Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Every Fruit in the Season Thereof

In June, we had a Sunday School lesson on the word of wisdom. (I don't really know how many readers I have who are not familiar with LDS theology. I tend not to explain much, and assume that most people know, which may be erroneous, but if I ever say stuff and you want to know more or know what the heck I'm talking about, feel free to email me or leave a comment, and I'll try to explain). Growing up, I always viewed the word of wisdom mainly as a guide of what to avoid, not to drink, smoke, drink coffee, etc.

Besides the word of wisdom, with my sister being into ecology, over the past few years, I've had a more ecological view of my eating, especially reading Collapse by Jared Diamond, and seeing the importance of sustainability. And so I've had all these ideas floating around in my head, with her stories of a family that would eat only things grown within 100 miles from their home, but I wasn't quite sure how to go about things, or exactly what to do.

So when we had this lesson on the word of wisdom, and there were a few people in our Sunday School class who pointed out that we do not, as a church, seem to pay as much attention to the commands of what we -should- eat, and only pay attention to those things that we are told not to consume or allow into our bodies. I walked away from that lesson wanting to try more diligently to eat fruits "in the season thereof", but I came away feeling like I had no idea what that even was. I can go to the grocery store any season of the year and get bananas, tomatoes, peas, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. I can get anything I want at any time of the year, so what does "in the season thereof" really mean?

It made me realize how unaware I was of the seasonality of food. I wanted to learn what foods came in what seasons. I figured the best way to start was to go to the farmer's market, and see what local farmers were selling at that time. And so I started to do as much of my shopping as I could at the farmer's market, and while there to make sure I was buying from the local farmers (there was a stand that just looked like people had trucked up from Mexico, because they had produce that no one else had). And so now, I feel like I have at least a basic understanding of what season things come in.

I was excited the one week I saw grapes there, and got some, and they were so delicious. Everything is so delicious when it is eaten so fresh, and in its season.

I didn't store quite enough stuff for winter. I have one butternut squash left, which I am kind of saving in a way, as butternut squash is so delicious. I have one large can of peaches left, and they are so divine that I do not want to eat them. I have been making my way through my spaghetti sauce lately, which I thought there was going to be no way I would get through, but I think I may actually be out by the time tomato season comes around again. I have a couple cans of raspberries, but those are so precious to me that I cannot really eat them, unless I really feel like it is a special occasion (like -really- wanting to eat them!). I dried cabbage, and all of that is gone. I've used the zucchini and squash that I froze, and I think I have just a few green beans left. I have lots of corn, but the way I froze it makes it very difficult to use (live and learn, right?).

So I've been eating a decent amount of meat this winter, which seems appropriate with the corresponding decrease in the availability of vegetables, though I do want to store more vegetables to use next winter. (Like about twice as many butternut squashes! and maybe a few more spaghetti squashes too).

Then I have been reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, which makes me feel like everything I am eating is corn (especially with all the meat), and that all of that is really just based on gasoline and petroleum. So I have been like, aching for spring, for fresh peas and strawberries, and the beginning of that rich and bounteous time of the year, when each week there will be new and wonderful things to eat, and to enjoy.

So with all of this background, I went to the grocery store last night. I've needed a few things for a while, and finally decided I'd stop on my way home from work last night. So I started walking through, and was going past all the bakery items, which were basically a bunch of cakes and cookies. There were so many things that looked good, but I knew that they wouldn't really be that satisfying. And then I started walking through the produce section, and so many things looked wonderful and delicious. Bright orange carrots, green peppers, red peppers, strawberries, blackberries, peas, squashes, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, pineapples. Yum, yum, yum. I wanted to throw a whole ton of them in my basket, and then in the back of my mind, the thought of where all of this food came from, how it was grown probably thousands of miles away from here, and how it was only here because of gas. I looked around, and everything just seemed tinged by oil. It was all oil. I wanted to start crying there in the middle of the produce section.

I think it hit me right there, because it is the produce section most that gives off this illusion of being natural and close to home, fresh, and beautiful. Like, if I go buy a bag of chips, I have no illusions that it is not a processed food full of crap, grown who knows where, and gotten to me from shipping the hundred ingredients from a hundred different places, and then finally shipped to me, all on gasoline. The rest of the grocery store is full of things like that, which I do mainly avoid, but I don't have any illusion when I do go to those things that I am being in any way ecologically responsible.

But it is like, all of these things that I am looking forward to, that I at times ache for, for spring to come and to eat, and here they are! Right in front of me! But then the reality hits me that these are not the things I really want. I want the strawberries grown down the road, not in Mexico. I want the grapes from the vine of my neighbors, not ones shipped in from Chile. (I put those in my basket before I hit the produce section, and I felt a bit sick when I got home to see how far they had traveled for me to eat).

I have had a phrase running through my head lately - "it is not worth eating anything that is not worth savoring." I have thought about this as I have been eating my amano chocolate. That I know comes from all over, and actually from very specific farms. It is a luxury. I understand that. That is also why I don't eat very much of it, and I savor it. But I think of all the fixating I have done on spring (especially with this false spring and it being warm here!), and I want to savor everything I eat. I want to savor that butternut squash. I am going to savor those peaches. I will savor the strawberries when they come, and the peas, the tomatoes.

How wonderful it is to enjoy every fruit in the season thereof. I think I will eat my butternut squash tonight! Yum!

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