CONTRIBUTED BY KRISTY WELLS
Being stationed overseas has its challenges. One challenge is produce selection at the commissaries. Let’s face it – everyone eats some sort of fresh produce at some point. Everyone!
I close my eyes and I return to our last stateside base (and when we leave here it will have been 5+ years of overseas living). I remember the local farmer markets. I remember the rural farms that had Saturday produce sale days. I remember CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares. I remember even at mainstream grocery stores the produce selection was huge, and if one store didn’t have what I wanted, there were many other groceries stores to choose from in the local area.
Fast forward to present day. I was sad to leave all my produce options. Here I am, stationed on the island of Okinawa, with commissaries to shop at for produce. When I arrived on island, I did venture off base to a few local grocery stores. I found some smiles growing within me at the opportunities for more selection than just the commissaries. Then I got really excited when I found a few fresh produce markets! But all the labels are marked with odd looking symbols… Oh wait, I’m in Japan! It must be Kanji! And no, I don’t read Kanji. Then I got sad again. I am a little too timid to spend money (more specifically, yen) on produce that I have no clue how to prepare and eat, and even more importantly, what parts of the produce are edible and what parts are not. Toting two children with me (and yes, any trip leaving the house is an adventure with young children!), I wasn’t interested in having my smart phone out and Googling pictures of produce to find out what was what while I was out trying to shop.
Then I found the answer! I don’t remember how I heard about it, but Okinawa Island Produce is run by Cindy, and is the answer to my prayers. In short, she finds local and mostly organic produce from small farms on the island. She gathers it. She delivers it. Life is good! You can also find her on Facebook, too.
Cindy is an American, born and raised in California. Her mother is from Okinawa, and she has returned to her roots to pursue her business endeavors. She speaks English and Japanese. By trade, she is a seasoned teacher, and now she is here to teach us about local Okinawan produce! She works with local and mostly organic farmers to get you the freshest produce available. The selections are seasonal and always changing.
Here are the current ordering choices:
Vegetable Bag: Approximately 12 types of vegetables
Mixed Bag: Approximately 8 types of vegetables plus 1 fruit variety
You can check the website to find out what produce is in season. Although you cannot choose what is in your bag, if there is something you strongly dislike, Cindy can work with you to find an alternative. She accepts cash on delivery (in yen or dollars), or Paypal. Delivery is to established pickup locations and off-base residences in the central Okinawa area. Since order dates and delivery locations may change, please check the website for the current details or to contact her for questions. Summer months will bring a fruit bag option, too!