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Monday, June 18, 2007

Seasonal


What is Seasonal?

All living creatures (humans included) go through seasonal changes. Whether it is hibernation, pollination, dormancy, or bikini season, all creatures' forms change throughout the year. This is especially true for the Midwest which experiences all the extremities of all four seasons and therefore gives its plants and animals seasonality.

Different plants require unique environmental conditions including time, water, sunlight, soil, and temperature in order to bear fruit and seeds. The end result is an ever changing array of the fruits, veggies, nuts, and grains that we enjoy so much. However, the modern age has allowed us to shop at super markets with the same produce being offered year round. When we shop at large super markets, we are buying fruits and vegetables that have been shipped in from distant states and countries whose seasons differ from our area. This has given our generation the impression that all fruits and vegetables are always in season. However, quite the opposite is true.

Buying seasonally requires us to not only buy what is in season but to also buy it locally grown. The best place to experience locally grown seasonal produce is at your local Farmer's Market.

Educate Yourself





Why Buy Seasonal?

  • FLAVOR, FLAVOR, FLAVOUR! Fruits and veggies that are grown locally and in season have much better flavor because they are allowed to ripen to peak flavor before being picked for selling. Produce grown out of season and sent in from across the nation and even across the world have to be picked early so they can be shipped, distributed to large grocery stores, and then be displayed for many days all without ripening too early. Therefore, these fruits and veggies spend most of their ripening life in cardboard boxes and many times taste of, well, cardboard.
  • Nutrition. In addition to added flavor, fruits and veggies that are allowed to ripen longer are able to draw in more nutrients from the environment and become more nutritious themselves.
  • Saves money. When you buy produce that is locally grown, you save money that would have otherwise gone to transportation costs and to the super market corporation. When you buy produce that is in season you pay less because it is in high supply. Also, sellers at the Farmer's Market are always in for some good ol' fashioned bargaining.
  • Eating with the seasons. What is early summer without that first crisp salad of the season? Or a hot summer day without a refreshing cantaloupe or watermelon? Can autumn really start until you've picked your own pumpkin? As you can see, there are more to the seasons than just a change in weather. Eating seasonally reminds us of the cyclical wonders of the planet and helps enliven the senses to our surroundings.
  • Creativity. Cooking with seasonal fruits and veggies force us to try new things and cooking techniques because every few weeks the options and combinations of fruits and veggies will change. When you're at the Farmer's Market, you can ask the mom and pop who grew the eggplant, squash, or peppers for their favorite recipes. Give your parents or grandparents a call and ask them for tips on how to make homemade rhubarb pie. The possibilities for trying out new soups, salads, baked goods, and other tasty eats are endless!
  • Quality time with friends and family. What can be more fun than spending time with your loved ones picking fresh apples at the local orchard? Or spending the afternoon with your kids canning and freezing the last of the season's green beans? How about hosting a homemade salsa party because you couldn't help buying loads of those red, juicy, and savory tomatoes? Buying seasonal, locally grown produce will open up many opportunities for you and your loved ones to explore the surrounding area, to learn about where your food comes from, to experience how our ancestors survived without grocery stores, and to enjoy life in new and creative ways.
  • Supporting your community. When you buy local, seasonal foods you will give money directly to the community rather than outsourcing it to a large super market and large factory farms with headquarters in distant lands. At the farmer's market, you will meet your not so distant neighbors who farm for a living or for supplementary income. You will place your money into the warm hands that grew your food, not into some cold cash register. That money will then go towards other locally made items, the schools, the churches, the libraries, the charities… the community.

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