With each change of the seasons, families are welcomed with a bevy of fresh ingredients. In the spring it’s all about crisp, clean flavors – asparagus, rhubarb, and kale. In the summer palates turn to bolder flavors – plump tomatoes, juicy corn, and spicy peppers. When summer rolls around tables groan under the weight of giant pumpkins, earthy mushrooms, and nutty gourds. No matter what the season, families are eating fresh and local.
Eating local and fresh helps keep a strong focus on preservation and the environment. I recently read an article in Birds & Blooms magazine by Jennifer Bartley, a landscape designer and author of The Kitchen Gardner’s Handbook. In her article, Bartley shares her knowledge of growing a garden that tailors to your kitchen. “Ultimately, raising your own produce is all about the endgame,” Bartley writes, “Pick or pull it, take it to the kitchen and savor the flavor.”
Sadly, homegrown fruits and veggies are often overlooked. Many think tending a garden takes up too much time and energy. But in these hard economic times, growing your own vegetables can actually ease the strain on your monthly food budget. Plus, food that we grow ourselves just tastes better. I remember helping my Mom in our garden growing up. I loved popping those vibrant cherry tomatoes and tasting their sweetness burst in my mouth – way better than the ones sold in the grocery stores!
Bartley explains that the trick to growing a successful garden is knowing what’s in season, and keeping spring produce separate from your winter produce – a gardening practice called jardin potager. “This gardening philosophy ensures you’ll enjoy veggies at their peak of flavor,” Bartley says.
Unfortunately, I’m unable to grow an actual garden – a downside to living in a city apartment. However, by joining the Slow Food movement – buying locally and growing my own herb boxes and citrus trees – I am still able to enjoy the benefits of fresh, homegrown produce. Just knowing that I am buying locally and helping my community, allows me to enjoy the simple pleasures of truly good and healthy food.
If you’re looking to change your eating habits, the Nature Conservancy has a few tips for eating delicious and green:
1. Eat Smart. Know your food – what’s in it, where it came from and who it impacts.
2. Eat Local. Support local farmers and ranchers.
3. Eat Sustainable. Learn more about sustainable food and how to cook it.
4. Eat Green. Incorporate more vegetables and fruits into your diet.
5. Eat Out. Picnic for the planet. Join thousands of people around the world and have a picnic on Earth Day.
How do you eat local in your community?
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