It’s a welcome time to cherish the sandcastles on the beach, treks in the woods, cool drinks on the deck and, of course, the incredibly fresh food.
Food is grown year round in most places, but in the Midwest farming really shines in the spring, summer, and fall.
Local restaurants quickly advertise locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Why is this important? While it may seem fashionable to eat local foods in season, there are more benefits to this practice than just being on trend.
The two main reasons to eat seasonally: flavor and price.
Fruits and vegetables live up to their flavor when picked when fully ripe. Have you ever bitten a tomato fresh out of the garden? Enough said.
And as the price goes, when a particular fruit or vegetable is in season, it’s usually available in abundance. Out of season cucumbers will set you back $ 1 each at the supermarket. In high season, you can get 5 for $ 1.
And the berries – dare we talk about it? We all know how expensive berries can get, especially out of season.
When you buy wholesale in the summer, you can save a lot. Better yet, visit a do-it-yourself farm. Make it an event and bring your kids, grandchildren, nieces or nephews. They can burn energy while enjoying a delicious snack – and they will never forget the experience.
In fact, I speak from experience. My own grandparents had a fruit farm, which still houses some of my favorite family memories. Now, as a mom of three, I make it a priority to invite our trio on food adventures. They are elated when the task at hand is their favorite food group: fruits!
Whether you go for cherries, blueberries, strawberries, apples, pears or peaches, I guarantee you will look forward to a repeat event.
We can all use the extra incentive and inspiration to help us eat more fruits and vegetables.
But how do you get started? Where can I find seasonal products? And what sshould you eat
From May to October, it’s pretty straightforward to figure out what’s in season. All it takes is a quick tour of your local farmer’s market. You can also join a farm share or a community-supported farming group, commonly known as CSA.
It was an experience I will never forget: my first year as a CSA member. (If this term is new to you, a CSA is a program in which you buy a share of the farm for a season and, in turn, the farm shares a portion of its crop yield with you.)
As a newly engaged woman, I had cooked in hopes of impressing my handsome fiance. It was to my chagrin to find two alien vegetables in our CSA delivery this first season, both of which looked more like roots than food. After some research on Google, I determined that they were actually edible roots: celeriac and kohlrabi.
After a little more research and a phone call to my mom, I found hope with some recipes.
Whether you choose to join a CSA or browse your local farmers market, you’ll get a great overview of the produce available each season.
And when flavor and price aren’t enough to get you to eat more fruits and veggies, creativity is sure to pull you in.
Here are some great ways to incorporate fresh, seasonal produce into your family meals:
If you visit a farmers market from June to August, a rainbow of options will greet you: fresh green beans, strawberries, leafy greens, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, stone fruits and rich black cherries. .
When it comes to leafy greens, I have gained a reputation for being a bit kale-centric. It’s rich in nutrients, it fights cancer, it lasts forever like a pre-made salad – kale doesn’t wilt for days – and it delivers a surprisingly delicious flavor.
I use kale for all kinds of salads and dishes. My favorite combinations include house dressing, toasted nuts, diced avocados, strawberries, and grilled chicken or chickpeas. Honestly, you can’t go wrong testing your creativity when it comes to a kale salad.
When summer draws to a close – perish the thought! – fresh farm produce is in full swing. Pumpkins, winter squash, potatoes, artisanal products like preserves, honey and pastries are available in abundance.
With beets at their peak, you will definitely need to invite these deep-hued veggies into your kitchen. Use them to add a nice shade of brown to a beet and carrot salad, or mash them into a pink hummus.
You can simply roast them in the oven or use them to bake a batch of delicious “beer-unfit” chocolate cupcakes. You can find all kinds of amazing recipes online.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: enjoy a hot oven on cold winter days and grill your veggies. Roasting will not only serve as a makeshift fireplace in your kitchen, but it will also transform flavor and texture.
Take, for example, cauliflower or broccoli. They are bitter and crunchy when raw, but once roasted they become almost sweet, thanks to caramelization. And the texture will shock you. Cauliflower almost melts in your mouth. Broccoli can acquire a crunchy bloom on its soft interior.
Paired with olive oil, herbs, and spices, these types of vegetables can become almost as addicting as a pre-dinner snack.
I tend to mix the winter vegetables I have on hand with a little olive oil, rosemary and thyme before roasting them at 450 degrees in my casserole dish, or on a baking sheet. pastry if I want a crispier finish.
If you are new to roasting vegetables, start your experiment with cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, rutabaga, onions or winter squash. . Seriously: So good.
A quick online search can lead you to some fascinating roasted butternut squash recipes, which can even be used for salads. (A preparation tip: The cooked squash can be served on a bed of kale sprinkled with goat cheese, which then melts on each leaf to a deliciously creamy dressing.)
You can’t visit a spring produce market without spotting some shiny rhubarb stems. While most people would throw this in a pie and call it good, I prefer to mix things up.
Recently, I used rhubarb to create a ketchup that added a bit of spice to my veggie burger. More traditionally, I have used it to make salsa for pork tenderloin.
Remember that crazy kohlrabi I mentioned earlier? While certainly odd, it was surprisingly delicious.
Today, faced with a kohlrabi, I tend to shred it for a tangy coleslaw, add it to a veggie dish, or choose my default root vegetable: roasting.
The bottom line? You should take full advantage of the fresh produce that each season has to offer.
Let Mother Nature be your guide.