Western fruit and vegetable growers deserve culinary bow

Western fruit and vegetable growers deserve culinary bow

It seems like yesterday but 33 years have passed since this green journalist right out of ‘Moo U’ (Mississippi State University) began an agricultural reporting career immersed in fruit and vegetable production in Michigan.

Summers were always a favorite pastime as a ‘Michgander’ resident as Mother Nature transformed hot air blowing through the Windy City of Chicago and across Lake Michigan into cooler, lake-effect growing conditions which yielded taste bud tantalizing fruits and vegetables.

In those days my general motto was to consume Midwest-grown fruits and veggies or none at all. Today, based in Phoenix, I swear on a stack of food-stained napkins that western-grown fruits and vegetables are the nation’s superior palate pleasers.

2011 has been an exceptional year for western fruit and veggie production. An in depth investigation by this journalist uncovered mind-boggling connections on the names given to nature’s perfect foods.

This year’s California Bing cherry crop was incredible. I solely polished off several pounds of this delectable fresh fruit. An ‘investigation’ of the word ‘cherry’ unveiled a common sense explanation for the origin for this oval-pitted fruit. The first part of the word – ‘chair’ – speaks volumes – for example, in the importance of the role of the ‘chair’-man of a successful company. So is the cherry to the fruit industry.

Whoever said, “Life is more than a bowl of cherries” has never consumed a California cherry.

Arizona-grown watermelons deserve bragging rights. The word ‘water’ beckons to the essential role that the liquid plays in our lives as 90 percent-plus of the human body is H2O. Cantaloupes are also befittingly named for the ‘can-ta-i-eat-more’ craving for this orange-circular melon.

To better manage the blues in everyday life, blueberries are the perfect fruit to wash away one’s troubles. While my local store supplied Oregon blueberries this summer, I bought 3 pounds of this fresh fruit of the Gods – all consumed by yours truly - a pig at the blueberry trough.

The tasty nectarine crop was just what the doctor ordered. Any potential neck problems where the head bone connects to the body bone are assuredly washed away by this astutely-named pome fruit.

This year, romaine lettuce was at the core of many salads. Those aged 50 and older likely ‘roam’ around the house less during overnight sleep walking; surely a benefit of this healthy leafy green.

Onion is a personal veggie favorite at the Blake abode with green onions consumed whole just like carrots. Whole onion peeling duties are dutifully mine. A Michigan onion production video by this journalist concluded with a ‘How to Peel a Whole Onion Without Shedding a Tear’ segment. The secret is to peel away the initial layers of the onion with a knife under running water.

Mandarins are among the smaller-sized citrus sought by consumers today for easy-to-peel and low-seed attributes. Perhaps a ‘talking’ mandarin fluent in the ‘Mandarin’ Chinese language could make an appearance on the “Man vs. Food” television series on the Travel Channel.

With no inkling of how to break down the word ‘asparagus,’ a quickie online Wikipedia search unveiled that the vegetable is packed with dietary fiber. For those age 50 and older, asparagus is increasingly a ‘regular’ vegetable in the diet.

During the Michigan years, this journalist voluntarily climbed aboard an asparagus mechanical harvester to experience the back-breaking work of snapping the fast-growing spears from the sandy soil. Asparagus can grow up to 1-inch-per-hour.

A salute to the men and women everywhere who annually grow, harvest, pack, process, and transport high-quality food and fiber.

Thank you for a job well done! 

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