What does 'in season' mean?

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Over the past week or two I have read in Adelaide newspapers and supermarket flyers that cucumbers and blueberries are in season.  Yet if I look in my own garden, the cucumbers are still seedlings and the blueberries have almost finished flowering, without a fruit in sight.  Cucumbers and blueberries may be in season in Queensland but they are certainly not in season in Adelaide or Melbourne or Hobart.

So why do we say something is in season when clearly it is not?

Living in a huge continent like Australia, just about anything can be in season at any given time, but that does not mean that it is truly in season in a local sense.  It is like someone in Stockholm, Sweden, saying that oranges are in season because it is the season for oranges in Madrid, Spain, over 3000 km to the south west.  That is roughly the same distance between Adelaide and Cairns, and the climatic differences are similarly enormous.

I think it would be fair to say that something is in season if it will grow within a few hundred kilometres of where I live, and particularly if it is growing in my own backyard.  Thus I know for sure that broccoli, broad beans, spring onions and peas are in season because I can see them out my window.  Cucumbers will be ready in December or January and blueberries sometime after that.

So then, why does this matter?  Am I just being pedantic?

In one sense it doesn't matter at all, especially if we want to support Australian farmers over, say, producers of frozen blueberries from China.  However, if we are trying to cut the food miles of what we eat then we need to be aware of what is likely to have been produced locally, and what was inevitably transported thousands of miles.  It might be fair for a national newspaper or magazine to say blueberries are in season but the local media should deal with local facts.

What do you think?  Does any of this matter?

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