The Local Foods Wheel

It’s something terrible we have all experienced. Accidentally eating a light pink, mealy, and flavorless tomato. Or perhaps eating a bland, completely tasteless melon. Or worse eating slices from an unripe slightly green banana.  How do you ensure that you are eating the tastiest and most nutrient rich fruits and vegetables? Start eating seasonally and locally!

Eating seasonally means eating whats ripe when it reaches its natural point of the seasonal growing cycle. Heading to your local farmer’s market or green market is a good way to start, a level up would be joining a local farm’s CSA to get yourself fresh fruits and vegetables ever week or two through the summer, and even in winter. Here are my favorite go to resources:

For the Fridge: Because I live in San Francisco, I’m blessed to be able to use the Local Foods Wheel which shows both foods that are in season all year round on the inner circle, and foods coming into season on the outer circle. So far there is a New York version and a San Francisco version – let’s hope they expand soon! (If you are in SF – you can pick up your own copy at Omnivore Books! We have ’em in stock)

Portable for the tech crowd: the Seasons iPhone application will give you seasons information for “fruits, vegetables, lettuces, herbs, fungi and nuts,” for wherever you happen to be. You can view local seasons versus import seasons and see a graph that shows how “in season” a given food is. It’s $1.99, but you can take it everywhere!

There are also a few websites that are great resources: the Northeast Regional Food Guide for the New England area, and in Europe, BBC Food runs the What’s In Season page . A little more obscurely, a Swiss couple runs a site called Laughing Lemon, that also shows what is in season each month, and points out some rarer vegetables and fruits. Because the northern hemisphere has similar growing zones, these sites can be helpful for anyone in that general region. (via Maki)

For further reading, there are several cookbooks that discuss eating seasonally that I love:

Jamie Oliver’s Jamie at Home (discusses growing and cooking methods for seasonal veg)
Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries (his eating journal for a year of dinners)
River Cottage Vegetable Handbook – the River Cottage makes the best little handbooks on the planet. They have ones for mushrooms, preserving, bread making, and seafood as well.

Do you go to your local farmers market? Are you a member of a CSA? (Actually, if you are a member of a CSA that you love in San Francisco, gush about it here in the comments. I need suggestions! )