Guide to Seasonal Eating
What to expect throughout the seasons near YOU
With so many year-round options at the grocery store, it can be hard to imagine what eating seasonally really means. However, there’s good reason why so many chefs and foodies are singing the praises of local, farm-fresh eating! It tastes better, it’s fresher and it can even provide you with better nutrition than conventional store bought vegetables.
Maybe you’re interested in joining a CSA, but you aren’t sure what to expect. So, what’s it like to eat seasonally with a CSA membership? Read on to find out in this season-by-season guide on the essentials!
Think spring greens. Veggies like tomatoes take longer to mature, and don’t show their red beauty until summer. Spring is the time for indulgent salads, wilted greens and sweet green peas. You can even throw mild greens like spinach into your favorite smoothie! Springtime vegetables are a refreshing departure from the rich, hearty foods of winter. The first arrivals are radishes followed by:
Herbs (parsley, chives and more)
Tip: If you ever start to feel like you’ve had enough greens in your spring share just remember that change happens quickly! By the time you’ve had your fill of springtime veggies, it’ll turn summer before you know it.
There’s a reason why it’s called summer bounty! Summer is the most productive time of year on the farm, and brings fan favorites like peppers and squash. A lot of summer produce is juicy and full of water — perfect for helping stay hydrated in the heat. Some even have a “cooling” effect when eaten (like watermelon). Most summer vegetables are great eaten as is, but grilling and sauteing are also prime options. Summer shares feature goodies like:
Hot peppers (like jalapeños)
Bell peppers and sweet peppers
Zucchini and yellow squash
Herbs (basil, parsley and more)
The fall harvest represents the end of the main growing season and the transition to cooler weather. This is the time of year for crops that take longer to mature. Some of these veggies do best with slower cooking methods like baking and braising. Fall also features dark, leafy greens that have better flavor in cool weather.
Winter squash (like butternut, spaghetti and kabocha)
While the formal CSA season is done, the farm still grows and sells produce throughout the winter months. Winter veggies focus on what will grow well in the cold (both indoors and out), and what was grown earlier in the season that stores well without losing quality. This is the time to cozy up with plenty of soups and roasts, and also fresh greens where you can find them.
The Take Home
Remember, there’s no cookie cutters in mother nature. That means that each season blends into another. Plants are ready to harvest...when they’re ready, and there’s a wide variety of factors that influence that. All in all you can expect to see some overlap between what you get in spring, summer and fall shares...which is exciting! Sweet potatoes and bell peppers in your share? Sounds like it’s time to make home fries! You’ll also see some (welcome) repeats since certain crops grow well in both spring and fall.
A CSA membership is the perfect way to explore eating a variety of vegetables when they’re at their absolute peak of flavor and freshness. Farm-to-table restaurants have become explosively popular in large part because of the quality of their ingredients. Belonging to a CSA means you can enjoy this kind of quality at home every day of the week!