Tell Me More About This Whole Eating Seasonally Thing

Eating fruits and vegetables in the season when they are harvested leads to fresher, better tasting food. Seeking seasonal foods can have a positive effect on the environment, your wallet, and best of all, your palate. Don’t let the idea of shopping seasonally for produce be intimidating!

blueberries
Image Credit: brx0 on Flickr using Creative Commons

In a recent Persephone post, Michelle Miller offered us “Five Ways to Eat Well and Pay Less,” and Ailanthus-altissima made the suggestion of adding shopping seasonally as another cost-cutter.

I was introduced to eating seasonally when I joined the  Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project in Bed-Stuy. Below are some answers to common questions you might have when thinking about eating seasonally.

 

So how do I find out what is in season, anyway?

One of the easiest ways to know what produce is in season is to visit a farmers market. If you can find a website for the CSA in your neighborhood, that would also be a good source if they provide a list of what is in their weekly share.

Field to Plate also offers a list of websites providing information about what fruits and vegetables are in season in your state or region, so check that out. Through their website I found this awesome Harvest Calendar made by the Department of Agriculture & Markets.

New York State Fruit and Vegetable Harvest Calendar
Harvest Calendar
Harvest Period= RED Availability Period = GREENThe periods above are approximate. Harvest periods may begin a week to ten days earlier during a warmer than usual year. A cool spring will delay crop maturity. Call farms for exact dates.

I don’t buy this whole eating local is better for the environment thing. It’s complicated.

It is complicated! But supporting local farmers and eating fresh produce when you can is pretty simple. Knowing what vegetables grow in your region during the different seasons is a good thing to know to be a more informed consumer and more educated eater. Whether you choose to make a habit of shopping seasonally every week or not is up to you.

I wouldn’t have any idea what to do with a garlic scrape, whatever that is…

When I was part of the Bed-Stuy CSA, I was presented with unfamiliar vegetables on a weekly basis. I was not alone in having no idea what to do with a Raddichio or Tomatillo, so some CSA members created this page offering a description of the vegetables, handling instructions, and recipes.

Discovering new fruits and vegetables is a great excuse to look up new recipes you’ve never tried.  Even better, encourage friends to come over and host a dinner party where you cook and serve the new recipes with your recently discovered seasonal and local fruits and veggies!

Have you discovered an exciting fruit of veggie by shopping seasonally?

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Jamie J. Hagen

Jamie J. Hagen lives in Brooklyn and is a Contributing Editor for Autostraddle and writer for The Line Campaign. Follow her on twitter @jamiejhagen and visit her personal website for more of her work.

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