We know all the reasons to eat local, seasonal food – because it’s generally fresher, tastier and more nutritious, it reduces the energy needed to grow, package, store and transport food, it supports the local economy, tunes us into nature’s seasons and is almost always cheaper than food that has travelled a long way, but really how do you do without zucchini or beans in the middle of August?
This is what I do:
I make the most of what’s there because winter is a actually a great time for food – the most beautiful colours come out – think of a plateful of roast veg – blood red beets, red skinned creamy fleshed spuds, smoky yellow parsnips and bright orange pumpkin. Winter greens are all a bit deeper, more intense; the spinach, kale, bok choi, silverbeet, coriander and Italian parsley. And the fruit; the full spectrum of the apples at their peak, the shine of navels, lemons, mandarins, the blinding orange of a tangelo and the tangy and subtle shades of the kiwi, pear and feijoas.
One door closes another opens…
Whenever something goes out of season, something new comes back in. As the last of the summer tomatoes and basil disappear the first of the kale and coriander begin to appear, soon after the cauliflower start coming strong and local carrots arrive – there is no sweeter taste in winter than a fresh dutch carrot. All of a sudden leeks and celery flood in and it’s time to make soups and when it begins to get really cold I start looking out for the mandarins and kiwi. When the tangelos finally arrive in late winter I know we are not far away from seeing the first blossoms on our almond trees.
Our saviour the blessed asparagus
By the time spring rolls around and the choice of produce is at its skinniest; my saviour bursting forth from the earth like a divine spear is the asparagus followed loyally by broad beans and the first of the spring lettuce. From here it’s not long before the first apricots and berries arrive and summer is on us again. At the end of the day eating seasonally is not about abstinence it’s about enjoyment and anticipation. Where’s that asparagus…..?