Guide to Seasonal Eating

Over the past several decades, U.S. consumers have come to rely on supermarkets and grocery stores to access all types of produce year-round. The story of how major retailers came to dominate the American food landscape is complex and happened at the same time as the U.S. began to experience a major decline in the number of family farms. Particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, many American households in cities and the suburbs increasingly consumed more processed foods.

Year-round availability of produce sourced from distant locations meant that it was now very easy and convenient to eat tomatoes in January, peppers in April, and strawberries in October. This may not appear to be out of the ordinary but in fact, many of these foods are not in season during these months. What does it mean to eat seasonally and why is it important?

To eat seasonally is to consume food that is grown and harvested according to the growing seasons of the region. In the month of October, farms in New York State boast a beautiful array of seasonal produce such as beets, cabbage, carrots, swiss chard, eggplant, kale, winter squash, and many others. The freshness, quality, and taste of the produce are some factors why many people opt to eat foods that are in season. In addition, eating local and seasonal produce contributes to avibrant and healthier food system by decreasing food miles, reducing waste in packaging, shortening the supply chain, and supporting a local economy for small and mid-scale farmers.

It would be quite challenging for a busy family on a budget to only eat local foods based on seasonality. A more realistic goal would be to incorporate seasonal foods as often as possible. Incorporating seasonal foods into your diet can be a culinary adventure as you can experiment with new recipes and modify existing ones.  Farmers markets, CSAs, and Farm Shares enable consumers to purchase local food grown in season.Corbin Hill Food Project’s weekly Farm Share champions fresh, local, quality produce from farmers throughout the Northeast region. For more information on seasonal foods and recipes, visit Grace Communications Foundation’s interactive Seasonal Food Guide!

-Claudia Urdanivia, Corbin Hill Outreach Coordinator 

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Cabbage is positively perfect for the cool weeks ahead of us.Cabbage can be sautéed, roasted, boiled, steamed, or eaten raw.Give your salad a crisp kick or add it to a heartier dish. This week, we have both green and red cabbage going out to our sites. Try experimenting with cabbage in this interesting udon noodle recipe.The best part about this dish is that it goes great with just about any vegetable in your fridge! Try and see what combo is your favorite!

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Ingredients

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 lb. tofu, sliced and pressed to remove water, then cut into cubes

Cornstarch, for tossing tofu

1 lb. udon buckwheat noodles

2 c. baby spinach

1/4 head red cabbage, thinly sliced

2 carrots, peeled into ribbons

1/4 c. sesame oil

2 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. apple cider or rice vinegar

1tbsp. Yellow mustard

Fresh mint, for garnish

Recipe adapted from Delish
Cook time: 20mins. 

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss cubed tofu in cornstarch to lightly coat. Cook tofu until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes, then transfer to a plate.
2. Meanwhile, cook udon noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
3. Add spinach, cabbage, carrots, and cooked tofu to bowl and toss to combine.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and mustard. Pour dressing into a bowl and toss to combine until well coated.
5. Divide noodles among four bowls and garnish with mint.