One of the mantras that Jamie Oliver practices is the thought that food is best when it’s fresh. It’s better for you because the food hasn’t had time to break down, and perhaps hasn’t been modified so that it travels long distances without becoming bruised or crushed. It’s also better for you because that means that the food is more likely to have been grown locally, which means you are supporting your neighbors by eating hte food that they’ve grown and this in turn benefits the environment because it means that the pollution caused by transportation has been reduced. While some of these might not be true individually, or in a single case, certainly the benefit of eating fresh, local food is obvious. Not to mention the effect fresh food has on the flavor!
In order to promote and help plan your meals, Jamie Oliver has on his website, a chart that describes about 50-60 berries and vegetables and the months in which they can be found fresh. The bad thing for me is that this is only for England! As far as I know there is no equivalent chart for the many areas of the USA, so if anyone knows of one, especially one for California, please let me know!
I suppose that it isn’t really that difficult to go to your local farmers market and buy what they have, but I think it would be an interesting experiment to buy the same food at three different times – first harvest, middle harvest, and last harvest, to see if you can discern any differences in taste or lifespan in the refrigerator. I’m in Zone 9, so when I get a chance, I’ll see if I can’t do a quick search to see if some reputable site has the same sort of chart that Jamie Oliver has on his website. In any case, if you live in Britain, you’re in luck! I suggest you check it out so you can try and plan some especially fresh meals this weekend.