ofos’ recent comment that summer time is salad time in Texas reminded me that only a few human lifetimes ago most food was seasonal food. Nowadays we might prepare a salad in the summer because it’s too hot to cook in the kitchen but that’s a matter of convenience and comfort. In 1800 the limitations on what you ate or drank were dictated by how long food could be kept before it spoiled. While some foods could be dried, pickled, or salted, primitive refrigeration technology and slow transport speeds ensured that one’s diet principally revolved around locally available food that was in season.
Apart from any environmental or economic considerations, the notion of having fresh bananas or strawberries readily available 365 days of the year is in on its face attractive. I’m not sure, however, that it doesn’t have other drawbacks. It’s nice to have the ability to eat a slice of watermelon in January if one chooses but at the same time doesn’t watermelon then lose some of its specialness? It’s kinda fun to look forward to watermelon season and anticipate its sweet flavor when it’s not naturally available locally.
I don’t mean to suggest that we as a society no longer have any notions of seasonality. Stores typically still have an abundance of lower priced foods that are offered in season. Sweet corn costs less and is of much better quality during, say, July or August than you’ll find any other time of year and the same is true with squashes and pumpkins in the fall.
Yesterday, the temperatures here dropped below the 80’s for the first time in many weeks. It was cool enough that we could comfortably cook ham, potatoes au gratin, and green beans (from the garden). Because of the draught and some freaky spring weather this year we lost 90% of the blueberry crop but we still paid the premium and got a quart of locally grown blueberries from a near by farm which we also had last night.
Do you have certain foods that you pretty much eat exclusively seasonally? I don’t think for instance I would consider eating a pumpkin pie outside the October – December window, would you? What are your favorite seasonal foods you look forward to seeing at roadside stands (or in stores)? Whatever your motives, how do you think you’d measure on a locavore scale?