I was just down at the shops waiting for a script to be filled (after my horrid dentist visit, but that’s another story to be told another time) and I wandered into Coles to see if I could pick up some asparagus. I always look forward to spring time, as I adore asparagus, especially when it is young and tender and fresh.
Technically, the asparagus season has just started as it’s now spring, but it does sometimes start to come in a little earlier. My hopes were high.
So, imagine my surprise to see a sign on the asparagus in Coles informing me that the asparagus season is over. And then, I was urged to enjoy “fresh” asparagus from Peru.
It’s wrong on so many levels. Well, three, anyway.
Firstly, the sheer factual incorrectness of it. It’s misinformation like this that keeps consumers in the dark and really scuttles our efforts to learn about seasonality. Mr. Coles, the asparagus season is not over. As the Carpenters would say, we’ve only just begun.
And secondly, Peru? Seriously. Imagine the resources that have gone into transporting those little bunches from South America all the way to Australia. Australia, where we grow the most beautiful and diverse produce.
Third problem – have a LOOK at this asparagus they have freighted in from Peru. It looks like trees from some weird Peruvian forest. If you snapped the woody bits off this asparagus, you’d have nothing left. It is a drab, dull green, it is dried out, pockmarked and cracked. It is, frankly, disgusting.
I was not happy. (Can you tell by my tone yet? I am aiming for a bit of a cranky tone here.)
So, I went around to the local fruit shop, who source fruit and veg from 5 different local farmers. And they had asparagus from…Peru!! I asked why. Apparently the inclement winter has delayed the asparagus season a little. So if they want to offer asparagus, they have to import it.
My concern is that we have become so used to having things available to us all year round, that we are losing our knowledge of when things are in season and at their best. And it is creating a demand for imported produce.
Please, please don’t buy asparagus from Peru. Please let’s band together and send a message to the sellers that we can wait for our beautiful, fresh Australian asparagus. Let’s enjoy foods as they are meant to be – fresh, seasonal, local. It’s better for our taste buds, our health, our farmers, our economy and our planet.
Rant over, but watch this space in summer when the supermarkets will be flogging oranges from the USA!
***Oh, and a disclaimer – I didn’t check out Woolies or any other supermarkets, they may have horrible Peruvian asparagus too, or they may not, it’s just that Coles was the supermarket I happened to be in!
For more details about this issue see: • www.oxfam.org.au/grow