Why You Should Consider Eating Seasonally

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I have a new Sunday ritual, and I’m pretty happy about it. About a 20 minute walk from our apartment in Chicago, farmers from northern Illinois, Indiana, and the city of Chicago set up tents to sell their fresh produce at the Logan Square Farmers Market. Strolling amongst the stalls and talking to the growers about what’s in season (all while trying to stop my lab puppy from eating the entire market), I’ve learned three benefits to eating locally grown, seasonal produce:

  1. Things taste better.

Few things compare to a handful of juicy blueberries on a hot summer day or a crisp apple in the cool fall months. Produce plucked from the tree, vine and bush at peak season are quite simply more delicious than those that are grown in the off season or shipped across the country or globe to make it to the grocery store.

For example, head to your local farmer’s market this weekend and you will see huge variety of tomatoes, from the classic red, round beef steak tomato to the cute little cherry tomatoes and funky heirlooms in all shapes, size and colors. Grocery store tomatoes in the winter and spring, in contrast, are tomatoes that are bred to weather the long trip from distant farm to packaging facility to regional distributor to grocery store to your grocery cart, sacrificing flavor for hardiness.

2. Our planet will love you for it.

Have you ever thought about the journey your food takes from the farm to your plate? Many days, I feel like my fresh fruits and veggies have traveled more than I could in my lifetime. Grab a peach in the winter months and it’s likely traveled across the globe from an exotic locale where peaches are in season, like Chile.

Eating locally grown produce means that your food has traveled far less miles, translating to less fossil fuels consumed. Eating less processed foods means less packaging and less plastic waste.

3. Your body will love you for it.

Any idea when fruit roll-ups are in season? Yeah, me neither. By being mindful of eating produce that is in season, we are choosing to eat fresh, unprocessed foods. You may even find yourself trying out fruits and veggies you’ve never given a try before.

This past weekend, our local Trader Joe’s advertised what looked like giant green peppers that belonged in Jurassic Park. They turned out to be Hatch Chiles, grown in the Hatch Valley in New Mexico and only in season from the first week of August through mid-September. Combined with cilantro, sweet onions, and garlic from our farmer’s market, these chiles were the perfect reason to try a new recipe for salsa verde.

Eating seasonally is good for the planet and for your palette. As August turns to September, our zucchinis in the Healthy Hood garden are still growing strong. While there are a million and one ways to cook zucchini, did you know that the blossoms are edible too!? One of the growers at our local farmer’s market was selling the pretty golden blossoms by the bag, and I had to try them out. Here’s a super simple, five-minute recipe for the tastiest flowers you’ll ever eat:

 photo via  Salt & Wind

photo via Salt & Wind

Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 zucchini blossoms

  • 1 cup bread crumbs

  • 3 eggs

  • Olive oil

  • Sea salt

  • Lemon wedges

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs. Pour the bread crumbs into a second medium bowl.

  2. Grab a skillet and pour just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan and set it aside at medium heat.

  3. Dip each blossom into the egg mixture, then coat with breadcrumbs and place into skillet.

  4. Fry each blossom until crispy and light brown, about 2 minutes per side.

  5. Serve with sea salt and lemon.



Have you tried to eat seasonally? What are your go-to seasonal foods? Share with us in the comments!



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