A Local Apricot Changes My Mind

Local Fourth Street Farm Apricots, Lexington, Kentucky

Local Fourth Street Farm Apricots, Lexington, Kentucky

Some of us in central Kentucky who failed to plant apricot trees five years ago got lucky anyway this year. Dear friend, master gardener, and community visionary Sherry Maddock shared some memorable fruit from her Fourth Street Farm, around the corner from my house. These were my first tree-ripened apricots, and my first Kentucky apricots, all at the same time.

The surprise: the fruits taste richly of the apricot flavor I treasure in the dried fruit or in apricot nectar. Every other time I have tasted fresh apricots, including California apricots eaten in season at the orchard, I have had to have a little talk with my disappointed taste buds, something like this,"Well, dears, we just can't expect much from the fresh version of this perfumed fruit. It's like coffee, never delivering the flavor promised by its smell."

I am so happy to learn I was wrong when I was faking that mature condolence chat. Instead of the problem lying in my inflated apricot flavor expectations, all those mealy, flavorless apricots have been less than they should and could be. Blame the apricots' cultivation, or premature picking, or some other factor. Sherry Maddock's gift of Fourth Street Farm apricots proved in one bite that apricots can taste like we want and expect them to taste.  I have now officially changed my mind about eating fresh apricots.

I am particularly lucky, living with a gardener whose flavor-rich and nutrient-dense veggies often end up on the table just minutes after they leave the garden outside our back door. Sherry and other friends share backyard eggs along with portions of their gardens' yield. Local farms like Elmwood Stock FarmBlue Moon Farm, and Seedleaf Farms grow another large portion of what we eat, and grow it sustainably.

I trust these locally grown foods. I know their provenance, defined as "place of origin," and "history of ownership." I know these foods are grown without toxic chemicals. Most required zero petroleum to get to my table. Proven or not, I believe these foods contain more nutrients than the better traveled, aged foods that still make up some of what I eat each week.

Nearly all the time, I get a flavor bonus from foods grown locally, and flavor means a lot to me. I get to eat a lot of wonderful, fresh, sustainably grown, locally sourced foods. I am lucky. In some ways, I am also a food snob, at the worst, and a picky eater, at the very least. More on that tomorrow: something to anticipate!

The thing is, I want all of us to be lucky. I want us all to have the privilege of being picky about what kinds of food we put into our precious, irreplaceable bodies. In order for all of us to enjoy the benefits of eating the great, nutritious, locally grown food our region is capable of producing, we are going to need some new community habits as well as personal ones.

Tomorrow I will focus on one aspect of public or community events that feature food. I will tell a couple of stories about what I have observed in our community in the last month or so, and make a few suggestions. Right now I'm headed to the kitchen for some of the astounding mix of salad greens the Campsie garden is still yielding as summer arrives. Here's hoping you also get to eat well, and locally, today.

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