Shopping Fresh, Local and In-Season

I never quite understood the purpose of shopping fresh, local and in-season until recently. When I lived in Miami {where I grew up} I never had to worry about what was in season and what wasn’t. Everything was available all the time.

When I moved to the midwest, I didn’t think much of it at first. I expected to be able to get all the fruits and veggies I wanted all year long. Then I realized that if you try to buy strawberries in the Winter, not only are they bitter, but they’re super-duper expensive. Not only are you wasting your money on a subpar product, but you just helped with the distribution of the not-so-good strawberries from wherever they came from.

shop fresh, localBuying In-Season

Now I know. Different fruits and vegetables have different growing seasons. During the Summer months, there is an abundance of fruits and vegetables available for purchase at low prices. In the Fall there are apples and squash to enjoy. Every season has it’s own little treasure and by buying what’s in season, you’re getting a better product.

seasonal foods

Buying Fresh and Local

If you can manage it, buying local is so much better than buying from a place that has to ship their fruits and veggies. Why you ask? When fruit and vegetables have to be shipped, they are harvested while they are still green. The produce is expected to ripen by the time it gets to the store. When the produce is not allowed to ripen while still on the tree/bush/plant/vine it doesn’t ripen the way it naturally would and sometimes doesn’t ripen at all. This leads to fruits and veggies that are either ripened by unnatural sources or that just plain don’t taste good.

In the Summer there are usually farmer’s markets where you can get delicious produce that has been harvested within the previous couple of days. It costs a little more, but if you budget and menu plan correctly, you can afford it. Often times, this produce is also grown with organic practices although they may not be certified organic by the USDA.

Another great way to get fresh and local fruits and vegetables is to join a CSA in your area. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. These are shares that farms sell to their community. Each farm is different in how much they charge, how many weeks you get produce and what produce they harvest. Though if you can afford to join a share, you’ll get weekly bundles of vegetables and fruit to enjoy.

This principle of eating fresh and local is not limited to just produce. Eggs, milk and sometimes meat are other things that you can get local and fresh. I love getting farm fresh eggs from our local farms. The color, taste and even the texture of the shell are so different than those that come from the grocery store.

Did you know that the color of an egg doesn’t mean it’s organic or not, it’s simply the color of the chicken that laid it!

Meat is more difficult to find in this way. I’ve heard great things of a business called Zaycon Foods, that distributes healthier meats throughout the nation. Check them out if you are interested. You can also talk to your local butcher and see if they sell any bundles of meat that has been raised locally.

Do some research for farmer’s markets, CSA’s and fresh dairy in your area. You might be surprised at what you can find. I look forward to hearing about your food adventures!

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