This winter I began a sort of visual catalogue of the subtle changes in seasonal produce I could buy or batter for at our local farmers' markets... see how the apples and pears come in, leeks come in, parsnips come in, daffodils for one weekend only, the last potatoes, the first asparagus, the first strawberries, heirloom carrots... Its something I've really been thinking about in the last few years - the importance, the necessity of truly seasonal produce... I loved that when we lived in France we would go to our weekly farmers markets and you could actually see the changes in fresh produce - the stalls changed week by week - there were the year-round staples (potatoes/carrots/beetroot/lettuce/radishes) and then there were those absolutely wonderful short-season specials - raspberries, asparagus, fennel bulbs, tomatoes, zucchinis, capsicums, aubergines!
I do not accept that we need to have endless variety and colour on our plates all day all year round. If our not so-far-back ancestors were happy and nourished by a simpler diet, with what could grow easily and organically, that I think we would be to - if we tried. If we ditched the latest fad diet and instead focussed our energy and resources on eating locally - ethically - organically, what the season allows us.
And with freezing, drying and canning, and age-old methods of fermentation we can preserve some of the harvest for other seasons too - passata on a pizza base and frozen corn for a soup. But nothing compares to a vine ripened tomato, freshly sliced, with a little sprinkle of sea salt - or the sweet earthy crunch of a carrot freshly pulled...
I'm challenging myself in the new year to only eat the fruits and vegetables I can grow, batter or buy locally grown and raised. I hope this will help us as a collective household to be more mindful of the seasons, to really enjoy produce when it comes, to waste less, garden more and counter the luxury of choice big supermarkets offer us "anything we wish, whenever we wish it"!
It may mean a year without bananas and sweet potatoes and a special request for a box of mangoes for Christmas from our North-of-the-boarder friends... But I have no doubt at all that we will eat very well!