Thursday, January 21, 2010

The informal food network

Or perhaps I should have called this post, "How to barter backyard fruit."

I have a surfeit of Meyer lemons.  I gave some to a coworker who gave me kumquats last year.  This year, he gave another bag of kumquats to me (as well as periodic pictures of the ripening kumquats in his yard).

There is a retired lady on my block with 4 mature avocado trees.  There is no way she can possibly eat them all so I asked her if I could trade her some Meyer lemons for her avocados.  She said yes, she could use three lemons.  I went home to fetch her three.  Upon my return, she handed me six avocados and told me I could come by later for more.

Then I brought some to Dave's Olde Book Shop near my home because the lady who works there on Sundays (I forgot her name) is a fan of Meyer lemons. 

I also brought some to Neighborhood Grinds to thank the owners for distributing our CSA boxes.  They use the lemons for the lemon water they serve gratis to their customers.  We buy a prepaid card at NG and reload the card about once a month.  That way, Iris can stop by with her friends or her Tae Kwon Do instructor and buy a round of treats.  I stop by at least once a week for a soy latte and Mark goes on weekends for a vacuum flask of their 'single origin' coffee.  Our habits should cost us about $25-30/month.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that our account was down only ~$10 last month.  The owners have been slipping free brownies to my kid.  (OTOH, I did sew a swirly dress for the 3 yo daughter of one of the owners, which he claims is her favorite dress.)

And why is she buying treats there for herself and her TKD instructor?  Because he drives her from her elementary school over to the community center for class (while Bad Dad and I are at work).  As some of you know, we lost the world's greatest nanny when she transferred to a 4-year university and moved away.  We couldn't find a replacement that suited Iris.  So Bad Dad and I were stuck taking time off from work to get her to TKD class.

When I heard the principal of her school complain about a karate instructor's failure to return the principal's phone calls, I quickly asked him if he was willing to consider TKD instead.  Score!  Her TKD instructor teaches a beginner class at her school (with Iris as the teacher's aide), and then they grab a snack (Iris misses snack time at the afterschool daycare on these days) and head over to the community gym for the intermediate class.  We pick Iris up at the gym on the way home from work.

At first, I didn't know about the missed snack time.  But then Iris let it slip that she went to McD's weekly.  How can that be?  Our family rarely goes to McD's, and then mostly on our road trips.  Not only had her TKD teacher been driving Iris to class, but he'd been buying her snacks at the McD's next to the gym.

I figure, with the money we are saving not paying for after school care and a nanny to schlep Iris around, the least we can do is pay for both of their snacks.  And she loves being a teacher's aide.  She says the little kids in the beginner class are so cute.  Remember when she was one of the little kids?

If you shop at the South Bay Gardens nursery on Manhattan Beach Blvd, under the power lines, they sometimes give you free fruit with a purchase.  The owner gives away Valencia oranges from his orchard in Ventura.  One of the employees gave away Fuyu persimmons in December.  Hmm, it's orange season and I need a few things...

Oh, we got kohlrabi in our CSA box today.  Don't they look like purple UFOs?  If you see me in person, don't forget to ask me to tell you my hilarious UFO story.

Here's the rest of the box.  I posted about it at the CSA blog.

It's not backyard fruit, but I also bring apple-persimmon cake to a coworker who brings me Hashiya persimmons from the Santa Monica farmer's market whenever he sees 'the persimmon lady'. 


  1. I'd trade some Fuyu persimmons for Meyer lemons, but they were so good we ate them all! Maybe in the fall, when we have our next batch. The Fuyus are so wonderful we are planting another tree

  2. I love lemons! I've been watching a lot of Everyday Italian and Giada always uses lemons in her recipes. But then again, I love citrus fruits in general. My favorite is grapefruit. Sounds like a nice neighborhood you have there :)


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