Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Trend We Love: Local & Seasonal Real Foods

For both of us, the smell of freshly picked vegetables and fresh fruits still evokes memories of childhood visits to the farmer’s market with our parents on weekend mornings.

Even more than the food on display, we fell in love with the colors, the energy, and the high spirits we felt all around us. Surrounded by people who were passionate about what they were doing and the simple pleasures of sharing the results of their labor affected us in ways that, as children, we could not articulate, but as adults we now know were life-changing.

And whether it was jam canned in our kitchen or a neighbor’s, eating freshly-picked peas, or the smell of bread hot from the oven, our love for real food was inspired. Being raised on opposite ends of the continent, we were both lucky to be exposed to home grown food early in life. For me, it was mornings in Grandma’s garden stretching across the whole backyard and afternoons learning the pleasure of baking homemade buns.  For Lisa, it was a small working farm at her childhood home with a garden overflowing with tomatoes and corn, and with lambs and cows grazing in the field.

While we’re aware that buying local and seasonal foods seems to be the trend right now, and we normally steer away from fads when it comes to our eating habits, this is one we are fully on board with. And is it really a trend if buying locally grown foods was the norm for our ancestors? This fad has been around for centuries. We’re just bringing local back.

Here’s 5 reasons we think you may want to jump on the on the local, seasonal bandwagon with us.

#1. It’s better for you and the environment. Buying fresh foods, picked at the peak of their season equates to buying foods with their maximum nutrient content. After foods have been harvested and have to travel thousands of miles to reach their final destination, they lose some of their nutrients while also using a lot of fossil fuels in the process. By buying locally, you’re conserving your own health and conserving global resources.

#2. It tastes better. Have you ever eaten a tomato still warm from growing on the vine? Pulled a carrot from the soil to have as a snack? Or picked and peeled peas to eat them for dinner that night? If we could all eat our fruits and veggies this way, we would have no problem reaching our daily recommended intake. This may sound extreme, but they taste like candy.

#3. It encourages variety. Eating with the seasons sets the tempo for the year. It’s such a fun thing to see the first batch of strawberries in the summer and the variety of pears available in the fall. By eating with what’s available, you provide your body with a variety of nutrients and your taste buds with a variety of flavors. Plus, it encourages you to experiment a little more in the kitchen.

#4. It supports your local community. When you make the choice to buy locally, you’re supporting your neighbors, friends, acquaintances and the local economy in the general. Keeping money locally encourages your community to thrive. Not only that, food just tastes better when it has a story; and connecting with the hard working farmers that grew your food is the very best way to get that story.

#5. It’s fun. Going to the farmer’s market is still one of our favorite things to do. You usually run into people you know, have the opportunity to sample what’s in season, and can sit on the curb and enjoy the company of your best friend while eating some really good food.

You can also often walk away with specialty items you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get, including freshly baked scones, artisanal cheeses, or hazelnut flour (which we still have yet to use…)

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