The sun is beginning to linger a little longer in the sky and the evening breeze feels warmer and more inviting. Flowers are emerging from dormant hibernation and birds have returned to remind us that life is circular. Nature’s rhythms are telling us one thing: spring is on its way!
But the return of spring doesn’t merely entail a return to mid-afternoon picnics in the park. It is also telling a complex interwoven story of a rich and bountiful exchange underway in the complexity and the breadth of fruits and vegetables that we can seasonally introduce into our diets.
In today’s need-everything-all-the-time driven economy, this culture has created a blindness to seasonal foods, and rendered concepts like seasonality to seem dated and passé. But the truth is we are living a lie. We can all be forgiven for buying into the illusion that seasons no longer matter in the modern food system. We have engineered a reality of endless availability because our food distribution systems have, in many ways, ruptured the holistic cycle of nature by charting across hemispheres and crossing oceans to ensure a year-round supply of the produce we have come to expect.
Let’s use lemons as an example. I am guilty of adding lemon to everything. Lemons have been a part of our food history. Lemons have ancient roots in global trade. I love lemons for their ability to bring life to any dish. In North America, citrus season finds us in the wintertime, when these fruits are truly a squeeze of sunshine during dark winter days. Using lemons is not an act of evil, however, eating lemons all year round puts a demand on mother nature she cannot sustain naturally.
Year-round consumption leads to an industrial model of farming in order to keep up with global demand forcing nature’s cycle into a straight line. A cycle promises to return to the point of which it began. A straight line makes no promises. It simply continues until it does not. Herein lies the problem. Eventually, the trees die of disease, the soil becomes depleted beyond repair, and the once-thriving orchard becomes a dessert, forcing the producer to move on to new land and start the linear process over again.
So here it is. I celebrate winter for the gift of lemons and I celebrate human ingenuity of creating lemon juice for a good portion of the year, and I move on to tomatoes (Indigenous to North America) when summer comes. By making small changes in our habitual routines we can honour natures cycle and re-discover the food of the local landscape.
The truth of the natural world is that every fruit and vegetable is best consumed when in season. This year I challenge you to think about your food as something that comes from the earth, rather than from the clinical aisles of the grocery store. Not only will this provide you with insight into the rhythms of the natural world, that which farmers who use the permaculture model have listened to for millennia, but will give you a new sense of gratitude for your food.
Bliss can be found in discovering and consuming the fruits and vegetables that nature designed for your specific temporal and geographic locale.
Discover what’s in season now at BC Farmers Markets.