Seasonal Eating

When one boils life down to the essentials, seasonal eating does not make the top five. The need to eat, however, does.  In years gone by, these two expressions were synonymous but that is no longer the case.

The Need To Eat

Mankind needs regular sustenance to maintain its activities. Sustenance comes in the form of food and water and we call the process of consuming our food - eating.  With me so far? Good.

This fundamental piece of wisdom transcends national boundaries, ethnicity, age and political preferences.  There are, however, differences in just what we eat, how we prepare it, how we share it and what nutritional value our food has.

But no one can argue that eat we must.

Seasonal Eating

For those of us whose forebears were peasants and tradesmen the default position was that all food was seasonal because all food was local. People with money have always had access to food from elsewhere - and spices from the other end of the world. For details, ask any archaeologist specializing in the content of medieval latrines

When living off the land, one does not have to worry too much about being politically correct in relation to food miles. One eats what one succeeds at growing.

The trouble starts when one ventures out and stumbles upon a greengrocer, farmers market or supermarket. One's desire to eat seasonally or locally will be severely challenged by bananas, pineapple, French cheese, Canadian sockeye salmon, Scottish haggis and whatever else.

A recent article in the Guardian now reveals that most British consumers have problems with the seasonal eating concept, based on the fact that they do not know when popular British fruit and vegetables are actually in season!

And this situation will be the same elsewhere - no need to think this is solely a British issue.

Cause & Consequence

Growing food where people are makes perfect sense - as long the people for whom the food is grown don't start placing a value on the land used to grow the food that is greater than food growing can sustain - because we want our food to be cheap after all, don't we?

So when it becomes too expensive to grow food near where the people are and farmers have to find suitable land further away from the towns and cities, we not only begin to increase transport costs but we start tinkering with the 'seasonal' concept.  And if we want to eat fruits and vegetable that are not capable to be grown in the country we live in, due to climatic conditions, 'local' considerations go out the window as well.

What are we to do then? How should we attempt to reconcile common sense, environmental concerns, personal preferences, retailer strategy and consumerism? I think the jury is still out on that question.

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