’Tis the Season for Holiday Produce

By Richard Munroe, Produce Buyer

As the evenings get shorter and colder, we tend to stay in and make comfort foods that keep the cold, dark nights at bay. Of course, here at BriarPatch we have traditional seasonal produce that we feature at this time of year; I’ll talk about those later. But first, I’d like to share the results of an informal survey of my fellow employees about their seasonal favorites.

Our General Manager, Chris Maher, and Alli McCarren, Customer Service Representative, like rutabagas steamed, then mashed like mashed potatoes—they both grew up calling them turnips. John Bivens, our Perishables Department Manager, makes green bean casserole. Mike McCary, Assistant Operations and Customer Service Manager, likes satsuma mandarins. Zack Bruce, our Communication Specialist, is fond of delicata squash roasted with olive oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Liz Streater, Wellness Department Manager, likes pomegranate—she calls the yummy red seeds “little jewels.” Charles Brock, Grocery Department Manager, likes his garnet yams with butter and brown sugar. Gwen Birk, Operations Manager, enjoys stuffed acorn and butternut squashes, while Kelsey Beith, Produce Buyer, likes garnet yams baked with apples, marshmallows, and butter. Jonathan Batley, Wellness Specialist, likes his brussels sprouts roasted. Cia Harden, Head Produce Buyer, likes Fuyu persimmons and roasted chestnuts. Carin Telle, Cashier, cuts her brussels sprouts in half and sautés them. Michelle Peregoy, Merchandising Manager, likes homemade cranberry sauce. Richard Munroe (yours truly), Produce Buyer, likes rutabagas and parsnips mashed together with garlic and butter.

Here at the produce epicenter of our Co-op community we have our traditions as well. One of them is the yearly arrival of satsuma mandarins from Johansen Ranch, usually between late October and early November, available through Christmas. This year we will have them loose and in 5- and 10-pound bags. Johansen will also supply us with clementine tangerines and navel oranges in December and January, and blood oranges in January and February. Johansen Ranch will supply our needs with acorn, butternut, delicata, sugar pie, red and green kabochas, and spaghetti squash. Flying V will be bringing us Red Kuri Squash, one of my favorites. Of course, the holiday season would not be complete without persimmons. Johansen will be providing us with crisp, orange Fuyus, the kind one eats like an apple, and Natural Trading Co. will supply us with the orange, acorn-shaped Hachiya, which is best when served pudding-like. If you are craving sweets but avoid processed sugar, then the Hachiya is for you.

Here’s a list of what else you’ll find on our shelves this season. From Super Tuber we will see bunched red beets and loose red and gold beets, green and red cabbage, loose carrots, and bunched rainbow carrots. We’ll have potatoes too, of the blue, French fingerling, and yellow varieties. Higareda Farms will bring us rainbow chard, and curly and Italian parsleys. Starbright Acres will supply us with Purple Bacchus, red, Easter Egg, and French Breakfast radishes, purple and watermelon daikon, and loose purple-top turnips. As usual, Natural Trading Co. will make sure we have pea shoots, sunflower sprouts, and wheatgrass on hand.

If one of your traditions this time of year is practicing gratitude, you may want to include our local farmers on your list. They toil mightily year-round planning, growing, harvesting, and transporting their fruits and vegetables for the good of us all. They are an important part of what makes our co-op as uniquely successful as it is, and deserve some recognition for their contribution. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to buy some rutabagas and parsnips so I can indulge my own little tradition!

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