Food Report: Respecting the locals

By Nici Wickes

Viva food editor Nici Wickes pays tribute to hard-working orchardists.

On the orchard.
On the orchard.

It was kind of embarrassing. I've just been at a trade show where a fruit importer thrust a nectarine at me, sure that he was about to prove his point that out of season here, was in season somewhere and that the quality of this imported nectarine would impress me.

He stood by keenly awaiting my reaction. I sunk my teeth into the golden flesh, a burst of flavour hit my taste buds. Then it was gone. What was left was a floury texture and insipid flavour. I wasn't prepared to lie to him. "No good I'm afraid, I'll wait for our local NZ summer fruit thanks."

Right now, deep into winter as we are, orchardists and their hard-working helpers head out into the cold morning light, uncomplaining, having donned their many layers to keep out the cold, to spend all day methodically working their way up and down rows, pruning each tree, thousands of them, by hand.

And over the next month, when the first buds start to appear, so will the frosts. That's when these same men and women will get up in the middle of the night, in freezing conditions, to frost fight, to protect the young fruit so that there's plenty of luscious, sweet stone-fruit fruit - plump cherries, blushing peaches and nectarines, golden apricots - come summer.

Yes, I can wait for that. It's the right thing to do.

I want to bring you my thoughts in this food report - randomly, passionately, hopefully informatively - so that we can start the conversation about food. Our food. What we grow, cook, eat, buy. What we choose to put into our precious bodies. Day after day. Let me know what you're thinking about food, below.


* Look out for Viva food editor Nici Wickes weekly report every Friday.

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