Thoughts on the Local Food Movement and Its Practice in Spain
I had the pleasure of spending two years living in beautiful Amherst, Massachusetts while attending the University of Massachusetts. This small college town is surrounded by farmland and forests and is a food lover’s haven when it comes to quirky farmer’s markets, pick your own crops (berries, pumpkins, apples, etc.), and a variety of restaurants focused on sustainability. In Western Massachusetts the local foods movement is alive and well—sometimes to the point of excess when people start giving you the evil eye in the supermarket for choosing to buy strawberries off season, or claiming to only eat “heirloom” tomatoes. I am a big proponent of eating locally, but had to laugh when a restaurant patron once asked me (a waitress at the time) if the chocolate used in the sacher torte was local! I assume they were confusing the term with certified fair trade, because it’s quite clear that there are no cocoa trees in the forests of Massachusetts!
I love the ideas behind the local foods movement and try to buy local foods whenever possible. I also think that children should grow up learning to eat seasonally. As a child I didn’t even question the fact that in the middle of December Mom would buy mangos at the supermarket. It didn’t occur to me to ask where they were from or how they arrived at my local Stop and Shop. It has only been by living in Andalusia that I have began to memorize the seasons of various fruits and vegetables. In Seville it was often difficult to find anything off-season—and if you did it was obvious from its sky-high price. That’s one thing I loved about living there; you may not have a wide selection, but what you get is likely delicious, fresh, and locally grown.
Here in Madrid I definitely notice a big difference in the fruit and vegetables available to consumers. The supermarkets seem to carry almost everything year round, similar to where I grew up in the US. I think that the key to finding good produce in Madrid is to discover and trust your local frutería. These small shops should be able to tell you what is in season and where their produce comes from.
Do you make an effort to eat locally? Do you have any restaurant recommendations in your part of the world?
Try testing your knowledge of seasonal produce (a vague guide to the Northern Hemisphere)!
What is the season for…
Blueberries? Late Summer
Tomatoes? Late Spring/Summer/Early Fall
How did you do?
Slowfood España (In Spanish)