In my life, eating seasonally is not a question of politics or policy. It’s a question of pure common sense. There are two big reasons that eating seasonally and trying to grow your own fruit, herbs, and vegetables is a great idea:
1. It's healthier.
2. It's cheaper.
It's a short and very concise list because budget and health are the two things that most prominently affect my quality of life. Furthermore, the politics of local and organic food are far too complex to be direct reasons for how I grocery shop. I will not spend time waxing poetic about supporting your local farmer. (No farmer's market is void of corporate or business strategy/influence, anyone who says otherwise isn't doing enough research.) I will not get into how insane it is to go to Whole Foods and pay a fortune for "organic" strawberries... in January... on the East Coast. (Here's a good tip: look around you. Is there snow on the ground? Are you wearing more than 3 layers? Are the strawberries on the shelf being sold as fresh and organic? Well, they aren't. They ripened in a box and were able to do so because they were treated with chemicals while being shipped.)
Eating seasonally is what I do because I have a budget to keep, a body to take care of, and no desire for my produce to taste like corrugated cardboard. The difference in flavor (and nutrient content) between a peach grown and picked in July and one that has been shipped across the country and ripened in a box is not subjective. It is simply a question of: do you or do you not have functioning taste buds?
Every few months I will post a list of what is seasonal, fresh, and ripe at the grocery store and farmer's market. Below is a list of fruits and vegetables that are in season right now in and around the Washington DC area. (This map from Epicurious is a really great resource to check what's fresh in your area.)
I assume that like me most of you probably don't have a lot of storage for fresh produce in your apartments/homes. (I share my fridge with two other people, so putting away even the smallest groceries feels like stuffing a watermelon into a well stocked hotel mini bar.) In order to be able to shop on a budget and get your money's worth it's important to store produce properly so that it keeps and doesn't spoil before you've had a chance to use it. Hence, I've also included proper storage techniques for each of the items listed below.
Click on each image for easy storage tips:
The two most valuable tips for extending the shelf life and flavor of my produce are:
1. Freezer bags
2. Chop up produce before storing.
Produce which is pre-cut takes up less space in the fridge since it can be tucked into places that containers can't fit. (It also saves so much time when you're ready to start cooking!) Freezer bags take up less space, can be washed and reused, and produce which you won't be working with immediately can be frozen for later use instead of rotting away. Let me know if you have any great tips for prolonging the life of your produce!
In the coming weeks look out for easy and affordable ways to preserve and prepare some of the seasonal fruits and vegetables pictured above.