As I was peeling a grapefruit for a midnight snack it ran through my mind how much I was going to miss them when the season was over. That got me thinking, even with the global economy, there are still a few foods that have a definite season. Though it is still available year round, citrus is available in 10 and 20 pound bags for a low price only during the winter. Nothing important here, I just liked the thought that people's diets are still being affected by the seasons, even if is filtered through the bookkeeping of the grocer. Citrus (particularly grapefruit) are a fairly local crop, and so are most of the others that I think of as having a season, so it might even be encouraging more local eating.
Our food choices of out of season food is not dictated as much by availability, but by quality and price. Now by "our" I mean as a collective family of husband and wife, and four kids under age 12.
Price: I can buy asparagus year around, but in another month a pound of it will go for 99 cents instead of the $2.99 it is now. We still buy it on occasion, but we buy a whole lot more when it is in season and a lot cheaper. Now that is just an example, we do that with many in or out of season foods.
Again I can buy strawberries year around, but out of season they have a very bland flavor. So we do not buy them much until they are in season and the flavor improves. Again, this is just an example of but one, of many things that we buy.
As for the Buy Local movement; I am unsure of how I feel about that.
In some ways it is good, and certainly as a farmer I have sold locally and reaped the benefits of that, but I do worry about the long term effects to my fellow farmers. This is Maine after all, and a very rural place. This county also happens to have the lowest income/highest poverty level of any county in all of New England (ME, NH, MA, VT, CT, RI). That means a lot of the food produced here, especially the high end organic food, is shipped to places like Boston, Providence, Hartford, etc where they have the money to afford such food. This is what is required here because we have the youngest age of farmers in the nation, and the most start-up farms, and with the Maine Organic Farmer and Gardeners Association nearby, an Environmental College known nationally, I say this is the capital of Permiculture for a very good reason. People buy a few acres here, get started in farming (as the numbers prove) then try to compete with a ton of other people doing the same thing. With the Farmers Markets flooded and no longer accepting new farmers, these small and micro-farms take their food and sell it where they can generate a higher price and meet their fiscal needs. Now there is nothing wrong with that, in fact Maine has been feeding the rest of New England for centuries.
But if the Buy Local movement permeates the cities like Boston, Hartford and Providence; and with Urban Farming gaining in productivity, it could potentially ruin a lot of my friends and neighbors who rely on that market. Again no one is doing anything wrong here; I applaud Bostonites for buying local, and I applaud my neighbors for raising organic produce and selling it where they can, but Buy Local, coupled with Urban Farming, could destroy a lot of Permiculture and Organic farms here that rely on that market.
Now I say all this as an outsider, and in deep respect of those that come here and try to make a go of farming. They really don't have a back up plan, they must make the farm pay for itself, and to that they have my deepest respect! I am a next-generational farmer on the other hand; and while I did buy my farm and did not inherit it, my debt to acres ratio is very low. That is why I can raise sheep and am not have to rely on the high income potential of veggies that can be grown on just a few acres. So being able to stand back, gives me a different perspective.
The only way I see the end being good to my friends and neighbors, is by getting the poverty rate down in this county. Then, and only then could locals actually Buy Local.
Travis, I think you're illustrating exactly the point I was making. Because the grocery store only offers these deals (great and cheap) in season you're much more likely to actually purchase those items in season.
I just deleted three paragraphs about the local food movement, building up communities to be self supportive, and was wandering into the ways our education system should be helping with the problems of poverty and health crises... I try to avoid the cider press so deleting seemed safer.
I do like the local food movement but I can see how it's a better fit for my community than yours. I certainly don't think your farmers are doing anything wrong by following the market.
In this topic I was thinking specifically about how nutrition in food starts breaking down from the moment it is picked and that local seasonal food loses less time in transit before it reaches your kitchen.
Casie, I deleted a few paragraphs myself as I did not want to get into Cider Press stuff myself. Please accept my deepest apologies for making you type out what I am assured was sound, careful thinking regarding a tough topic only to have to delete it. I know you have better things then to do that. I am sorry.
One thing we do have here that is unique is local food for our school system. Now just about every school district has locally produced veggies and fruits, but we were the first (and only school as far as I know to this day) that also has locally raised beef. Literally right across the road from the school is a big beef farm, and while watching calves graze and be born while playing on the swings and jungle gym, in a year or two those beef cows are rounded up, slaughtered, and sent to the school for the kids to eat. It is all USDA inspected meat and all that, it is just local, the cows never once leaving the county. I think that is pretty cool.
We do a lot with the school as far as showing the little kids all about raising sheep and lambs, but sadly Maine likes to go WAYYYYY overboard on bureaucracy. They are in the midst of passing laws that will make us showing animals like lambs and sheep more difficult. Due to cut backs in the State Veterinarian System, few sheep are shown at fairs any more due to diseases being spread around. In short sheep are no longer inspected before getting dropped off, and commercial producers like me cannot take a risk in bio-security. Now I would be held liable for bio-security for the general public. Farm Insurance is already obnoxiously high, so I don't have any, so I will no longer be offering sheep talks, at least with sheep and lambs which pretty much are the draw. Well meaning people, but very sad indeed.
I buy what they sell at my grocery store. I would hope that they help local farmers, if any, by buying from them. I buy what is on sale so I assume those are items that are in season but not grown local. This year I tried to add more fruit to my diet. Usually I only buy lettuce, cabbage, onions and potatoes. I buy frozen veggies to supplement what is not in the garden.
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