In season

Well, you’d never see this as a promotion from an American newspaper. I just caught this tweet from the Guardian’s Comment is free, in full:

“We can’t keep fucking flying stuff around the fucking globe like their’s no tomorrow. Fuckin ‘ell! We’re fucked”

Well, it did make me click. I thought it might be about American interventionism. No, it’s a reaction to chef Gordon Ramsey declaring that out-of-season vegetables should be outlawed.

The swearing-chef extraordinaire has declared war on out of season produce, suggesting that restaurants should be fined for using, say, strawberries in February.

The Michelin-starred chef thinks that both fruit and vegetables should be “locally sourced and only on menus when in season”. Not only does the produce taste better, but it also helps to cut carbon emissions by reducing the number of miles needed to transport them.

Oh, bloody ‘ell. So just to make ourselves feel good, let’s make a bunch of Mexican strawberry farmers and Chilean asparagus farmers — not to mention truckdrivers, ship crews, port crews, and supermarket help — unemployed. Priorities, people.

Remind me not to go to Ramsey’s restaurants in cabbage season.

  • http://canthook.com Harl Delos

    Have you tasted a tomato lately? It doesn’t taste like a tomato; it tastes like a hockey puck.

    On labor day, a tomato picked in your garden, still warm from the sun, will be better than sex. And after decades of experimenting with a number of partners in a wide varieties of activities, I know sex can be pretty damn good.

    A tomato ought not be crunchy, Jeff.

    If you could pick a tomato in Panama this afternoon, and get it to me tomorrow, it might be red. It might be juicy. It might be tasty. And pigs might fly. The fact is, they pick the tomatoes when they’re just breaking yellow, ship them hard, and gas them to turn them somewhat red before the sell them in the stores here. And they aren’t really tomatoes. You might as well argue that Velveeta is cheese. It’s not. It’s a cheese substitute, and they are tomato substitutes.

    I feel no compulsion to employ stoop laborers, draymen, longshoremen and sailors in Honduras just so I can have something that looks like a tomato on my plate. It’s May. I should be eating locally-grown broccoli, and locally-grown asparagus, not because I think the people who live 20 miles down the road are more important than the people who live halfway around the world, but because I care about my taste buds.

    Bananas? They don’t grow in Pennsylvania. We take what we can get, and as the world’s most popular fruit, the average person in Pennsylvania eats about 27 pounds of bananas annually. That’s up 55% from 20 years ago, while the number of apples – which ARE grown in Pennsylvania – has deadlined at 19 pounds per person. Maybe that’s because growers are pushing Red Delicious, which is a pretty apple that is as hard as, and as tasteless as, wood.

    There are lots of varieties of apples which have wonderful flavor and texture. MacIntosh, Jonathon and Winesap are wonderful eating, out of hand, June Transparent makes wonderful apple jelly, Grimes makes a wonderful pie apple. Are apple orchardists dense or something?

    Gordon Ramsey is an abusive jerk, a banana that turned ripe a month ago.. If you’re listening to him for advice, you have far more serious problems to deal with than climate change presents. You don’t want to visit his restaurants during ANY season.

  • Michael Katcher

    Fortunately there is a market solution for this problem. WTI Crude Oil closed just shy of 126 today. Pretty soon the cost of transporting this stuff around the globe will be high enough that people won’t be willing to pay for it. Excess consumption of energy is bad. Government mandates are worse.

  • pdh

    “So just to make ourselves feel good, let’s make a bunch of Mexican strawberry farmers and Chilean asparagus farmers — not to mention truckdrivers, ship crews, port crews, and supermarket help — unemployed.”

    I was beginning to think that there were a whole bunch of good reasons to do this other than to make me feel good. Like not screwing up the planet for my children. Thanks for helping me to clear my priorities. Those rubber strawberries will taste so much better without all of the guilt.

  • http://burden.ca/blog/ Tim Burden

    Hmmm…the normally astute Jarvis fails food politics. Now what am I supposed to eat?

    Or maybe there’s a message here: support poor migrant workers even if it’s a really bad idea. Well, he did say he was liberal.

  • http://www.journalistopia.com Danny Sanchez

    And here I thought at first that he was talking about newspaper foreign correspondents…

  • Christian

    Yeah, stay off food and agriculture until you’ve done the basic research.

  • Paul

    While the global production of food currently makes economic sense that is no reason not to eat more locally which also means eating what is in season. Especially when the food item is in season locally. But that tomato from the local farmer in the summer rather than the one shipped from some place remote, it will taste soooooo much better plus you’ll be economically supporting your ‘neighbor’

  • Brian O’Connell

    I doubt that any of the commenters here restrict themselves to locally produced food. Me, I likes my coffee & oj in the morning.

  • http://brennybaby.blogspot.com Richard Brennan

    While I usually agree with what you write, I have to disagree with this post. There are plenty of farmers in the UK-many of them poor and struggling to survive-who are able to sell restaurants local strawberries and local asparagus.

    Besides, if we don’t cut down on flying there might not be any strawberries or asparagus in years to come, what with climate change.

    Besides, I’m sure “Mexican strawberry farmers and Chilean asparagus farmers” can find people locally to sell to. Using the argument that a practice should not be curtailed or banned because people will lose their jobs could justify keeping hunting foxes in the UK, and indeed is used by the pro-hunt lobby, even though many farmers are sick of the hunt trampling their land.

  • Andy Freeman

    > even though many farmers are sick of the hunt trampling their land.

    Huh? Why couldn’t UK farmers keep the hunt off their land?

    If land owners can’t exclude folks who they don’t like, you’ve got bigger problems than fox hunts, problems that banning fox hunts doesn’t address.

  • Andy Freeman

    Who is forcing folks to buy food that they don’t like?

    Or, is the problem that other folks are buying food said food?

  • http://www.silverbrowonfood.com Silverbrow

    Jeff, couldn’t agree more. The whole eat local thing – as a way of life – is rubbish. It may assuage guilt but as ever with food, being proscriptive ends up being counter-productive. The problem with intensively farmed food is that it economically makes sense, which means it might actually be better for the environment than less intensive food grown round the corner.

    As for Gordy, the boys at London Food and Drink aptly demonstrate his hypocrisy: http://londonfood.typepad.com/stuff/2008/05/two-gordons-tal.html

  • SteveSgt

    Science News Magazine recently published an article titled “IT’S THE MEAT NOT THE MILES.” See: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/31673/title/It’s_the_meat_not_the_miles

    The summary is that the over-all carbon footprint of eating distantly-grown produce is less that eating locally-grown meat. So if you cut meat out of your diet, but still eating that Australian orange, you’re doing your planet-mates less harm than if you eat locally produced bovine flesh.

    I also wholeheartedly agree with Harl Delos on the relative merits of sex and fresh, home-grown tomatoes.

    I have a less draconian legal solution than Gordon Ramsey’s though: I would like to see more requirements that all food purveyors make readily available, and even post on signs, details on the place of origin of said food product, chemicals used, date of harvest if it’s purported to be “fresh”, and ideally the percent of it’s price that goes to pay off-farm transportation costs, and on-farm production labor costs. Educated consumers are far more powerful than other forms of social engineering.