Fresh, Local, Whatevs
I won't buy tomatoes, peaches, or other summer foods in the winter. It's an environmental disaster hauling produce halfway across the world so that we don't have to remember that things don't grow in January in the Northeast. I try to stick to the kale grown in greenhouses upstate and the root vegetables and apples from local farms. When I do break down and buy long-haul produce, I try to minimize the distance it has travelled: my cucumbers come from the Dominican Republic, not Mexico, and my oranges come from Florida, not California.
So I'm all freakin' militant about seasonal, fresh, local food. Then I smell a bag of dried peaches. Goddamnit.
Peaches are my favorite fruit. They are so sensuous and liquid, falling apart on your lips, spilling juice so readily. Their fragrence carries across distances, pulls you in. I prefer yellow peaches, with their stronger flavor, but white peaches carry the memory of my first trip to France, when my Laotien host mother bought a bushel of them and peeled them for us to eat. I thought this was a strange peach they only had in Europe, and fell hopelessly in love with them as a symbol of that foreignness. (I love canari, called canary melon in the US, for the same reason.)
So peaches. I wanted peaches. I wanted them with a passion I could not describe. I wanted them NOW. I wanted them even though they weren't there to have.
In the end, I compromised. I bought a bag of frozen sliced peaches. They came from Washington; I hope they were grown locally to where they were frozen, at least. When I got home, I dumped them, still frozen, into a sauce pan, brought them (and the juice they bled) to a boil, added maple syrup (because frozen fruit is never as sweet as fresh) and ate the whole bag in one sitting.
What do we do with ourselves as lovers of food who also care about the politics of it? What do we do when we love foie gras but hate the torture of geese? (Side note: I've actually eaten foie gras, during a phase of flexible vegetarianism, and found the fuss over it absurd. It's like if butter were made of meat. I'll take the stick of butter + steak any day over "stick of butter that tastes like steak.") If we are ethical vegetarians sitting in front of plates of our mother's pot roast? If we don't want to eat out of season, but crave a peach?
I don't have answers here. I just have questions, and an empty bag of frozen peaches sitting in my trash can.