It's Time to Start Eating Seasonally

March 13 2010 - 6:14 PM

12169937-spring1_jbcA day and a half of the FamilyFarmed EXPO was more than enough for the moment but, at the same time, just the tip of the iceberg. From small to medium-sized family farms I saw a very happy, very friendly group of people. I like to think it’s a midwestern thing.

I did also see lots of CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) which translates into a share in a local farm or several local farms. I’ll be focusing on CSAs in detail in a coming post but what I find interesting is that though they all source local produce when they can, they also pick up non-local organic/sustainable product from farms in California and elsewhere when things aren’t in season. I’m not sure I totally get that.

CSAs are grab-bags. They are compiled in a way where people get a good, well-rounded selection of produce. It’s somewhat a produce-department replacement pack – if you will. That said, people will be grocery-bound for other items, so it doesn’t mean to be a grocery-replacement. It’s a way to eat local product produced by small farmers. When winter comes though, it’s a different story. It made me think about seasonality in our eating patterns.

Summer is salad. Winter is soup. Summer is arugula, avocado to Zucchini. Winter is mushroom, potato, leeks and braising. Stews. Our recipe canon was borne from seasonality. Our tastes are beholden to that same seasonality! We don’t crave light food in the winter. We want red wines. We want cassoulet and lamb pies and turkey and stuffing. We Inflatable Water Slide want to overeat and hibernate.

Summertime is different. We want sharper flavors. Spicy food. Grilled veggies. Quiche. Salad. We want to roam around before and after meals. It’s too hot to sleep. Summertime is fresh tomatoes and winter is tomato sauce.

Our food has always allowed for this. It’s great that we can have any piece of produce at any time of year. But can we survive eating what is growing-locally at the moment? We sure would. The best part is that I think it would make ingredients more special. I’d love for CSAs to stick to local year round. It doesn’t have to be just mushrooms.