We once lived in a land where finding seasonal, local food was as easy as walking down the street and handing a few bucks to the guy running the fruit stand. The farmers market was big and lively and operated year round. We completely took this for granted. Then we moved away and realized how nasty a store-bought apple can taste in January.
This alone was reason enough to commit to buying seasonal, local food, but there’s more.
Why Buy Seasonal
Conscious culture extends into every area of life, and food is no exception. Before I thought about buying seasonally, I bought whatever the heck I wanted. I had some vague idea that strawberries tasted better during certain months, but typically purchased whatever was on sale or appealing. There was zero consciousness going on about the seasons and what naturally grows during what months. When we began to think about it more, (and after the gross apples incident) we realized that we wanted to be in touch with the seasons, and not just because food tastes better when it isn’t shipped from miles and miles away and then shelf ripened.
We live in a global community, with countless choices and instant results. The world is at out fingertips. But do we want this?
I’m not saying we have to live a life of constant denial and zero options. But I do believe we should look to nature, to the way God made things, for balance. And what is more balanced, more beautiful, than the seasons? When we live in harmony with the seasons, we learn patience for what is to come and gratitude for the abundance we have now. We get to look forward to homemade applesauce while we enjoy strawberry smoothies.
Why Buy Local
Again, conscious decisions take the day. Back in the land of fruit stands and year-round farmers markets, we knew a local farmer and his family. They leased a small farm, and sold their delicious, fresh produce locally online and through farmers markets. We bought from them sometimes, because we did see the value in supporting a local family, but we figured we could only afford to buy some of our produce from them. The rest we would buy on-sale at the grocery store. But now that we have moved away, and come to see the value of seasonal eating, we wish we had bought all of our produce from this farmer and others like him.
Seasonal foods and local foods go hand in hand. Local food is, of course, seasonal, and it is as fresh as can be without coming directly from your own garden. Perhaps most importantly, though, purchasing local food supports the local economy, local families, and often, small, sustainable farms. I’m not trying to take down the successful, big farmers, but I truly believe in the value of the local community. I truly believe that if every community ate seasonal, local food, then every community would thrive, at least as far as food is concerned. Also, I’m not against trading or importing certain foods. I just believe that if we take care of our local communities first, then the rest will fall into place.
Our farmer friend wrote a beautiful post about the value of local food and supporting family farms.
Tips for Eating Seasonal and Local Food
- Shop your local farmers market. You know it’s local, and you know it’s seasonal. You will most likely pay more, but, as a friend of mine once said, “If good food isn’t worth spending money on, what is?”
- Check this super helpful guide for a list of produce that is in season in your state. (Especially helpful if your farmers market closes down during the winter. boo hoo.)
- Learn to preserve. This was a fun project for me, in which I got in touch with my Eastern European roots. At the last farmers market of the year, I bought some big cabbage, and made myself some sauerkraut. It was a huge experiment, and certain family members are convinced it is the worst smell they have ever smelled. But the journey towards conscious culture is just that, a journey, and I know I’ll get the whole sauerkraut making thing down eventually. 🙂 Fermenting foods is a great way to continue to eat local foods during winter months, and there are health benefits to boot.
- Take it one step at a time. I still buy bananas every week. I have a difficult time imagining the day when I won’t. But choose one way that you can buy seasonal, local ingredients, and implement that today. Maybe fermentation is not even on your radar. But maybe looking up some new winter squash recipes sounds fun. So do that.
- Remember, eating seasonally and locally is worth it. It is worth it for your taste buds, for your community, for your health, and for the sake of a life lived in harmony with nature. Take one step today.
Do you have any tips for living and eating seasonally? If so, tell us your story in the comments. I would love to share this journey with you.