Can we PLEASE get strawberries???
How many times have I heard that from my kids in the supermarket? My foreign-born kids just can’t wrap their head around the fact that fruits and vegetables come in seasons, and that it is expensive enough to purchase them in season, much less have them imported from far away and pay even more out of season. They still count the days until the start of strawberry season and I purchase every week until the last morsel is gone from the store.
Of course, if you are a frugal shopper you don’t buy them the instant they appear in the supermarket- they are at their most expensive. You wait until the season is more established- then the price drops.
To help you in your quest, I found some great charts from Agrexco that shows what product is in season each month. They are too big to reprint here so go get yourself a copy from their web site. They have five versions: FRUIT, CITRUS, VEGETABLES, FRESH HERBS, AND GENERAL. Post them in your kitchen and then nobody can complain because you didn’t bring home mango in March or strawberries in September.
I really wanted to talk about the difference/similarity between the agricultural seasons in the Tanach and today but the only information I could find in English was from messianic Jewish sites. I will keep a lookout on the Hebrew sites and add a post if I find something interesting. In the meantime, I found a great chart for planting all types of seeds in Israel- what season, how deep, how far apart, and so on. We haven’t got the garden we used to have in chutz l’aretz, but my husband is slowly expanding our agricultural repertoire. Ours is strictly a leftover garden-we have pineapple from planting the tops, passiflora from leftover seeds, potatoes that sat too long and more.
One of my fellow bloggers, Bishul Bezol, wrote up a great post about eating in season. You can read about it here in Hebrew if you like but she has graciously allowed me to translate it to English. If your Hebrew is good, I highly recommend her blog. She has great recipes for frugal shoppers with beautiful pictures. If you go to her site, wish her a mazal tov on the birth of a new baby!
Here is a loose translation of her post- any mistakes are mine, any jokes are hers.
It is easy to say “buy fruits and vegetables in season”; it isn’t so easy to do. Stores don’t come with a sign that says, “here are the cheap in-season produce”- just the opposite. Plus, just because it is in season, doesn’t mean it is cheap. Produce with a short season or is imported will be more expensive than the alternative. For example fresh pineapple, even when in season, will still be more expensive. When should you buy produce? The same as if you buy clothing- the end of the season will be the cheapest, but you can also buy in the middle of the season. Like clothing, if you see the sign that says “New Collection”- just translate it to “These are the products you pay more for.”
Where do you buy your produce? If for example you go to the local grocer with perfect looking pyramids of produce who peels your lichi fruit and seeds your pomegranate for you, you will pay more, no matter what the season.
So how do you shop? Firstly, LOOK AT THE PRICES. Try to figure out how much those three pitaya will actually cost. Don’t pick recipes unless you know what the prices are in the market. Be flexible. If you have your heart set on a cherry pie and you find that they cost 35 shekels a kilo, change your fruit or change your recipe. As previous stated, don’t buy the “first fruits”- they are the most expensive and since the producers are in competition to be the first in the stores, the taste is not always ideal.