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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I got your organic right here

Shopping for produce is a bit different here. You have a few choices, some $, some $$$$ (relative terms).

1) There are women that walk around all day with a giant bag on their backs (strap goes around their forehead) and they sell whatever they carry on their back house to house. Looks like grueling work and these women are often quite old. $

2) If you have time, you can go down to one of many open markets where you can find people selling anything they have that can be sold and eaten. Sometimes this is a small subsistence vendor selling 4 tomatoes to you for 20 cents that he just bought from someone else for 10 cents ..And then you see the larger vendors that have all types of vegetables and fruit and lots of it. But here you have to bargain and that can take some time -  $

3) Then you have Uchumi - a somewhat lower grade supermarket. Things look quite beat up here and there are swarms of gnats that buzz over everything, but for some reason it's the place I go most. $$

4) Then you have Nakumatt- a higher grade supermarket - it's got the super charged lighting and cleaner produce with decent stock management. $$$

5) And Lastly you have Zucchini's Green Grocer - a very specialized produce store where you walk in and a produce guy attaches themselves to you and picks out your produce for you. You tell them, "2 cucumbers" and it is his job to pick out the best damn 2 cucumbers in the store.  If they have fresh stuff in the back, he will drop everything and run back to the back of the store to get you the newest ones possible. $$$$

But regardless of where you shop, most everything is FRESH from the earth. Meaning it comes from the farm, to the truck, to the store - no stops in between to wash, wax and polish- no careful handling and packing all along the supply chain. Here, usually that ride from the farm to the store is not so smooth and things are just piled high in flat bed truck, getting bumped and bruised along the way - produce AND livestock for that matter.  Getting things to market is a struggle and people have to do whatever they can to just move the product.  Usually you will see a few guys actually standing/riding on top of the produce in the back of the truck - that's my favorite.
Peking Goose?

2 guys, a cow, and a scooter. That's one way to do it!
After leaving the butcher???

mmm, fresh lettuce ;-)
Smells like Bacon!

When I recently went home at Christmas, it really struck me how perfect our produce looks - even the organic stuff, which you would think would have less processes- the bananas are huge and yellow and don't have black all over them - the apples are red and shiny and big. Our fruit and veggies are like models and celebrities...they basically GET AIRBRUSHED with wax! Even our natural food has to look perfect - and guess who pays for that?
Here the produce is more like watching actors on high-def tv without make-up - more realistic - and indicative of the process that item went through. The apples are small and discolored, the bananas are always bruised - even the green ones, the lettuce and potatoes are caked with mud from the earth it grew out of, the tomatoes are dirty and imperfect. There is no importance placed on how shiny the apples are. They are apples, they taste good, and if you can afford them, congratulations. 

Here you peel your own carrots, demud your own produce, and defeather your own eggs!
How long has it been since you peeled a carrot?

You leave the store looking like you were gardening - your hands covered in mud.

Mud caked potatoes

Here's a good one. seriously.

And my little eggs always have a little love from the mama chicken in the carton. Most of the eggs have droppings on them and some feathers. Kind of nice to remember exactly where your food came from. Almost every egg I've ever cracked here has little blood clots in it though - not so hot on that. I try to fish it out each time. I wonder if there is some secret health benefit to eating the blood clots in the eggs. hm. How many readers will I lose with this caption?

And now you can go appreciate your big giant banana, your glistening white eggs (so beautiful that a very popular paint color was named after them), your giant glassy apple, and your big round juicy orange even more.

 But you can't get avocados for 27 cents like I can!!! ;-)))

He's sticking his tongue out

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