What's in Season: June
June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month in the USA. That is right up our alley. It also kicks off the food festival season with a smash.
From general food festivals such as the Aspen Food & Wine Classic to the celebratory Juneteeth Food Festival in Brooklyn to the many more specific rhubarb, strawberry, dairy, bread, watermelon, key limes, and even cheese curd, and sauerkraut festivals, all walks of life across America are celebrating what the land and it's animals bring forth. We Americans love to eat.
But no food-related celebration has better
origins than the dumpling festival, or Tuen Ng, the Dragon Boat Festival. As the story goes, a Chinese poet and patriot name Qu Yuan, after learning his warring state had been defeated, waded into the Miluo River and drowned himself in despair. The local villagers spent hours on the water searching for him, beating drums to keep themselves motivated, beating the water with their paddles to keep evil spirits away, and throwing handfuls of rice to hungry fish to keep them from devouring Qu Yuan's body.
Legend has it that one night a devoted searchee was visited by Qu Yuan's spirit and instructed to wrap the rice in a three cornered packet to keep the dragons away. And so zongzi, the pyramid-shaped sticky rice dumpling, was born. Countries across the globe (including America) have been celebrating Tuen Ng with boat races and zongzi ever since, traditionally on the 5th day of the Chinese lunar year's 5th month.
milking robot/Vladimir Mulder/shutterstock.com
Meanwhile, back at the farm, farmers are busy sowing and harvesting, increasingly with the aid of computers. Agri-tech has always been an ironically cutting-edge industry, but advances in the field (pun intended) are truly remarkable these days. Dairy farmers are using robots to milk cows and AI and facial recognition software to monitor cows' well-being, decreasing the frequency of high-cost veterinarian visits. Electric, driverless tractors are allowing farmers to harvest past sunset.
You'd think this would harm the labor market, but the labor market in farming has been strained of late due to immigration issues. Rather than displacing people, this technology is improving the efficiency of the farm by taking on some of the work while the shrinking pool of farmhands is redirected to other equally necessary tasks, thereby saving the farm and, ultimately, jobs—a win-win.
Speaking of wins, Colorado signed the nation's first right-to-repair law last month, requiring companies to offer parts and manuals for repairing equipment, saving farmers a significant amount in cost. Remember that laptop you had to replace because the screen broke? In Colorado, you can replace it yourself and save hundreds of dollars. A boon for farmers is a boon for us all. Will farmers be able to repair their robots and facial recognition tech? Remains to be seen. Another pun. Sorry. Anyway, thank you again, farmers, for more and more of all you do.
Here's what's in season in June:
Roots & Shrooms
Bolete King Mushrooms
Beans & Gourds
* indicates this is the first month of its season