Falling for Seasonal, Local Food | My Earth Changing Moment

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Samantha
Yale


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Falling for Seasonal, Local Food

When I graduated college and had my first 9-5 job, I didn’t know what to do with all of my new free time in the evenings and weekends. No one had ever taught me how to cook, but I liked good food and thought it would be a good time to teach myself. I tried a new recipe almost every day for the first year, learning everything from how to boil an egg to how to cook lasagna and shrimp curry. Besides the occasional farmer’s market visit to people watch, taste expensive cheeses, and buy a few apples, I bought most of my groceries at the closest supermarket. I cooked based on whichever recipe appealed to me in a cookbook, only making substitutions when the supermarket was sold out of something. That changed when I switched jobs a year later. On Earth Day, a local farm came to the office to tell us about its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. If I paid $400 now, I could get a big box delivered to the office every Wednesday through the end of the summer filled with the produce that was fresh that week. I decided to give it a try. I loved it. Every Wednesday was like my birthday. After the shipment arrived, I would google what to do with the veggies I had seen before but never knew what they were called or what to do with them – from kale (this was before it was trendy) to turnips and radishes and mustard greens. It was a challenge every week for me to find new recipes and turn mustard greens into dinner. But as summer came, I was rewarded with ripe tomatoes and eggplants that looked and tasted better than anything I had made before. Before the CSA, I never knew that eggplants and tomatoes are not year-round vegetables. They were always at the supermarket! I began taking a closer look at the produce at Safeway. I was amazed that asparagus is sold year-round, but only fresh locally a month or two of the year. I began to learn about how much it costs to ship food around the world so we can all have essentials like kiwis and asparagus year round – and how much these unnecessary shipments pollute the earth. We could be eating squash in October instead! Life has gotten busier and I no longer have my big box of local, seasonal produce to experiment with each week, but I do go to my neighborhood farmer’s market whenever I’m home, and try to plan my meals around what is seasonal and doesn’t have to be shipped around the world.