I'm taking part in Don't Waste the Crumbs's 31 Days to Frugal Natural Living Challenge, a day-by-day guide of ways to transition into a more natural way of living. One of the recent challenges was to eat seasonally. Food tastes best at its peak, not when it's out of season, and picking local food means lower transport costs and a lesser impact on the environment. I read Michael Pollan's Food Rules, Jen Hatmaker's 7: A Mutiny Against Excess, and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in the last eight months or so. All of these [fabulous] books made a strong case for eating whole, healthy, sustainable food. Food is far more economical (paying to support farmers instead of transportation fees for the commercial food industry) and sustainable when it is eaten in season and close to where it was grown. However, putting that lesson into practice has been much harder than learning it.
I'll admit that while pumpkin and apple things sound particularly delicious come September, I enjoy eating apples still in January, and crave bananas all year round. Some of the produce I love the most comes from places like Chile, which certainly is not local by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm comforted in knowing that I'm taking steps in the right direction.
I have been thinking more about what foods are in season (even printing out a list of foods that are grown each month) and trying to use more in-season ingredients, even if I let some out-of-season ones slip in every now and again. I figure that by focusing on including things that are in season, I will naturally be less inclined to buy things that aren't at their peak. It's a more relaxed and forgiving approach, and it's working for me at this stage of my journey toward sustainable, healthy living.
I made some delicious soup this weekend, and I realized while its delicious aroma was filling the apartment (and fogging the windows) that it featured quite a few local and/or seasonal ingredients. I had carrots (seasonal), kale (seasonal), acorn squash (seasonal), chickpeas, rice, chicken broth, Thai red curry paste, onion (seasonal), and cayenne pepper. The acorn squash was from my garden (which was a pleasant surprise, as it returned from the seeds we planted last year, not this year), and the onion was from my local farmer's market. The chicken broth was from a whole chicken I bought and made stock from. Who would have thought a soup recipe could turn into such a proud sustainable eating moment?
This experience, as well as the other challenges from this month-long frugal natural living guidebook have served to push me outside of my comfort zone, and I know I will be better for it.
What are some of your favorite ways to use seasonal foods?