FOUND IN: The Farm on December 16, 2013
I'd never grown them before. In early September they went into compost- infused ground as tiny transplants. It was still plenty hot, horribly dry and not the kind of place they like to grow. Expectations were low. Seeing them in the grocery stores perched on erect stalks made me want to try them for myself.
They grew bigger as the weather cooled. So tall, that they started to lean. The cool days brought the tiny nubs. Within a few more weeks, the promise for brown-buttered saute-able goodness was within reach.
There were enough in fact to offer them up for sale at our local farmers market. Perched on a podium-style display, the symmetry of cut stalks and plump sprouts made me pumped with pride. And then it happened.
"They seem small compared to the ones I just bought at Trader Joe's." she exclaimed to her friend. The comparison, leaving me red-faced and breathless also made me wonder?
So where do her Brussels sprouts come from?
Around 98% of all Brussels sprouts are grown commercially in California. The cool temperatures and coastal fog found south of San Francisco in Monterey County are the ideal conditions for growing them. It happens to be one of my favorite places to visit. But one thing I remember vividly while never getting close enough to actually see them, is the smell when driving through the fields. It is quite the sulpher-like stench.
Those grown commercially are heavily fertilized with synthetic fertilizers and sprayed with pesticides to control a kaleidoscope of pest problems. After the harvest, the washing and the packing, they are ready to travel.
Traveling 2707 miles by truck, her's are unloaded at the receiving dock in Mt. Pleasant, SC. After the three day trip, crate unloaded by forklift, stacked one on top of the other in a dark place, they find their way on the shelves.
On a chilly, December morning, as the sun peeks through the horizon, I hand pick the Brussels sprouts destined to be sold the next day. Washed and left in the cooler overnight, they waited patiently for the 15 mile trip to James Island. She didn't buy any of mine.
Her's were bigger.