To Market, To Market
Trip Start Mar 07, 1997
95Trip End Dec 25, 1998
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Even if you aren't expecting guests, you'll want oranges to fill your stocking. And whether you've been good or bad, there is no better treat than Indian River citrus.
The stalls at Earl Roden's and Phillips Brothers Produce are open year round at the Chattanooga Farmers Market. And that's where we'll find that famous Florida sunshine. Park and walk the rows of citrus boxes. Angle stacked, they flash us promises of flavor; shiny bright in every shade of yellow to orange. And oh, the smell!
Why is Indian River citrus so extra-special good? Orange trees first were planted on the banks of the Indian River in 1807. While other regions of Florida have suffered freeze damage, the Indian River district has not. This narrow strip along the coast from Daytona to West Palm Beach is kept warmer by the Gulf Stream. Cold air is buffered by the central section of the state too. And if a freeze is predicted, the growers flood the groves. The water raises the temperature enough to avoid damage.
Of course, the delicious taste comes from the perfect mix of soil and water. The soil is rich in calcium and other minerals, and an annual rainfall of 52 inches assures the trees an inch of water a week. Fruit juicy!
Now a third of the groves are planted in grapefruit - some of the sweetest in the world. Get a 40-count box at the market for about $10. Or select from juice oranges, navel oranges, or tangerines. Get a box of each, or mix'em up. This is a great gift idea too.
Perk up the gift boxes with layers of nuts, or candies. Load up your basket. There is sorghum syrup from Meigs County and honey from Sand Mountain. Buy some Southern Pride chow chow, hot or mild. Pile golden apples in a bright-red basket and top it off with tissue-papered pears.
There's a good variety of nicely-priced produce if you're feeding a crowd; beans, turnips, greens; a 50-pound bag of potatoes for just $6. And don't forget the coconut so somebody can get started on that ambrosia. See you there.
Chattanooga Farmers Market, Baldwin Street, Chattanooga