In the summertime, eating local is a breeze. I gorge myself on blueberries until I start to take on a round, purplish appearance. Basil is everywhere, cheap and fresh (saucy minx that it is). Tomatoes, heavy-bottomed and perfect, abound. When I step into the actual foodstore from June through September–as opposed to farm stores, where the vast majority of my summertime food spending takes place–it takes a lot of control not to meddle as I see poor sops dishing out good cash for overpriced bagged spinach shipped in from California.
The wintertime is different. And it feels different. Yes, I did a happy dance every time I produced one of my home-canned jars of tomatoes. But the amount of local fresh produce goes way down at this time of year. But it doesn’t have to go out.
Last week, while at one of my other favourite local farms, I scored some of the good stuff:
Big-leafed and gifted with a grown-folk peppery bite, this arugula is magnificent stuff. I love the scent of fresh arugula. It has an earthy, savoury, hearty aroma, and enough flavour to make me actually feel excited about salad. I’m one of those vegans who isn’t all that wild about raw greens. Yes, they’re good for me. And I down plenty of veggies. But salad doesn’t always do it for me so much, especially when the weather is cold.
Unless it’s arugula salad. It’s hard to imagine that arugula and iceberg lettuce actually inhabit the same world.
Also acquired at the farm:
Yes, pac choy so fresh it squeaks. No, there wasn’t a songbird trapped in the leaves. I checked. It was just that fresh, that perky and crisp and bouyant, that when it moves, the stem and leaves … squeak. If you don’t know what I mean, get ahold of some pac choy that’s literally just been cut. You’ll understand.
It’s almost ridiculous how exciting fresh, local food can be. I mean…it’s food. Isn’t it supposed to be fresh and local? Well, of course. And I had a back yard growing up. We didn’t farm it, but I know what it is to pull fruit that’s just been rain-washed. Best thing ever.
But it’s not always our reality. Probing my local produce store, I was disgusted to find almost every vegetable available was sourced from China. Really? I mean, I don’t grudge buying fancy wood ear mushrooms that have travelled that far. But are we going such long distances just for carrots and basic greens?
Well, these bad boys came from down the street. I can walk to where they grew. It takes 40 minutes, but it can be done.
Stir fried, and served up with a few similarly local potatoes, I enjoyed a bowlful of local goodness. It can be done. In winter. And it tastes amazing.