Sunday, July 14, 2024

U-pick fruit


This weekend Kat took me to her favorite u-pick orchard. She and I were heading home from shopping in town when she got a text from a friend; turned to me and asked, “Mom, would you like to pick some peaches on our way home? This is the first day they are open.” I nodded. I knew she’d been waiting for them to open all summer and I was interested in seeing this place she’d described to me this spring. I must admit it did feel different to have my daughter taking me to pick food instead of the other way around. Having been a gleaner all her life up until she was in high school, I was the one to lead the charge into the foray of finding nutritious healthy food. Now it’s her turn. I can’t say I’m upset about the change in roles, because I am, in fact, tickled pink about it. But it did give me cause to reminisce.

I got to thinking about the first paid u-pick farm we found. (We’d picked blackberries for free at a dairy when I carried her in a backpack baby sling but that wasn’t really a u-pick situation.) Kat was small then, three or four, before elementary school. I found a u-pick farm a few miles out of town where we lived. I’d take her with me, and we’d pick berries. Correction, I’d pick berries and she’d eat berries.

Kat made fast friends with the farm wife, and they would have a fine talk every time we visited the u-pick farm. One day as the two were chatting as only grandmas can chat with little girls the farmer came wandering by, so I struck up a conversation with him. He was a bit out of sorts. He was growly and when I asked how he was doing I found out.

He was irritated because he was going to have to buy a part for his plow, and this was the third time he had bought that part. It was a part of the plow that turns the dirt and the foreign steel he bought had worn out. He was irritated because there wasn’t an American steel part for that plow to be had; he needed to plow now; he didn’t want to buy that foreign steel for a third time.

I asked how often he had to replace the part. He told me, “I usually get one season out of each part if it’s American steel.” He told me tersely then changed the subject and eventually headed back out to the fields. His wife told me the rest of the story.

“This spring he bought the plow part, foreign steel, for half the price as American steel, but now it’s going to take three of the parts made of foreign steel to do the job he used to get done with one made of American steel. On top of that, the American steel parts are all sold out and now he’s going to get stuck with foreign steel rather he likes it or not.”

I did the calculation. One American part at $Y for three foreign parts for $1/2Y. Cost per season for American part is $Y. Cost per season for foreign part is 3 x $1/2Y=$1 1/2Y.

Say the American part cost $10 and the foreign part cost him $5, the price to do business with American part is $10. The price to do business with foreign parts is $15. That doesn’t include the cost to remove and replace two extra parts. Labor isn’t cheap! No wonder that farmer was irritated. I was remembering that farm as Kat and I made it to her favorite u-pick orchard to check out the fruit. I glanced over at the cashier counter as I got ready to go picking. Sure enough, there was Kat, having a fine talk with the orchard owner’s elderly mother. The more things change, I was thinking, the more they stay the same.

We spent a couple hours picking delicious fruit for ourselves then headed home with apples for Grandma to make cake with. The early peaches will be eaten as-is, they are too precious for processing. Life is good.

Grandma Lydia’s Fresh Apple Cake Recipe

From Sharon Finney

4 cups apples chunked            2 cups sugar                ½ cup vegetable oil

1 cup walnuts                           2 eggs                          2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour                               1 teaspoon soda          2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt                        ½ cup milk or water

Mix all together and pour into a 8x13 pan. Bake at 350 ℉ until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (½ to 1 hour).

Note: One of these days I’m going to try peaches or pears instead of apples in this recipe. Pears have more or less the same texture as apples so the recipe will stay the same, but peaches will be juicier, so I’ll probably have to cut back on the milk or water. I’m betting it’s going to taste great.

In 2000 Michele Priddy left the work force to become a stay-at-home mother and wife. Being a one-income family in today’s society meant she had to learn to budget quickly. Food became a priority early because she wanted the children to have the best nutrition, she could offer them even on a budget. She also taught cooking classes on how to stretch the food dollar with simple ingredients at various churches in her community. Michelle has put her kitchen strategies and recipes in booklets, her church newsletter and also in her hometown newspaper, The Goldendale Sentinel. We hope you will enjoy her strategies, stories, and recipes. You can contact the Leavenworth Echo at or 509-548-5286 if you have any questions or comments for Michelle.



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