Local Produce

Apart from preparing the beds in Mamaroneck and planting some seed back in April, I've done zero vegetable gardening this year. There is a patch here at the family home that I'm sure I could utilize for that purpose, but I have had little inclination and the photograph above is the reason why. The local produce available is incredible. Despite my earlier thoughts on the price of growing vegetables where I rationalized the cost of commuting half an hour from New york City was worth the experience, I'm wavering somewhat now.

Within walking distance of home we have a fresh market, a supermarket and a night market (once a week). The produce is largely, vibrantly fresh. Go somewhere specific like Little India in Singapore where I took the photo above and you start to see the produce expressing it's target customers specific tastes. Apart from the Okra and those large black pod things that are Banana flowers ( they are used as a vegetable here), everything else is Eggplant. The Indian community relishes the subtle flavor differences and shapes of all the different kinds. For example the white ones are preferred in certain curries because of their more acid flavor. I've never seen those long green ones before and those purple ones are small, like purple eggs and beyond cute.

At the night market where the clientele is predominantly Chinese, the vegetable selection includes an intriguing assortment of medicinal vegetables. Alongside the more recognizable greens are bundles of unfamiliar odd colored and shaped leaves that are for making tonic soups. At the morning market, where I go every week with my Dad, we buy our vegetables from a Malay lady who quite shockingly cautions me not to select vegetables that she thinks are not up to par. Where are the vegetables from?, I enquire. We have a 'kebun' she tells me- a word that equally describes a garden or plantation so its hard to decipher the size of the operation or her methods (for now) but at least I know it's relatively local.

At the supermarket, the vegetables are more familiar as they have more information about them. I see signs for 'local' tomatoes and bundles of vegetables with stickers that say 'organic' or 'grown in Cameron Higlands' a cool highland area about 270 miles away. The prices here are the highest but are a fraction, perhaps a third of prices in the US. Shopping for vegetables here is liberated from a principal concern at my old haunt the Union Square Market, affordability.

With produce this fresh, varied, easily available and cheap - the urge to grow is virtually extinguished, but not completely. There are two things I'm jonesing for. Fresh (Italian) basil and mint. You just can't get it anywhere and I am dying for a tomato sauce pasta with fresh basil or a mint cucumber and yogurt salad. I'll have to order some seed and get going with that but one thing I won't have to worry about is when to plant it as the growing season is year round here. Yes, for added inner conflict, it's easier to grow produce here too.

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