where fruit? where veg?
November 25, 2011 3:29 PM   Subscribe

Where in the US or Europe should I live if my goal is to optimize the availability and variety of fresh fruits and vegetables?
posted by beerbajay to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Famed horticulturist Luther Burbank chose the area north of San Francisco, near Santa Rosa California. There are a lot of microclimates in the surrounding areas that allow growing of a wide range of produce year-round. That has to be one of the best locations in the US.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:33 PM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Without researching, my guess would be Spain due to climate and sheer amount of rural, arable land.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:33 PM on November 25, 2011


Yes, California.
posted by Rash at 3:35 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


If cost is not an option, the answer is always the richest, largest city you can find. The best fruits and vegetables follow the money. If you're in New York, San Francisco, London, etc., you can purchase ripe, fresh anything and everything at all.

For example, I live in Fresno, CA. It is a huge, insanely productive center of agriculture. You can get fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts very inexpensively here. But the best, and the best variety, are a few hours away in San Francisco, where people have more money for artisan, obscure, and grade-A specimens.
posted by jsturgill at 3:36 PM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes again, California.
Wish I could start over there.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 3:43 PM on November 25, 2011


Agreeing with California, somewhere between half Moon Bay and the Mendocino County Line. You can easily grow or buy pretty much anything there.
posted by fshgrl at 3:51 PM on November 25, 2011


I'd agree that a large population center is probably the place since produce from a wide variety of geographical regions will be shipped in.

You might be interested in this blog-esque site Exotic Markets.
posted by XMLicious at 3:53 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


But the best, and the best variety, are a few hours away in San Francisco, where people have more money for artisan, obscure, and grade-A specimens.

No kidding. The Alemany Farmers Market here in San Francisco, which is not the high-end one in the city (that would be the one at the Ferry Building) gets farmers from waaaay Southern CA who drive up to sell us their organic dragonfruit and custard apples and such. So another vote for urban, coastal California.
posted by rtha at 4:14 PM on November 25, 2011


Central Florida - Tampa Bay area.
It is certainly the biggest citrus area in the world (there are orange groves that seem to go on forever) - but it also produces lots of other fruits and vegetables. Plant City for example is the largest strawberry producing region also.

I know lots of people in this area that have fruit bearing trees in their yards - banana trees, lime trees, peach trees - just growing in the yard, producing edible quality fruit.
posted by Flood at 4:25 PM on November 25, 2011


nthing northern California, but nthing also jsturgill: there's a reason why people point to Alice Waters and Chez Panisse -- and a reason why it's hard to replicate that model away from SF, with its access to an incredibly diverse agricultural region, and a local economy to support it.

In London, you can get Iranian pistachios, Italian cherries and Kentish asparagus, fresh and in season, but you don't get the range in NoCal.
posted by holgate at 4:40 PM on November 25, 2011


Coastal Southern California makes a strong case. We have endless sun and generally a moderate climate with a bunch of microclimates. I can pick bananas, strawberries, limes, lemons, satsumas, persimmons, oranges, apricots, figs and plums - all within 15 feet of my house in San Diego.

Fresh local fruit is abundantly available all year.
posted by 26.2 at 5:16 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Barcelona would be my pick and I live in San Francisco. SF has more variety and better quality produce available year round than anywhere else I've been in the US (NYC included), but it doesn't compare to what you can find in Barcelona.
posted by foodgeek at 5:46 PM on November 25, 2011


Los Angeles for the double factors of climate and agricultural region + huge population center with lots of money around. There are farmers' markers every day of the week here with an amazing variety and level of freshness of fruits, veg, herbs, flowers... I also notice that in the amazing Whole Foods produce sections here, much of the stock is local.

Other posters are correct that while most of this great stuff is grown in the Central Valley, it gets shipped out and isn't as easily available there. My perception is also that we get more variety year round than northern California farmers' markets do (because our stuff can have come up from San Diego as well as down from the Central Valley), but maybe that's wrong?
posted by crabintheocean at 6:12 PM on November 25, 2011


There was an article in the New Yorker a while back, several years at least, about a man who tracked down old and delicious varieties of fruits. A good librarian might be able to help you find it.
posted by theora55 at 7:17 PM on November 25, 2011


Anecdotal but when I was in Spain and Portugal-I was AMAZED at the variety and utter freshness of fruits/vegetables/meats.I would choose Spain with Portugal second for overall quality and volume of variety.

Having spent multiple months in Florida as well-Spain bested Floridian product quality IMHO.The more exotic Spanish locales may have been a contributing factor though.
posted by plumberonkarst at 8:08 PM on November 25, 2011


Theora55: There was an article in the New Yorker a while back, several years at least, about a man who tracked down old and delicious varieties of fruits. A good librarian might be able to help you find it.

The Fruit Detective by John Seabrook about the amazing David Karp. He lives in LA.


posted by purpleclover at 9:24 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here in Kauai, the cheapest way to eat is built around local, organic produce. We mostly barter and trade for it, but there is at least one farmer's market every day of the week somewhere on the island.
posted by kamikazegopher at 10:17 PM on November 25, 2011


Easy: Italy (pretty much anywhere, but the south is warmer). It's not just the amazing variety that grows here (especially now with the push to rediscover old local varieties), but also the infinite uses they're put to in all the regional cuisines.
posted by progosk at 12:34 AM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Socal.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:57 AM on November 26, 2011


Response by poster: Okay, it seems like bay area wins for the US... any additional european suggestions?
posted by beerbajay at 4:27 AM on November 26, 2011


Paris.
posted by iviken at 11:49 AM on November 26, 2011


I'm late to this, but Lyon, France. It is famous for its fresh fruit and vegetable markets. There is a reason it is the food capital of France.
posted by ohio at 2:21 PM on November 26, 2011


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