Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's for Dinner?: Parent Perspective


It is easy to forget that fruits and vegetables have a particular season since we are able to obtain anything at any time.  There are many benefits to eating seasonally (such as teaching delayed gratification) and since we live in an agriculturally rich area, we can even eat locally as well.  Today, Sarah Ritter offers us her family's perspective on eating locally.  Sarah and Matt Ritter are in their second year at SLO Classical Academy. They have two children: May (Primary) and Abel (Jr. Kindergarten).



I did not pay attention to the seasonality of produce until my early twenties when I first started growing my own food and shopping at farmers’ markets.  The process of planting during the correct season carried over to eating foods during their growing period, whether I was growing myself, or buying from the market.  During the year, our meals range from food bought at the farmers’ market (I try to make it each week!), to food from the grocery store, to a meal coming straight from the garden.  Our meals are a reflection of how much time I have on my hands to get seeds in the ground or to make it to one market or another. 

I enjoy choosing seasonal produce not only for the freshness, but also to support local farmers and reduce the amount of energy used to transport food to my table.  There are some foods that cannot be grown nearby that we still indulge in- bananas, chocolate, or the occasional coconut.  But if it can be grown closer to home, I would rather wait with anticipation until the first peas, asparagus, tomatoes, or cucumbers hit the shelf or ripen in the garden.  It gives me something to look forward to throughout the year!

Once you begin to take notice of what time of year certain crops grow, and observe the culinary changes of winter, spring, summer, and fall, it will become second nature as to what foods you reach for no matter where you are buying your produce.  If you have doubts, ask the farmer or take a peak at the label and you will get a quick answer!  Here is a website with decent seasonal descriptions, although I noticed some items that have a bit longer season, at least in SLO’s climate.  It will give you a general idea about some common foods that you might be using in your kitchen. 

Happy cooking!

Thank you, Sarah for sharing your perspective on fresh, local eating.  Sarah has also shared this recipe for baked kale chips from smittenkitchen.com  that may be fun for the kids!

Baked Kale Chips
Adapted from a bunch of inspiring places

1 bunch (6 oz.) kale (she used Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale but curly varieties work as well)
1 T olive oil
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wash and dry kale.  Remove the stems and tough center ribs.  Cut into large pieces and toss with olive oil and salt.  Arrange kale in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.  



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