Asparagus growing in field. ( file photo by Simon Crouch)

Comment: Eating Into Spring

It’s a little bit early, I know, to start thinking about grilling fresh asparagus, beside a barbecued pork chop, but some fresh greens are actually possible, and at this time of year I can’t help but think that strawberries just can’t be far away.

Wait. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

The first new crop of the year, maple syrup is over at least in my little corner of the world. But as for fresh spring greens, well I’m not sure that even dandelions have started to sprout yet.

It is, however one of the joys of the warming weather that one gets to eat into the new seasons as they arrive. Asparagus does inevitably lead to the rest of the fruits and veggies of summer.

It does seem however that the seasons are stretching and sometimes that’s a good thing. Better storage facilities and processes than we enjoyed in the 1960’s means eating a fresh Ontario apple in April is, well, like eating a fresh Ontario apple.

Better varieties and procedures however not only expand the opportunities for local farms, they have made imported varieties cheaper and better as well. Sometimes I almost hate to say it but the strawberries you can get all winter long, don’t taste of nothing anymore, like they once did.

For some people, let’s be honest, this means there is no longer a reason to wait to enjoy the fruits and vegetables of the spring, and summer and fall.

While this may be seen as a detriment by some I would argue there is still nothing like the freshest in order to enjoy the most flavour, and other people have argued that if you can get decent imports all year, or at least for most of the year, it helps people, that is the customer keep their flavour buds tuned to those products. And that may well be good.

I was thinking about that because I have also been thinking about some of the new crops being grown locally. Hops for sure, some of the greens we don’t always see and things like figs.

Yeah, figs. We lugged our two fig trees, well fig shrubs out of the basement recently, and we’ll see how they do. It’s a bit of a novelty for us, but there are people thinking about figs as a small experimental commercial venture.

We all know about efforts to grow hazelnuts of course, and there have been stabs at kiwis.

Can specialty spices like bay laurel be far behind?

Ontario farmers, some of them at least are looking for different crops, with some success. It wasn’t all that long ago that sweet potatoes didn’t grow in Ontario.

And sometimes without much success. We still can’t, after all get fresh Ontario kiwis.

As technology, in the form of tolerant varieties and more efficient greenhouses develop I expect the day will come. Some people won’t like the idea, but food independence and good health, I submit would do us all some good.

I’d even be willing to drizzle a little hazelnut and kiwi puree on a barbecuing pork or lamb chop. Mixed in with a little applesauce and mint.