There’s nothing better than peas and asparagus in spring, strawberries in June, and corn and peaches in August. Sure, you can get most of these things at the supermarket year-round, but the flavour of any of these foods in January pales in comparison to what they really taste like in their season. That’s because in-season ingredients are picked during their natural growing season, at their peak of ripeness and usually much closer to home. Eating seasonally lets you enjoy the highest quality food while encouraging you to you eat locally and eat economically.
Shopping at farmers’ markets is a great way to eat both seasonally and locally. It can give you a feel for what is in season and what is no longer at its best, and you can learn more about what you’re eating by asking the grower about things like when the best time to buy is and how long its growing season lasts. As a bonus, most farmers’ markets stalls will let you taste their product before you buy, so that you can be sure you’re getting the level of quality you want from your food.
Many farmers are also becoming involved in Community-Supported Agriculture, or CSAs, which is essentially a product subscription service. For a fixed cost, every week or two a box of farm-selected in-season produce will arrive at a participant’s doorstep. This is a fantastic way to eat seasonally and get exposure to new ingredients.
Eating seasonally can also reduce your grocery bill. When food is easier for vendors to acquire, it’s cheaper for you to buy, and food is never easier to acquire than when it is at its peak ripeness. While talking to growers is extremely helpful, it’s also a good idea to check your supermarket fliers. Produce that is in season will usually be advertised at a lower price.
Eating seasonally through the winter can be tough. In the colder parts of Canada, there are only a few crops that can survive with the frost. Preservation throughout the spring, summer and fall can provide you with quality ingredients that aren’t in season. Freezing and water-bath canning are both great ways to store the bounty of spring, summer and fall. Visit a farmers’ market, stock up, and eat seasonally all year round.
Check out some of our seasonal chicken recipes below!