Where did all the plums go?

Think About This Thursday

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This morning at breakfast my son asked me “Mom, when are you going to buy plums again?” And I had to explain to him that since summer was turning into fall, plums weren’t in season any more and mommy tries hard to only buy things that are grown in this country. It reminded me of the time when my daughter was in preschool and told her teacher that mommy didn’t buy her any strawberries that week because they weren’t on sale. Part of me feels bad for denying my children the healthy foods they love but in order to cut back on our ecological footprint, we (the collective WE as a population) need to rethink our weekly menus to reflect what is currently growing in our area. This is hard to do…people have come to rely on the fact that they can find watermelon in December and broccoli in August.
Think About This:  About 40% of our fruit is produced overseas and, even though broccoli is grown all over the country, the broccoli we buy at the supermarket travels an average of 1,800 miles to get there. (From The Sustainable Table)
So, what is a mom to do when she has a family to feed? You need to start thinking about venturing outside your comfort zone when it comes to food. Here are a few suggestions for fall produce that you may want to consider:

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Apples  In the Northern Hemisphere are harvested late summer through fall and you can find fairly good apples through late December.
Cranberries are native to North America, and are harvested in New England and the Upper Midwest in the fall.
Figs have a short second season harvest in late fall (the first harvest comes in summer)
Grapes (early fall) ripen towards the end of summer where they grow best; the harvest continues into fall. Muscadine are particularly popular here in Georgia!
Pears have a season that runs from mid-summer well into winter
Pomegranates In season starting in October and are usually available fresh through December.
Quinces I have never had these but they are supposedly a nice tart fruit great for jellies and jams.
Winter squash of all sorts comes into season in early fall and usually last well into winter
Leafy greens including spinach, lettuce, etc
Turnips  (I must admit, I am not a fan of turnips!) They have a bitter/sweet flavor. Choose turnips that feel heavy for their size
Beets are in season fall through spring, and available from storage most of the year everywhere else.
Broccoli  It is more sweet, less bitter and sharp when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall in most climates.
There are so many more fall crops that I haven’t even mentioned here! You can see a really long list at About.com.
Just because the temperature are cooling off doesn’t mean we can’t still have fresh produce, we just need to switch from peaches to pumpkins! While it is nice to be able to keep to only ‘local’ produce (usually defined as a 50 to 200 mile radius from point of purchase) is isn’t always possible to feed a family on what you can find in your particular state.
My rule of thumb at the grocery store:  Try and buy only what is sold in this country and if you just absolutely MUST buy plums from Chile, choose the organic variety.
Reducing the length of the journey our food travels will go a long way towards reducing our carbon footprint…just think of how much jet fuel was used to bring those watermelon over from South America!


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