Eat Local Fast

June 10, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Rob Gardner

At the start of this yea, I joined the Board of Slow Food Chicago.  For years, I admired their mix of pleasure at the table with concern for the world.  I am slow.  Except when it comes to eating local.  One of the biggest advantages to eating local, especially at this time of year is haste.  OK, I’m not talking stuffing my mouth, although the rest of the Local Family is wont to accuse me of scarfing.  I mean that speed is of the essence when it comes to good eating, and local eating gets you there the quickest.

Eat local because it tastes better.  Crack a couple of twenties at the farmer’s market and you will believe that for sure.  Local food tastes better for two, objective, reasons.  First, farmers selling for their markets can bring varieties of fruits and vegetables that taste best.  Put it this way, farmer’s growing for the supermarket crowd grow varieties that meet these characteristics: fits as many as possible in a box and stays solid through travel in that box.  Freed from those concerns, farmers can sell fruits and vegetables grown for other reasons.  The second reason, the one on my mind this time of year when peas make their short appearance, speed.

There are plenty fruits and vegetables meant to last; apples and cabbage and winter squash and potatoes and all the various root veg.  There are some vegetables where the sweet spot lasts for a good while, lettuces and spinach and green beans and berries; we are talking things that, in the fridge, will last a good two weeks.  Yet, then, yet there are those items meant to be eaten as soon from harvest as possible.  Those vegetables whose sugars turn to starch right before your eyes.  Peas.

Eat peas fast.  If you cannot eat your peas fast, freeze them.  A quickly frozen pea will do better for your plate than a pea lingering for a week.  Asparagus also goes fast.  Buy it.  Eat it.  Eat these things as close to their harvest as possible.  When you shop local, at farmers markets or the stores like Cassie’s Green Grocer that act as if they farmer’s market, you get the chance to have your produce as soon as possible.  When it comes to some of your vegetables, speed matters.  Slow down.  Enjoy pleasure, but eat local fast.