Ah summer – the season marked by an abundance of produce and the perfect time for seasonal eating! Eating in season has many benefits for your family and for the environment. It provides an opportunity to learn where our food comes from and how it's produced. It allows us to highlight regional variety and food traditions, while anticipating and appreciating distinctive flavors made possible by genetic diversity. Seasonality requires us to value the importance of diversity in the food system as well as recognize the folly of over-reliance on just a handful of uniform crops.
While these foods are likely to be in-season in your region, what’s in-season varies from region to region – even in summer. Go to your local farmer’s market to see what’s currently ripe where you live.
This versatile leafy green, usually sold in big bouquet-like bunches, is delicious raw or cooked and is often a favorite with children. Did you know that there are 60 varieties of basil, all of which vary slightly in taste and appearance? Adding fragrant basil leaves to sandwiches gives them a fresh twist. Use it as a seasoning herb for stir fry. And, for a crowd pleaser try making pesto. Great for a summer picnic or a potluck, pesto is easy, affordable and delicious.
We all know that few things are worse than an out-of-season tomato. Known for their antioxidant content, there are literally hundreds of different varieties. While nothing beats home-grown, farmer stands and farmer’s markets are a close second and even supermarkets are beginning to carry a greater selection of heirloom varieties.
Blueberries in Maine, raspberries in Minnesota, blackberries in Oregon – berries are currently ripening all over the country! You-pick berry spots, which can be found in many regions, provide a great outing for a group of kids and, if they don’t eat them all, you may come home with enough berries for jam or at least shortcake. As always, seek out organic!
Part of the melon family, cucumbers are great in salads or in beverages! Adding thinly sliced cucumber to your water pitcher will infuse your water with a little kick. Cucumbers too come in many varieties.
Even though zucchini are available throughout the year, we tend to think of them as, well, a summer squash. All parts of this squash are edible including the flesh, seeds, skin and flower. Fresh zucchini grated into ribbons provides a creative, and might we add elegant, pasta substitute for those with gluten intolerance.