The Seasonality of Food
Americans have a jaded perspective of produce availability. We expect, for example, to find fresh peaches in our grocery store in January; cranberries in June; strawberries in March. In fact, most of us expect to find every type of fruit and vegetable in our grocery stores on every day of the year.
This is completely unnatural.
If you didn’t know – and I say this after hearing of a Manhattan-raised man who learned at age 25 that tomatoes actually grow in the ground – differing fruits and vegetables grow well under different conditions, often characteristic to a particular season and climate. Common types of strawberries, for example, produce a harvest in June in the Northern Hemisphere (and in December in the Southern Hemisphere). Peaches also produce a summer harvest. Cranberries, however, are harvested in late fall and early winter, depending on weather trends.
For thousands of years, people have eaten whatever’s in season. If they lived in an area where bananas and coconuts grew well, they ate bananas and coconuts, since it was virtually impossible to ship produce from country to country since travel times were so long. The food could easily perish before reaching its destination.
Now, of course, transporting food isn’t an issue. Apples can be shipped from Buenos Aires to Boston in just a day’s time via air. This is why American grocery stores can maintain a constant stock of all things produce – if it’s not in season here, it’s in season somewhere else. In the winter, peaches and strawberries are imported from South America; in the summer, apples arrive from Australia and New Zealand.
Consider, however, the energy that’s consumed transporting out-of-season produce. Every grocery store in America uses a plane or boat to keep out-of-season produce on their shelves; millions of tons of harvest eats up fuel (i.e. crude oil) every day. There’s nothing sustainable about that at all. Since we’re so used to constant availability, though, we hardly notice.
This is why “going local” and “eating in season” are so important. Local produce only produces what’s in season; buying local keeps money in the community and saves the energy required to ship food around. This is exactly why in.gredients only carries local, seasonal produce – promoting sustainability in our community and in the food industry as a whole.
So…fresh November apple cider, anyone?