Last weekend, we went up to Deltona to get our new dog. He’s adapting fine, and showing his personality each day more than the last.
But one thing surprised me about the trip.
I’ve been coming to Florida since I was a wee brat. One of the things I would look forward to was to stop into one of those big fruit stands by the side of the road.
They would almost always give you a sample of some Orange Juice. After all, oranges are on the license plate on the back of the Jeep! You could get different varieties of oranges that you just can’t readily find anywhere else – I’m addicted to Honeybell oranges, and will buy those by the full bushel when they’re in season!
When I moved here, my favorite place to get oranges was closed. Federal Highway south of Downtown, right by the Port entry.
That was fine, I could take my choice of two more stands in Davie.
One of those closed.
The Cushman stand on Forest Hill in West Palm Beach got bought up by Harry and David. The land may be sold for some soul-less Mc Mansions on the site. Sad.
Old Florida was disappearing, and this was one more symptom.
Mind you, it’s April. It’s past the citrus season. My orange tree in the yard, a Honeybell, is coming back from shock and had a bunch of flowers. My yard smells wonderful, a floral and fruity scent greets me. I never get more than a few oranges, but I did The Florida Thing one day by picking an orange from that tree, and eating it in my driveway. I had a tourist laugh and ask if that’s what we all do here.
Some of us are lucky enough to have fruit trees, yes, and I do have lemons in the back yard for fresh Lemon Curd.
But the trip North to Deltona through the heart of the Agricultural area showed that many of those places were closing for the season, never to open again.
I guess we’re turning into Corporate-Ville. I have more rude names for that, but you get the idea. When you can’t find fruit near where it is grown, it is a sad thing. The farms were retreating from the interstates and freeways, and large homes built in their place. The groves were vanishing as well as the fruit stands I remember.
Sure, it’s Off Season for local fruit, but the buildings should still be there!
At least I was able to stop in Harvey’s in Rockledge. They have a massive fruit processing plant where you can actually get the fruit “fresh off the truck” in the bag with their name on it. Wonderful women there who are really happy to give you that little glass of OJ and want to tell you about what they have to sell, and are sorry the season is ending but you’re lucky because you’re here with US!
Rockledge is way too far to go for an orange, but you get the idea. That’s why you go to the grove, it’s simply fresher that way. I will say that it’s also simply BETTER that way!
Sometimes the old ways are the best. I’ll have fresh squeezed orange juice for a while, that quarter bushel had a lot of Valencias for just that reason. It’s “B” Fruit. Blemished? Sure, but tastes just as good.
Oh and there were two grapefruit that were the size of a kid’s soccer ball that are sitting in my fridge as a result.
These are the places where you can find Mango Butter, and produce in season, and weird little tourist trappy packages of overly sugared coconut patties. They’re all wonderful, both the foods and the stores.
I just hope they’ll be there next year and not turned into some corporate drone’s idea of a sterilized experience where you can pay an extra 25 percent for the privilege.
Some things are best left alone.