Thursday, August 27, 2009

I can eat a peach for hours...

When it comes to fruit, I can relate to the great lovers of the world… Like Casanova, Don Juan De Marco or Wilt Chamberlin, I know what it must have felt like to be pulled from one siren to the next, tugged by a scent, a hidden curve, or gentle give. When it comes to fruit, I am a fickle lover, merely entranced by the flavor of what is before me.

Fig season has just hit, and immediately, I am gorging myself on bright green Kalamatas. Her prickly fuzz scuffing my tongue before I nibble on her dainty seeds. Already, I have forgotten about last week’s lover, the freckled pluot and her blushed interior, aromatic and mild, spiked with a tart, snappy skin. By now, I scoff at the old hack the strawberry who was my breath of life only a few months back.

And alas, my heart will move on to another in a mere weeks time! My wandering eye is turned to the thought of biting into a perfumed Comice pear over a sink… As Adam Gollner, author of Fruit Hunters noted, “…the texture of softened butter filled with dripping juices.” And then there is the sneaky little November Satsuma orange, hiding her impeccable flavor beneath a wrinkled citrus dress. I am convinced, after many years of eating fruit, my favorite is always what is at the very peak of ripeness… she always wins out over the others.

Thank God I live in Fresno, no? This is the ground zero for fruit, with more California beauties than a David Lee Roth video. We are surrounded by not just a plethora of heirloom varietals, but farmers with passion for their produce, land, and community. And here’s the irony… often, our best fruit gets shipped to LA or SF to people who are real fanatics. We in the Valley are left with the paltry leftovers or worse yet, have our fruit shipped from farm, to distribution center, then to local grocery stores before we get a nibble.

This is why I am so excited about a new business in town, RipeNow, our first local fruit delivery service. Owner Jeremy Lane has searched the valley and discovered farmers who are focused on picking fruit at the peak of ripeness. “This fruit is not meant to withstand the rigors of commercial distribution or win some durability prize,” he says. “These are special farmers who compete for titles such as, most flavorful, juiciest, best color and most fragrant. [Our] goal is to support and encourage the heritage of these local farmers and facilitate greater exposure of this delicious fruit right here at home.”

The business model is pure: get amazing fruit into homes and offices on as an alternative to pretzels and 100 Calorie Packs™. Lane describes, “We go to local farms, pick up the ripe fruit, pack it into recyclable wood crates, deliver it to businesses and collect the previous drop off box for re-use. Then it’s back to the farm for more fruit.” Sweet and simple.

RipeNow is supporting farmers who produce rare and soul satisfying fruits that keep me swooning, weak-in-the-knees, waiting for that next stolen moment with something so fare. Scratch the idea of that grocery store peach, picked green and sitting around for days on end in cold storage… for that matter, scratch the Saturday morning peach you buy at the farmer’s market with the caveat to “let it ripen on the counter for a few more days”… RipeNow provides fruit picked and delivered at its peak ripeness… the same peaches a farmer would pluck for an afternoon snack. As stone-fruit expert Andy Martin describes, “The search for the perfect peach is elusive. It’s good for a moment, then a few days later it’s gone. It’s hard to grow. Nuances in humidity and temperature over one night can drastically effect quality.” Given these circumstances it’s a small miracle we ever get fruit. Providing good fruit, that elusive “pleasant resistance” of a peach, borders on heroic. Thanks Valley farmers. And thanks RipeNow.

RipeNow: or (559) 318-7473

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