This post is part of my series, “Kickin’ It Old Skool: Why and How We Are Old-Fashioned” or KIOS for short. If you’re new to the series, please read my disclaimer before continuing on. I’m keeping a table of contents to this series here so you can see what I’ve already written about and what more there is to come.
This post was getting way too long because the topic of fruits and vegetables is so wide so I’ve separated it into two posts. This is the more practical “what we eat” and “where we get the food” side of the equation. Next week, I’ll talk more about why we do what we do with fruits and vegetables. But fair warning, this is still a pretty long post!
For the next several posts, I’m going to walk through specifically what food we eat, how we obtain the food we eat, and our thought processes for why we eat what we do. This post is about our fruits and vegetables, the most seasonal items out of anything that we eat so here’s what we eat, by season.
What we eat and where we get it from
Spring: The return of growing things!
What we eat: We continue to eat out of our freezer (see Summer/Fall below) and we also start our garden with spring vegetables (lettuce, arugula, peas, beets, radishes, Swiss chard). We also greatly anticipate the return of asparagus to Ed’s stand, the start of strawberry picking season, and other green things at the farmers’ market, including scallions and leeks.
Where we get our food: Our freezer, our garden, and the farmers’ market
Summer – Perhaps this goes without saying but summer is a locavore’s dream. You can find just about anything you want to eat. It’s generally not that expensive, perfectly ripe, and amazingly good.
What we eat: We eat just about anything you can imagine that can be grown in the Mid-Atlantic climate! Tomatoes, eggplant, Swiss chard, zucchini, beans, cucumbers, peppers, onions, garlic, herbs, sweet corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, plums, cherries, apples, pears, blueberries, etc., etc., etc.
Where we get our food: My friend Julie, Ellie, and I have a standing Saturday morning date and our destination is almost always the Waverly Farmers’ Market. I buy almost all of our vegetables there, along with melons. We get our fruit from a weekly organic fruit CSA. We also grow lots in our own garden.
Fall: Also an amazing season for eating locally!
What we eat: much of the summer stuff along with winter squash, greens (kale, Swiss chard, etc), beets, radishes, turnips, potatoes, onions, garlic, broccoli, lettuce, arugula
Where we get our food: Same as summer.
Winter: And now, it gets harder to eat locally. This is is when all our hard work during the summer and fall pays us back in full! (See below).
What we eat: All the fruits and vegetables from our freezer and pantry shelves along with local potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, onions, beets, cabbage, and carrots, which we are able to buy through most of the winter at the local farmers’ market.
Where we get our food: Our freezer, our pantry shelves, and the local farmers’ market.
Summer/Fall: During the summer and fall, we work many long hours preserving food for the winter. We buy all of this food from the local farmers’ market or local pick-your-own farms. We also grow some of it ourselves and we also forage for some things (primarily apples).
We aim to have all of the following in our freezer or canned by November:
Frozen: sweet corn (cut off of the cob), broccoli, zucchini (grated), swiss chard, tomatoes (diced), green beans, berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), pesto, jalapeno peppers (diced), winter squash puree.
Canned: peaches, pears, applesauce, pickles, strawberry jam
Non-seasonal and/or non-local items that we eat:
At the supermarket, we buy fresh ginger root, lemons, and limes. We keep these on hand basically at all times because we use them so much for flavoring recipes. We can’t get them locally but we consider them important enough to the food that we love that we buy them anyway.
On very rare occasions, we also buy avocados as a splurge but we try to only buy the avocados that come from Florida (so they have far less distance to travel than from CA or another country).
In the winter, we sometimes buy citrus (oranges, grapefruit, and/or tangerines), usually from the farmers’ market and sometimes from a local fruit sale (like the Boy Scouts). We only buy citrus that comes from Florida (again, the closest growing region to us) and we only buy it when it is in season there (basically our winter). In the winter, sometimes, we just crave fresh fruit and so we get some oranges!
As the farmer’s market runs out of local storage vegetables (particularly potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, and cabbage), we do continue to buy them from the farmers at the farmers’ market. We consider them important to our diet and also like to give our dollars to local families/businesses. We usually only have to buy non-local items of this kind for a month or two before spring comes.
What we don’t eat
Any tropical fruit (bananas, mangoes, pineapple, etc).
Any other fruits or vegetables from the grocery store (except as noted above).
Any fruits or vegetables that are out of season that we can get locally (as in, we only buy asparagus when we can buy it locally and just don’t eat it the rest of the year).
*Some farmers’ markets are open only during the growing season and have vendors who are only allowed to sell food that is grown or made locally.
Our farmers’ market is slightly different in that it is open year-round and has two seasons. The summer market has the same rules (only food grown or made locally) and the winter market allows food to be sold that is not grown in Maryland. This allows the farmers to continue to sell the storage crops they grew themselves as well as make some money selling other items. This is how we can buy oranges at Maryland farmers’ market, in case you were wondering!
In the winter, I always ask the farmers to show me what they have for sale that they’ve grown and try to do all my buying from those items if I can.
Here’s our Master Planting and Harvest Schedule (it’s a Microsoft Word document) for all that we grow and preserve throughout the year, if you’re interested in seeing it graphically. We certainly don’t manage to do everything every year but this is our guide.