Seasonal Eating Supports Local Farmers

Seasonal eating provides you with the freshest food ingredients. You can enjoy better food and support local farmers by buying meat, eggs and produce in season.

| August/September 2007

Seasonal eating provides you with the freshest food while also supporting local farmers. Choosing to follow cyclical menus stimulates an awe and respect for local food connections, and such conscious planning can save you money, too.

Seasonal Eating Supports Local Farmers

All fruits and vegetables are more abundant in some seasons than others, and although not everyone realizes it, the same is true for meat and eggs. As a farmer who sells directly to my customers, I think a lot about these seasonal cycles because getting supply to match demand is one of my biggest challenges. One of the best ways to even out the flow is to find customers who eat seasonally — buying extra at some times and not demanding seasonal products during the hard-to-produce times. Often, this means freezing and preserving for later use rather than eating an abundance of tomatoes or beef right now.

When it happens, this synergism between season, farmer and patron is a dance that honors the natural ebb and flow of production. Cyclical menus stimulate an awe and respect for local food connections. And such conscious planning is good for pocketbooks — of both farmer and patron.

Meat is Best Seasonally

Tremendous money and effort is expended maintaining production anti-seasonally, but meat is best in certain seasons, just as produce is. When are the deer fattest in your area? Going into winter. Forage-fattened beef is also best in the fall. Once the frost has killed flies and sweetened the grass, cows are more comfortable than at any other time of the year. They naturally ramp up their forage intake and back fat in fall to get through the lean, hard winter. On the other hand, spring is when chickens lay enough eggs so there will be extra for raising broilers. Seasonally speaking, it makes sense to eat chicken in the summer and beef in winter.

When buying meat from local farmers, you’ll find that eating the whole animal is a related issue. Remember that a chicken consists of something besides a boneless, skinless breast. The only way those can be offered in the supermarket is because the industry grinds and reconstitutes the rest into chicken franks, lunch meat and McNuggets, using low-wage labor and high volume to justify the sophisticated machinery. In the supermarket, boneless, skinless chicken breasts necessarily require an industrial approach to food preparation, but at home, it’s a different story. You can eat the chicken breast, but also cook the rest of the chicken for casseroles, and freeze the broth for stock.

The same is true of beef. I once had a chef ask me for 200 beef loins a year to use for steaks in his restaurant. My jaw dropped, and I asked him: “Do you know how much chuck roast that is?” Less than half of a cow can be used for top-end steaks. The rest is chuck roast and ground beef, and that meat has to go somewhere. Steakhouses only have been possible in our culture since the advent of the hamburger joint.

4/7/2015 11:14:58 AM

There's a cookbook out there called "Simply in Season" by Herald Press that is organized by season rather than typical cookbook categories, making it simple to find recipes that use in-season foods. It's a great resource.

7/19/2014 12:05:25 PM

had not really thought about it, meat and eggs are also seasonal, as well as fruits, great post

7/9/2014 3:15:21 AM

I will do the same thing this year, also I will do some cardio exercises!

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