A tribute to seasonal eating from The Conscious Shopper.
"Pumpkin season!" we shout, spotting the sea of pumpkins at the far end of the farmers market.
My boys dash up and down each row, fingers pointing excitedly. "Look at this one! Oooh, this one is so big. Can we get this one?"
We load a hefty white pumpkin into the stroller basket - picturing the grinning ghost we'll carve into its side - then toss in a couple pie pumpkins for good measure.
Daydreaming about pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie and pumpkin pancakes, I maneuver the stroller back through the market toward the apple stand. My youngest instantly spots the samples and begins begging for a taste while I check out the apple varieties. What should we try today? Sweet, tart, tangy?
I fill a bag with my favorites - tangy jonagolds and sweet pink ladies - and add some tart mutsus for my husband.
Piling the apples on top of the pumpkins in the stroller, I take a quick glance at my list and then begin filling my cloth bags with more seasonal bounty. My oldest takes list duty. Onions, check. Potatoes and sweet potatotes, check, check. Last of the year zucchini and squash, got it.
We head back to the car loaded up with fruits and vegetables but also with a deep feeling of excitement and gratitude for the season.
Over the last two and a half years, my family has been transitioning to a seasonal diet. Nowadays, about 80% of our produce comes from the farmers market, and since I haven't yet ventured into food preservation, we know that when we eat that last strawberry in June, we won't get another one until the next May.
In this modern age of instant gratification, it might seem like eating seasonally would evoke feelings of deprivation. But I have felt just the opposite.
When you can have a strawberry any time you want, you take the strawberry for granted. But when there are only a few short weeks in the year when you get to have a strawberry, suddenly the strawberry becomes precious. Your heart races at the sight of the first strawberry of the year. You buy a whole flat and find yourself eating nothing but strawberries for a few days. And at every visit to the farmers market for the news few weeks, you debate whether or not you've eaten enough strawberries to make it through another year.
But it doesn't end with strawberries. Next come the blueberries and the blackberries. And did we miss the one week of the year that we can find peas at the farmers market??? But it's okay because there's corn and watermelon and green beans and cantaloupe and zucchini and grapes.
And finally, here are the pumpkins and apples. Pretty soon the farmers market will begin to thin out and our diet will revolve around potatoes and sweet potatoes, collards and kale, but it's okay because winter will end.
And strawberry season will be here again!