My veggie fix


There was an old movie streaming on the internet a few months back called “The Southerner,” the story of a young farm family coping with just about every conceivable problem a small farmer could have, from bad neighbors and floods to bank loans. One incident recalled the old wives’ tale of “spring sickness,” which was thought to come from eating vegetables.

In the film, one of the couple’s children becomes terribly sick after eating from the first vegetable crop after a bad winter. The reasoning of the mother was the vegetable caused the illness.

In reality the sickness was pellagra or scurvy, caused by not eating fresh vegetables or fruit over the winter. Of course nowadays, thanks to modern transportation, scurvy caused by the unavailability of vegetables and fruit year round is not very common.

In Socorro, we have Smith’s and John Brooks, as well as Walmart, which all have fine produce sections.

But the situation is a little different in Magdalena. Ever since the Trail’s End Market closed it’s doors a couple of years ago the village has been without a source for fresh produce, notwithstanding the limited selection at Magdalena Mercantile and Laundry (which closed last summer).

After the grocery store closed there was a lot of talk and ideas knocked around by a few folks about getting some sort of fresh produce back to the village. Ideas ranged from trying to get a food co-op going to the feasibility of luring a grocery store chain to town. None really panned out.

But a year later, in 2013, Deb Ingersoll, Kathi McQueen, Omar Qureshi and Jen Kent got together and began planning a community garden to supply produce to the village Samaritan Center. Jen donated a lot she owned to the project, and Mark Cortner brought over his tractor to disc the lot. They all did a heck of a job. Unfortunately, the water crisis in early June brought that project to a halt. At least temporarily.

But now it seems the availability of fresh vegetables, fruit and some baked goods can be found in Magdalena once again. Only not in a grocery store, but rather a nationwide food cooperative called “Bountiful Baskets,” thanks to the efforts of Nadine Ulibarri-Keller and Cynthia Connelly.

Living in Magdalena, my wife and I signed up and went down to the school last Friday evening to pick up our share. What we saw was a crowd of happy Magdalenians, most all carrying bags and boxes to take their combinations of fruits and vegetables home. And there were more than enough volunteers to help divide out the food and fill the baskets. There were a lot smiling faces.

We took home enough veggies to last a week or so, and a fruit variety that included oranges, tangelos, pears, bananas, and something I didn’t quite recognize. Some of our friends paid a little extra for artisan bread and certified organic boxes.

Unpacking our treasures at home, we found there were Brussels sprouts in our share. What’s deal with Brussels sprouts?

I know all about their health benefits. They are one of the best vegetables you can eat, but the taste, well — I don’t know. However, I found out they can actually be delicious, thanks to a recipe my wife prepared the next day. It included bacon, by the way.

In Socorro we shop the produce sections of Smith’s and John Brooks weekly, and also Walmart, where I like to stop in and say hello to Shorty. But we will also keep going back to the school in Magdalena every two weeks for our $15 share of veggies.

It seems the older I get, the more I appreciate the flavor of fresh vegetables. With the emphasis on fresh.