Thursday, April 15

What's in season?

With each season, there is new life. In the spring, the trees bud, and the grass sprouts. And in the spring, new crops begin to ripen.

However, since our super markets provide many varieties of produce year-round, we have fallen out of the natural cycle of eating seasonal produce for our regions. Perhaps this seems trivial. If you can get what ever you want, at any time of the year, why is it important to know when produce is in season in your region?

Buying food that is locally grown and in season has many benefits -- not only for you, and your health, but also for your community. You benefit by eating fresh food of high qualities. When food is shipped from great distances, so that you can have tomatoes and apples in winter, its freshness is sacrificed for durability and shelf-life. Also, by buying local (within a 100 mile radius of your home), you reduce your carbon footprint significantly. The average food miles that produce travels when shipped within the country, is about 2000 miles, from farm to plate. Calculate your food miles here.

Buying local also helps the community! When you buy locally, you are supporting local community members. They in turn, put their earnings in local banks and spend their earnings at local businesses, retaining the money in the local economy.

Also, if you are able to shop at farmers markets, this is a great way to build relationships with the producers of your food. In doing so, not only are you able to learn more about your food and the way it was grown, but it seems that you will probably gain a greater appreciation for your food. Based on the amount of food that Americans waste everyday (about 1.3 pounds per American, daily), it seems that our current relationship with our food is unhealthy. We are not connected to our foods the way we once were, when we relied on seasons for our foods. Since the convenience level of our food is so high, we are estranged from our foods.

Once we are able to see the connection between food and the land, once more, perhaps we can learn to appreciate our food and our land and our communities more.

To help you learn more about what is in season in your region, check out this great graphic from GOOD magazine:
 (click here for a link to the full article, on the GOOD webpage)

For those of you Midwest-dwellers, here is a list of some of the produce that is in-season in spring:
Asparagus, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, radishes, rhubarb, turnips, spinach, sprouts, tomatoes

There are so many choices! You don't have to worry about a lack of variety, when you are eating locally.

I will be trying to eat as locally as possible. Let me know if you have any great recipes with these spring-y vegetables. I would be happy to try something new!

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