html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Eating in time.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Eating in time.

I like eating seasonal and local produce. I think the food tastes better, because it was picked ripe and didn’t take a long time to get to me. Fruits and vegetables are cheap in season. I enjoy the process of going to Farmer’s Market and chatting up the vendors. But more than all of that, I enjoy the way my food changes throughout the year.

Maybe this is an artifact of having eaten seasonally for years, but I now find that my tastes in food, without my conscious guidance, match what is available to me. In the heat of summer, the cool lightness of a tomato cucumber salad is all I want. It won’t keep me warm in the fall, though, so just when tomato-based meals start seem frivolous and inadequate, squashes and root vegetables show up to be roasted. In spring, just when I want to taste something fresh and green, asparagus and peas taste like new growth.

Eating seasonally doesn’t feel like deprivation. Food out of season has a dissonance now; eggplants aren’t hearty enough for January; beets too dense for July. The fact that some foods are ephemeral is excuse enough to indulge; better get another flat of berries while they last. If you believe in the Paradox of Choice, as a seasonal eater I’m experiencing a slowly rotating series of constrained choices, which adds variety over time and keeps me happy throughout the year.

There are times when following the seasons takes dedication. There is very little fruit available after the citrus finishes in April and before the stone fruit show up in June. Eating seasonally drags in February. But just when I think that I have had it with root crops, brassicas and leafy greens, the first asparagus shows up. If I really wanted to, I could always go to the hippy co-op and pay a lot of money to get an organically grown cucumber from somewhere. Still, each year, I haven’t wanted something out of season enough to do that.

Eating with the seasons makes me aware that time is a cycle; the first borscht, first apricot, first grilled zucchini, last tomato are all markers that remind me of the same times every year. There are small, melancholic markers that time is passing, like the end of peaches. I can always look forward to something I love, persimmons or pears, about to return. It is specific to the place I love and belong to. It is an attentive, gentle way to be connected to the earth. It makes my life richer.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can think of yourself as a modern-day Thomas Jefferson. For more than 20 years, including all throughout his presidency, he meticulously recorded the first and last appearance of every type of fruit and vegetable in Washington's market stalls.

By the way, it's interesting that you mentioned persimmons. They're among my favorite fruits, yet unlike more common ones aren't available year-round (except maybe in some specialty shops). Their brief season makes me appreciate them more.

Peter
Iron Rails & Iron Weights

7:09 PM  
Blogger Bob V said...

I feel I am about to commit blasphemy.

How do you feel about freezing food?

3:07 PM  
Blogger susan said...

I am very much looking forward to the day when apartment living is behind us and we can have a house with a little garden. This post has managed to make me even more eager for that eventuality.

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, and we'll have to re-name apricots as well if they're always in season.

Apricots: derived from the words 'to ripen early' (like 'precocious').

Back home we still have-thankfully-a mango season-and vegetables on a seasonal basis.

I once read somewhere that in california fruit and vegetable is rejected if it doesn't "look good". is that true?

I like your idea M about reconnecting with the earth but given out current levels of consumption and the way in which we waste things, the way in which we want everything NOW, I don't see it.

to eat in time means that we have to recognize that each thing has its season and that each place is uniquely valuable; I think globalisation works against both.

Equally importantly, that would mean reversing the way in which we think about nature: in terms of utility or as just so much 'dead matter'that can be exploited for our use.

1:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, i came from Poland and we have greatest fruits, pure and clean nature.


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He knows this site

3:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

second on the freezing question, and I'll raise you a canning question.

-dithers

4:14 AM  
Anonymous jens said...

You should change your tag to "Pareto can lick me", or people might get the wrong idea about your sex. On second thought, that one sounds too much like an admission of defeat. "Pareto can perform oral sex on me" works for either sex, but it kind of lacks punch. Maybe "Pareto can kiss my hairy ass"? Well, maybe strike the hairy part.....

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Armsmasher said...

If you believe in the Paradox of Choice, as a seasonal eater I'm experiencing a slowly rotating series of constrained choices

Biscuit conditionals: good for all seasons.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

I don't see why someone eating seasonally would have any objections to preservation (canning, drying etc). I do however wonder about spices. Do you limit yourself to locally available spices?

8:38 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I am good with freezing and canning foods. Some years I even have my act together enough that I can preserve some stuff I get from market. I'll use canned tomatoes in winter soups and stuff. But, even though I'm not opposed to canned or frozen foods, which are a way to make food from your place last longer, I usually don't want them.

I buy spices from far away, and flour, and processed foods, and dried foods.

Jens:
For a while I was working on an equivalent to "... can suck me" for women. I settled on "... can sniff my dirty panties". But suck me is easier.

Armsmasher:
Does this mean we're friends again?

10:45 PM  
Blogger Bob V said...

Megan panties are dirty? Is this supposed to be a putdown of Pareto or Megan?

5:11 AM  
Anonymous jens said...

Not the ones she is wearing, silly! The ones in the hamper.

Apparently, she takes that "local production" fetish of hers pretty far, and adheres to it on the production as well as the consumption side. That is why she puts them in the laundry instead of putting them on the Japanese market the way most women do.

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a while I was working on an equivalent to "... can suck me" for women. I settled on "... can sniff my dirty panties". But suck me is easier.

Don't expect to sell such items via eBay. From the "community guidelines" section:

Used clothing (except underwear) may be listed on eBay as long as the clothing has been thoroughly cleaned according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Sorry.

Peter
Iron Rails & Iron Weights

8:23 AM  
Blogger Bob V said...

Megan could bypass ebay and auction her panties right here on her blog. I'm pretty sure that would get her a "Markets in Everything" link from Marginal Revolution even if it didn't net much cash.

1:10 PM  

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