Time, as we know, is an artificial thing. We mark our calendars every year to say Spring starts on March 20th, Summer on June 21st, Fall on Sept 22nd, Winter on Dec 21st. As I write this it’s only the beginning of September but I can feel that Fall is on its way. Sure, it may still be close to 100 degrees out every day here in the Central Valley but there are clear signs that the seasons are changing. For starters, the Kings River (a major source of relief from the summer heat) is down, a noticeable sign here in the Valley that summer is coming to an end. The leaves and acorns of the Oak tree in my yard are starting to litter my driveway. Clearly the Oak tree knows something’s up. Abundant Harvest boxes are starting to see the presence of Fall produce: Butternut Squash, Pears, Grapes. Fall may not technically be here but the change of seasons has clearly started. There is no doubt that seasonal eating can be a challenge. We all have our favorite fruits and veggies and they may not appear in our boxes when we want (crave!) them most. Yet change can also be a most welcome thing.
Here are a few tips to help keep you inspired to eat seasonally and be like the Oak tree
and embrace change.
1. Remember that you are not alone in this adventure. In fact, you have history on your side. Seasonal eating has historically been the norm rather than the exception. While there is evidence that the Chinese invented techniques for refrigeration as early as the 7th century BCE, storage of food out-of-season didn’t really catch on in the rest of the world till around the 18th century. Some sources claim that even in the 17th century the production of ice was most common for immediate uses such as making fruit sorbets and ice cream, rather than for food preservation.
2. Embrace the freshness of your ingredients. We all have certain times of day where we are at our best. Some of us are “morning people” others “night owls.” Catch us outside of our peak time of day and you never know what you are going to get. Produce behaves much the same way. The breakdown of produce begins as soon as it’s harvested. Eating many types of produce within 24-48 hours of it being harvested means you are enjoying that food when it’s hit its groove… and that’s well…groovy.
3. Eat with your nose. When I think of Fall and Winter I always think of smells: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Rosemary. Embracing herbs (fresh and dry) all season long can make all the difference in seasonal eating. Herbs have been shown to not only improve memory but we often connect smells with good memories. Longing for the feeling of Summer during the cold Winter? It may only take a whiff of Mint or Dill to bring you back there…if only for a moment. Afraid your fresh herbs are going to go bad? Try drying them. Drying herbs is simple and dried herbs can last up to 6-12 months after harvest. Check out our recent post for more tips on how to dry herbs.
4. Think of it as a challenge. We have all heard the saying, “if you want to improve your memory and your brainpower, try brushing your teeth with your opposite hand.” Seasonal eating for some of us might be like brushing our teeth with our opposite hand: It always feels weird to begin with, it may be messy, but eventually with practice we will get the hang of it. We may not always know what to do with turnips, or pluots, or spaghetti squash, yet being open to the challenge of trying new foods may push us to be more courageous in other areas of our life.
5. Become a recipe and storage tips guru. Maybe last year you were stumped by chili peppers, or tossed your radishes because you forgot to remove the tops and they turned to mush (I will admit to forgetting to do this…). But not this year! Recipes and storage tips will help you embrace the foods that may have defeated you in the past and inspire you to eat them in new and creative ways. Remember cooking/preparing food is only half the battle. Learning how to care for produce once it’s arrived at your home is the other half. Making a small effort to learn how to handle different types of produce will mean more food ends up in your stomach than in your trash bin. Win Win.
Looking for a place to start? Check out the “Top 5 recipes for Seasonal Ingredients” menu on our blog now.
 Reay Tannahilll, Food in History. (London: Headline) 2002, 314.