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Buying Produce: Seasonally and Locally

28 August, 2009

market day

Photo by funadium 

There is really nothing better than waking up early Saturday morning and heading to the local farmers’ market. Not only are you able to get a great deal on most of the items, but you build relationships with your local growers. The farmers that “head to town” every week are excited to be able to offer you the best of their products. Obviously, they’re there for the sale; but they also really seem to enjoy helping you select the perfect melon. In my experience, they love to talk about how the vegetable that you are holding in your hand was grown, the best way to prepare that perfect tomato (usually eaten as is, with just a touch of kosher salt and pepper), and they can’t wait to begin haggling. Oh, haggling. Somehow the farmer and I both walk away from the sale feeling like we got the better end of the deal. A few more reasons to shop seasonally and locally:

  1. By building a relationship with your local farmer, you not only get the inside on how their food was grown or how the animal was raised, but they will answer any question you might have about the local conditions like, “When will tomatoes be in season?”. Not only does the answer to that question vary from place to place, but it is also dependent upon how the weather has been that growing season.
  2. If you are trying to live in a way that is friendlier to the environment, you have to buy locally. More than likely, the spinach you are holding from the supermarket travelled thousands of miles. The spinach at the market, maybe 20 miles. Did you know that a majority of the fruit that Americans consume is grown overseas? Not only will you save money because you won’t be paying for the fuel mark-up, but your food will be much fresher.
  3. You will support your local economy. Farmers are making a lot less money these days growing food, while production has increased dramatically since the 60’s. Many smaller farms make only enough to cover the costs to operate, and many farmers are forced to work a second job. Doesn’t it make more sense to buy from them? Not only will they be able to keep almost all their profits, but the money will stay within the community which translates into more jobs.
  4. When buying seasonally, you can rest assured that your fruit or vegetable is ripe and, well, will taste good. Don’t waste your money on tomatoes in December. Instead, look forward to when they will make their appearance in August. Ever had a strawberry in February? Wait until June and the taste and texture will be much better. You have to remember that when buying apples in a supermarket in May, those apple were probably not picked at their freshest (which will have an impact on nutrition, as well as taste), they travelled MANY miles to get to your produce department, and they were more than likely grown in artificial conditions with a lot of fertilizers.

A few links…

Ceres Secrets

Peak-Season Map

Net Mums

Seasonal Chef



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