Friday, July 31, 2009

eating local

We almost came to blows over grapefruit once.

Not that I’d describe my relationship with the Significant Eater as violent. A little heated at times but nothing approaching physical harm.

But grapefruit. He has to have grapefruit and orange freshly juiced every morning. It’s a ritual that can’t be broken. While I was trying to get my head around eating local last year this became a sticking point. He didn’t take to seasonality in quite the same way as I did.

I thought of this recently while doing my weekly shop at Vic Market. Cherries! Cherries in the middle of winter, it just wasn’t right. But Aussie cherries – now that was even more extraordinary. Then I read the fine print and laughed.

“taste them! Aussie Cherries grown in upstate Washington Bing Cherries $15 kg”

Somehow I don’t think this inventive marketing strategy quite comes under the auspices of the “Put Victoria on your table” campaign. It was lovely to see some of their logos on fruit and vegetables on my shopping trip this week.

What I find confusing about many of the guides to seasonal food, is that while it lists fresh produce that is on offer in your local stores, it doesn’t take into account where the food comes from.

Melbourne farmers markets usually feature growers from around the state and provide a good guide to what is seasonal and local in Victoria. According to the Victorian Farmers’ Markets Association the following goodies are in season:

cumquats, grapefruit, lemons, limes, mandarins, nashi, oranges, rhubarb, tamarillo, tangelos.


Asian greens, beetroot, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, carrots, celery, celeriac, fennel, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohlrabi (green), kohlrabi (red), leek, olives, onions, parsnips, pumpkins, silver beet, spinach, spring onions, swedes, turnips.

The SE will be pleased – grapefruit is in season!

Reasons I like to eat local:

• Fresher produce
• Less energy used/pollution created in transportation
• Supports the local community
• Anticipation, waiting for a food to come back into season, makes it taste all the sweeter!

How do you feel about eating in season?

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Blogger Johanna said...

I wish I could get to farmers markets more but unfortunately I don't.

One thing I like about supermarkets is that there are labels about where the fruit and veg is from - unlike the fruit and veg shops nearby - I understand that it is harder for the smaller stores but I do like to eat local and in season produce - but I was surprised to see asparagus produced in Australia at the supermarket yesterday - where in Australia, I wondered!

9:17 am  
Blogger prue said...

I live so close to the Vic markets and with frequent visits over the years you can see the trends in seasonality, although I missed the cherries. Will have to search them out just to witness it myself. You know when cherries are in season there because everyone has them, even the egg sellers, the butchers and the deli section!

I've also learned seasonality with the balcony garden, though I am 'this' close to having tomatoes in midwinter thanks to the indoor tomato experiment, how's that for out of season but local!?! :)

10:17 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Johanna, to be honest I find the farmers markets here (like the one at the childrens farm) a tad over priced. As I shop organically its often better value to go to vic market but it is a nice atmosphere and you can often pick up the odd gem. It's an outing that I make about once a year! Though have lucked on the Healesville market by the railway station a few times and picked up lovely locally grown, old style apples and local honey - yum!

Prue - me too. Price and abundance is always a grat guide. The cherries are in the conventional aisle near the dairy hall (and if you are a local you probably know the guy - he smokes a lot of err herbal cigarettes on the job :)

Cherries mean xmas to me (or a little earlier in this part of the world) special and fleeting. Am happy to wait for Santa for my next cherry hit :)

Cherries mean xmas to me

5:01 pm  
Blogger Maggie said...

I'm all for eating in season. It makes the seasons special, individual. I went to a work function yesterday and I was served a dish with asparagus. Asparagus! At this time of year it's crazy. Not only were they not grown locally, but they would have been super expensive. Much better to serve local produce, fresher and cheaper.

12:09 pm  
Blogger steve said...

Hi AOF, another good post of your close to my heart.
I think we are so disconnected to the seasonal availability of foods for a number of reasons. On eof theme is that we are offered as consumers an array of produce in supermarkets that can & do come from all over the world, leading to some confusion as to what is actually available at a said time of year. Also we as consumers demand all year round access to some of this produce which creates a vicious circle.
Your cherry example is a good one. Recently at the Wholesale markets in Melb, George Biron blogged about USA cherries being sold as Tasmanian!
Whilst I try to eat seasonally & locally I am also mindful that many of our fruit & vege growers rely on exports to make them viable businesses which raise the conundrum of eating locally & food miles. For instance cherries exported from Tas arrive at the opposite part of the world when they are not in season, do you think they consider the same issues as we do as far as food miles are concerned?

8:15 am  
Blogger Zoe said...

I've been putting together a "what's in season" list for my food co-op and it's a much more difficult exercise than you'd expect - given that much of the organic/BD produce is brought in from Sydney, that some stuff is grown in FNQ/NT, etc.

I saw someone from FNQ criticisng Jill Dupleix saying strawberries weren't in season because they were involved with growing them now.

We're lucky in Canberra that we have a number of regional produce stores, including a new one I've yet to check out. I remember going to the Belconnen markets after a few months of shopping at the local Choku Bai Jo and feeling like a recent emigre from somewhere grim overwhelmed by the cornucopia.

12:23 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Steve - thanks for your comments. Great point about Tassie cherries heading off across the world. The reality is the more exotic/out of season something is the more that someone will want it. However the export issue raises a whole other point, when locals miss out on great produce grown down the road all together (or only get the 2nds) because the export dollar will earn the growers more. Growing up in NZ I thought all kiwi fruit were wizened little nuggets, til distant relations who were growers sent us a box of what they export!

Zoe - I had an interesting twitter confrontation about those same strawberries a few weeks ago. They aint local. They aint in season! I can wait. But a little luxury every now and then (says she who gave into org strawbs at 60c a pop last week) is also good for the soul. French toast with maple syrup and strawberries - Yum! (But I can wait a few months til I do it again).

2:25 pm  
Anonymous Jess Ho said...

I prefer to eat seasonally and locally rather than not. I shop exclusively at markets, and if all else fails, then green grocers. I would shop organic still if I were still working at the bank. There are some things that I am adament on getting organic, though.
However, minimum wage just leaves me being either frugal or crossing to the other shed.
I am very big on getting things in season other than the tomatoes in the recent adventure due to the chef's insistence.
Mainly, I do it because things taste better, not to mention cheaper and better for the environment.

11:15 pm  
Blogger Ran said...

i have found that i eat seasonally now because of the vegie patch. i have not eaten tomatoes since i pulled out the plants in May. I just have to make do with my tomato pasta sauce and chutneys that i made. it actually kinda grosses me out to eat stuff that is not in season and is either flown in from overseas or pumped full of fertilisers and other stuff to get them growing here.

it wasnt really a concious effort, i just did it more and more and ate more and more locally the more i grew.

A few things i cant do this with though are onions and garlic but i am trying to grow them at the moment and so hopefully will have a stash for summer/ autumn coming up

AOF, I actually wouldnt be suprised if the asparagus was from australia - maybe up north? have you noticed that stuff has started blooming that isnt meant to be for the season? my rhubarb has popped up a bit early and there are some fruit trees that really shouldnt be fruiting out there. i have to plant out my asparagus pretty soon i think or else i will be too late!

4:02 pm  
Blogger Ran said...

ps slaveways have been selling us cherries for months now. cherries are for xmas and xmas alone

4:03 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

HI Jess nice to cross paths with you again :) I refuse to buy organic fruit priced over $10 (berries aside) that's just no economically sustainable for me. Currently eating organic gala apples and conventional passionfruit.

Ran - cherries are so absolutely Xmas! I'm beginning to think of NT and Queensland as another country - locality-wise. Lets face it with such a vast land plus hothouses in the cooler zones - almost everything is in season all year round....still doesn't make it feel right to me though :)

4:58 pm  
Blogger Anh said...

yes yes, I was there with the cherries. I refuse to buy those cherries and munch on mandarin, pear and apples instead. Oh lovely strawberries, too. :)

8:20 pm  

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