In her book, French Women For All Seasons, author Mireille Guiliano discusses how important the seasons are in the life of a French woman. The French woman dresses for the season, shops for the season, entertains for the season, and, of course, cooks and eats for the season.
Although Americans make a good attempt at eating with the seasons, utilizing farmers’ markets in the summer and orchards in the fall, the French really have perfected the art of seasonal eating. This is apparent in the endless recipe possibilities they have for such summer vegetables as the leek, as well as their many seasonal variations of soup.
I remember in college when I just started grocery shopping on my own. It was an exciting and daunting task all in one. But one thing I didn’t understand was why I couldn’t get certain foods anytime I wanted. Sure, carrots abound all year round, but try finding strawberries in the dead of winter in the north! And, if by some chance I could find what would be considered an “off season” fruit or vegetable, the high price would nearly make me faint on the sticky store floor.
My grocery-buying strategies have since matured and I now know which foods to buy during which season. And, I have to admit, buying, cooking, and eating according to season has some real advantages.
So, if you still need a reason to shop, cook, and eat with the seasons, here are 5 of my favorites!
Bistro Chic’s 5 Reasons for Eating With The Seasons
Less Expensive – As I mentioned above, buying produce in off-season can be quite expensive. Because the majority of nonseasonal food in your area needs to be processed and shipped from a distant location, there’s an added cost. But, buying seasonal and local produce often time cuts out expensive shipping and the middle man, resulting in more reasonably priced items.
Fresh and Tasty - When you buy produce items during the seasons they are meant to be purchased, you are more likely to get fresher and more flavorful picks. Have you ever tried eating a watermelon in December? I have a couple of times. And after the second disappointing melon – which had barely any red fleshy meat, let alone flavor, I decided to support my watermelon habit in summer only.
Natural Abundance – Planning your meals with the seasons can help make sure your ingredients are readily available, and in large supply, at your local store. Think about it…you don’t have to worry about making your famous blueberry pie in June or July, because the main ingredient is plentiful during these months. But, try making a homemade cherry pie in December and you’ll have to rely on the canned version of these red beauties.
Local Goodness – By eating seasonally, you’re supporting local growers and reaping the benefits of their great harvests. As mentioned above, out-of-season produce is most likely shipped from another part of the country or an entirely different country. When you buy seasonal produce, you can almost always find something locally grown (Farmer’s Markets) or at least within the same geographic region.
Pick Your Own – My husband and I go apple picking every September. There’s something very organic and refreshing about selecting your own food right from the vine. And, of course, we love the many results of our efforts – tasty apple treats like apple sauce, pies, crisps, and more. You don’t have to stop at apples either. There’s a variety of produce that you can pick right from the tree, bush, or vine, including raspberries, tomatoes, blueberries, and pears. To locate a pick-your-own orchard in your area check out pickyourown.org. You can select the appropriate state, then narrow your search by county.
Now that you’re motivated to eat with the seasons, check out this cool map from Epicurious. The site shows you what produce is in season each month of the year in your very own state. How convenient is that!
Happy seasonal eating everyone!