Eating With The Seasons

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Nature has provided the perfect menu for year-round healthy eating, yet is easy to forget what it means to eat with the seasons because most of us go to the grocery store where we have access to the same produce year round.  There is a downside to this convenience. Look closely at the tomato you are purchasing in mid-January and take a bite. Does it even resemble a tomato freshly picked from your garden at the end of the summer? Chances are no. It was picked before it even ripened and has been sitting in a warehouse for months.

Eating with seasons means creating meals that focus on the foods grown in that season. If you eat in season you get the most nutrient rich and nourishing foods available at the best price. Take a trip to the farmer’s market to get a good idea of what is available during the different seasons. You can also sign up to be part of Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, and receive regular deliveries of seasonal produce from a local farm. Purchasing local, organic foods is another way to support the health of you and your community.

Spring is about new green growth and includes many green leafy vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, parsley, and basil. It is also a good time for rhubarb, grapefruit, asparagus, mushrooms, lemons, artichokes, and the early strawberries.

Summer gardens and local farms are wonderful sources of nutritious fruits and vegetables such as summer squash, cucumbers, cherries, apricots, berries, bell peppers, basil, avocado, garlic, green beans, mangoes, melons, nectarines, peaches, beets, peas, cilantro, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, figs, pears, plums, apples, onions, and corn.

Autumn is a time for slowing down and eating warming and hearty foods such as winter squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, apples, broccoli, collards, pomegranates, grapes, kale, onions, and fennel.

Winter is the time to hibernate and stay as warm as possible so eat the foods that take the longest to grow and can provide warmth in a hearty stew such as beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips and other root vegetables, and cabbage.  Include garlic, onions, and other warming spices. Meat and eggs can also provide sustenance and warmth in the winter.

Find out more about local produce available to you in the different seasons listed state by state here:  http://localfoods.about.com/od/findlocalfoodsbystate/Find_Local_Foods_By_State.htm

Use this link to find a local CSA and tips: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

More info about CSAs: http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csa.shtml

July 10, 2013

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