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Saturday 29 January 2005

Dried Apricots

My great grandfather had an apricot orchard in Sunnyvale, California. My grandfather had an apricot orchard in Cupertino, California and another one ins Hollister, California. Today, my father and uncle co-own the Hollister orchard. I come from apricot farmers, and as such, I have convictions about apricots. I am going to share them.

California Apricots

California apricots taste good. They have flavor. They are chewy in just the right way. They are locally gown (if you're in CA and more locally grown than imports if you're anywhere else in the US). Most apricot orchards are 40 acres or less, often 20 acres. They are grown on family farms. Apricots are labor intensive, so agro-business would rather import them from countries with lower standard of living where they can exploit farm labor even more than the can in CA. California apricots taste good, are local and support family farms. However, they are endangered by imports, primarily from Turkey.

Turkish Apricots

Just say no


Seriously. You call yourself bobo. You buy fair trade coffee. You boycott sweatshop labor and buy locally grown produce and then you buy apricots from Turkey? How far did those cots have to travel to get to North America? Turkish apricots are every where because they're cheap. And they're cheap because the labor costs are very cheap. Drying apricots is labor intensive. When you buy California apricots, you're creating jobs in California. When you buy Turkish apricots, you're creating jobs in Turkey. I could go on to talk about Turkey's government and how people tend to "disappear" there and about the Armenian genocide (perpetuated by Turkey) and how they're trying to crush the Kurds, but um, let's just think about how much fuel, energy and pollution it took to get those dried apricots from turkey to your mouth. global warming much, hm?


the other reason Turkish apricots are cheap is because they're crap. They don't even cut them in half before trying them. They taste like nothing. bleah.

Health + Sulphur + Conclusion

You buy organic, I buy organic. Yay organic! But what about sulphur on dried apricots? Sulphur is an anti-oxidant, which prevents the fruit from oxidizing and turning all brown and prevents the growth of bacteria on the fruit. Some people like brownish dried apricots. That's ok. I don't. The sulphur ads a bit of flavor to it. But is the sulphur bad for you? no, unless you're allergic of have asthma. you know if you have asthma. If you're allergic to sulphur, you might not know, however, wine also contains sulphites. If wine doesn't make you sick, than sulphured apricots are fine. Sulpgur has been used as a preservative for a very long time. It's not some new, scary compound produced by evil chemical company. it's traditional. Also, dried apricots are seriously good for you. They have potasium, vitamin A, iron, fiber and all sorts of good stuff. I wish there were more sources of California organic, sulphured cots, but I don't know of any. So I eat them with pesticides, alas. Um, but seriously. Eat more california dried apricots and stop buying turkish ones. you don't even know what you're missing. CA apricots are in trouble and there won't be any more family farms if consumer spending doesn't shift.



Anonymous said...

Ok, you make a good case for the California apricot (and family farms for that matter). And I do in fact like dried apricots. Your post raises a couple of questions:

Is the climate here particularly suited for apricots? Were commercial nectarines and peach orchards also in Silicon Valley? I associate apricots, via farmer's markets, and cherries, via Olsen's, as local fruits but were there others, before suburbia ran amok?

Robert Gable

Anonymous said...

Silicon Valley was covered with various kinds of orchards back in the day. It's some of the best farmland in the country, perhaps the world--too bad the tech boom took it over.

Charles Céleste Hutchins said...

The south bay is well suited to apricots, but also well suited to cherries, which are quite a bit more profitable than apricots, so most farmers who weren't insane (alas, for my grandpa) grew them instead. Many housing developments and apartment complexes were named for the fruits they replaced. I've seen prune, cot, cherrie and walnut orchards around the Cupertino / Sunnyvale area. But I've never seen a Peach orchard. If you run across Peach Pit Apartments, then probably peaches were grown there. The San Jose historical Museum / Society probably has more information on local fruits.

It is sad that the tech boom destroyed what was the most fertile farmland in the world. My mom used to tell me about how the area was dying and everybody was moving away before the tech boom got started. However, now that I'm thinking about it, she might have meant all the farmers were selling out to developers. That doesn't make any sense. . .. The economy may well have been imperiled before the war or something.

The real tragedy isn't that there are buildings covering all that farmland. It's the extreme amount of pollution created by fabrication plants. the "golden triangle" around where 101 and 85 cross (there's a third freeway making it a triangle) has a higher concentration os Super fund sites than any place else in the US.

Trees would eventually get rid of all the Volatile Organic Compounds (guess who used to work on a superfund site?), but who knows what else is lurking in the ground. Lots of pesticide build up too.

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