Seasonal Cooking

Seasonal cooking brings the joy back to food.

Buying food from the farmers market and picking it from the garden brings back the wonderful tastes of fresh produce. The only real tomato is the one from your backyard – commercial tomatoes are bred for toughness in transport. Most vegetables and fruits are sweetest when you pick them and eat them the same day. Food tastes like food again!

Kids also love eating fresh foods. When I feed peas and broccoli from the garden to the neighborhood kids, just right off the plant, their parents are amazed to watch the kids gobble the greens up!

Seasonal cooking is nutritious.

Foods eaten seasonally nourish us. Winter kale provides a much needed boost of vitamins and anti-oxidants. Spring greens serve as a detox for rich holiday foods. Produce picked and brought to table the same day packs the most nutrients.

Seasonal cooking connects.

Eating seasonally tunes us in to what is happening in the world around us. There’s a rhythm to the seasons. After a winter of eating beans and roots, the first spring greens are so welcome! At the farmers markets through the year the seasonal round becomes clear. My strawberries taste like onions when I chop the fresh onions of early summer before I chop the June berries! Farmers sell fronds of dill along with cucumbers so customers can make fresh pickles. High summer brings a cornucopia of peaches, apples, berries, and the fruiting vegetables, cucumbers and squash and tomatoes. Fall’s squash soups bring the growing season to a delicious close, and at the end of the market season I scour the booths for winter squash to stash in the pantry.

Seasonal cooking saves resources.

If we were to save energy by giving up shipping one thing around the world, produce gives us the most bang for the conservation buck. It’s so easy to grow food close to its destination that it makes very little sense to spend non-renewable resources on it. At present you can walk into any grocery store and buy any vegetable you want, grown in Mexico or Chile or New Zealand and flown around the world. Not only is that food less fresh, it’s also incredibly expensive in terms of our increasingly scarce resources.

Seasonal cooking is a commitment. What that means is walking into the store and ignoring the “fresh corn is here now!” signs. While it’s true that any given vegetable hits its peak at any time somewhere in the world, corn from California is not fresh from here (unless you’re in California!)

It also means learning to cook with what’s available. I started this blog because it was so hard to find seasonally based recipes. I’d pick up a book on “how to cook from the farmers market” and find that the author paired one seasonal food with ingredients from the flown-from-China smorgasbord. It’s not hard to cook anything you want in August, but April is trickier, and if you want to cook with celery any time of the year you’ll need to stash some in the freezer in September.

Why not try it?

Seasonal cooking is healthy, supports local farmers, saves oil for shipping things that are harder to get locally, and tunes us into the world around us. It’s a foundation of home cooking. And it builds our local cuisine!