Seasonal Food is Delicious Food
It’s that time of year when, while motoring through your neighborhood grocery store, you start tossing tomatoes and strawberries into your cart in hopes of the slight reprieve these summertime fruits might bring to the incessant winter weather.
When you get home, however, those strawberries and tomatoes don’t taste…well…like anything at all. This is because they aren’t in season. They were probably trucked in thousands of miles from Mexico or Chile to your neighborhood store, which means they were probably harvested far before they were ripe. This results in a pronounced lack of flavor, uninviting texture, and fewer nutrients than vine-ripened fruit and vegetables.
Have you ever been berry picking in the summer? Think of how succulent those fresh, right-off-the-bush berries taste as you pop more in your mouth than in your bucket. Have you ever been to a farmer’s market in Florida or Southern California in December? There are too many varieties of citrus to count and the sweet, tart, juicy taste of an orange from there can’t be beat. Have you ever noticed how tasteless butternut squash is in the summer and how flavorful it is in the winter? How crunchy and sweet asparagus is in the spring? This is how nature intended us to eat.
How can you eat seasonably? Luckily, where I live in California, the moderate climate allows for a bounty of different fruits and vegetables to be grown year-round. Of course, in harsher climates (like the Midwest) there is a more limited variety of produce that can be grown in the winter months. But do not despair! Even if summer is the most bountiful time in your area, you can still enjoy seasonal (and local) edibles all year long. Produce such as carrots, beets, turnips, squash, potatoes, onions, and garlic are harvested in November or December, and can be kept up to several months if stored in the right conditions. There are many resources that provide information on what’s local in you’re area and when. Check out the local food wheel website. This is a great place to start.
Eating seasonally and eating locally go hand in hand. Support your local economy and check out your neighborhood farmer’s market for delicious seasonal produce. The Local Harvest website is a great resource for tracking down local, seasonal food.
What to do with the turnips and sweet potatoes you just picked up? Check out this great recipe resource for turning seasonal produce into tasty meals.