Before I get to posting some recipes, I thought I'd share a bit more about my personal reasons for wanting to cook locally and seasonally:
- Taste: I think the fresh produce and meat sold at the local farmers' market tastes much, much better than what I get at the supermarket. That's by far the top reason for me to jump on the local food wagon.
- Variety: There is so much delicious produce grown in MA that I could never find at the grocery store...heirloom tomatoes, kohlrabi, purple potatoes, pea tendrils, fava beans, all kinds of apples...I can't get enough!
- Supporting local businesses: I love where I live, and I think its great to be able to support the farmers in Massachusetts.
- Humane treatment of animals: I want to be comfortable with where my meat comes from. This means I spend more money on meat from local farms with ethical practices, and eat meat less often.
- Opportunity to talk to the people that actually grow the food: at a farmers' market, I can ask questions about growing practices (do they use pesticides? fertilizers? do they practice crop rotation?), as well as get tips on how to prepare the produce I'm buying (what do I do with fiddleheads? which type of plum is better for baking?)
There are other reasons that I've heard people talk about -- the biggie is the claim that eating locally is more environmentally friendly, because reducing the amount that food travels means less consumption of fossil fuels. There's some controversy about this (an example here: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/06/opinion/06mcwilliams.html ) -- it really depends on the specific item in question, how it was grown and stored in addition to how far and by what mode it was transported -- and I'm not going to make any generalizations about this.
I think the bottom line for me is that eating locally and seasonally gives me a connection to and appreciation for the food I'm eating. Every time I go to the market, I'm reminded that real people grow this food, that the crop yield changes every week, and this can't be fully controlled. I can't get tomatoes in the winter or apples in the spring. This makes me respect my food more, and that's important. Food is precious, and it shouldn't be taken for granted. Thinking a little bit about where my food comes from helps me remember that. Here's to eating with the seasons!