Green Tip: Eating with the Seasons

Green Tips | August 11, 2017

Eating locally grown food is an important way to lessen your environmental impact. Buying from grocery stores that source from remote farms wastes resources on transportation and manufacturing, and encourages business practices with potential adverse effects. By eating locally-grown food, you can support local farms and the local economy and cut down on the greenhouse emissions that far-flung production chains entail. Eating locally is easy in the summer, when farm stands seem to be overflowing with fresh fruits, veggies, and leafy greens, so now is the best time to build a seasonal eating habit. Here are some more tips to help you green your diet:

Develop the habit while it’s easy: Summer time is a great time to start eating seasonally because fresh produce is so readily available — your diet won’t feel the slightest bit restricted. Build the habit to go to the farmers’ market each week and cook or preserve everything you purchase now, so that when fall and winter roll around, you’ve already learned how to prepare everything farmers’ markets are offering.

Shop at year-round farmers’ markets: In years past, farmers’ markets would pop up in May and June and slowly close down in October and November, but more and more markets have started running year-round. If you can, find a market that operates all year long so you can build a habit of going every week or every two weeks. The New York State government offers a map of farmer’s markets, with information about operating hours, months, and number of vendors.

Sign up for a CSA Share: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares can provide you with fresh, local food, year-round. CSAs support the farming community and keeps your environmental impact positive – all it takes is a subscription. CSA works by having farmers offer shares of their produce to the public. Members of the community purchase these shares, and in turn receive seasonal produce on a weekly basis. While most CSAs run through the main growing season (late spring through fall), many farms are also creating CSAs for the winter – these farms offer a mix of preserved products and/or greenhouse grown products. You can search for a winter CSA near you here.

Preserve Your Food: One of the best ways to eat well during the winter is to start preparing in the summer, if you have the storage space. By freezing, canning and carefully storing food during its peak seasons, you can keep it in reserve for periods of relative scarcity. It takes some work to pull this off properly, but Canadian organization FarmFolk CityFolk offers some tips on how you can become a pro preserver in the comfort of your own home.

And last but not least, to help you keep track of what’s in season, our friends at the GRACE Communications Foundation just launched their Seasonal Food Guide and App. This great tool will make eating local, seasonal food easy and delicious. Here’s some more information from the EcoCentric Blog: “Use the Seasonal Food Guide to learn when and where your favorite locally grown produce is in peak season (and has maximum flavor)! Want to know how long a produce item will be available at your local farmers’ market? Wondering what’s in season at other times of the year or in other states? The answers are now right at your fingertips! The Seasonal Food Guide includes links to recipes and in depth information on local, seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs, legumes and nuts from our Real Food Right Now series. Bonus: our app lets you set a calendar invite to remind you when your favorite produce item can be found at a farmers’ market near you.”

Try these tips and you’ll be eating seasonally all year round!

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