Eating seasonally is something Americans are largely unaware of. We go to the grocery store and find rows and rows of fresh produce from all over the world. Strawberries, asparagus, and tomatoes are available year ’round, instead of only in the spring. While this seems normal, in the larger history of humans, this is actually abnormal. For centuries, people ate locally-grown foods in season and preserved as much as they could for the cold months.
While eating seasonally isn’t truly necessary anymore – after all, we can easily find strawberries in the grocery store in January – the fact is, out-of-season produce doesn’t taste as good. In fact, it’s almost a sure bet that tomatoes bought in February are going to be bland and flavorless. So why eat something that’s not good?
Recycla’s family isn’t perfect and they don’t eat 100% seasonally, but they do what they can. They have a nice kitchen garden just steps from their back door and they eat from it for much of the year, starting with lettuce, spinach, and asparagus in April and going all spring and summer and into the fall. Whenever possible, Recycla freezes and cans extra produce – either from the garden or from local sources, including the farmers’ market (which sounds like a lot of work but actually isn’t). From November through March, the family does have to buy some produce so that they don’t get scurvy, but she also will make pesto from basil paste that she froze during the previous summer, peas that she froze the previous May, tomato sauce that she canned late in the summer, and more.
The biggest change that Recycla has made in the past few years is that she is much pickier. For example, she no longer buys strawberries in the off season. They have absolutely no flavor anyway, so they’re not worth the money.
While some people do try to be perfect, the reality is that it’s hard to eat 100% seasonally. The important thing is to do what you can. Give it a try this week: When you’re at the store, don’t pick up that pack of strawberries or succumb to the lure of Mexican asparagus. Instead, see what you can find. Luckily, spring is almost here, so lots of wonderful fruits and veggies are coming down the pike.
Tell the Eco Women: Do you eat seasonally? What fruit are vegetable are you waiting impatiently for? (For Recycla, it’s asparagus. Just a few more weeks…)