Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Temptation of Out-of-Season Fruit

This past weekend, I hosted a Sunday lunch. It was a glorious spring day so we ate outside on the patio.

I made my version of bouillabaisse-cum-chowder and with it, we ate olive bread, cheeses, and a simple green salad.

Dessert was a fruit flan, which I bought at my local Whole Foods.

I deliberated over whether to buy the flan topped with summer berries or a pear and almond flan. Another option was an apple and almond flan.

Last Thursday I wrote about the advantages of eating in-season fruit for health, budget and sustainability. Given that we're just coming out of winter into spring, apples and pears are still the in-season best buys.

Summer fruits, like berries, are available, but they're not in season and so they're expensive, plus they're not as flavorful as they are at the height of their growing season.

I love almonds with pears and or apples so I was leaning toward the responsible choice: in-season fruit flan, especially having written that post just days before.

Then again, I loved the look of the summer-berry flan--such gorgeous colors, so apparently decadent.

And it was the same price as the apple or pear almond flans!

Despite what I know and despite what I've written on the topic of shopping, cooking and eating by the seasons, I chose the out-of-season berry fruit flan.

I'm aware that as I stood in front of the pastry case deliberating, it didn't matter that I knew the more responsible choice was the in-season fruit plan; in that moment, confronted by the colors of the aesthetically-appealing berry-flan versus the less colorful sensible pear flan, I chose the one that looked prettiest, the one that provoked in me a more intense response.

In other words, I made an emotionally driven choice, as we so often do with food. And as soon as we allow our emotions to drive our choice-making, reason, logic, best intentions, even values, fly out the window!

It's important to me to walk my talk, to role model what I write about on this blog, yet I'm human and a messy one at that, which means sometimes I make decisions that are not aligned with my core values.

A Facebook friend commented that she's impressed over my tackling the food and sustainability issue by encouraging awareness around shopping and cooking by the seasons.

"It's hard to avoid the choices tempting us to do otherwise," she said.

Indeed it is.

Regardless, at the end of the day, was I happy with my choice?

You know, the berry flan really did look the prettiest, but as I state above, summer fruits bought out of season have less flavor and they're not succulent, and as a matter of fact, the berries on the flan were not flavorful, nor were they juicy.

Alas, the flan did not live up to its appearance. And I'm glad, because it was a reminder to stick with what I know to be the best choice: buy and eat in-season for flavor, budget, health and sustainability, even when it's tempting to do otherwise.


Wendy (The Local Cook) said...

I am so with you. It's so tempting, especially since I live in Michigan and bloggers on the West coast are tempting me with spring produce that won't be available here for another month or two :-(

Blakery said...

As far as best bets for winter fruit, let's not forget citrus! A farm nearby me coordinates purchases from farms down the east coast out of our growing season (in Mass here), and in the winter, we can get citrus from Florida. Also, if you can actually track the source (unlikely), tropical fruit is also generally a winter thing. While I eat almost all my food from local sources, you can't get these things locally, so if it's between out of season and from somewhere else and in season from somewhere else, I'll take the in season stuff any day. And it is usually a treat, not something to be eaten everyday anyway, which I find acceptable. Incidentally, in the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, a common Christmas present was a pineapple!