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Notes on the Valley: The simple joy of eating fruit

Stock photo.

When we first started dating, my partner once asked me to grab fruit on the way home from work. After I wrapped up my last meeting I stopped by a local grocery store, picked up a nice looking orange, and headed home. Here I was going above and beyond to serve someone I cared about.

When I got home she stared at the orange in disbelief. It was the middle of summer and she couldn’t believe that someone could walk past all the amazing summer produce available just to pick up a singular piece of out-of-season citrus. That day began my schooling on the importance of appreciating the joy of in season fruit.

Trader Joes is good for specific, in season fruit. In summer their boxes of peaches and nectarines can’t be beat. Stay away from anything out of season here. Other grocery stores are hit or miss on different types of fruit. Weirdly enough, Raley’s of all places has one of the best curated selections amongst big box stores.

In recent years, our absolute favorite spot to get in season fruit is at one of Pleasanton’s local Indian grocery stores, New India Bazaar. They have incredible deals on so many types of locally grown produce. On the right weekend in late spring and summer you can collect eight perfect mangoes for five dollars.

Indian parents will be quick to remind you that they simply don’t compare to the ones you can get in India. Fine, whatever, the ones you can get here are merely amazing instead of being transcendent.

Our local farmers markets are another wonderful, though slightly more expensive, place to taste different, unique variations on fruit classics. The Bay Area is renowned for its diverse culinary scene and bountiful harvests. One of the greatest pleasures of living in or visiting this region is the opportunity to savor the flavors of locally grown, in-season fruit.

The samples alone constitute an entire dessert on their own. I recently discovered the Santa Rosa Plum, which has given mangoes heavy competition for my favorite fruit. I end up spending almost as much as a Michelin star dinner every time I go to the market, but honestly it’s money much better spent.

Looking back I’ve often overlooked fruits for convenient packed desserts like Keebler coconut dreams (my personal kryptonite, I can down an entire box in a sitting). Over the past few years family members and friends my age have begun to test as pre-diabetic. This has been a big wake up call for me, encouraging me to re-evaluate my diet.

One change I’ve made over the past few months is reducing my sugar consumption. I’ve turned almost exclusively to fruits for my dessert source.

One of the primary reasons fruit is a healthier choice is due to the type of sugars it contains. Fruits naturally contain sugars like fructose and glucose, which are accompanied by fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients contribute to the body's overall health and function.

On the other hand, processed sugar treats are laden with added sugars, often devoid of any fiber or other nutritional value. Processed desserts and drinks are also able to pack in exponentially more sugar into the same volume than the naturally gated fruits. As is well known, consuming excessive sugar can lead to weight gain, tooth decay, and an increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

My journey into the world of fruit has been incredible. This is just one of many wonderful reasons I’m glad to be with my partner. She continues to drive us in keeping our fruit bowl stocked with the best in season fruit from the best places.

It’s helped me cut processed desserts almost completely out of my diet and still satisfy my sweet tooth. If you have any favorite fruits or spots you like to frequent please leave a comment below letting us know.

Editor's Note: The "Notes on the Valley" blog is written by Monith Ilavarasan, who grew up in Pleasanton. After a career in tech, he took a sabbatical to be a community organizer. He has continued to work in tech and shares his thoughts on the people, places and events that make up and shape the Tri-Valley.

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