Fresh direct-market citrus

Citrus is a natural winter-seasonal treat for many folks. Growing up, my family got big boxes shipped directly from Florida through our church, and the oranges and grapefruits were always so much better than what we could get in the store. I’d fallen out of the habit of thinking about this option, until this winter when we started talking about researching direct-market citrus growers from whom we could order directly, getting better products and letting the grower keep more of the profit.

Coincidentally, I received a promotional email from Localharvest promoting various member growers and their winter specials. I can’t remember the last time I acted on a promotional email, but after some quick research we decided this was just what we were looking for. We ordered a full bushel mix of Honeybell oranges and Ruby Red Grapefruit. I don’t even know what citrus goes for in a store, as we almost never buy it, but the price (including shipping) worked out to about a dollar a fruit. This seemed reasonable to us to support a more sustainable grower (by their claims) than store fruit was likely to be, assuming the fruit was actually good.

The order went in just before the big, damaging freeze down in Florida, so we figured it would be a while before it came through as all the growers were scrambling to harvest or protect their crops. The box finally did come, delivered right to our door, packed with oranges and grapefruits.

And oh…my…are these good. The oranges are thin-skinned, seedy, and rather messy to eat by hand, but wonderfully juicy and sweet. They’d be great juiced, though so far we haven’t bothered as they’re good enough out-of-hand. The grapefruit are just amazing. The best grapefruit I can remember eating, a perfect balance of sweet and sour. These were well worth the price, and it’s nice to know that the money went almost all to the grower, rather than being diluted through a long chain of middlemen. Scurvy, begone.

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