Transition time is here, this is the time of year where the growers and farmers pull up all the old dying debris to make way for the vegetables that blossom under the Arizona sun. Yes, we are heading into the blazing heat as of this weekend. Tucson temperatures will be soaring into the 100’s, full speed ahead. So, what does that mean for all those brave souls who live here? It means that–get ready, folks–the summer veggies are on their way! Luscious tomatoes, corn, peas, summer squash, watermelon, cantaloupe and peppers. Yes, you have been seeing a lot of these vegetables lining grocery shelves for months. I have been noticing that there are fresh blueberries all year round, but did you notice that they are from Chile? Yes, Chile–the South American Country, 5,336 miles away. I must pose the question: How far does our food travel? Which in turn leads to the question: what is the impact on qualities such as freshness, nutritional value or production practices in those countries? How about we wait for blueberry season to purchase those blueberries grown right here in the US.
Now, I must back-up a moment, in Arizona we aren’t lucky enough to have fresh blueberries from our local farms. But we do have amazing local produce like luscious fresh-picked cherries from English Family Farms and soon you will be seeing fresh-from-the-farm apricots, pluots, plums, raspberries and figs. The Heirloom Farmers Markets have helped countless farms and small growers expand their offerings; by recovering heirloom fruit and vegetable varieties, and pushing the boundaries of what’s grown, as well as extending the growing season here in the hottest part of the country. Did you know that you will find recently harvested Pearl Oyster mushrooms at the markets? Come by the Rillito Park on Sunday and check out Aravaipa Creekside Growers.
So, when you are shopping at the grocery store, read the label, find out where your food is coming from. Forego those blueberries from Chile, and stop by your favorite Farmers Market. You may find that those local cherries that traveled 82 miles will not only taste better, but you will have met and supported the people who grew them.