Today’s farmers are more societally important than ever, as we navigate food production in a changing climate. Vegetable varieties must be bred for greater resiliency to drought, pests, and extremes of temperature. Farming techniques must grow more nuanced to prepare for these changes. Fortunately, today’s farmers are more educated and sophisticated than ever, as we develop more nuanced farming techniques to prepare for these changes.
And consumers have an important, possibly the most important, role to play too. After all, everyone eats!
Local food movements have increasingly supported farmers by recognizing the benefits of eating local, which includes eating seasonal and sometimes aesthetically imperfect foods. Eating local also means eating produce that is fresher than produce from industrial sources, which are often harvested under-ripe, at least 7-10 days ago, and stored in low-oxygen conditions. As you’ve probably noticed by tasting the produce in your CSA shares, fresh is a flavor! All your recipes taste better with fresh produce, and nothing beats local for freshness.
Learning to eat and enjoy the seasonal variability of the harvest bounty is an art and a skill. The fleetingness of the harvest window for local, sun-ripened strawberries enhances their sweetness. The imperfect zucchini can be turned into spiral vegetable noodles, or baked into zucchini bread for consumption this winter. I eagerly look forward to the first Brussels sprout harvests and the first baked delicata squash of the season.
Everything rare is valued higher. The short window for fresh spring asparagus, corn-on-the-cob in the summer, and sweet winter carrots enhance their desirability. But remember, the next seasonal offering will be right around the corner, tantalizing your taste buds with its fleeting goodness.
Perhaps a good Christmas gift for this holiday season would be a seasonal eating cookbook and a CSA? Perhaps this New Year’s resolution might be to eat three meals a week with ingredients found within a 100-mile radius around you?
To inspire you to embrace seasonal eating, here are some cookbook suggestions:
- Cooking in Season: 100 Recipes for Eating Fresh, by Brigit Binns
- One Dish Four Seasons, by Jordan Zucker
- The Harvest Eating Cookbook, by Keith Snow
- The What to Eat When Cookbook, by Michael Roizen
- The 100-Mile Diet: A year of Local Eating, by Alisa Smith
And, of course, please consider purchasing from a local bookstore!