After my epiphany of February, in which I give into my love of the opulent grocery store, I’ve been making an effort to 1. give myself more time in such store and 2. enjoy this time. Last week, I did neither. I rushed to TJs around 3:00 p.m., famished due to a lunch skip and with a serious hankering for brussels sprouts. Sauteed sprouts, salty and yum, a new recipe in hand…I wheeled to the produce section in ye ol’ TJs, and what do you know. No brussels sprouts.
Rather harried, I asked the TJs employee who ambled over moments after I sighed desperately at the refridgerated produce section: “But…what happened to the brussels?!”
He nodded sympathetically. “Freezes. We’re going to have a lot of shortages in our vegetables coming up.” I nodded like I knew what he was talking about and continued grumpily on my way. Ralphs has a similar sign up, a plaque on the produce mirrors that pleads something to the effect of: forgive our shortages, farm freezes, we’re working on it. Pshaw. I live in a country of bounty! Surely we will find another place for produce.
And then I went a Googling.
“A major freeze in Mexico earlier this month has resulted in a shortage across the U.S. of tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and other produce that could last until April and lead to higher prices at the grocery store. Supermarkets, distributors and restaurant chains are scrambling to find other sources for the items and to offer replacements. But the problem has been compounded by the fact that inclement weather has also hit other growing regions, like Florida and Texas, that would normally be able to make up for a supply interruption from Mexico.”
Yesterday I finally finished my read of The Omnivores Dilemma, and nodded in accordance of how, in any case, we should be eating seasonly—that is, the seasons of where we live, not the seasons of Chile or Mexico. It’s easy to agree with, but harder to incorporate when you’re just sort of used to things being there… and then they’re not. Though the freeze destroyed, according to one article I read, 60 percent of certain Mexican crops—and put a fragile economy in an even more fragile state—not having what we’re accustomed to having (or, what will probably be the case, having to pay seriously more for it) may be a helpful reminder of how fragile our food system really is… and how, despite its scope, weather still trumps industry.