Irv and Shelly Have What’s In Season Now

April 6, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Hint: Not Asparagus

irv n shelly spring

This is what Irv and Shelly’s weekly box looked like not that long ago. It should look about the same this week. It is what’s in season now, a mix of storage crops, indoor crops and preserved crops (with brand new green garlic thrown in for good measure!) For about eight years, Local Beet Sponsors Irv and Shelly, and their company, Fresh Picks, have been delivering weekly packages of groceries to Chicago area homes. Irv and Shelly do not exclusively stock local food. Their inventory includes bananas and avocados. When a local product goes out of season, or stocks of storage crops dry-up, they turn to other suppliers. So, the apples and carrots very recently, locally sourced, now come form other parts of the nation. Still, you can always find local food on their site. Examples this week include burdock root, beets, potatoes and parsnips. Or look at the box above.

Listen, before I rant here, and before I spend the rest of the week ranting about what appears on Spring menus around here, I want to fully fess that I bout a whole bunch of fennel last week (on sale). Now, is it fair for me to rail against those putting asparagus on the Seder tables and peas on their Easter plates when I bought all this non-local fennel. Well, of course it is. Why have a blog. If you want, I can explain to you my logic why my fennel makes more sense than your asparagus, but I’m going to avoid that for now. I will admit to some hypocrisy, OK. Rather, I shall say, as I have always said, that I accept, nay practice, a philosophy that does not hold to total locavorism. That does not excuse your jumping the gun.

Two standard excuses for the anytime but early part of Spring school of eat local are “I’m tired of root vegetables” and “it’s tradition.” I am wholly sympathetic to both arguments. Yes, if you have been relying solely on root vegetables for the last several months, it makes utter sense to change. And Passover and Easter of celebrations of liberation, re-birth, renewal. Green things emerging from the ground epitomize this, not stuff stuck around since last harvest. Making things worse, most, if not all, the chefs and eaters making these arguments are great advocates for the movement the rest of the year. A little slack given? No. I would hope they would be the holding-est out of the hold outs. Refusing to budge from their eat local/eat seasonal mantras.

Believe me, I’m not done with this topic, but for now let’s just take on the third common argument: there’s nothing around local in early Spring. Have not I already shown that through links to my good friends and sponsors, Irv and Shelly? You may not have the resources or abilities to find what’s out there this time of year. They do. All these years of delivering local food, they’ve found the farms and suppliers for any point in the year. They rely on Igl Farm and Driftless Breeze farms in Wisconsin for radishes and potatoes. They get lettuces and other greens from Illinois’s Living Water Farms. You will not starve this time of year if you want to eat local.

Seasonal ennui. It’s all been the same. Like I say, I’m sympathetic to this. Accepting? Here’s the thing. If you follow along, think things through, play the long game, you don’t have to have root cellar fatigue about now. For instance, did you heed my advice not to dive into the squash crop as soon as it arrived in market? Did you eat tomatoes until you had to surgically excise the bad spots? Did you have a winter CSA that delivered frost-kissed spinach. Did you stand up to the tyranny of the fresh? Could not certain canned, frozen, fermented and dried produce stood in for your roots some days? Is it fatigue? Have you tried celery root? Roasted radishes? Splurged on the expensive heirloom potatoes you passed up earlier? You can build plenty of variety in your diet.

If you cheat. Jump the gun, the arrival of actual seasonal delights will lose their luster. It’s like cutting blocks to finish the marathon. You’ve tried so hard. Just last a bit longer. What will you eat in May if you are eating asparagus now? Will you want peaches? Will you go ahead and buy tomatoes in early June? Next thing you know, your grapes will be from Chile. Hopefully, I have you pausing a bit on those “seasonal buys.” I have plenty of bandwidth to work on you the rest of the week.



  1. Jamie says:

    While I usually love the postings on the Local Beet, I’m afraid I found this one to be rather negative and borderline disparaging. Encouragement to eat locally should never be delivered through a berating rant. People have varying levels of income, dietary restrictions, religious requirements, and access to local food stores. Not everybody has the opportunity to can their own food or to seek out CSA shares of organically grown meat from the farm down the road. To eat locally all of the time, in fact, requires a good sum of expendable income. It is a thing of privilege. To change this, though–to really make local foods accessible and attractive to people across all income brackets and backgrounds requires the cultivation of a positive movement with a positive message. Is it not better to encourage people to enter the local food conversation by asking them to ‘do what you can because every little bit helps’ rather than slap them on the wrists for going to the grocery store? I can say with certainty that if I were not already a supporter of local food consumption (a supporter with a tight budget and a do your best mentality), I would certainly find a message like this off-putting and hardly enticing. Why would anybody want to be involved in a movement that shames its followers?

  2. Rob Gardner says:

    Jamie, thanks for your comment and your heartfelt beliefs. I agree with much of your thoughts. I think income, access and time commitments present large barriers to eating local. And I agree with you that I threw a healthy dose of shame into my post. That said, I do not believe I directed the shame where you think.

    Like I say, I’m all for eating local on the cheap and for building better access. I think my history on this site supports that. My ire here is not directed at people who don’t eat local. Rather, totally, it is directed at those who eat local all the time but “give it up for Spring.” I point out in my post the good reasons people do this. I just don’t find them good enough. I’m fighting the battle here on a very far fringes of the eat local war. Stick with us for the battles you can more fully get behind.

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