With an increase in awareness of how our eating relates to the environment and our own health, traffic at local farmer's markets that offer fresh, organic and local produce is on the rise. More and more Americans are looking to eat cleaner not only for their bodies, but for the environment as well. So, the question arises...what does eating "in season" mean, and what should I be looking for right now?
God's design is amazing. He created certain vegetables to grow during certain seasons just as we need them. For instance, what's the first vitamin we reach for when we feel like we are starting to get sick? That would be Vitamin C. When do we get sick the most? In the winter. What fruits veggies are "in season" during the winter? A long list of those containing the most Vitamin C--like citrus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, kale, swiss chard, bok choy and chestnuts.
What season in most areas is the off season for farmers? Winter, right? What veggies are the most long lasting for storage? That would be winter squashes--butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, etc. These squash are harvested just before winter and can be eaten all winter long. Not to mention, these veggies are loaded with Vitamin A and Vitamin C. One cup of cooked winter squash contains 457% of your daily Vitamin A requirements and 52% of your Vitamin C. Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system and fight off infection, while Vitamin C is an antioxidant and immune system booster. Crazy, isn't it?!?!
So, as we come off the winter and into the spring, what can we be looking forward to seeing at the market in terms of "in season"?
Here in Florida, it's a transitional time. The last rounds of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, greens (including kale, spinach, lettuces, turnips, collards, mustards, etc) beets, carrots, citrus, and snow peas will be making their final showings these next few weeks.
Right now is the peak of strawberry season. Buy as many as you can! Eat them fresh now and freeze the ones you can't eat. Frozen berries are great for summer smoothies, popsicles, or just eaten by themselves as a cold treat.
In the next few weeks, you will start to see the beginning of spring harvests from farmers that use greenhouses. This means cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes and onions.
As summer approaches, we can look forward to peppers, okra, eggplant, melons, green beans, summer squashes (yellow and zucchini), black eyed peas, acre peas, corn, blueberries and peaches.
It's Monday, so I know I missed a ton!! Post your favorite fruits and veggies in the comment section if I missed them.