I can't answer any of your direct questions, but I do have a few thoughts
on some factors that should be included in your manual.
While I know it is not possible (or very difficult) to quantify taste,
that is an important part of the equation when considering local Vs
non-local food purchases.
For me, there is almost nothing worse than the either total lack of
flavor, or the slight pasty, cardboardish taste, of a California avocado
that was picked green and shipped several thousand miles, held in a
warehouse, then sold in a local super market. Possibly the trees that
produce those fruits have been cross-bred to produce fruit that will ship
well. It certainly has no redeeming flavor.
I chose avocado for the first example because I currently have several
trees on my little plot of ground here and they produce fruit with at least
four distinctly different flavors, all of which I happen to like. Before I
made my first trip to Puerto Rico back in the late 50's I had eaten avocado
once and didn't like it. I was coerced into trying it here and found what
I had been missing. Many other fruits and some vegetables suffer the
same, or similar fate as the avocado. California (and to some extent
Florida) oranges don't even taste like citrus; no citrus tartness to them.
I am talking mostly of the ones that are shipped out of state. Those grown
for local consumption are picked a little later, or are grown on different
trees. Oranges and grapefruit grown here have great flavor, but I don't
think they would ever survive shipment off island.
I suspect that entire generations of Americans have grown up having never
tasted any tree-ripened fruits of any kind. And this is sad when it is so
easy for a New Yorker to find a number of fruits grown within 100 miles of
home. Sadder yet is the fact that good, tree ripened citrus from Florida
and/or California COULD be available in season across the nation. It would
cost a bit more. OK, maybe a lot more.
But locally grown food, picked at, or near, its peak, will always be
better tasting, and maybe even a tad better for you, than non-local,
produced for shipping ability and looks, food.
--Dan in Sunny Puerto Rico--
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