Local, organic food is the gold standard, but what do you do when local isn’t in season? We’ve got your answers.
The Winter of (Foodie) Discontent
Nowadays, you can eat pretty much any fruit or vegetable you want, all year long. But should you? During the summer and fall, farmer’s markets are brimming with local, organic food that was harvested within 24 hours and is usually at the peak of its freshness, flavor, and nutritional content. In the winter and early spring, however, you often have to rely on out-of-season produce that’s traveled an average of 1,300 miles to get from commercial farms to your dinner table. The process is not only bad for the planet, but it also means you wind up with bland produce that’s mealy and low on nutrients.
While some out-of-season eating is inevitable, there are certain fruits and vegetables you’re better off buying frozen. Frozen produce, like fresh produce, has usually traveled long distances to get to your plate, but it at least was picked at the height of freshness and, studies have found, sometimes has a higher nutrient content than fresh produce (just watch for added salt, added to many frozen veggies). For an expert’s take on what should only be eaten in season, we turned to Chris DiMinno, the chef at Portland, Oregon’s modern gastropub Clyde Common.
Fresh peas aren’t easy to find, and with good reason; the true pea season, according to DiMinno, is only about two weeks long. “Only eat them in early spring, when they are the sweetest and the most tender. Other times of the year, fresh peas can be starchy, with little to no flavor,” says DiMinno. If you’re a diehard fan of peas, the chef advises stocking up on them in the spring, and shelling your peas and freezing them while their sugars are at their peak. If you’re stuck with store-bought, look for Columbia River Organics frozen green peas, sold at Whole Foods stores. They contain no added salt. Read the rest of this entry »