Summer is finally in full swing around here, and I have a box full of fresh, leafy greens to prove it. Eating seasonally is something I never used to think about (in fact, I was absolutely horrible with even knowing what grew when, because it seems like grocery stores around here always seem to have the “normal” produce year-round). Now that we make an effort to eat local and fresh produce as the bulk of our food, though, I could never go back to our old habits. I thought I’d center this post on things that I’ve learned since focusing more on locally grown produce.
Eating seasonally really keeps us creative in the kitchen, and it means we never get bored from eating the same thing over and over again. I also think there’s something to be said for looking forward to something all year. You can buy strawberries year round, but nothing is as wonderful as the first really good batches from the farm.
It also means that we eat more simply. By selecting what’s freshest at the farmer’s market that day, or opening the CSA box to see what we’ve gotten that week, we’ve started eating less complicated recipes. The food has so much more flavor that it doesn’t need to be weighed down with other flavors, so it’s more enjoyable to eat a simple, fresh meal as well.
One of my favorite things about our CSA is the herbs that they include in our boxes. We still have a rack of dried herbs and spices for in a pinch, but they really don’t compare to their fresh counterparts. With the cost of fresh herbs at the grocery store (and the rate with which they spoil) we had been using the pre-packaged shakers for years. Now we have a little window sill garden of them (we need to re-pot these soon!) so that they’re always fresh and they’ll last for a long time.
You can’t see it in that photo, but we have lavender, thyme, rosemary, and oregano as well. And we paid $500 for once-a-week boxes from now until mid October. This week the box was full of fresh kale, asparagus, swiss chard, lettuce, and garlic scapes. Next week there will be more fruit – including strawberries and rhubarb, yum! – and in the past we’ve gotten huge bags of black beans, heirloom tomatoes, and lots of other delicious fruits and veggies.
Of course, not everyone is happy about our new way of eating. Someone’s a little bitter that her window sill was taken.