I had a teacher in middle school that told my class that we had the attention span of a “ferret after drinking a double cappuccino”. This expression always stuck with me and the sentiments were not limited to one teacher forced in a room with 25 eighth graders after lunch. Many people believe that our attention spans have been reduced by increases in multi-tasking as well as all of the ways we have to be entertained: TV, computers, video games… This may be true, but I’d like to take it a step further. I think that our attention spans have shortened with regard to our diets.
Most foods are seasonal, meaning they only grow at certain times of the year. For centuries people have found enough food to survive all four seasons, however they at different things at different times of the year. This changed as we started shipping food around the global. Now when products are out of season in one part of the world they are in season in another part. This means that consumers can eat whatever they want at any time of the year.
The ability to eat almost any food at any point in the year does not prove my point. You see the decrease in attention span when people try to eat local or in season. Meaning they stop eating fresh berries in the middle of winter (for example). There are many benefits of eating local foods, including they are cheaper, fresher and potentially higher quality. However the trade-off is that you can only eat what is available in your area during that time of the year and by the end of the season people get antsy.
No matter how long or how short a growing season is, I find that by the end of it, I am excited for the new produce. Cherries are in season for 6 weeks in the middle of the summer. I must have bought two pounds of cherries every week for those six weeks. And I think that satisfied my desire for cherries until next summer.
Most growing seasons are much longer than cherries. I get most of my produce from a CSA (my CSA is through Stars Hollow) and for the last several months we have gotten beautiful summer squash almost every week. They taste delicious but honestly I have run out of things to do with it. Maybe judgment should be passed on the lack of imagination I have in the kitchen or maybe I know I can walk into the supermarket and purchase anything I want and so another meal focused around squash seems dreadful. That first chicken dinner with roast summer squash seemed so light and summer-y. Now that Labor Day has passed and summer is almost over, I made soup. This was my desperate attempt to find a new way to prepare the squash so that I could convince myself to eat it. Roasting it is a great option, but after the amount of squash I have eaten this summer, I knew it would just still in the refrigerator.
That being said I am excited for fall. I am excited about the cooler temperatures, the changing leaves, the heartier meals and the new produce. We have started getting apples from our CSA and this week there is butternut squash. I love butternut and acorn squash, but it is only the first week in September and in the back of my mind I know that by the time winter gets here I will have consumed more butternut squash soup and cook butternut squash with cinnamon and sugar, than I ever expected too.
Since we have so many options we have the luxury of getting bored with season foods so quickly.