I stopped by Farmers and Artisans in Williamsville this week to pick up some bread and cheese for a growly stomach, but I found myself scouting for local fruits.
This weekend, at the Elmwood Festival of the Arts, the GrowWNY Street Team is going to be serving fresh, free samples of fruit smoothies we concoct with our new Fender Blender, and I was on the look-out for a theme. I found Sarah Lask at the counter, Farmers and Artisans in-house chef, who was finishing up with a freshly baked batch of rosemary bread. In the course of conversation, I found myself reaching for a quart of dark rich blueberries that the store gets from a farm in Springville.
Sarah, who moved to Buffalo from Portland, told me that their honeydew melons from Eden Farms had run out, but they were only getting better since it was melon season, so I should come back for some. I found the idea poetic, being at autumn’s threshold, which marks the end of a blueberry spring-summer and the start of melon summer-fall. At home the next afternoon, I pottered around with a melon-blueberry-lemon sorbet drink that turned out to be very refreshing.
My fondest memories of eating in season are from waiting eagerly for the summer. Where I’m from, the Indian subcontinent’s geography has much to offer to a fruitie’s plate between the months of May and July. Large cartons of Alphonso mangoes would line the hallway, sweet purple jambuls in the fridge, pink guavas stolen from our neighbor’s tree, custard apples from our own tree, juicy sapotas, pineapples and jackfruit jackets in every street vendor’s basket, a continuous string of fruits would make their appearance on our table.
Oftentimes, my parents would receive large gift baskets from friends who visited fruit orchards in other districts in the state. Exotic fruits grown in far away places were a rarity, and it’s only recently that South Asian markets are offering fruits that can be grown all year round under controlled climates or are flown from thousands of miles away.
Having gone to school in Western New York, it’s exciting to see people talk local, in season and organic the way they are these days.
If you haven’t already heard of the benefits of eating local produce grown in season, here are a few:
- Eliminate the need for refrigeration or the need for artificial climates to grow fruits in.
- No more transporting fancy-shmancy fruits in planes and trains from one end of the planet to another. (And California is more than 2500 miles away).
- No weird extras like shellac wax on apples or ethylene gas on bananas.
- Processed food loses its flavor at every step of the way, and the further away from you, the less tasty it becomes.
- Help your dollar go directly to the farmer, and not the several middlemen in between. Plus you’ll be paying for luscious looking produce that tastes delicious, not straggly measly portions that look out of place.
- Every plant that grows in season contributes to the vitality and regeneration of the overall ecosystem it is part of.
And if you still need one more to convince you, you’ll be amazed at the variety of food that the earth can grow within a spectrum of weather conditions. I try to enjoy these foods with a certain degree of wonderment and gratefulness at every plant’s ingenuity. Hopefully you will too!
What would you put in a Fender Blender smoothie if we gave you a choice? Leave your suggestions in the comment box below, and we’ll be happy to try them out the next time we’re outdoors giving away free samples!