Saturday, October 13, 2007

THERE'S ALWAYS AN UPSIDE

Fall's Oddly Mixed Greens Unseasonably Warm Weather Is Creating An Unusual Blend of Fresh Local Produce

By Steve Hendrix Washington Post Staff Writer Saturday, October 13, 2007; B01

Sweet corn a month into football season. Cantaloupes and pumpkins, side by side. Sweater-weather tomatoes.

What's next, watermelon jack-o-lanterns?

At farmers markets across the region this year, October is the new July. And that's just fine with shoppers such as Leigh Hilderbrand, who was buying very-late-season produce Thursday at the Penn Quarter Farmers Market in the District. The Senate staffer ignored the apple cider, potted mums and winter squash in favor of the $3-a-pound heirloom tomatoes.

"I hold on to summer as long as I can, and this has been wonderful," said Hilderbrand, who was stuffing plump tomatoes into a sack already heavy with sweet corn. "Every week I ask, 'How much longer? How much longer?' But it just keeps coming. I guess this is the upside of global warming."

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Don't even whisper that contentment around ski resorts. Plump local tomatoes well into October and the west turning into a tinderbox.

Proof of the adage that all politics is local.

But for some shoppers, the idea of finding sweet corn and cucumbers next to apple butter and kale is a bit like finding a penguin in the desert. Those who will happily thump a watermelon in the hot summer sun might find it odd in the lengthening fall shadows.
Which made me smile. Penguins in the desert. That would be as strange as a desert in the Arctic.


* For more in-depth articles by Jim on Environmental Issues, check out Opinion-Columns.com