|Yard Long Bean & Flower|
We are lucky in Texas to be able to grow food year round. There are two natural lulls in the harvest in August/September, due to the heat, and in January/February, due to the cold. These slow periods might leave us with a few less choices, but they are short in comparison to the long winter that much of the country must wait through before they see fresh local produce again.
You can break up most veggies into cool season lovers and warm season lovers. Generally leaves and roots are cool season lovers. This includes lettuce, spinach kale, cabbage, carrots, beets, radishes, and broccoli & cauliflower (which are really immature flowers). Fruits, pods, and seeds are usually warm season lovers, such as tomatoes, beans, eggplant, okra, peppers and melons. There are a couple that defy this simplistic separation - sweet potatoes are a root that relishes the heat, and peas are a seed and pod that really prefer the cool, but most veggies follow the rule.
|a super Armenian Cucumber!|
Why Eat Locally & Seasonally -
As soon as a vegetable or fruit is picked, it’s nutrients begin to break down. The sooner you can get a veggie from the soil to your plate, the more nutritious, not to mention delicious it will be.
It is more delicious, because it came fresh from your neighbors garden. Most grocery store food was bred to stand up to shipping abuse and to store well, not for flavor. Real food might not last as long on a truck, but it sure tastes better.
Local food is traceable to its source. This is important for food safety reasons. You can trust that the farmer is taking the correct precautions to avoid any food safety risks when you know that this is the same food she feeds her child and that his business relies on your satisfaction and good health. Most food safety scares happen when food from all over the world is streamed together, quickly spreading what may have been a minor problem and making it very difficult to isolate the disease origin.
Local food, especially when grown organically, has a much lower carbon footprint than food shipped from across the world. (More about Organic Food in a post coming soon...)
Secrets to eating seasonally:
Let your meal planning be inspired by what you find at the market or from your local farmer, rather than heading to the store with a specific recipe in mind.
Use our Harvest Calendar chart to get an idea of what veggies will be in season at the same time when planning recipes or flipping through cookbooks.
Get ideas from farmers and market managers for their favorite seasonal dishes. You’ll often find that those who love to grow food also love to cook and eat it!
Preserve the harvest! Freezing, drying and canning are great ways to have your favorite flavors even when they are not in season. I'll be teaching a "Preserving the Harvest" Class the last Saturday in October at 10:30am...
Here are some wonderful cookbooks that focus on seasonal cooking, but you may have to tweek some of the recipes to get them to fit our unique Texas seasons :
Local flavors : cooking and eating from America's farmers' markets 1st ed.
Eating local : the cookbook inspired by America's farmers
Fletcher, Janet Kessel.
Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen
Anna Lappé & Bryant Terry
Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables
John Peterson, Angelic Organics
The harvest eating cookbook : more than 200 recipes for cooking with seasonal local ingredients
Cooking in the moment : a year of seasonal recipes