Imagine a fresh picked watermelon, perfectly ripe and in the prime of its season. Its sweet, its juicy, its perfection, right? Same for a juicy tomato plucked straight off the vine that when you put on a burger takes it to an entirely new level if deliciousness. Yummy!
But have you ever noticed how tomatoes bought in the store in, say, December, don’t taste like that?
That’s because they are grown out of season for your local community and shipped in. By the time you get it, it can barely be called “fresh” anymore.
Last year I read the book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” and as crazy as it seems I suddenly realized that produce does not grow all year in every region. This may seem obvious to some of you but I had honestly never thought about it. This book brought to life the joy of eating what is compatible with the current season.
So I signed up for a local co-op and started going more regularly to farmer’s markets. I needed to find out exactly what does grow here and when. I remember when I started gardening, I naively picked up a seed catalog and ordered a bunch of seeds. Then I guess I assumed I would just toss them all the garden and wait for the magic to happen. Well, as any gardener knows, thats not quite what happened. I planted my seeds and some grew and flourished and some did not – specifically my early spring plants that couldn’t handle the heat of June in Texas.
As it turns out, fruits and vegetables have seasons and no matter how I wished it, they would not grow out of season. I had to learn to work with them. So when I decided I wanted to eat seasonally, I knew I had to figure out what that even looked like.
Fortunately the good thing about local co-ops and farmers markets is that they only carry what is grown here. Be careful though, because some “farmers markets” actually have produce vendors that offer the exact same produce found at the grocery stores and very little of it is in season or local. I had to ask around and find farmer’s that actually had farms at addresses that I could map and drive to (if I so wanted.)
So I spent all of last year getting to know seasonal produce, and let me tell you, it is delicious!
Now this year I’m ready to take it a step farther. Exclusively eating locally grown, in season produce.
I may be a tiny bit nervous.
It requires being aware and planning ahead. It means that I can’t just grab a can of green beans and toss it in a saucepan. Many times I often have to look on Pinterest for recipes to use a particular item – and then ensuring I have accompanying ingredients.
But the days I’ve cooked with my co-op items have brought a depth and richness to our meals.
I want to completely fall in love with fruits and vegetables again. And when the season has passed for a certain item, I want to embrace the sorrow of losing this treasured food and anticipate its return next time – much like when a beloved friend comes to visit and must go home. I want to cherish every bite.
Since the beginning of time, our ancestors ate what was in season. They didn’t have flash freezers, canning equipment or the means to dry large quantities of food. Sure, fermentation existed, as well as some ways of drying but for the most part, they ate within seasons. They walked into the woods and picked berries to eat for the next few days. They harvested greens that were available and ate them that day.
I believe that humans and plants are in a symbiotic relationship and the plants that are available in summer provide the nutrition we need in summer and the plants available in winter (or the ones that store well over winter) provide what we need then too.
We are not meant to eat tomatoes during snowstorms.
My goal is to be so darn excited for when carrot season comes around that the first carrot dish I make melts in my mouth. I want to be so sad when blueberry season is over and we have to wait for them to come back.
Im confident that it builds character.
I will be journaling our journey over the next 365 days of eating seasonally starting….. now.
This is the produce co-op box that kicks off this challenge. Every bit of this is local, all within about 30 miles of my home, and all within season. I plan on that making up the bulk of our produce. In the event that we run out of produce and I need to buy more, I plan to only buy things that are currently in season and hopefully. We have a wonderful farmer’s market and even our local Kroger carries semi-local food.
Because Im not perfect and I have small children and a busy life there may be days where I cheat and open a can of green beans just to get food on the table. And there may be days we order takeout. Thats not my goal but feeding my family will definitely take precedence.
Also note that this is only for produce, not for grains (which store very well) or animal products, even though I do acknowledge that animal products have their seasons too. Maybe I’ll work on that next year but for now, one thing at a time!
Click here to be taken to my monthly collection of meals as well as links to any recipes I’ve used!
A big part of simplicity is getting back to our roots. Getting into a rhythm with nature helps to ground us in our day to day lives. My hope is that eating seasonally will ground my family and I and bring us into that rhythm better.
What do you think? Do you eat seasonally? Or maybe locally? Do you think it matters? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments!