Fast forward two seasons and visualize the produce aisle. Hard pink mealy globes in the tomato bin and peaches about as succulent as a kitchen sponge—this is produce bred to travel across the hemisphere, rather than selected for texture and flavor. With pristine, local summer fruits and vegetables flourishing in the greenmarkets right now, it’s easy to squirrel some away in the freezer for a shot of sun-ripened flavor come January.
If you have a big pantry and a knack for sterilizing jars—praise to you. For the rest of us, freezing is a splendid way to take advantage of the fruit, vegetables and herbs that are abundant now. The freezing process itself does not destroy nutrients, and although the texture might not translate exactly the same after thawing—the flavor of farm stand strawberries in the middle of winter is a thing of beauty. By preserving local products you cut down on imported produce off-season. This means that you are doing more to support your local economy and importantly, cutting down on your food miles—the number of miles that food travels from the farm to consumer.
On the average, produce in the United States travels 1300 to 2000 miles before it reaches your table; the connection between lowering food miles and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions is obvious. But taste and nutritional value are at stake as well. Local varieties are rarely grown for their travel durability or shelf life, and since they are allowed to ripen on the vine, they are more nutritious and flavorful.