Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Case Against Fresh Produce

I loved this article and just HAD to share it with you all.

It seems that many of the 'practicalities' we learn living in the midwest, in farmland, do not always extend to the rest of the country. When you live far enough away from a major distribution center, especially 20 years ago, it was completely common to can and freeze your own, or to limit fresh products in the winter. Glad to see others are catching on.

I guess I’m a flip-flopper. Appropriate since people are already campaigning.

I’ve discussed my dislike of fruit cups because of added sugar and the syrup. But I might be coming around to fruit and veggie preservation. Taking on the CSA box of veggies every other week has made me more aware of the seasonality of fruits and veggies. I have been pretty oblivious to what’s in season when. Aside from getting pumpkins in the fall, I never really thought about what might be coming out of the ground at a particular time of year.

Like most of the veggies I’ve gotten from our CSA and especially the fruit I’m buying at the farmer’s market, it’s the best I’ve ever eaten. The strawberries my son and I picked the last day of the season? The best I have ever eaten. The dark and light cherries I bought at the farmer’s market? The best I have ever eaten. Just a couple weekends ago there are no more cherries at the farmer’s market. The trees are no longer bearing fruit.

I mentioned that to my husband and he said, “Well, we can buy more at the store.” Really? Because the other weekend when cherries were in season, my husband bought a bag at the grocery store. Since we were enjoying the one from the farmer’s market, we figured they would be similar. Sorry, but they got nothing on the farmer’s market cherries. Don’t know why, but it’s true.

And should we be buying fruit out of season? My son loves apples, but to get them organic and year round they have to be flown in from New Zealand. Is that the best use of my money? To be spent on airline fuel to get an apple halfway around the world just so my son can nibble on it?

What about school lunch? Is it unreasonable to demand year round fresh fruit? Probably. Is the expense of flying in oranges from Florida or California worth it? Not if they are just getting tossed in the trash because kids don’t have enough time to eat them or peel them independently.

We need to go retro. Go back to the old ways. Natural preserving and canning isn’t bad. That’s how our ancestors made it through the winter. It just has to be done using natural, pure ingredients in glass jars, plastic containers, or cans without linings that contain BPA. Let’s teach kids through their lunch experience about which foods are in season when. That’s good knowledge to have and most kids aren’t getting that at home, including me.

I went to the farmer’s market last weekend and the weekend before. Ok, I’m going every weekend we’re in town. I’ve gone more this summer than any previous summer combined. That stand that was selling cherries is now selling something else. Peaches. I reached out for a slimy sample and gave it to my son. He gobbled it down. The best we’ve ever eaten.

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