Remember the old days when the produce section of the grocery store reflected the season? If you wanted fresh veggies in the early spring your choices were slim. You could find potatoes, a few squishy onions, and somewhat furry, limp carrots. Most veggies were canned but the health conscience put out the big bucks for frozen corn and mixed veggies. Our choice of fresh fruit was only slightly better. The last of the oranges took up a little produce aisle real estate next to the mushy red delicious apples and bananas. In the last days of winter we yearned for fresh spring strawberries and asparagus just as much as we yearned for the snow to melt and a kiss of sunshine on our faces. We knew that fresh produce would arrive only as it ripened. Watermelon showed up just in time for our 4th of July BBQ. Tomatoes, corn, green beans, berries, plums, peaches, pears, and apricots came in one by one until the produce aisle was once again brimming with abundance. Fall marked a season of apples, onions, sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkins for Thanksgiving pie. Oranges and grapefruits arrived in time for Christmas treats and then the produce aisle took a break from busy shoppers.
My generation knew this rhythm of the seasons in our younger years but now we enjoy fresh veggies year round and look askance at anyone who dares suggest inviting canned veggies to the dinner table. Canned fruit? What is that?
I became poignantly aware of the disappearance of the food seasons when discussing birthday cakes with the grands. The September Grand requested a raspberry cake for her birthday celebration. When I mentioned that fresh raspberries will be difficult to find in September she offered the full wisdom of her 6 year old world. "Just buy them that at the store, Mimi." The July Grand who will soon boast double digits filled me in on produce aisle shopping ease. The Grands clearly have no sense of in-season. They have no concept of out-of-season. They understand right now.
The grands have no idea that we once had to purchase fresh produce in season. We lived by the rhythms of the season and eagerly anticipated the arrival of the first spring produce. Our gluttonous natures burst forth as fruit after veggie graced our plates in the summer. Fall heralded the arrival of the apples, squash, and late harvest season pumpkin. I appreciate the convenience of purchasing fresh year round but I pose the question, is the right now worth the loss of food seasons?