Almost all of us use supermarkets for most, if not all, of our weekly shops. With everything all in one place, the convenience is undeniable. Throw in bargain offers and great value for money, and is it any wonder that we choose to shop there instead of local shops or markets? In fact, there has been a lot written on the rise of supermarkets and the subsequent negative impact on, and closure of, smaller independent shops and markets. However, is it possible that the negative impact extends beyond the local economy? Has the rise of the supermarket led to an addiction to convenience, where we must have access to anything and everything, whenever we want?
For as well as the handiness of having everything under one roof, supermarkets also offer a huge selection of fresh produce all year round. It appears that supermarkets are not bound by the seasonal calendar of fruit and vegetables. You can get whatever you want, whenever you want, and I know I'm certainly guilty of buying produce out of season. We have become so addicted to the convenience of having produce all year round that we have forgotten the benefits of buying what's in season. This has led to a lack of creativity in cooking, with dishes and recipes losing their seasonal aspects. Because, if all types of fruit and vegetable are available all year round, there's no need to think outside the box with what you can use. Cooking does not need to reflect the different crops harvested at different times of the year.
There's also a common misconception that using seasonal produce will limit your choice. In fact, there are a huge variety of crops harvested at different times throughout the year; it's simply a question of adjusting shopping and cooking habits accordingly. And the relative abundance of the crop usually makes it less expensive. Seasonal produce is far less labour-intensive, with crops left to grow on their own, and this is reflected in the price.
And let's not forget about the taste, because that's what counts. Have you ever bought strawberries that are sour instead of sweet? Or wondered why your carrots are bland and lack any flavour? Despite the fact that produce is available year round in the supermarket, the simple truth is that fruit and vegetables are much more flavourful when in season, as opposed to any other time of the year. As a result, the taste is far superior and when produce is harvested fresh, with all their flavours intact, the result will show in cooking.
So whether or not you choose to shop in a supermarket or at a local shop, don't be a slave to 'convenience'. Let's kick this addiction and get back to basics: enjoying a fresh, seasonal calendar of produce with creative dishes to match. It's why it's called the 'Good Life' after all.