Black Friday No More

Friday, November 23, 2012

For as long as I can remember, the week of Thanksgiving has brought with it a feeling of dread. And, no, I’m not referring to holiday traffic or the inevitable family skirmishes that arise when too many cooks are in the kitchen. Nor am I speaking of actual “Black Friday” of American ilk occurring even as I write, that unsavory consumer shopping frenzy that apparently began on Thanksgiving Day itself for many establishments.

(Leaving this blog mainly to issues of food, eating, science, and sustainability, I’ll contain my personal comments on consumerism and Black Friday in particular. Suffice to say, I’d rather be cooking. Or running. Or, really, doing anything else.)

Ever seen this? Known as Romanescu cauliflower (or Roman cauliflower / broccoli), this  elegant hybrid cruciferous vegetable is the perfect choice when indecision arises.

So why the angst, you ask?

Well (sniff, sniff), it’s because the week of Thanksgiving marks the last hours of the seasonal farmers’ markets here in Boston. And, when it’s the final day before Thanksgiving, it’s like Black Friday. Black Friday for foodies. I wrote about the experience last year, tissues in hand, as I (melo)dramatically lamented the end of the harvest that necessitates a shift in my shopping habits to suit the colder clime and shorter growing season of New England.

The market is the main place I shop from May through November, you see, as you likely already know. Here’s a round-up of a few posts in case you missed them; many have pretty pictures of produce I’ll bet you’ve not seen before, like the broccoli-cauliflower hybrid featured today. The point is that for culinary sorts like myself, the farmers’ market is akin to a toy store for a ten-year-old, and the week of Thanksgiving is filled with the same frenetic energy seen in shopping malls today. People scurry around scooping up the last of the seasonal fare, whether for holiday feast or later storage in fridge or freezer. (For context, check out last year’s post for a picture of just how much I bought; it was sort of insane.) 

Happily, the mad rush punctuated by the occasional sob that usually occurs for me on Black Friday for Foodies is no longer needed, as winter markets have begun popping up around Boston and Cambridge. Local produce in February? You betcha. Hearty roots and apples have been stored and tender lettuces have been grown in greenhouses for a winter filled with local vegetables and salad, the cornerstones of my diet. Oysters and lobster, too. Huzzah!

So I feel rather light-hearted this week, and it’s not just because we made good time on the trip from Boston to New York yesterday or because the family squabbles remained at a low roar: the winter markets will soon open and I can continue getting my local produce on, allowing me to obtain goodies I can’t find anywhere else while supporting my regional food producers.

And I am thankful indeed.

And you thought cauliflower just came in green.

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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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