Why Local Matters

Not more than two years ago, Jenn and I both read a book that really opened our eyes. Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle chronicles her story of a year of eating hyper local… basically only things they grew themselves or could get locally. While I’m not prepared to become a zealot on the subject, I will say we’ve really enjoyed adopting some concepts from it.

If you follow the blog, you’ve read about our CSA involvement, our garden, and my wife’s food. It’s all good by me. This weekend, though, is a mircocosm of one of the best parts. We’re eating seasonally and locally where possible, and we’re all in love with strawberries right now. During the course of the year, we basically give them up. Frankly, out of season strawberries really lack the flavor you get now.

Prior to visiting the farmers’ market yesterday, we had bought a few California strawberries. At least they’re from this continent, we thought. We had no idea that strawberries were already in full effect until we hit the farmers’ market and came home with 16 quarts (5.5 of which are already gone 24 hours later). Understand, I love California and it’s ability to produce things we like to eat when we can’t here in Tennessee (even though the dairy from Wisconsin is clearly superior contrary to what the arrogant California cows believe.) Sorry, lost my train of thought…

So, local strawberries, in season, are better. Why? Let me show you. [_Pardon the poor focus on some of these shots…_]

First up, the outside

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California

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Tennessee

Really, I would say the difference from here is marginal.

Next up, the inside

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California, sliced open

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Tennessee, sliced open

Lastly, a slice stuck to the window

What? Why do you think that’s weird? Don’t you stick your strawberries on the window? Was it a little weird when Jenn got back from her run this morning and I had slices of strawberries stuck to the window and was standing on the counter taking pictures of them? Yes, frankly, it was.

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California window slab

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Tennessee window slab

The conclusion…

This is not an admonition of California strawberries. I am certain that if you go to the Saratoga Farmers’ Market (as seen in Martinopoly, our hyper local version of Monopoly) and buy some strawberries right now, they’ll be every bit as gorgeous as ours. They key is to buy something from nearby. Fruits and vegetables that travel across the country or around the world are expensive ($$ and environmentally) and they have to be picked well before they’re ready. Sure, growers and transporters have figured out how to make them look good on the outside, but the inside, where the taste lives is another matter.

Seriously, the difference between them is profound.

PS What do you do when you want strawberries the rest of the year? You wait. That’s right, go without. It makes them all the better during the part of the year when you can eat them.

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