Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spring Aspirations: Considering what is seasonal


I was feeling full of ambition this morning. It would be spring soon. My boss was channeling his ancestors and starting heirloom Italian tomato seeds today. And, I was looking into being a part of Community Supported Agriculture. As I said briefly in a previous post, I have been interested in farm shares quite a lot recently. More than organic, I am keen on the local.

It is funny as a lover of words; I am finding that the world of thinking about your food is full of words and phrases chosen or used for their ambiguity. What is local? How far can you go? Erie, Pennsylvania is much, much closer than Toledo or Cincinnati, but doesn’t qualify for Heinen’s Ohio Grown qualification. But, I know that I have been guilty of grabbing the Ohio Grown without thinking because I think of it as local. But, where does the Ohio Grown come from and who is growing it? I hadn’t ever thought to ask until now. I grabbed those fruits and felt better for doing it.

During the summer, my husband and I try to purchase quite a lot of vegetables from the Shaker Square market and some meat. But, I had friends in Berkeley who used to purchase a farm share every year and loved it. But so many other people have told me they did it once, but only once. We live in a culture where choice is prized and possible. If you want eggs in winter, they are always available.

We bandy about terms like seasonal, but what does that mean? In a classic sense root vegetables are winter staples, but I wonder if the beets I ate this week were harvested in the fall and then put by in a root cellar or instead grown in a greenhouse. I am asking this because I truly don’t know. All that I can say is that they probably didn’t come from South America.
Which takes me back to farm shares. . . For a culture that goes to the store with a list in hand rather than making a grocery list from what is at the store (or in the garden), accepting that for three weeks there will basically only be tomatoes is difficult. And, for me that is one sticking point too, but it might make a welcome challenge.

1 comment:

Jen (Modern Beet) said...

My 2 cents - Joining a CSA has both advantages and drawbacks. I live in an area where I have easy access to Farmer's Markets year round, so instead of buying a CSA share, I shop exclusively at the FM. I've done a CSA multiple times in the past though, and doing so made me a more adventurous cook and got a whole lot more veggies into my diet. My CSA did a good job of not giving the same thing week after week, so monotony wasn't an issue. If I didn't have regular access to a Farmer's Market, I'd definitely choose to do a CSA