With spring just around the corner, everything just seems more alive. The trees start to bloom; birds sing in the early afternoon; you’re rejuvenated by a warm breeze. As the earth
slowly awakes from its hibernal slumber, sweet fruits and mouth-watering vegetables are on the horizon. Food magazines publish cover photos of delicious dishes, advertising with excitement plump red berries and dewy cucumbers.
But wait a second.. did we not just have strawberries with dessert last Tuesday? I could have sworn Aunt Mary made peach cobbler for the New Year.
Hold on… why is this so exciting?
Well, with spring comes the realization that certain fruits are starting to blossom again; with that, quality goes up and prices go down.
Though people have been buying fruits and vegetables “in season” for generations, we easily take advantage of the fact that grocery stores supply a vast variety of produce year round. As a result, buying locally quickly slips our minds as we grab bananas from big cardboard boxes shipped from abroad. Our carbon footprint increases as we burn oil in order to place our favorite fruits and vegetables at our convenience; we accept food from business practices we cannot critique, evaluate or appreciate with our own eyes.
Of course, eating locally is not that easy. According to the US Census Bureau, 71.2% of the US population lived in urban areas in 2010 (urban area population being defined as greater than or equal to 50,000 people) while 9.5% lived in urban clusters (population between 2,5000 and 50,000 people). The remaining 19.3% of the US population (308,745,538 in 2010) resided in rural areas.
How, then, can we make a difference in our eating habits when the farm is not always next door? How do we put less pressure on the environment?
Though an imperfect answer, a small but powerful step is choosing to EAT IN SEASON as often as possible.
Molly Watson, who has previously published articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Elle writes the “Local Foods” column of About.com. One of her greatest web pages is her State-Specific Seasonal Produce Guides. Each link has an in-depth list of the fruits and vegetables available in a state as well as the period they are considered “in season”. However, if you want a less exhaustive resource, check out her article Seasonal Spring Fruits and Vegetables to see what’s in store for the weeks to come!
If you can’t make it to the nearest farmers market this spring, why not try following Watson’s guidelines and buy what’s growing outside?