Thursday, 25 June 2015


"A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do." - P.J. O'Rourke

On my way home yesterday I stopped by the market to buy some fruits and vegetables. We are very lucky here in Melbourne as we have a plethora of fresh food markets, farmers’ markets, fresh food shops as well as the typical shopping centres and supermarkets. The seasonal fruit and vegetable variety is truly exceptional and the quality is generally excellent. In addition to the seasonal fruits and vegetables one is also likely to find some exotic out of season produce that has been flown into our country at great expense and trouble.

In amongst the oranges, tangerines, pears and apples I found watermelon, cherries, grapes and apricots. Looking at the watermelon and cherries I really could not feel the least bit of desire to purchase and sample them. They did not appeal and I didn’t hanker after them. Similarly, I bought a lettuce for salad rather than unseasonable tomatoes and cucumbers. Checking the provenance of some these products, I saw that they came from America, Asia, even Europe. Although today’s global marketplace allows us to buy foods grown virtually anywhere in the world all year round, these options are not the most sustainable nor the most desirable.

I purchase local foods that are in season, thus doing my little bit to eliminate the environmental damage caused by shipping foods thousands of kilometres around the globe. I am supporting local farmers and helping my local economy. At the same time, we enjoy the health benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables that simply taste better as well!

The other benefit of shopping for produce in season is that it is cheaper and if one buys it in bulk, the opportunity for canning and preserving it is there as well. What better than home-made jams and preserves? Vegetables that have been bottled at home with no preservatives and which can provide easy and quick meal solutions at some future time when the seasonal produce is scarce? The freezer can also be used effectively and help with the storage of bulk buys. Cleaned, blanched vegetables can be rapidly frozen and once again come to the rescue when one is unable to find much in the market or if one is unable to go.

How many times do you find yourself planning a menu and then going out and buying whatever you need from the shops and market? Isn’t it a better idea to go out and be inspired to cook something by using what is freshest and in season out there on the shelves? This is certainly the norm in countries around the Mediterranean, where seasonal cooking is seen at its best.

So what did I buy at the market? Typical Winter fare: Mushrooms, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage and radishes, carrots, spring onions, silverbeet and spinach. As well as oranges, tangerines and nashi pears.  Spinach and silverbeet pies, mushroom soup, broccoli quiche, cabbage salad with olive oil and lemon dressing, radishes on the side are on the menu over the next couple of days.

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