Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tomato? Not yet, thanks!

I'm thinking about seasonal eating -- fresh Brandywine, grape and purple Cherokee tomatoes will ripen soon in my garden ... other heirloom tomatoes from the New Paltz-based Taliaferro Farms ... fresh white peaches later this summer from Montgomery Place Orchards in Red Hook ... strawberries available NOW from Mead Orchards in Tivoli ... Yum. Do you have any favorite sources for local produce to share? What's ripe in your area?

The current “tomato scare” doesn’t really affect me because I already try not to eat fresh tomatoes unless they come from my garden or from a local farm stand or farmers market. This is because I’ve found that the tomatoes sold at the grocery stores, in general, are tasteless dry red globes and an injustice to what the real veggie (or is that fruit?) should taste like. I think by now most folks know about the life cycle of the stereotypical grocery store tomato: how they are usually a variety that was bred to have the traits that allow it to be picked early (I won’t use the word harvested), ripened artificially and shipped long distance. No wonder they taste bad. I have the same attitude towards peaches and strawberries – unless they’re grown locally and super fresh, they just don’t taste good to me.

Of course, this means that I can only find fresh tomatoes, strawberries and peaches when they are in season and available in my backyard (literally or from a local source.) And that’s OK with me. I’d much rather spend a few summer months stuffing myself silly with fresh tomatoes and fruit than suffer through their cardboard imitators out of season. When their season is done, I’m usually cured of my cravings for them until the next year. And it’s cheaper too.

Eating with the seasons makes sense both to my palate and my pocketbook!

Of course, all rules have an exception and so does mine regarding tomatoes -- I've tried the hydroponic tomatoes grown by Mountain Fresh Farms in Highland and sold at my local Hannaford's and they are pretty good. The fact that they're local will probably keep me buying them on occasion until the tomatoes in my garden take off.

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