How And Why To Eat With The Seasons

There are so many reasons to cook and eat by the seasons. Eating organically is a good enough reason to follow the seasons with your cooking. But, when you eat food picked at the peak of the season you will be amazed by the shear difference in taste! If you have ever tasted the sweet and juicy flavor of a fresh and local sun-ripened tomato, compared to that of a hot house grown tomato, you will never want to go back to eating fruits and vegetables out of season.

With the exception of lima beans and brussels sprouts, there is not too many fruits or vegetables I don’t like. I can remember as a child asking my mother for more green beans on my dinner plate. Even my brother loved salad over birthday cake. My mother was lucky to have children that loved to eat their vegetables. And, for five years of my early twenties I was a vegetarian. So, I know what a difference it makes to eat fresh produce by the seasons and you will know the difference too, once you give it a try.

Quality

There is a dramatic difference in quality of food grown locally. Fruits and vegetables taste the best when eaten as soon as possible after harvesting and grown in conditions as nature intended. With the advent of scientific agriculture such as international airfreight and genetic modification, most people have no idea what quality produce should look or taste like. That’s why eating with the seasons is so important, so you know what quality food should be.

Price

Eating by the seasons is going to be a lot nicer to your pocket book, especially when buying organically grown fruits and vegetables. Choosing produce from bumper crops of the season drives down the price dramatically! To save money on eating by the seasons search out farmer’s markets and food co-ops. Nothing compares to cost saving on your food like growing it yourself. Even if it is a small herb garden in your window or pots on your patio, you can save money eating seasonally.  Of course, the most cost effective way to eat seasonally is to wild food forage.

Nutrients

Your health should be the number one reason for eating seasonally. Foods that have taken advantage of optimum growing conditions are more likely to be higher in nutrients. Eating seasonally also brings a variety of different foods into your diet. The larger variety you have in your diet, the more likely you are to stay on the path towards good health. You can almost never consume too many fruits or vegetables.

Selection

When selecting the best produce keep in mind that availability will vary by location and weather conditions where you live. Fruits and vegetables don’t always arrive by our expected calendar dates.

There are no great hidden secrets to selecting the best fruits and vegetables. Your eyes and hands are going to be your judge, along with your taste buds. To put it more plainly, use your common sense. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to be friendly to shopkeepers either, to get better at choosing the best specimens.

As a general rule leaves should be bright with no wilting. Shoots and stalks need to look straight, crisp and have smooth cut ends. Roots, tubers and bulbs must have nice looking dry skins; potatoes should be free from sprouting eyes and greenish patches. Cabbage family vegetables like broccoli, broccoli rabe and cauliflower should have tight and firm heads with crisp stalks. Cabbage heads need to feel heavy for their size. Peas, beans and seeds that are to be shelled should snap easily when pressure is gently applied. The best pods and beans will look bright and shiny and feel moist when opened. Vegetable Fruits you want to select by weight and firmness; they should have bright and glossy skins Mushrooms should never be very moist or very dry, and their caps need to look tightly closed.

Winter

Leaves

  • Belgian Endive
  • Collard Greens
  • Escarole
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Frisee
  • Radicchio
  • Turnip Greens

Roots and Tubers

  • Yams
  • Turnips
  • Celery Root
  • Jicama
  • Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Rutabaga
  • Sweet Potatoes

Mushrooms

  • White Mushrooms
  • Portobello
  • Chanterelles
  • Truffles

Cabbage Family

  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli Rabe
  • Cabbage

Fruits

  • Tangerines
  • Grapefruit
  • Clementine
  • Oranges
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Dates
  • Passion Fruit
  • Pears
  • Pomegranate
  • Red Currants

Spring

Leaves

  • Arugula
  • Watercress
  • Swiss Chard
  • Kale
  • Baby Spinach
  • Belgian Endive
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Collard Greens
  • Lettuces
  • Turnip Greens
  • Frisee
  • Mache
  • Escarole
  • Mustard Greens
  • Sorrel

Roots, Tubers and Bulbs

  • Onions
  • Green Garlic
  • Baby Leeks
  • New Potatoes
  • Young Ginger
  • Daikon
  • Jicama
  • Radishes
  • Turnips

Mushrooms

  • Oyster
  • Buttons
  • Shiitakes
  • Portobello
  • Porcini
  • Morels

Cabbage Family

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli Rabe

Peas, Beans and Seeds

  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Snow Peas
  • English Peas
  • Pea Shoots
  • Fava Beans

Shoots and Stalks

  • Fennel
  • Asparagus
  • Cardoons
  • Artichokes

Fruits

  • Strawberries
  • Mango
  • Honeydew
  • Apricots
  • Oranges
  • Pineapple
  • Limes
  • Grapefruit

Summer

Leaves

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Arugula

Roots, Tubers and Bulbs

  • Ginger
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Shallots
  • Leeks
  • Shoots and Stalks
  • Cardoons

Peas, Beans and Seeds

  • English Peas
  • Shelling Beans
  • Wax Beans
  • Green Beans
  • Corn
  • Haricots Verts

Vegetable Fruits

  • Avocados
  • Eggplants
  • Summer Squashes
  • Tomatoes
  • Tomatillos
  • Bell Peppers
  • Okra
  • Cucumbers
  • Chiles
  • Zucchini Flowers
  • Zucchini

Fruits

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Black Currants
  • Boysenberries
  • Elderberries
  • Loganberries
  • Cherries
  • Plums
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Apricots
  • Asian Pears
  • Nectarines
  • Pineapple
  • Watermelon
  • Honeydew
  • Cantaloupes
  • Limes
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Passion Fruit

 

Fall

Leaves

  • Swiss Chard
  • Frisee
  • Belgian Endive
  • Spinach
  • Radicchio
  • Escarole
  • Spinach

Roots, Tubers and Bulbs

  • Potatoes
  • Beets
  • Garlic
  • Rutabagas
  • Yams
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Turnips
  • Leeks
  • Shallots
  • Celery Root
  • Parsnips
  • Radishes

Mushrooms

  • White Mushrooms
  • Porcini
  • Chanterelles
  • Shiitake
  • Portobello

Shoots and Stalks

  • Artichokes
  • Cardoons

Vegetable Fruits

  • Winter Squashes
  • Pumpkins
  • Eggplants
  • Bell Peppers

Fruits

  • Cranberries
  • Huckleberries
  • Grapes
  • Gooseberries
  • Passion Fruit
  • Pears
  • Quince
  • Pomegranate
  • Asian Pears
  • Kumquats

Year-Round Fruits and Vegetables

(Depending on Location)

  • Bell Peppers
  • Bok Choy
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Celery Root
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Shallots
  • Turnips
  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Lemons
  • Papayas

 

Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos.net “Baskets Of Tomatoes And Vegetable At A Farmer\’s Market” by Sira Anamwong

What Are Your Favorite Seasonal Eats? How Do You Eat With The Seasons?  Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

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