My Grape Ignorance: An ‘Eat Local’ Admission

When it comes to varieties of various fruits and vegetables, I feel that my knowledge is severely lacking. Part of me thinks that I should know which grapes are grown and available in the here in the United States, but then there’s the other part of me that feels that the produce department is a dark, scary place that mocks my lack of food knowledge.

I’ve never been a fan of being intimidated by my own ignorance. That’s partially why the posts where I list out each variety of the food I’m researching. They’re fairly easy to write and I’m able to get up to speed on what is what in the produce section, and when it should be there.

The down side to this is that, with my new knowledge, I’m confronted by examples of things I often suspected, but never had enough information to prove. For example:

Current American grapes available at 3 of my local grocery stores here in Seattle? Zero.

Oh, we have loads of Chilean grapes. Logically, this makes sense as there’s a limited growing season for grapes, regardless of where they’re grown. If there are American grapes currently available, there’s probably an extended cost in producing them and transporting them to the Pacific Northwest. Whereas the Chilean grapes are clearly in season, and are cheaper to get to my market, even if they have to travel 10,000 miles to get here.

I, not being a regular purchaser of grapes, never took the time to figure this little logical fact of nature out. As recently as two years ago, I would have walked through the supermarket in Mid-january, seen grapes on sale, and thought to myself “Sheesh…California can grow anything!!” and then move on to the cheese table. I would have never thought to find out that Chile provides 24% of the global supply of fresh table grapes, second only to Italy.

Now that we’re moving into May, the Chilean grape season is coming to an end, the grapes in my neck of the woods will become from closer sources. But that still doesn’t make me feel that much more grape-savvy. In this month where we’re supposed to “Eat Local”, I wonder how many of us know where the foods we don’t eat on a regular basis come from. I wonder how many people can say, without looking at a label, where the apple, pear or banana came from. Or how about the less popular produce such as asparagus, brussel sprouts or kale – how many people out there can point to the state or even country of origin for these veggies that have limited commercial appeal?

For the foods I don’t purchase on a regular basis, I don’t think I can answer those questions.

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