Remember the days when each fruit and vegetable had its season? You couldn’t get peaches in April, or cherries in February, or sweet corn in May. You had to wait until nearby producers brought their crop in and distributed it, post haste, to every supermarket and neighborhood grocery.

We’ve lost the age of anticipation – when no peach was consumed before its time – ripe, sweet, so juicy it dripped down your wrist when you took a bite. Same with every other fruit and vegetable. Globalization, starting with NAFTA (quick, can you even remember what that acronym stood for?), brought American consumers the novelty of fruits and vegetables far removed from the seasonal food rhythms we grew up with. My children, both in their 20s, don’t even remember a food cycle that didn’t include avocados whenever they wanted them, or strawberries, or melons.

I think we’ve lost something in translation. I rarely buy peaches anymore – they lack flavor, they are crunchy like apples, they have no juice–even when they are locally grown. The farmers seem to imitate the agricultural industrial complex, and harvest before the fruit is really ready. I empathize with them, I really do, given the pickiness of city consumers who won’t buy an apple or tomato that has a single blemish.

Even the “local” vendors at our farmers market have tomatoes and peaches that cannot possibly be in season at their farms. I see the vendors lug the out-of-state crates from their trucks. Yet I am not willing to condemn them for selling to the gullible and demanding urbanites with easy cash in their pockets. They want peaches? Give them peaches. Grown far far away.

Which brings me back to my little garden plot. I’m salivating with anticipation – for the first tomatoes, the first carrots, the first peppers. We had a household ban on tomatoes until our own ripened.

And then last Friday, CRR brought home a handful of Violet Jaspers from our garden. The red and green striped tomatoes are only the size of golf balls, but those tiny orbs pack a flavorful punch: that first taste of summer, tomatoes kissed by the sun.

It was worth the wait.

Violet Jasper tomatoes

Violet Jasper tomatoes

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.

 

Advertisements