I am amazed that I like fruit. I didn't used to.
About a year ago (this past February), I decided I would eat locally. (I still try to eat organically as well.) I was intrigued with trying to encounter the seasons since, well, being a transplant to San Francisco, I was finding it hard to notice them. And when I did, the summer felt like winter, and fall, what felt like early summer. Spring seemed to be autumn-like sometimes, and I'm not sure about winter since the last two have been 'abnormal', I'm told.
I started buying locally at the co-op grocery store near me which valued doing business with local farmers. They do sell produce from Chile like grapes in the winter or apples in the summer, but I began to become aware of just how much the fruit and vegetables changed with the times of year. Surprised rather. Soon, I began to love going to the grocery store just to see the new shapes and colors and to also discover or rather sort of look inquisitively at the new strange names of say, a peach. The northern Californian seasons can be known by walking through the produce aisles! And I was coming to learn and cherish that. Growing up in the Midwest from the late '80s to early '00s, the grocery stores usually only carried one kind of tangerine, one kind of orange, perhaps two kinds of apples (Fuji and Red Delicious...possibly Granny Smiths), and peaches that were crispy. As a result, I really only ever ate one kind of produce: Fuji apples. I would have one every day in the morning and did so for about 15 years.
The first year of living here, I was still in my routine until one day I noticed that I couldn't quite buy the same Fuji apples as I did before--these were not fresh, crispy, a little sweet and tangy--but blander than my palate had become used to. (Come to think of it, I had started shopping there in the fall when I moved into that neighborhood, and these apples are at their local peak then.) Standing in front of the now rather small box of apples, I was having a hard time making out the color of their skin.
At that moment, I looked around and noticed the produce area was blooming with so many kinds of citrus--how could there be what seemed like ten different kinds of tangerines?? And oranges? That moment was couched in this larger thought experiment of orienting myself by other things seasons offer besides weather: food. So, every time I went to the store, I began to sample, as in buy, the different fruits. Instead of getting seven of one 'prototype', I would get one of each kind of variety, making notes about each one and then trying them out each day. I learned that I liked sweeter fruit as opposed to more acidic ones. Then, the following week, I would buy those few kinds again next week (or try the new one that has just 'blossomed' into existence) and enjoy for the next few weeks till those faded out and new ones faded in (Donut peaches anyone?). This rhythm kept time well.
A year plus a few months of eating locally, I am shocked that I actually love tangerines (like Satsumas from Nov through March or Golden Nugget in March through May) or peaches (or strawberries for that matter). Last year, I learned that my taste buds adored Spring Lady peaches or another one that sat right next to them, but I forgot their name. Last week and this week, the first fruits of peach varieties made their debut of the year, and I have tasted two, new varieties that I didn't come across last year (probably because I decided peaches were my new thing to try about mid-way through summer and missed these). I am head over heals for Summer Zee Yellow peach and Summer Sweet White peach. I've had four in the last two days. Melts in your mouth goodness.
Additionally, what's interesting is that not only do my taste buds want what is in season and local, I find my body does as well. Sure, there may be a preference for the sweeter produce rather than more acidic ones, but in general, I am appreciating what is grown close in that specific time of year as it helps to navigate the sun, clouds, rain, and whatever is in between. This time around, my latest adventure is trying out cherries. I think I have had about three cherries in all of my life--no joke. Really, I'm not kidding. I would try one every ten years or so just to see if anything had changed. Nothing ever did. In my efforts of trying to discover more fruit and listening to my body, I got a bag on Saturday. I've been consuming about five a day and so far they are still appealing. Great actually. And my body seems to eat them. Surprisingly or perhaps not, I have rarely been sick.
All this to say, if you find yourself not really in love with fruit (or veggies--my story is the same here by the way--don't get me started on the different kinds of kale I crave and love!), start experimenting with eating things seasonally and locally. I think my body was telling me something all of those years growing up (or in college or post-college) in the Midwest: I don't want to eat that now. I think there is really something to eating what is in season and eating it within 50-100 miles of where one lives. I find it helps my body connect to the rhythm of the year as well as prepare itself medicinally for the upcoming new weather. Plus, life is way more interesting eating different fruits than an apple a day.