When walking into the enchanting oasis of tasty greens that is Whole Foods, it is easy to forget that every piece of produce has its season. For most of us, this heavenly scene erases any concern that we can’t have whatever we want, whenever we want, which is why in today’s world produce is taken dangerously for granted. If you want to give back to C-Ville and Mother Nature this spring, eat seasonally.
“I need places that will give a consistent year-round product… there can’t be any intervals when a product isn’t available,” says Ron Pelger, who spent over 30 years at A&P supermarkets. Grocery stores are focused solely on pleasing the customers, but in doing so, they ignore that the distance food travels to get to customers has serious health consequences and negatively affects the climate.
When you eat seasonally instead, you not only reduce your carbon footprint, but also support local farmers and keep the planet (which includes Charlottesville’s very soil) healthy.
According to The National Resources Defense Council, today’s typical American prepared meal contains ingredients from at least five countries outside the United States. The distance food travels from farms to grocery stores produces copious amounts of carbon dioxide that add to greenhouse gases. Even in California, where agricultural commodities are one of the top exports, produce is still imported from other states as well as overseas.
Don’t let this depressing information discourage you, though. If you haven’t noticed, Virginia is a state of wide-open green space, which makes sense since agriculture is the state’s largest industry by far. Now that spring break is over, spring will (hopefully) set in soon and by no time there will be a whole stock of fresh and local fruits and vegetables in season. This spring, you can look forward to fresh strawberries, onions and asparagus.
To see what’s local and fresh off the farm, check out the Charlottesville Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning. If you’re not an early bird and want a restaurant atmosphere, eating at Duner’s is a fantastic option. Their menu changes daily, allowing their chefs to use the best ingredients that are seasonally available.
#SpoonTip: Check out this awesome seasonal produce chart for Virginia:
If you’re thinking that you’ll never remember this laundry list, I am one step ahead of you. Download the iPhone app Seasons to find out what’s in season based on where you live and where the nearest farmers’ markets are for the next time you take a trip to the grocery store.
You should also check out Greens to Grounds and order a produce or snack box because you’ll be supporting your fellow ‘Hoos! The University of Virginia Spoon Chapter is hosting the “Produce Party” with them on April 24th in the amphitheater, so come out for fresh food and live music. Until then, stay seasonable and sustainable my friends.