Here’s something you probably didn’t know: potatoes are not in season. It’s an odd thing to hear when they’re so readily available, but it’s true – the director of Melbourne Farmers Markets, Miranda Sharp, told us. If you shop locally, you may have noticed fewer apples, too.
“We don’t think of potatoes or apples as ‘having a season’ but in fact all the apples were well and truly picked by July. At our markets we are getting less and less – certainly only a very small trickle of the late season apples are around by Christmas,” she says.
It’s the same with potatoes; the main grower isn’t currently trading at all. Instead of potatoes, November is best for crunchy, delicate greens. Spring vegetables such as asparagus are in full swing, along with sugar snaps, peas, broad beans and lettuces. Fresh garlic and strawberries are also back and in a week of two cherries will be reminding us that Christmas is around the corner.
Most of the fruit and vegetables we eat change variety throughout the year. Take citrus for example: we enjoy a massive variety throughout winter, but lately you’ve probably bitten into a dry, tasteless orange.
“That’s because it’s the end of one season and the beginning of the next,” explains Sharp. Throughout winter, navel oranges reign supreme, but we’ve just entered the Valencia season, which will be around all summer.
“We need to encouraging understanding as consumers,” says Sharp. “For instance, if you get a dry orange this time of year you might say, ‘Oranges aren’t what they used to be, I’m not going to bother with them anymore’, but there is so often a reason for what’s going on with fruit and veg.”
The best way for us to remain educated is to shop at local farmers markets and chat with producers. And as we enter the festive season, consider bringing a fruit basket or box of cherries to a dinner party instead of wine or chocolate.
“It tastes good, it looks good and it does good,” says Sharp. “It makes such a meaningful gift because you’re directly supporting someone who has put their heart and soul in growing it.”
To find out which farmers markets are on in Melbourne this weekend, head to mfm.com.au.