How Much Is that Peach in the Market?

I love it when my newspaper is full of intriguing articles that stretch the mind. I am also  fond of that moment when someone close to me reads it and is inspired. That happened the other day when I showed a column by Virginia Postrel to Devorah and she ended up reading it out loud. It was about the dilemma faced by locavores, who preach eating locally above all else, yet like many New Yorkers, are dismayed when their local farmers markets offer only varieties of apples for sale instead of more exotic fare. “Were they expecting locally grown oranges and mangoes? Coffee and spices from the plantations of East Hampton?”

Postrel makes the point that we are blessed in this age to be able to browse aisles of vast stores with so much variety…an unheard of selection of lettuce and exotic produce that few other societies have ever had in such abundance. This cornucopia of choice and convenience is what the eat local food movement is against.  Yet how much are we willing to pay for this great privilege? Not as much as we should, in real terms.

Take peaches. Despite the availability of crops during the winter, these fragile fruits just don’t travel well. They are picked ahead of time, and expected to ripen en route. But they don’t get any sweeter, just softer. So for that true burst of sweetness you have to get them just off the tree, which only a farmer or a family with a backyard peach tree can do.