It wasn’t because I was shutting my locker for the last time that semester or that the sun was blazing its way across the sky even hotter than the months before. And it wasn’t because my eyes had caught the sight of butterflies jaunting about or that baby birds were triumphantly flying branch to branch away from their nests. It was simply when I was riding in the car with my mom going somewhere, anywhere, and the smell of something wonderful tainted the air.
It was the smell of sweetness mingled with dirt, an earthy swath of nose tingling, mouth watering anticipation where I knew soon I would find myself clambering out of our community pool, padding my chlorinated body over to the table and gleefully plunging my hand into a big bowl of juicy, heart-shaped deliciousness we call strawberries.
Alas, the fondness and anticipation of having strawberry shortcake or pancakes or pie has long been decimated with the fact that strawberries are now found year-round, and the fields they grew on are now paved over for track homes or high rise buildings, their scent left to hang solemnly in the back of my memory.
With the import of fruits and vegetables, local and seasonal no longer identifies with food anymore. Anything and everything is readily available, just flown in from Asia or South America, or grown in hydroponics, filling restaurants and grocery chains in every neighborhood everywhere. Globalization knows no bounds.
Yet eating according to season where local farms and backyard farmers bring their bounty to market not only brings the flavor up many notches to our meals, but provides more nutrients to the food grown. A strawberry left to ripen and grow with the longer sunshine brings sweetness to its flesh.
There are other reasons as well. For one, we reduce the energy and associated CO2 emissions needed to grow and transport the food we eat when we eat locally. And seriously, it’s a bit silly to buy asparagus flown in from South America or apples shipped from New Zealand when for weeks or months a feast is to be had on far superior native versions, often at a lower cost financially and environmentally.
So the moral of this month is to eat locally grown seasonal produce.
What is in season for summer? Artichokes and asparagus might be coming to an end, but corn signals summer with corn-on-the-cob and eggplant sizzling in Italian dishes.
Green beans dance their way into casseroles as well as fresh on salads or steamed with almonds. Summer squashes in bright yellows and greens ripen and are a raw foodists delight.
My favorites, cucumber and tomatoes, tempt the caterpillars but produce enough for bugs and humans alike lasting from summer well into fall.
Stop by a local farmers market by you. Visit cafarmersmarkets.com for more information.
Newport Beach Farmers Market
Lido Marina Village
Sundays 9 a.m. – 1.p.m. (rain or shine)
Corona del Mar
Margarite & Pacific Coast Highway
Saturdays 9.a.m. – 1 p.m.
Contact Phone: 949-361-0735
Lumberyard Parking Lot (next to the City Hall)
Saturdays, 8 a.m. – noon
July & August 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. (rain or shine)
Orange County Fairgrounds
88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
Thursdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. (rain or shine)
On the corner of Bridge and Campus (across from UCI)
Saturdays 8 a.m. – noon (rain or shine)