Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Sandy- you mentioned not knowing what’s in season sometimes and I remembered this excerpt from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle that explained it perfectly and made it super easy to remember.

To recover an intuitive sense of what will be in season throughout the year, picture a season of foods unfolding as if from one single plant.  Take a minute to study this creation–an imaginary plant that bears over the course of one growing season a cornucopia of all the different vegetable products we can harvest.  We’ll call it a vegetannual.  Picture its life passing before your eyes like a time-lapse film: first, in the cool early spring, shoots poke up out of the ground.  Small leaves appear, then bigger leaves.  As the plant grows up into the sunshine and the days grow longer, flower buds will appear, followed by small green fruits.  Under midsummer’s warm sun, the fruits grow larger, riper, and more colorful.  As days shorten into the autumn, these mature into hard-shelled fruits with appreciable seeds inside.  Finally, as the days grow cool, the vegetannual may hoard the sugars its leaves have made, pulling them down into a storage unit of some kind: a tuber, bulb, or root.”

So goes the year.  First the leaves: spinach, kale, lettuce, and chard (here, that’s April and May).  Then more mature heads of leaves and flower heads:  cabbage, romaine, broccoli, and cauliflower (May-June).  Then tender young fruit-set: snow peas, baby squash, cucumbers (June), followed by green beans, green peppers, and small tomatoes (July).  Then more mature, colorfully ripened fruits: beefsteak tomatoes, eggplants, red and yellow peppers (late July-August).  Then the large, hard-shelled fruits with developed seeds inside:  cantaloupes, honeydews, watermelons, pumpkins, winter squash (August-September).  Last come the root crops, and so ends the produce parade.

Plainly, all the vegetables we consume don’t come from the same plant, but each comes from a plant, that’s the point—a plant predestined to begin its life in the spring and die in the fall. (A few, like onions and carrots, are attempting to be biennials but we’ll ignore that for now.) What we choose to eat from each type of vegetable plant must come in its turn—leaves, buds, flowers, green fruits, ripe fruits, hard fruits—because that is the necessary order of things for an annual plant. For the life of them, they can’t do it differently.

From Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Which, by the way, I highly recommend. It’s the memoir of a family who decided to eat only seasonal, locally grown food for a year. Granted, they live in the country so it’s much easier for them to do something like that, but it has good information on the importance of eating sustainably.

Ok, I’m done with my seasonal eating rant. I’m off to sleep and to a hopefully good start tomorrow.

4 responses

  1. Wow, that was super helpful! I always knew random produce in season, but never really understood the reason why. This makes things much simpler. 🙂

  2. Pingback: What’s The Name of This Plant? | Stories of My Wandering Feet & Mind

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