There was a time - it was warmer out, and I lived in the city - when the idea of eating strictly local seemed, if not practical, exactly, then theoretically possible. It seemed like the sort of thing I could feel ever-so-slightly guilty about not doing.
Those days are over. In May, a seasonal farmers' market will reopen, but in the mean time, there's... not much. The year-round Trenton Farmers Market is definitively in sausages-and-Amish-baked-goods hibernation mode. Because my apartment is not in fact a hippie supermarket, there's no industrial freezer full of the local produce from the past summer season. It is what it is.
In the past month or so, I've become the culinary equivalent of mugged by reality, and completely reverted to a pre-food-movement mindset. I mean, I still eat fruits and vegetables - I just don't have any qualms when I see that the strawberries come from Mexico. The apples, after all, are hauled in from Washington State. Asparagus grown somewhere other than New Jersey? Fine by me! It's not as if there's a from-NJ option - for asparagus or anything in the produce section. From what I can tell, other than white onions, none of the produce - this even at Whole Foods - is grown nearby. Even the things that might have been (the aforementioned apples, also kale, carrots...) were not.
I had arrived at this conclusion and been happily stuffing my face with whichever combination of pasta, cheese, and trucked-and-flown-in produce, when lo and behold food writer David 'used to work for Alice Waters' Tanis suggested to NYT readers looking for a spring-veg fix that they "cheat." And he continues:
Yes, it’s important to eat local, but there’s no way to really cook spring meals now except by using vegetables grown in places where the season has already arrived.
For spring, you see, is a relative term. In coastal California, it has been spring for weeks already, and the new artichoke crop is producing on schedule. I’m not suggesting that you buy produce that came all the way from South America, or that you abandon your neighborhood vendors. Consider this permission to pamper yourself with a bunch of asparagus.Retroactive permission appreciated. Or something.