Green Lizard's Blog

The planet is our home; we need to be more responsible. Here's what I do.

Think Global: Buy Local

When we started to grow our own veg I began thinking more about where food comes from.

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Presenting the latest member of our asparagus troop in the extended asparagus bed. I won’t be eating him just yet! Poor little fella!

South America seems to be a growing (tee hee) food producer. Often that’s where the blueberries and asparagus come from particularly in European winter time.

What’s also interesting is that blueberries, asparagus and rhubarb are unusual and often gourmet foods but can be grown quite easily.

It seems a bit weird to buy asparagus that was grown in Peru.

It’s best eaten really fresh, so how long did it take to get here and how was freshness sustained on the journey?

If it flew long haul then that sounds really bad to me. Was it packaged in inert gas to prevent further maturing?

It doesn’t say.

I get a major kick out of seeing our first asparagus spear poking it’s little green nose out of the ground. It’s one of the first things that’s ready and edible.

Often it’s surrounded by frosty nothingness. Even more often it looks rediculous. It’s a very strange plant. It’s the kind of plant that I think most people don’t realise grows the way it does.

I also thought that growing asparagus would be difficult. But now I know different. It’s takes a while to establish it but after that because it’s a permanent plant there are many others that require more work.

So I don’t buy asparagus from South America. I’d rather grow my own.

I’ve learnt that it has a six week growing season locally. It’s food miles journey is about ten seconds on some days as I tend to eat it raw!

Strangely enough, blueberries are one of the next things that I look forward to on the plot. Blueberries like a special type of soil. That sounds ominous!

I didn’t know this when I got our blueberries.

We have five plants in a segregated patch. So we dug out the normally sandy stuff and replaced it with rhododendron soil. Each year we add a significant quantity of dead leaves to mimic the soil in a forest. They only get rain water as there’s no other kind at the allotment.

The plants seem to like it.

There are five now because they each bear fruit at slightly different times. So that way we get a longer harvest of blueberries. They can also be grown in a large pot.

A complex aspect of this topic is whether food brought to Europe (or North America) from developing countries helps to support their local economy.

I’m concerned that in Kenya, for example, while jobs are created, food for local people is scarce. The water supply is also redirected to the growth of those yummy beans.

And ironically beans grow well in Europe, just not all year round. So seasonal eating is important too.

Food exploitation is a long standing industry. In Ireland, during the famine 1845-1851, when the potato crop failed, plenty of food was being exported to feed the Crimean War.

Meanwhile a million people died of starvation.

We do still need to buy fruit and veg during the year but when we do we think about the passport it bears.

Another key fruit for us is apples. European apples are readily available. The thing that I think about with apples is their normal fruiting season. They should be ready in late summer or early autumn.

And then they will keep.

For a long time.

Often with a bag of apples from far away they don’t seem to last long at all.

But then if they were picked in the autumn of a different part of the world and then travel by boat to Europe they will have spent their keeping season at sea. This is sometimes combated by packing in inert gas to stop the ageing process.

When the package is opened ageing atmosphere surrounds the fruit. Then the wrinkles set in quickly.

Eating foods that are grown nearby at their optimum time is also more rewarding with flavour and nutrients.

The blueberries are coming into bud now.

I can’t wait.

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15 comments on “Think Global: Buy Local

  1. lindaswildlifegarden
    April 17, 2014

    Awesome post and thank you for sharing

    Like

  2. The Crazy Crone
    April 17, 2014

    Very little is imported here in North Cyprus – mangoes and bananas are the exception. Everything’s seasonal and pretty much grown locally or imported from Turkey. The fruit and vegies are fresh and plentiful when they’re in season – currently we’re snowed under with strawberries. Oranges and lemons grow in abundance, wild asparagus have just finished their season. And here you actually buy spuds unpackaged with dirt on!

    Like

    • lizard100
      April 17, 2014

      I seem to remember being jealous a month ago if the produce you had access to then. In France they also have French grown stuff. You’re very lucky!

      Like

  3. silverbells2012
    April 17, 2014

    About when does asparagus appear through the ground? This is my first year of growing it, so I’m a bit in the dark.

    I think people buy out of season from around the world because they’ve been conditioned to do so. And they have the choice. If you stop going to supermarkets (or any outlets which buy from non-local sources), though, your choices change….

    Like

    • lizard100
      April 17, 2014

      Very true. The asparagus should start any day now. If you started this year then you may only see fairly narrow spears to begin with. They’re like mini asparagus spears. But some varieties start fairly strong. It’s very awe inspiring when you spot one.

      Like

      • silverbells2012
        April 17, 2014

        I planted them in December, so probably not going to see too much this year. Hope I can distinguish them from the weeds, though of course I won’t actually be picking any this year.

        Like

      • lizard100
        April 17, 2014

        You might not see much. They are also like tiny fronds when they get started.

        Like

      • silverbells2012
        April 18, 2014

        Well, it will be interesting to see!

        Like

      • lizard100
        April 18, 2014

        Definitely!

        Like

  4. tootlepedal
    April 17, 2014

    We grew and enjoyed asparagus a lot but it doesn’t last and takes up a lot of room so Mrs Tootlepedal let it go.

    Like

  5. Rambling Woods
    April 19, 2014

    I haven’t had a veg garden for years… Every neighbor had chemicals sprayed that blew into our yard…. We stopped trying…

    Like

    • lizard100
      April 19, 2014

      That’s terrible! The allotment has rules about being organic. Thankfully the ones each side of us are but some others look dubious to me.

      Like

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