Why Cook for the Season
Brittany Wright of Wright Kitchen on What’s Fresh in the World of Produce
As popular culture becomes further imbued with eating clean — remaining healthy and mindfully selecting that which enters our bodies — one important element toward this pursuit of a healthy lifestyle is still consistently overlooked: how to eat in season. Here, Seattle-based Brittany Wright of Wright Kitchen explains the importance of eating in season and takes bad ass photos that miraculously make radishes look as delectable as cheesecake.
I recently attended dinner at a dimly lit restaurant in downtown Seattle. The chef, also a butcher and farmer, foraged the plated mushrooms earlier that day. She used the last of her season’s tomatoes for the evening’s soup, which featured her hand-raised meat and eggs, as well. In fact, every fruit and vegetable presented was handpicked from her farm. Her dedication underscored an increased appreciation of eating in season, while the flavors underscored its value.
While we can’t all have a working farm at our disposal, it’s important to keep in mind what grows seasonally because eating those foods allows us to gain higher nutritional worth from what we’re consuming — eating out of season tends to mean you’re only getting a portion of the food’s potential nutrients. It also provides an opportunity for farmers to honestly and healthfully harvest.
If you shop at local markets, you’ll notice the last bits of summer are fading away. Corn and blueberries are being replaced by carrots, leeks, cauliflower, greens, and several varieties of squash. But while seasonality is unavoidable at the farm stand, it’s something you may not be aware of stepping into your local grocery shop, where everything is made so available. To ensure your fruits and veggies are in-season, here are some things to look out for:
1. Price. When the prices go up, that typically means the produce is not in season. People tend to believe that the cost of food is higher when purchased from a farm while in season, but it’s quite the opposite — it’s only when you begin to buy out-of-season that prices inflate.
On this note, too, in-season and local eating can mean less money spent on fuel for delivery. Some of your food has likely been shipped across the world to you, which means someone had to harvest, pack up and transport that nourishment to your city, offload and distribute it to the correct locations, and then put it out for you to purchase. All of this jacks up the food’s cost to you.
2. Abundance. This is typically a good thing — the more there is of something, the more likely it is that the item in question is in season.
3. Taste. Foods that are in season tend to retain a much more powerful and poignant taste than ones that are being grown out of season. Blueberries in November, for example, will taste considerably duller than ones grown in the peak of summer.
Particular fruits that are currently in season: pomegranates, apples, pears, and fresh cranberries.
Vegetables that are currently in season: Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Greens, Green Beans, Leeks, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnip, Peppers, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Shallots, Sunchokes, Winter Squashes
Going forward, I will be highlighting one fruit or vegetable each week on Man Repeller, cataloging its nutritional benefits and providing a recipe for us to try. Stay tuned.