Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A view of the world

It's a bit dizzying right now. 

A difficult news week at home in the U.S. 

Trying to learn more French - a difficult language for English speakers, I'm thinking, with all of the silent letters and combined pronunciation of words. Yikes.

And the lovely interjection today of watching a German gardening show that included the garden of an English garden blogging friend, Victoria Summerly, had me reminded of a wonderful visit to Oxford (also featured in the show) and the Cotswolds, where she lives. 

Hmm, I could understand the German almost word for word, even after many decades past my year there post-graduate school.  But a visit about 5 years ago had me reviving those modest skills, so perhaps that's how my brain remembers (I did study German for 6+ years in middle and high school, and a bit in college, before living there for a year).

Well, maybe I can eventually learn French, too, or at least enough to converse here in Quebec. I had a bit of French as a 3rd and 4th grader, and quite a bit of it seems familiar.  Thank goodness for the wonderful online resources and classes available, now.

The Canadian view of U.S. politics is interesting, to say the least, and another friend's post about the reliance of Canada on imported food, has me musing. 

50+ banana varieties in Mto Wa Mbu, Tanzania, seen some time ago
There actually is more focus on eating local here in Quebec than I would have thought; it's similar to Asheville, which is a very eat local kind of place.  And new tariffs just encourage thinking along these lines, apparently.

But it's all about context.  Here in Le Bic, what's local right now (fresh) is asparagus, radishes, and a few greens (in the farmer's markets); there's Quebec-raised pork, chicken, and beef in the groceries, Canadian milk, and there are delicious Quebec-grown potatoes (much better than at home). Quebec-grown apples are quite nice, too (they're Cortland, Spartan, Empire, etc).

Lots of folks have small vegetable gardens (why they'd try to grow tomatoes and peppers here surprises me), but they try.  I have lettuce, swiss chard, and kale growing here from starts, but it's hardly going to feed us for the next month.

So it's not surprising that folks in the markets are buying all the produce that we're familiar with -- but that's all imported.  Interestingly, more is coming directly from Mexico (peppers, carrots, lettuce, etc), and even more interesting is seeing onions from the Netherlands and garlic and broccoli (!)  from Spain. The organic spinach that I recently bought was from the U.S., as some of the organic produce often is, but I haven't looked at the labels for the large lettuce/spinach/greens boxes that I've also bought, thinking it was cheaper than at home (~ $4 US vs $6 US).

I haven't even looked at the green beans or zucchini for sale -- they're almost certainly from Mexico, too.  And berries -- there will be wonderful berries here but not until mid-July through August.  We're just getting the first strawberries from the Ile d'Orleans in the market, and they look quite modest, actually.  But the bananas that my gardening companion loves -- well, they're coming from different countries than at home in NC:  Columbia, the Dominican Republic, etc. and are different "brands."

This isn't so different than what I saw in Stockholm last summer - fresh vegetables and fruits imported from all over, but again with a bent towards what's closer distance-wise.  Or in Umbria in April -- LOTS of great (and truly delicious) produce from southern Italy, particularly Sicily, I thought, but not much local in April.

Here's a link to a post from 2008 about starting on my local food journey.  I always look at labels of origin...and try not to buy too much out of season, but I'm mindful that we do depend and benefit from a global food supply.

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