The Confusion over Seasonal Produce and a recipe for Citrus Salad with Mint and Raw Honey

My mom is a wonderful cook. She is also a complete food snob who loves the Olive Garden and only drinks Folgers Coffee.  Do you look puzzled right now? I‘ve been her daughter for thirty-seven years and yeah, I don’t get it either.

Yes, she has her quirks. Although she insists on enjoying the cheapest cup of coffee known to man she is super picky about the other food she eats and can tell within how many hours a batch of homemade Tollhouse Cookies has been sitting on the counter. She never eats a cookie that is stale. If a bag of chips has been open more than a few hours she will notice it is stale and refuse it.This is a woman who raised me to be as picky as her.

Although I do drink better coffee. I am so glad my mother raised me to be a food snob just like her.

One of the things my mother taught me growing up is you only buy produce when it is in season. My mother would not be caught dead buying an artichoke in January. I used to work in the produce department of a natural foods store and I constantly found myself rolling my eyes at people who are all pissed off that the blueberries we got from Chile in February were constantly moldy.
I tried to explain to them, these organic blueberries and little green Thomson Grapes that you Californians want to buy in the wintertime sit on a boat for two weeks before they make it to the store shelves. Yeah, they might not be very fresh. Yes, they are going to be expensive. They made a long trip to get here to sunny Southern California in January. Whenever I would mention “we have frozen organic strawberries” (Which I think taste great) I was met with dirty looks. How is frozen fruit worse than a fruit that sat on a ship for two weeks?

It blows me away how we are a nation that no longer eats food that is in season. We want our artichokes in February and we want them to taste good damn it! We want clementines in the summer months and we want them to be juicy and preferably seedless. I would spend time telling customers constantly how great our juicy Meyer Lemons are this time of year and so many of them are shocked to hear that citrus is a winter commodity. Seasonal produce; it’s a term very few people seem to be familiar with unless you are shopping the shelves of Whole Foods.

I am a huge foodie and believe me, it kills me I can only buy Fresno Chili’s at Whole Foods for the zestiest salsas only in late July. It breaks my heart that my favorite apples, Wine Sap, are only available every year for the month after Halloween. I’m the kind of foodie who will drive to apple country, Oak Glen, in the foothills below my own mountain just to get some delicious crisp locally grown apples. (Yes, this is an hour and a half round trip drive for me just to buy apples. It is a gorgeous drive though to purchase some locally grown seasonal produce)

Maybe it is the gardener in me that understands things like tomatoes, strawberries and peppers need heat to be at their most tasty. At the same time veggies like potatoes come from cold climates like Ireland. (Every year I mean to grow my own potatoes from seed potatoes; I’ve heard they are amazing and I live in a cold climate. Why not grow my own seasonal produce?)

I feel like people just don’t understand a few simple facts about produce. Right now in early March, it is summer in countries like Chile and Peru and they have an abundance of mangoes, grapes and blueberries. Of course, the price is so much higher this time a year to ship these items across the ocean. This is why so many people are so into eating only locally grown foods. It’s such a waste of fuel to ship all this produce halfway around the world so that the yuppies of Southern California can have a plum from Peru before Easter. Now that I receive an organic CSA box every week I am really, really seeing for myself how truly amazing seasonal produce really is!

Citrus Salad garnished with Mint and Raw HoneyCitrus

I suggest buying every kind of citrus you can find at Whole Foods for this salad.
Their citrus is amazing this time of year.
Last time I was there I bought some kind of honey tangerines, they were the best piece of citrus I have ever had.

2 Tangerines
2 mandarins
1 orange
1 ruby red grapefruit
1 teaspoon raw honey
3 sprigs fresh mint, sliced thin

Peel and section the fruit. In a bowl layer the mache lettuce, the mint sliced thin and the citrus. Drizzle lightly with honey.
If you would like to add a drizzle of olive oil and chili flakes.

Comments

  1. opinion8dhermit

    Yum! and yeah I have two bags of the strawberries at home right now 🙂 I’m all excted cause soon I can go to the Saturday fruit market thing and get fresh, locally grown frut and veggies.

    I probably eat fruit once a month? This shocks people. But I refuse to eat store-bought “fresh” fruit. It has no flavor. I want my just-picked Oregon blackberries, still warm from the tree dark plums, and the like. I am a total produce snob especially with fruit. I refuse to eat a tomato that isn’t heirloom/organic and fresh. But it is well worth t.

  2. Kianwi

    I live in Michigan, and the winters are rough here, because there is no locally grown seasonal fruit, so I do buy imported fruit. There is such a huge difference in taste, though. I lived in Honduras for two years, and eating a ripe banana there in no way resembles eating an imported banana in Michigan. It’s almost like an entirely different fruit, it had so much more flavor.

    I forget about frozen fruit, to be honest…I’ll have to go buy some as another good option.

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