The Jew And The Carrot

Loving Zucchini in the Polar Vortex

By Joelle Abramowitz

  • Print
  • Share Share

Up until only very recently, I wouldn’t have had any problem with eating zucchini in January. I believed that a tomato was a tomato, a cucumber a cucumber, and a zucchini a zucchini, regardless of where it came from or what time of year it was. But this year, I decided to try to keep it local and seasonal. So while I should be curling up with a bowl of a rich winter squash soup and a mug of hot apple cider to wash it down, instead, I still have zucchini on my mind.

Why can’t I shake the zucchini, you ask? The story goes that this summer I committed to going to the farmers market each week and buying the majority of my produce there. And I wasn’t disappointed: the produce was so delicious, all on its own. Accordingly, I came home energized and excited to create and devour that evening’s meal. I cooked more than I had in a while. My favorite creation from the summer was a zucchini and ricotta galette. Perhaps what made it special was the delectability of the zucchini and its perfect pairing with the ricotta and sour cream-based crust. Or it could have been my sense of accomplishment after struggling with the dough in my un-air conditioned kitchen. But it might have also just been the company and sense of possibility on that summer evening.

By now, summer has come and gone. And despite how much I try to be, I’m really not a winter vegetable kind of person. But while I’m not as jazzed about the smaller variety of local vegetables available now, I also can’t bring myself to go back to my old ways.

Back in the day, I mostly got my produce from the supermarket, or even better, the discount produce stand. From time to time I would go to the farmers’ market to engage in a sort of voyeuristic tryst that mostly involving ogling all the pretty produce from afar, since, I thought, why would I want to pay more for something I could get from the supermarket for less? I am an economist, after all. And what about all the produce that likely wouldn’t be at the farmers’ market that particular week, but was always available at the grocery store?

So what changed? It took a move to the left coast, and to be honest, the Jewish community. The community I was active in partnered with Hazon to start a CSA, and as a result, I found myself compelled to actually consider where my produce came from. The thought that what produce I was eating was to be taken as seriously of a Jewish issue as what meat I was eating was a new concept to me, but it was one that made sense.

To make a long story short, the next year, I joined the CSA, and the year after, I became a site coordinator. I was great about eating local during my CSA months from July to October. But to be honest, I would slip back into my old grocery store ways once the CSA season ended. Moving forward in my relationship to the food system, this year I decided to take it to the next level and do my best to keep it local all the time.

Now, as winter is upon us, eating local, at least for me, becomes a real challenge. For one, it is difficult for me to give up eating whatever produce I want whenever I want. But as I find myself fantasizing about my summer zucchini, I realize that the frustration isn’t really about what I can and can’t eat. The real challenge, mine, anyway, is learning patience, trying to live in the moment, and letting go of what I can’t have.

So as the winter rolls on, I’m doing the best I can. I persist in trying to expand my winter vegetable horizons. I admit that some days I give in and eat something out of season from far away or even worse, processed beyond recognition, just so that I can get dinner on the table or lunch in my lunchbox. But even then, I can recognize now how I’d like to do it differently in the future. And I’m learning to see the beauty of the certainty that the zucchini will be back in due time.

Joelle Abramovitz is an economist at the U.S. Census Bureau and writes about food and life.

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: zucchini, seasonal eating, Smitten Kitchen

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love.
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.