When I first started my locally sourced journey, I never thought I would enjoy the sweet nectar of vibrant fruits like melons or grapes. However, I was happily proven wrong as I have had the luxury of having my natural sweet tooth fulfilled throughout the year. First with strawberries in spring followed closely by blackberries and blueberries in June and July. Then once the intolerable heats have reduced their rays, not by much, raspberries and figs fill the plate. And now, as school is back in session and we contemplate closing the pool, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, and apples are all guests in our fruit salad.
I wish this was something they focused more on in school— what foods are seasonally available. We all learn about the four seasons, and my mom loving Motown also taught me about the Four Tops. But seriously, it baffles me to be as old as I am and not really learn until a few years ago that tomatoes or apples aren’t truly available all year long unless you shop at chain grocery stores which most of us did growing up.
Both of my parents (and aunt and grandfather, so it was a family affair) worked in a chain grocery store and I was a lucky kid who got to go with my mom to work late nights on the weekend sometime and help her organize shelves. I guess that’s where my retail OCD comes from. I know some of you are right there with me as you turn all your cans front facing in the cabinets at home. I was lucky in the aspect of having two wonderful parents who were engaging and loving but we ate from cans and boxes most of our childhood, which is not the worst thing. However because of this always-ready, quick-prep lifestyle, I never knew the true shelf life of things outside the massively stocked aisles.
Every region is different so naturally the availability of things are different. Maybe take this time, as school buses come to your corner and cooler weather starts to creep in, and school yourself and those around you on how eating seasonally is crucial to the local economy. Some hints— tomatoes for most are on their way out along with berries and figs, summer squashes are creeping away and being replaced with beautiful butternuts and awesome acorn.
Now, your homework— what is your favorite season and why? Is it because you’re crazy for pumpkin flavored everything or do you sweat for sweet corn and watermelon?