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(post, Shannon Donahue)
You couldn't pay me to choose big-box-store produce over fresh fruits and vegetables from a farmers market or CSA. Granted, I live in the fertile San Francisco Bay Area and volunteer at a particularly bountiful farmers market, but I think I speak for most fruit lovers when I say that nothing sums up summer like a juicy, ripe peach. My mom agrees, but she doesn't really grasp the inherent difference in quality between a farm-fresh peach and that plucked out of season from a Costco 16-pack. Fruit destined for supermarket or wholesale stores is usually refrigerated, blasted with chemicals that retard ripening, and transported for many miles. By the time my mom chooses her 16-pack of "I'm Ripe!"-labeled peaches, the poor stonefruits have likely spent multiple weeks in limbo and traveled around the world - at least once. You can imagine my ensuing angst when Mom came home the other day; arms outstretched and proffering her bounty for me, her fruit-loving daughter home for the weekend. Ever the dutiful child, I dubiously sliced one and shared it with said Costco shopper and my brother. None of us made it past that first bite. The fruit, while acceptably sweet and soft, was mealy and dry. I stared at the 15 remaining specimens, worried about their fate. Although I'm somewhat fanatical about the quality of my fruit, I hate to see any food go to waste. I figured that if anything could hide the inferior quality of these peaches, it would be a scrumptious combination of oats, butter, sugar, flour, yogurt, and cinnamon. That's right, I'm talking about crumble. Slightly doubtful, I cut the unpeeled peaches into chunks, topped them with glorious crumble globs, and baked it at 400°F for 25 minutes. I served up big bowls of Costco Crumble topped with sweetened yogurt, and we all dove in. What a surprise – it was tasty! The heat and moisture seemed to energize the peaches, and their flavor seemed more pronounced. I'm sure there's an explanation for why they turned out so juicy, but all I know is that five peaches have been saved. And the next night? I made Costco Cobbler.