Eating With the Seasons | Almanac.com

Eating With the Seasons

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Eating with the seasons just makes sense. It's the most delicious and healthiest way to live. Here's a guide for eating seasonally!

When you grow your own food, you are—by its very nature—eating with the seasons. Even if you don't garden, use the seasons as your backdrop! Food is at its freshest, tastes the best, is most affordable, and has the most nutritious value.

Growing what you eat

My daughter Molly and her husband recently visited for a long weekend. On the day they arrived, I laid out an abundance of fresh foods from my garden: platters of sliced tomatoes, peppers, fresh cucumber pickles, various fresh salad greens, cold steamed broccoli, accompanied by homemade flatbreads, several spreads, dressings, and dips, a nice hummus, seasoned black beans, sliced cheeses, and smoked turkey. For dessert: a large platter of watermelon and cantaloupe slices.

I thought the table, with its homegrown vegetables, fruits, and centerpiece of sunflowers, looked gorgeous, and the food especially delicious. So did everyone else.

We had so much bounty that I brought out some leftovers later in the day which prompted daughter to say, “Are we having the same stuff again, Mom?” “Well, umm, yes we are, and it will taste just as yummy as it did before. Don’t you remember growing up here?” We all had a good chuckle. 

Of course, there are many different ways to prepare seasonal foods but the point is that we are eating what we grow. If you visit local farm stand, you know peaches aren't sold in May or they wouldn't be at their peak. It's the same concept.

A Guide for Eating Seasonally

This is a condensed schedule of how we eat:

  • In spring, we start by planting the cold-hardy crops. The first vegetables of the season are the steamed asparagus. Then we are planting, transplanting, and weeding. We also feast on strawberries, peas, and fresh salad greens of spring!
  • In summer, we struggle to keep up with the weeding, watering, and succession planting. We harvest our garlic and hang it to dry. All July long we revel in (eating and freezing) fresh raspberries and broccoli, soon followed by blueberries, green beans and summer squash. Every day, all month long. We harvest bushels of onions and hang them to let the tops dry back so we can tuck them away in the cellar, hopefully to keep until the next summer’s harvest. Onions are a daily staple year-round. Come August, it’s harvesting, freezing and canning. It’s eating tomatoes, peppers, blackberries, cantaloupes and watermelons.
  • Suddenly, it’s September and we're turning towards fall! We’re harvesting winter squash, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, roasting and freezing red and yellow peppers, and still trying trying to keep up with the tomatoes. When heavy frost kills down the tender crops--tomatoes, peppers, and melons--we sow salad and cooking greens in the greenhouse, and we begin feasting on frost-hardy greens, which now include lots of Brussels sprouts and kale.
  • In winter, we eat greens from our greenhouse, plus what we’ve canned,  frozen, and tucked away in the cellar. So, it’s salad every day, frozen fruit, roasted root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, often soup or chili--a base of dry beans, many veggies, and either a good broth (soup) or a spicy sauce (chili). 

So, you can see there is enormous variety when eating seasonally, but not all at once. When one crop is coming on strong, it's handy, tasty, and at its most nutritious. It won't stay fresh for long. We tend to eat it day after day until its season has passed.

Yes, we sometimes get sick of fresh asparagus (broccoli, tomatoes, etc.) toward the end of its season. But the season always moves on, gives us something new, and pretty soon, we’re craving it again. And so it goes.

About The Author

Margaret Boyles

Margaret Boyles is a longtime contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She wrote for UNH Cooperative Extension, managed NH Outside, and contributes to various media covering environmental and human health issues. Read More from Margaret Boyles

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