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The Seasonal Food Guide

Erin Coopey By Erin Coopey 06.11.09
The Seasonal Food Guide
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Summer might be right around the corner, but it’s prime time to take advantage of Spring’s ripest offerings.  There is a great emphasis on returning to seasonal eating these days. However, as you peruse the produce section of your local grocery store, it may be difficult to tell the difference between November and April. Tomatoes, oranges, peppers and cauliflower are available year-round so determining seasonality may be confusing.

Nature’s Bounty=High Flavor, Low Cost

Why concern yourself with seasonality when a world of food options is at your fingertips? Three reasons: taste, nutrition and cost. Sure you can get tomatoes in January. They might be anemic looking, tasteless, gas-ripened orbs running upwards of $4.99 or more a pound but you can get them. Let’s face it, what we are really craving is the sun-ripened tomatoes of our childhood. Plus, a sun-ripened tomato is higher in lycopene (an antioxidant associated with lower risk of prostate cancer and heart disease) than its gas-ripened counterpart. And the cost, well, if you are like me you are thinking twice about your monthly food budget these days; seasonal produce is typically less expensive than its off-season counterpart.

"The beauty of seasonal eating is that you don't have to over-do preparation. The food you choose is at its peak. "

Spring’s Freshest Feast

I challenge you to plan a menu not by flipping through your cookbooks or your old reliable standards, but by seeking what is fresh and economical for inspiration. So, let’s explore seasonal eating in spring.

Spring is transitional, maybe more so than other seasons. We are coming off the hearty vegetables of winter and not quite experiencing the bounty of summer. If you are lucky enough to have a farmer’s market close by, choosing seasonal produce is much easier. If you shop at a big box grocery store, here are a few examples of spring fruits and vegetables to look for: artichokes, arugula, asparagus, beets, berries, butter lettuce, cucumbers, mangoes, morel mushrooms, pea shoots, radishes, spinach, sugar snap peas and summer squashes (including pattypan, yellow crookneck and zucchini varieties).

Simply Delicious: Spring Meals

The beauty of seasonal eating is that you don’t have to over-do preparation. The food you choose is at its peak. Here are a few of my favorite simple spring dishes:

  • Steamed asparagus, tossed with a little butter, salt and pepper and topped with lightly scrambled eggs with fresh tarragon ? delicious for brunch or an appetizer.
  • Simple grilled steak on a bed of arugula with a wedge of lemon ? the peppery arugula is a delightful compliment to steak. 
  • Grilled artichokes with curry mayonnaise ? simply mix curry powder into mayonnaise to taste. 
  • Butter lettuce with baby beets and spring goat’s milk cheese ? a delicate vinaigrette is perfect with this salad.
Where can you find seasonal produce where you live?  What are some of your favorite springtime dishes?


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  • jjmmaagg By jjmmaagg

    Farmers markets are abundant in the Cincinnati area. Pasta salad and gazpacho made with fresh tomatoes from our garden.

  • slgr01 By slgr01

    I have a small garden. Also there is a farmers market a couple of days a week which is fabulous also! Fresh salads-made with arugula, bell peppers, cucumbers & tomatoes from my garden.

  • cladams58 By cladams58

    I have a small garden, I cant wait for things to set on and to ripen!!!!!There is no better tomato then one fresh form the garden!!!!

  • SiLvEr-StArS By SiLvEr-StArS

    Thank Goodness for my neighbor next door to me , has a Hugh awsome garden she grows alot of diff kind of fruits & vegetables, and she is a Peach, hooks me up every week. Gonna love yea!!!!


    Farmers markets are hard to come by if you don't live in a high populated area -- im trying to find a good online source to maybe purchase fresh - organic produce -- any suggestions?

  • ChefErin By ChefErin

    DexterBuzz - When I was a litte girl, we used to stop by roadside farm stands. I often see them when driving through small towns and rural areas. Any of those in your area? What part of the country are you from?

  • GuessWho By GuessWho

    I have found that farmer's market in around the Philadelphia area are much cheaper than the grocery stores. The freshness cannot be compared. Now that the gas prices are close to $3 per gallon, I'm certain the prices will be reflected at the nearby markets. We just can't win these days!

  • jaj1969 By jaj1969

    This is a great idea. Not only is it flavorful and economical, but much healthier. Using what you can get locally is an excellent idea all the way around. Great article.

  • snickerdoodle By snickerdoodle

    i have a few grocery stores nearby that offer everything from asparagus to bunches of fresh herbs to mangoes and leeks. I bought onion, garlic and artichokes and made stuffed artichokes. I also picked up some lemon and fresh parsley to go with it.

  • pukwudjies By pukwudjies

    I found this very helpful!! A perspective I have never considered and I am one of the lucky ones - farmers market every Sunday. Have a whimsical day! Seattle.

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