It is the most wonderful part of the year here in the northeast, Summer! Longer days, warmers nights, fun in the sun, sea breezes, farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) serving fresh local produce and food to enjoy.
Strawberries are by far my favorite fruit of the summer. The cone-shaped fruit with tiny, brown ‘seeds,’ has a fragrance and flavor that screams summer, with every bite. They are very versatile, you can use them in salads, desserts, side dishes, as a snack and my new favorite, cold soup; Chilled Strawberry Soup.
But should you Eat local? Eat what’s in season? Eat organic? Are you as confused as I am by multiple messages about what to eat and where to buy it? Here is a quick guide on what to do.
(1) Cost: When produce is in season locally, the relative abundance of the crop usually makes it less expensive. Seasonal
(2) Taste: When food is not in season locally, it’s either grown in a hothouse or shipped in from other parts of the world, and both can affect the taste. Fresh, locally harvested foods have their full, whole flavors intact, which they release to us when we eat them, yummy. Local
(3) Variety: Many people are surprised to find how much variety can be offered in their region. To find out what’s harvested seasonally in your area, go to ww.localharvest.org to find farmers’ markets. Seasonal
(4) Nutrition: If you harvest something early so that it can endure a long distance shipping experience, it’s not going to have the full complement of nutrients it might have had. In addition, transporting produce sometimes requires irradiation (zapping the produce with a burst of radiation to kill germs) and preservatives (such as wax) to protect the produce, which also can affect the nutrition. Local, Organic, Seasonal
(5) Pesticides: Pesticide-based agriculture affects many, from the farm workers who grow and harvest the produce to the consumer who eats it. But organic food can be costly! The Environmental Working Group estimates that we can reduce our exposure to pesticides by 80 percent if we simply know which foods typically have the highest pesticide residue and therefore should be bought organic and we can save some cash as well. Thus the Dirty Dozen (foods to buy organic) and Clean 15 (okay to buy non-organic). Also keep in mind this summer that some local farms may not be able to afford to pay for the designation as an organic grower, but still use organic practices. Next time you are at the local farm stand or famers market ask, many local farms are organic. Organic & Local
Bottom line: take some time each week this summer to either; plant a home garden, visit your local farm stand or farmers markets or have CSA delivered to your home. Meet the people who grow your food, and remember local, seasonal food always taste the best!
With the theme of local and seasonal, strawberries are the prefect fruit to use in June. Chilled soups and gazpacho’s are a great addition to your summer menu.
Try Chilled Strawberry Soup from Cathy Walthers Soups & Sides cookbook. This soup is fantastic because it take 10 minutes to make and you can prepare it ahead of time. Finally the fresh flavor of strawberries burst in your mouth with every bite.
Ingredients: 4 cups strawberries (hull removed) ; 1/3-1/2 cup orange juice ; 2 Tbsp freshly squeeze lemon/lime juice ; 1/4 cup sugar (optional); 1/3-1 cup prosecco or sparkling white wine (optional); Lemon Sorbet
Servings: 6-8 people
Step 1: Remove the hull from the strawberries and and chop. Place in a blender.
Step 2: Add 1/3 cup-1/2 cup orange juice and 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice to taste and 1/2 cup Prosecco and 1/4 cup sugar (I skipped the sugar and it still tasted yummy, also the Prosecco can be optional as well).
My Challenge for you this week, check out a local farmers market or sign up for a CSA and experiment with local and seasonal produce.