mail to:

Fred Owens
Box 1292
LaConner WA 98257

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