Springtime brings more than sunshine and beautiful flowers.
It brings gorgeous artichokes, the most delicious asparagus, and juicy red strawberries.
When I became interested in food and nutrition, I never realized there would be so many choices to make on a daily basis. Rather than just facing the choice between healthy or junk, I find myself having to choose between seasonal, local, organic, or none of the above. I pick one over the other depending on the food, the time of year, and the price, but I will freely admit that it is often a struggle for me. A membership to a CSA is not practical for us right now, so I have to make the choice each time I head to the grocery store or farmer’s market.
Hint: Before buying an item the next time you are at your local farmer’s market, ask if the items were grown locally and how they were grown. You would be surprised how many items are actually produced conventionally, far away, and are brought to sale at the farmer’s market.
This past fall I was walking around our local grocery store checking things off of my list when I came to apples, scribbled quickly up the side of the paper as an afterthought. I knew it was apple season and I hadn’t had an apple in quite a few months. I came across a beautiful display of apples of all colors and sizes, but when I read the description for each type, I was very disappointed. Every single apple came from Washington state. We live in Pennsylvania. That is a long, long way for an apple to travel. I know that there are literally hundreds of apple orchards all across the East Coast, yet we had none in our local market. It didn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense. A week or two later I headed out to the farmer’s market and found some fabulous small golden delicious apples from 25 miles away. I do not know if they were organic, and in fact they probably weren’t, but I met the farmer’s daughter myself and I know the apples came from nearby. I feel good about that.
I try to be conscious of buying seasonally and/or locally, but when faced with delicious imported goods from faraway lands, it is hard to resist. I will admit that I buy avocados year-round, and they rarely even come from the U.S. I also love kiwi, mangoes, bananas and pineapple, and buy them when they look good. They are obviously never local. I feel guilty over that, but my love for the taste and variety they offer wins.
Eating seasonally is different, however. It is… easier. Fruits and vegetables taste magnificent when they are in season. When they aren’t, it may look like a tomato, but it certainly doesn’t taste like one. I haven’t eaten a tomato since the end of last summer, unless it was in canned form.
Does anyone remember what it was like to walk through your grocery store in the dead of winter to find a serious lack of color? I do. I remember asking my mom if the supermarket was closing! She explained that in the winter we only had winter things available. Of course there was a small section of exotic fruits and vegetables, but they were bruised up and not too happy to be in the middle of the cold weather. I don’t remember when the transition happened. Who decided it was a good idea to force out of season produce in our bodies and money out of our pockets? I do not like the current trend we have, and I hope it changes.
Three Reasons Why I Love Seasonal Produce
3. Reminds me what season it is.
1. Tastes incredible!
What are your thoughts? If you have to choose between seasonal, local, or organic, which do you select? Why?