I grew up in a very rural area of the UK and as a child I remember that foods (many of which were grown in my fathers garden) came and went as the seasons changed. Food was typically very hardy in the winter with lots of root veggies and dried or bottled fruit while spring brought new potatoes, peas and salads and yes my favorite as a child summer berries, leading to stone fruit and apples before the cycle started again. As I grew up and left home, focused on life an utilized all the convenience that supermarkets provided I realized that notions of seasonality drifted away until I had to the point where I had no real understanding of what is in season when and for how long. Not a problem you might say and perhaps even a benefit of the modern industrialized food system. I at some point over the last 20 years I would have agreed with you but, I began to get worried that I was losing something, I didn't realize what it was but suspected that food eaten in season would be better quality and also even cheaper since there would be more of it around and so just economic reasons eating within seasons would be a good idea.
I guess this also came from my small town background, but I have always liked to use small local places rather than the mega-corporations. I liked that going to the small mom and pop establishments were supporting not only my needs but the fabric of the community. However I realized that this desire didn't extend to my food choices (other than patronizing local restaurants. When I went to the local supermarket I was buying produce from all around the world and in general had no idea (other than sometimes country of origin) who was creating the produce, dairy, meat and fish I was using to prepare my meals at home for my family. This struck as wrong, especially given that I know California to be a very large agricultural producer.
The other thing that bothered me was that as someone who enjoyed cooking, whenever I visited the local supermarket, more and more of the shelves were filled with boxes and boxes of processed foods with the claim that these pre-prepared meals and dietary options were going to give me more time and make with healthy to boot. Having bought the low fat phenomenon, and the high carb shortly followed by the low carb phases I wondered if these people trying to improve my life and my well being actually had any clue or my best interests at heart. It got to a point where I didn't recognize half the food in my pantry and I hadn't lost any weight or felt much of it tasted anything like as good as I could cook it.
So in early 2008 I made a new year resolution to make a change in my diet. Not what so much I eat, but more about when I eat it and where it comes from. Here after nearly 11 months of doing just that I find myself with a much better understanding of the seasons, a whole network of local farmers and producers providing much of the food I use and I also found that I spent a lot less money on food (and more of that money went to the people I wanted it to ) and even more surprisingy lost over 20 pounds in weight.
In the next few posts I will describe further how I set about tackling my resolution.