Friday, April 4, 2008

Locavores (and Wannabes) - It's Time to Get Excited

I've said it before; I'm a wannabe locavore. Ever since I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle last December, I've been waiting for the day that the local harvest starts arriving here on the east coast. This harvest season, I intend to buy as much local food as possible for my family.

Yesterday, I got an e-mail from our local farmer's market saying opening day was just one month away. At 8am on May 3rd, you will find me excitedly walking up and down the stalls of fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, meats and baked goods. Not everything sold (especially in the beginning of May) will be local, but I intend to hunt down what is in season and what is local.

Today, I got an e-mail from one of the local farms. The first local crop has come in - fresh Jersey spinach. Now, we're not a big spinach eating family; the main spinach consumption in my house is in the form of the spinach dip made from the Knorr vegetable soup packet that you place inside a pumpernickel bread bowl. But I've never purposefully bought fresh spinach in season before. I'm suspecting it's going to be a whole different taste experience from the frozen chopped spinach I've served my family a few times. 

They also have local Jersey hot house tomatoes starting to arrive. I've bought very few tomatoes since last fall - mainly a few plum tomatoes now and then to cut up for taco night. I'm looking forward to growing my own this summer, but if there are local hot house ones right now, I may need to grab a few. I grew very fond of simple tomato and cheese sandwiches last summer.

So it's time to start getting excited about the local harvests. Of course, what we get most excited about around here is the Jersey corn crop that comes in around the 4th of July in full force. But for now, I'll take what I can get.

What in season, local food are you most looking forward to in the upcoming months?

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Allison said...

Cherries!!!! They have a very short season and they are everywhere in my town. What is even greater is that they are u-pick. My children and I go crazy at the cherry farms.

I can admit that we look forward to boysenberries also. Those are relatively rare in most places so I feel privilaged to have 2 local farms growing them here.

Despairing said...

I live for berry season here in Scotland - strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries are in abundance.

Outwith that season (hell, even during it) the supermarkets are full of berries grown in polytunnels in Spain and Israel. They taste disgusting.

Robin Shreeves said...

Allison - I've never had a boysenberry. What are they like.

Another thing I look forward to is the gala apples that one of our local farms has at the end of summer. Last September I was buying 20 apples a week, and they'd be gone so quickly because they are unlike any apple we ever bought at the store.

Despairing - I don't buy berries out of season. Their just not the same. Here, the strawberries come in the middle to end of May, and I always take my kids and usually quite a few of their friends to pick. I get some really great pictures, too. I'm an amateur photographer and some of the best shots I've ever gotten of my kids have been in the strawberry patches.

Robin Shreeves said...

Ugh, I just posted my above comment and saw my egregious grammatical mistake.

I do know the difference between they're and their (and there, too), but I just woke up and haven't had my coffee yet. Sorry about that!

Allison said...


The boysenberry is a cross between a logenberry, raspberry and blackberry. That really doesn't tell you much , I know. They are a tasty but I prefer to eat blackberries and raspberries. I am from Southern CA and that is where boysenberries made their claim to fame with Knott's Berry farm where they put into pies and preserves.

Robin Shreeves said...

Thanks Allison.

I remember Knott's Berry Farm being a big deal in the late '70's when teen stars (like Shawn Cassidy and Leif Garrett - yes, I'm admitting my age and my poor pre-teen taste) would perform there. I always wanted to live in California so I could go there and see them.

Stonehead said...

We're fortunate to have our own croft (small farm) in Scotland so for us local is going to the vegetable patch, the field, the vegetable stores, the larder or the freezer, and having our pick of what we've grown/reared.

With careful management, we're self sufficient in vegetables, soft fruit, eggs, meat (pork, chicken, rabbits and pigeons) and home-brewed booze. We have some apple trees, but need to do more with tree fruit, nuts and cereals.

It's been a gradual extension for me as I've expanded by vegetable growing from the window ledges of a one-bed flat (apartment), to the sunroof of a flat, to a 70ft by 12 ft garden, and now to six acres.

We also supply a few other people with produce, but sadly most people around us prefer sanitised, packaged, long-haul produce and gloop from the supermarkets. It would be nice to find a few locals who are as excited about local food as you are.

Robin Shreeves said...


If I ever make my way to Scotland, I'll be knocking on your door for your fresh produce if my husband doesn't beat me there first for your home-brewed booze!

Keep up the good work.