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Why You Should Buy In Season and Local!

I would like to start this post by thanking the ginormous grocery store.  Not one grocery store in particular. Any ginormous grocery store.  Because without you, ginormous grocery store, I would never have tried coconuts.  Or plantains.  Or lobster, or Starfruit or even those superfantastic Sumo oranges I told you about last winter.

I love you ginormous grocery store.  You are my friend.

Now that that’s out of the way, onto business.

I hate to sound like a dirty, old, hippie here but the truth is you really should buy fruits and vegetables while they’re in season and try to eat locally.   Avoid the ginormous grocery stores in the summer while you have access to fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season.  Right on, dude.

Unless you’re a diehard granola, it’s pretty hard to keep this sort of thing up in the winter – unless you’re prepared to subsist on root vegetables and hydroponically grown lettuce for around 7 months.

I could spew on and on about how fruits and vegetables have more nutrients and vitamins when they’re picked at their peak of freshness, close to home, blah, blah, blah but the truth is I have no idea if that’s true.  I’ve heard it’s true.  People say it’s true.  It’s probably true. It makes sense, but I have no scientific data to present you with.  Wait!  Hippies don’t care about science.  They care about rainbows.

It’s so hard to be a non-hippie, hippie.  A nippie.

What I do know is a food that’s grown close to where you live is going to taste better.  Plain and simple.

Proof

 

strawberries.jpg

 

Which strawberry do you think looks more appetizing?  The juicy, dark red one on the left?  Or the white, mealy looking berry on the right?

The local berry – the one on the left – I bought on our way home from the cottage the last time we were up there.  The imported berry – the one on the right – was shipped  from California to my local grocery store.

I’m sure under certain conditions, the California strawberry could be delicious.  Like for instance, if you bought it in California.   Conversely, I’m certain the Ontario strawberry would be less than spectacular if it were picked several days too early, shipped across the continent and placed in a bin next to the never-gonna-ripen-in-a-million-years avocados.

Later this week I’m gonna take a trip to my local organic market to give you an up close and personal look at what truly fresh fruits and vegetables should look like.  At the same time, you’ll also get an up close and personal look at money flying straight out of my hand.  And lots of it.  Organic doesn’t come cheap.

If you’ve never bought a small farm grown vegetable, be prepared.  Oftentimes … they look weird.   But weird in a good way.  Not weird in an imported strawberry way.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go shine my Birkenstocks.  I’ve got a date with a rainbow.


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36 Comments | Filed Under: Kitchen |

36 Responses to Why You Should Buy In Season and Local!

  1. Lindsay says:

    Interestingly (/sadly), as someone who lives in California, the strawberries in our huge chain grocery stores look like that too. The white one, that is. I don’t get it, but at least we have plenty of other, more appealing choices.

  2. Beth says:

    The reason they turn white and get those hollow spaces on the inside is because they were treated with too much fertilizer. Of course they want them to grow bigger and faster cuz then they can pack those little cartons with fewer berries and harvest more berries per season. But it doesn’t make it any tastier! I can’t wait to live in a place where I can grow my own!

  3. Holly says:

    Please tell me you’ve seen the “Double Rainbow!” Youtube video? Its great.
    And I totally agree with this post! My Hubby’s coworker asked us to tend her plot in the community garden this month while she is away, and we get to keep the bounty. I am SO excited!

    • Karen says:

      Holly – Yup. I’ve seen the Double Rainbow video. Everyone made fun of him, but I kindda like the guy. ~ karen

  4. Kate says:

    Buy local, buy in season and freeze! Or, preserve! That way you can have your seasonal summer fruits and eat them (in winter) too!

  5. Laura says:

    a nippie. hahaha

  6. Arlene says:

    I live in the UK. It is an island, albeit a large one. If I only ate homegrown, in season, I would only eat berries in the summer and cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage and potatoes in the winter. No need to tell you how that would affect my carbon footprint with all the gas emissions.

    How about a compromise? Buy as much homegrown when you can in season and supplement the rest. No need to deprive yourself. BTW, I’m working my way towards Spain, where I can have the Mediterranean diet I strive for every day. That is my gift to myself in this sun forsaken country. In the meantime, I shall enjoy the fruits and vegetables of the EEC which the UK is a part of. :)

  7. Dani says:

    Aaaaah, I moved away from Ontario a few years back and I miss local strawberries so much! Ontario must have some of the best strawberries on earth. I have been stuck with icky white strawberries for too long.

  8. Jen says:

    I had no idea until a few years ago, when I tried a local English Cucumber…that they actually had a taste! I do try an avoid the big grocery stores this time of year. I’m lucky to have several farm markets, and a huge family farm I can buy from very close by. I also grow a few veggies here at home, just for fun….lettuce, tomoatoes, cukes, beans. I also just finished reading Locavore this weekend, by Sarah Elton, about the changing Canadian Farmer landscape. Excellent book.

  9. KarenJ says:

    How about Newppies – the new hippies.
    It’s even better when you can pick your own. Our go to farm is http://www.lintonsfarmmarket.com
    Local farmers – we love them!
    Now cue the rainbow…

  10. judy says:

    Whoever helped “form” you, whatever forces made you the way you…thank them for me. You consistently knock me out. I love your take on the world, the way you tell a story, and your sense of humor. Thanks for entertaining and informing at the same time. Blahblahblah…BUT WHEN ARE WE GOING TO SEE THE COOP???? (Hope your finger and the pout are all better!)

  11. Nathalie says:

    A Nippie? My friends and I use that term for an entirely different thing. Ya know….when its cold outside you end up with nippies :-) Don’t even ask about the purple nurple :P

    On the other hand, it has been rather difficult to purchase locally this season. The farmer’s market in my neighbourhood has significantly less farmers attending. I would suspect the nice dry weather to have something to do with it.

    I do normally buy in season and I would like to start canning/pickling stuff if I only knew how. Say…how about a post on that?

  12. jamie says:

    I never knew just how to label myself… it turns out I’m a nippie! Great post. I did a post this summer on just how beautiful local foods can be http://thecreativeimperative.blogspot.com/2011/06/tablescapes-from-csa.html

  13. BTLover2 says:

    Can’t wait for the post on how things “should” look and taste. I’m in the middle of reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan so it all sort of ties in. Really makes you think… Thanks for the great post!!

  14. PJ says:

    My husband had worked as a food safety consultant for farmers for years, so I know more than I should or want to know about what goes on in some of these farms. Buy local people!! And try to buy organic; those strawberries get a dose of nasty chemicals. Why do you think they look so plump? We are part of the problem because people refuse to buy fuit that is dinged, bruised or doesn’t look perfect.

  15. Nancy says:

    Hey..watch your mouth young lady…I am an old leftover hippie and I know where you live…well anyway I know where Canada is…even been there a few times..so just watch it Karen…LOL..here in Pennsylvania we have a plethora..yes I said a plethora..of Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch farmers…we never have to search for a place to buy fresh fruits and veggies in season..in fact there are so many you could practically trip over them when you are out walking around…they set up their little stands from their horse and buggies anywhere there is an empty spot along the road..I am certainly not complaining as I thank them often for doing all that hard work so I don’t have to..especially all of those ladies selling homemade “true” pies…anyhow I believe I am now rambling and have forgotten what the subject was (I think this has something to do with those aforementioned hippie days) so here you go…

  16. Angela says:

    buying local makes you also aware of the carbon footprint you are leaving. it drives me nuts that in my local HUGE grocery stores are apples and potatos from south africa, i mean really?? we grow those things here!! So i’m not purchasing product outside of north america, esp. when things are not in season here. Canning is a fantastic way to reap the harvest all year long, and it’s really not that hard!

  17. Jen says:

    LOVE local produce. Homegrown is even better. I grew up eating the bounty of my dad’s HUGE garden. Until I grew tomatoes, my husband never liked them. He got schooled. However, we live in Michigan, so locally grown is a seasonal luxury. We enjoy it while it lasts and use the “off-season” to try those starfruit and plantains.

  18. Amy in StL says:

    Wow, I didn’t know I was a nippie! I’m growing cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant and strawberry along with some herbs. All of them in containers, all on the deck behind my condo. It would be nice if I could taste some of what I grow instead of the squirrels eating it all before it’s ripened. They’re pretty selfish – and very persistent if I forget to spray with pepper spray back there even one day!

  19. Marie says:

    I’m also a believer. The farmer’s market in my Massachusetts town changed their hours this year to accommodate the worker bees like me. I’ve been taking advantage and enjoying everything (even the weird looking veggies I’ve never seen before). I recently spent some time in Vermont and was happy to see signs in the restaurants telling us which local farm the eggs came from, where the tomatoes were grown, etc. Everything was local, fresh and so tasty.

  20. Shauna says:

    We’ve started buying all our vegetables & fruits from a local CSA (community supported agriculture) and it’s been awesome! We’ve tried things we never knew existed and we’re saving money. While it’s true that your money will fly fast at a farmer’s market, not so with a CSA. And, since our refrigerator is jam packed with fruits & vegetables, it gives me the sense that we always have food so I don’t go grocery shopping as often. Thus, we figure out ways to eat all the weird vegetables – like Broccoli Liscia (which is nothing like broccoli at all by the way) with penne pasta.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    I think i’m going to call myself a nippie, just to scare my children.
    I sell soap at a CSA store so I qualify, right? It also helps to live rurally and stop at actual farms for eggs etc and grow a big veggie garden. But you’re right as a fellow Ontarian, unless we want to be gnawing on turnips ’til June, we need our mega-grocery stores, amen.

  22. Mindy says:

    We have a summer farmer’s market within walking distance of our house. Every Sunday, we’re there.
    We also picked cherries this weekend. From actual cherry trees. Doesn’t get any fresher than that.

  23. Trysha says:

    I’m so envious of everyone’s comments right now. We had a great farmers market and u-pick farm before we moved but this summer has been harsh and the “farmers” market here is more of a craft market (sorry dude trying to sell 5 cantaloupes).
    It’s been so dry and dusty, nothing is growing. My parents have 3 acres of pecan trees and most of them haven’t even sprouted leaves. They’re naked!

  24. Dawn says:

    THIS.

    I hate seeing imported fruits and veggies in grocery stores when they are so abundant locally this time of year. I try to freeze as much as I can this time of year. I refuse to buy a strawberry from California, or in February.

    I’m lucky, I have a great little market near my house that sells local fruit, veggies, meat and baked goods in a “supermarket style” shop, so I don’t have to brave the farmer’s market crowds on Saturday mornings. Or get up before noon.

  25. Nancy says:

    “A date with a rainbow” – you are hilarious! It never ceases to amaze me how much better local and fresh produce is. It’s shockingly better. I grew carrots in my garden last year and they are a world apart from the ones you buy in the store.

  26. Karen,
    You are so right. Strawberries are nice when they come from the US but when the English strawberries arrive then there is so much difference in them.

  27. Stephanie says:

    There are certain things that are only worth buying locally when in season: strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon. I’m a bit scared when I see how big imported berries are…seriously, they’re frankenberries.

    • Karen says:

      Stephanie – I bought some cherries the other day that were so huge you could actually take a bite out of them like an apple. They were grotesque. ~ karen

  28. diane says:

    We have grown strawberries on our farm for the last 15 years and ours look just like your local berries. There should never be a white core… they should be red throughout. And juicy. And did you know that strawberries grow in all climate conditions? Just need to purchase the proper variety. I tell my customers to smell their produce before buying; the produce should smell like what you want to eat.

  29. Patti says:

    Okay, I know I’m four months late for this conversation, but I just discovered this website and I can’t stop reading and clicking for more. I live 35 miles from Oxnard California which is notorious for their (it’s?) strawberries. I must say, even in season our grocery stores sell crap strawberries. The best I’ve found are from a guy selling them out of his truck at the side of the road. Same guy, same spot every day. It’s not where they grow, it’s where you go!

  30. Kathy S says:

    Karen,
    Hope you had a fun date with your rainbow… in your Birks. Hmmm, I wonder if that’s why my hippie son’s fav companion as a smalll tot was Rainbow Brite?! Or maybe that’s why he is a hippie today! hmmmm…

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