Sunday, August 12, 2007

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 10:15 PM
I'm on a vegetarian French cooking kick right now. Yes--those two words normally don't go together, but I found me a cookbook, and I'm making some tres delicious meals. My old corner grocery store made cooking dinner so easy. I'd pop by and ask what I should make, and the wonderful woman behind the counter would point me to all sorts of delicious vegetables and cheeses and I was on my way home to embark on a gratin, ratatouille, or cassoulet. My corner grocery store is now an IGA, so times have changed.

One of my favorite things about French cooking is that the meals are grouped with fresh ingredients that are all in season. Using my trusty local foods wheel, I decided against the fava bean pasta and opted for an asparagus pasta instead. Asparagus still seemed to be in the present calendar zone, so I assumed I was alright. I went to my neighborhood cooperative grocery store and asked the woman working in the produce section if there was any asparagus--she laughed and said "No" like I was asking her if Halliburton had a corporate charge account there.

Anyway, I checked out sans-asparagus and decided to hit up a large chain supermarket on my way home, just in case the cooperative was sold out of asparagus, and it was not indeed out of season. I guess it was...or was it? Admidst the giant produce aisle lit with way too many bulbs lay fava beans, asparagus, and all sorts if other vegetables that, according to my local foods wheel---are all out of season.

I mention this because there is a revolution happening in supermarket marketing. In this day and age you have to be a Whole Foods or a Costco to be successful--there isn't a whole lot of demand for supermarkets in between. The large chain supermarket I went to wanted to be Whole Foods so bad---they buy renewable energy, they offer the reusable bags at the front counter, they've even changed the decor to be more "eco-looking"---so why are they greening the stuff in the periphery and not making more of an effort to green the most central aspect of their business---selling produce? I'd like to think the other green improvements are a first step and a more attention will be given to effiecient supply chains in the future.

Until then, check out what foods are in season in your area. I Googled and googled to try and find a resource for people all over the US, but came up with nada. Instead, take a more old fashioned approach--go to a farmer's market in your area and talk to the people behind the stands--they'll definitely be able to tell you what's in season and what is not. Worldwatch has some other really useful tips here. You can find a farmer's market close to you by going here. P.S. Summer squash pasta is delicious!

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You mentioned your vegetarian French cookbook - what's the name of it? Thank you!
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