I stuck my hands in dirt today. In my own kitchen.
Y’all, (Yes, I now say this. Thank you new friends from the south and old southern roots) the potatoes here are dirty. Most of the time I give my potatoes a little scrub, a little more if they are baked potatoes. Here, they are taking a bath. Right. Now. A bath. They are like filthy children after an afternoon in the yard. Clumps of dirt and roots covering the skins.
Back in California – I was about to say home, but that would get confusing because there are too many “homes” right now – my friend Rachel introduced me to Imperfect Produce. She loves them so much she wanted me to apply for a position on their marketing team. Their marketing team and their mission is incredibly creative. The essence is that every day, farmers grow food and it is wasted because it is “imperfect.” Basically, it doesn’t look pretty enough to go in the grocery store.
I was thinking about this concept at market day a few weeks ago. There are produce stands and cheese stands, places to get fresh pasta and just picked flowers. There is the fish stand which smells, and the garment stands and knickknack stands. You can buy your socks and underwear at the market, if you’re into that kind of embarrassment. I was thinking about it because I have to order my fruits and veggies by weight. The produce stand closest to my house has a sweet older lady that will let you order by number of pieces, but for the most part you’re ordering per kilo. And the cherry on top to this experience is that they pick which pieces you’re going to get. No touching!
You could end up with some really ugly, but edible, fruits and veggies.
The concept of imperfect produce doesn’t work here. They would look at you like you’re crazy, which let’s be honest they already think you are. If you are savvy enough, you can be like the Italians and tell them you don’t want that one, you want the other one. But again, they look at you like you’re crazy because you’re American. Comes with living in a different country.
So, Americans, we’ve got to get our act together. Think about all the time wasted on sorting produce to make sure it looks pretty enough. Think of all the cleaning agents used to make the potatoes look less dirty. They came from the ground! Of course they are dirty!
This isn’t an issue with the potatoes or the farmers or the grocers. The problem is with our mindset. It is with how we think about our food. The good stuff that keeps us going.
Once those potatoes are clean and cooked, they are going to taste delicious. You shouldn’t know that they came from the ground and you won’t be able to tell that they were dirty when I got them from the farmer’s market this morning.
Let’s try to change our thinking about how things look. I’m going to get back to cleaning potatoes for dinner from my new cookbook, Magnolia Table…