Archive | 10:49 am

Seasonality – A conspiracy theory

9 Sep

It is spring and the supermarkets are currently extolling the virtues of eating seasonally. Recently¬†I’ve been paying a bit more attention to these promotions and getting frustrated. According to Woolworths, in September the pick of the seasonal produce is Delite Mandarins, Kent Pumpkin and Solanato Tomatoes. Really? ¬†The mandarins are plausible, but surely it’s a bit too early for any tomatoes (unless they’re from a greenhouse), and where are they growing pumpkins that are ready to harvest in September??

I know that our country is vast and variable. It’s clear from the differences between the Melbourne gardener bloggers and my own garden that timings vary, and I imagine that amazing things are possible in far North Queensland in winter, but surely pushing the boundaries of what is possible, shipping the food thousands of kilometres then calling it ‘seasonal’ is a bit cheeky?

I wonder if there is something downright dishonest going on here. Through this misinformation people seem to have lost all track of what is truly seasonal produce, and it isn’t just the supermarkets at fault.

One of my neighbours caught me in the garden in July and stopped to ask me for some tips about her unsuccessful veggie garden. It just wasn’t working and she couldn’t work out why. I asked her what she was trying to grow. Eggplant she said. In July.

I suspect that a beginner like herself didn’t start the eggplants from seed, so some nursery somewhere (or big green barn) had quite happily sold her eggplant seedlings in winter. Seedlings that had obviously been raised in a greenhouse somewhere and shipped out to an inevitable fate.

And it goes further. I have an Australian ‘seasonal cooking’ cookbook that lists chokos and melons as spring produce. Again – in what climate does this occur?

And now that the vast majority of people have lost track of what’s in season, the supermarket can charge out of season prices for seasonal produce at its peak. Apples are no longer cheaper in winter and people will buy rock hard strawberries in May, pathetic pears in January and doomed eggplant seedlings in winter.

Is it just me, or do you think people really are as clueless as I fear?