Zero-Waste Kitchen


Ah, the good old days. Remember when grabbing groceries meant hitching up the wagon for a three-day trek into town?

Or when scoring a precious orange or some luscious grapes involved bartering with a wild-eyed peddler?


Of course you don’t! 


That’s because we’re lucky enough to exist in the era of supermarkets.

Since the early 20th century, these sprawling stores have been stacked with a plethora of fruits, veggies, and goodies from across the globe- no matter the time of year. 


No bartering or trekking necessary.

 


The Super Giant Supermarket In Rockville, Maryland, 1964


Since they first came about, grocery stores have ensured everything we could ever want is consistently available to us.

They’re now on every corner, in every town, ready to grant our wildest cravings. 


But there’s a downfall to all this availability.

The reality is that produce isn’t meant to be enjoyed all year round. 

In fact, year-round grocery store produce has a lot of negative impacts.


Produce that’s grown locally and in-season is way better for both your health and the planets. 

It’s time to switch from the supermarket to the farmstand and reap the plethora of benefits you deserve.



Why, you ask? 

 

1: It’s More Environmentally-Friendly 

So, you want a tomato in the dead of winter. Unless it sprouts legs and walks to you (the next step for GMO anybody?), it’s got one heck of a journey to make. According to one article, most grocery store tomatoes sold in North America are grown in Florida, which is said to have unsuitable soil and climate for optimal growth. This means pumping them full of pesticides and fertilizers and growing acres of one plant, which is inhabitable to wildlife and detrimental to soil quality. 

After all this, they’re shipped out on gas-guzzling trucks and trailers to all corners of the continent. 


If the produce you’re looking for is shipped from overseas, it’s impossible to know what chemicals have been used. Each country has its own regulations in terms of pesticides and insecticides. What one country bans for harmful effects, another may allow. 


When you buy seasonal produce, you’re supporting a local farmer who likely has much more sustainable farming practices. Less toxic chemicals, more eco-friendly tactics!

Plus, you’re boycotting unsustainable farming practices and unnecessary global shipping! 

 

2: It’s Much More Nutritious

In order to get mass shipments of produce where it needs to go, long trips are often required. Measures are taken to ensure each fruit and vegetable can get the most out of its shelf life on these journeys. 

Overseas shipping means the potential for harmful chemicals that the USA or Canada would not regularly allow. Some produce is sprayed with methyl bromide, bleach, or irritated (intentionally exposed to radiation to kill germs). 

Cross-country shipping will utilize similar practices to try and extend the shelf life as well, like spraying produce with pesticides and herbicides, and harvesting it before it’s ready. 

On top of this, some antioxidants and phytonutrients actually decline when stored for a period of time. 


Locally-grown, seasonal produce is more likely to be consumed closer to harvesting, will contain much fewer chemicals, and will be plump, bright and delicious. 

 

3: It Tastes Better 

Have you ever bitten into a giant, mutant-looking supermarket strawberry in the dead of winter, only to find that it has the flavor of a wet sock? 

Or, eaten an apple with the texture of wet flour?

Not exactly what you hoped for, was it?


It can be a real let down to come home with all this seemingly “fresh” produce, only to find that it lacks in the taste department. 

As one honest farmer put it, “I don't get paid a cent for flavor”. Their farming techniques focus on high yields and durability, which often leaves the consumer with something to be desired. 


When it comes to transportation, produce must be picked before it’s fully ripened to account for travel time. During the trip, it’s cooled to avoid ripening (which reduces flavor and nutrition) and then heated upon arrival to induce ripening (which reduces flavor and nutrition). 

Seasonal produce is fresher, sweeter, and perfectly ripe. You’re guaranteed to find your home-cooked meals rocking some of the best local flavors possible.

 

4: It’s less expensive  

So, who’s paying to transport Mr. Tomato from Florida to Washington in December? That’s right: the consumer. 

Seasonal produce is harvested in bulk, which means it’s sold at a lower price.

Locally sourced produce also means less storage and travel expenses, which is reflected in the pricing. 


When it comes to the “organic” section of your local supermarket, the pricing is questionable. But, so is the claim. 

A study by Consumer Reports in 2015 found that organic supermarket produce costs about 47% more than regular produce. On top of this, numerous studies done on organic produce found the health benefits are minuscule, they rarely taste any better, and they aren’t farmed in more sustainable or ethical practices when compared to regular produce.

Another study found that some organic pesticides are actually worse for the environment than regular pesticides. 


It’s safe to say that the jacked-up prices of organic supermarket produce might be unreasonable. Once again, shopping local and in-season is the best way to go! You get quality produce for a fair price. 



What to Pick and When?

Each region will differ in terms of local produce, but there’s a general guideline you can follow. 

Check out our list of in-season fruits and vegetables for each month:



WINTER: 

December, January, February, March

Chunky stews, creamy soups, roasted potatoes, beets and carrots, seared squash steak with a balsamic glaze- winter is all about hearty meals with loads of garlic. What better way to stay warm and cozy? Throw some ingredients in a crockpot and you have yourself a meal for the week! 

 

  • Rutabagas
  • Turnips 
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Red Onions 
  • Garlic 
  • Leeks
  • Potatoes 
  • Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Pears


SPRING: 

April, May, June

Winter is waving goodbye, the temperature is rising, the sun is out for longer periods; Hello, spring! This is when leafy greens, a few berries, and an assortment of other goodies start to sprout up. 

Make the most of this time with fresh salads, yummy pesto pasta's, beet and ricotta hummus, and strawberry rhubarb pie. 

  • Asparagus
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb
  • Kale
  • Salad Greens
  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Lettuce
  • Green Onions
  • Gooseberries
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Saskatoon Berries
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Swiss Chard
  • Garlic (Fresh)
  • Peas
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Zucchini
  • Fennel
  • Mushrooms
  • Cherries
  • Peppers (greenhouse)
  • Tomatoes (greenhouse)

 



SUMMER: 

July, August 

We’ve made it, folks. Welcome to heaven on earth. This is the season of fresh fruit galore! We get stones fruits, berries, juicy melons, apples, and pears; it’s all we’ve been waiting for! Whip out the juice pitcher and start on the sangria. For dinner? A green salad with fresh berries and melon, roasted corn on the cob, roasted eggplant and tomatoes, and stuffed green peppers. 

Get eating!

  • Raspberries
  • Currants
  • Cherries
  • Blackberries
  • Apricots
  • Apples
  • Crab Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Gooseberries
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Strawberries
  • Artichokes
  • Green Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Swiss Chard
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Garlic (Fresh)
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Green Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes (New)
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Rutabagas
  • Salad Greens
  • Shallots
  • Spinach
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Zucchini
  • Beets
  • Eggplants
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon
  • Kale
  • Pears


AUTUMN: 

September, October, November 

As summer begins its transition into fall, seasonal produce also shifts its juicy gears. September offers the highest produce variety, which shrinks into October and November. 

The cooler season calls for roasting, baking, and frying. ‘Tis the season of pumpkins, cranberries, Brussel sprouts, artichokes, turnips, and cauliflower. Thanksgiving, here we come!

  • Cranberries
  • Apples
  • Crab Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Melons
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Artichokes
  • Green Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower  
  • Celery
  • Swiss Chard,
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Green Onions
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Radishes
  • Rutabagas
  • Salad Greens
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Zucchini
  • Beets
  • Eggplants
  • Nectarines
  • Watermelon
  • Kale



Do you attend your local farmers' market? Or grow your own produce? We'd love to hear! Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

SOURCES:
Food Network
Reboot with Joe
NPR
Seasonal Food Guide


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