LAS VEGAS — Ever wonder how you can get strawberries in December? Thank Chile.
The summer months are great for fresh fruit and veggie lovers. For Nevadans who frequent Vons, Alberstons and Smiths, a great deal of the produce in the summer comes from California. The avocados are ripe, the strawberries sweet and the crops flourishing. Mexico is also a large provider of produce across the nation and especially in Nevada.
Now, when many people, especially scientists, think of Chile, they think of the Atacama Desert. The area has been studied for decades due to its similarities to Mars. The desert soil was used to test Viking 1 and 2′s ability to detect life in soil, later used on the surface of Mars. However, Chile is filled with a rich variety of landscapes, many perfect for seasonal crops.
Off season for California means on season for Chile. Basically, this is why you’ll see “Product of Chile” on your fruit in the winter. Crop season was cut a bit short last winter in Chile, but it didn’t effect markets all that bad. A whopping 37 percent of fresh fruit exported to the United States comes from Chile. Many of that 37 percent are table grapes.
The main reason for this is simple: supply and demand. People want fresh strawberries in December, the store is going to find a way to supply them.
Outside of the chain groceries, local farmers find ways to grow seasonal produce throughout the year. The farmers markets in Las Vegas, of which there are dozens, provide more than just organic, guaranteed locally grown produce. Local snack companies, jam makers and florists all join in to sell product.
Many farm in towns nearby, many use tunnel farming and some farm indoors. Many of Chile’s farms and vineyards are handled traditionally. Maybe you prefer certified local groceries, maybe you don’t mind paying a little extra for off season fruit, either way, providers find a way.