Lauren Zimmerman, Registered Dietitian
The Value of Seasonal and Local Produce and What is Currently in Season
This past month, the team at Synchronicity hosted a Mozzarella Pulling night with Hamby’s Catering. The event was a hit, and the local seasonal produce shined right along with the mozzarella. The burst in flavor experienced with seasonal, local produce is a reminder of how much better the seasonal variety can taste compared to the off-season counter-part.
Why does seasonal and local produce taste better?
The reason for the more satisfying taste is because the produce is grown in its’ ideal environment and can fully ripen in its energy sources - the sun, soil, and water. Produce allowed to ripen in the soil contains a richer flavor, coloring, and higher nutrient profile than if picked prematurely. Premature harvesting is often done for produce that has to travel long distances or needs to be kept for later sale. The long-distance travel also requires more transportation fuel, and it is not uncommon for the premature produce to be sprayed with chemicals to further slow the ripening process. For example, did you know that apples that are picked pre-maturely can be stored in temperature-controlled conditions that allow them to last up to 10 months?
Is organic really all the hype?
We hear a lot about the human microbiome and rightly so as the ever-evolving research is uncovering how important these tiny microbes are to our health and well-being. But there also exists a soil microbiome and the profile of the two often work hand in hand. So, trying to limit as much as possible the consumption of produce grown on farms where chemical fertilizers are used is important for your metabolism, mood, and immune system, to name a few. The organic label can indicate this, as does simply asking your farmer. To learn more about this topic and regenerative agriculture, check out Farmer’s Footprint.
Where can I find local farms?
Luckily in the greater Charleston area, local produce and farmer’s markets are easy to find and we’ve listed a few for you. Pictured below is Joseph, he is the 3rd generation farmer for Joseph Fields Farms which is a 50-acre farm located on Johns Island and is a USDA-certified organic farm, a designation often difficult and expensive for small farms to obtain even if they are in fact practicing organically.
Charleston Farmers Market: Marion Square – 329 Meeting Street
Saturday, 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
April 13 – November 30, 2019
Boone Hall Farms Market - 2521 N Hwy 17, Mt Pleasant, SC 29466
What’s in season during October?
Apples - through November; how to incorporate: wash, slice, season with cinnamon, and bake @350F for 15 minutes until softened for a sweet treat after dinner or to add-to a bowl of oatmeal. Or, enjoy fresh as a snack.
Beans - through October; how to incorporate: replace meat for beans in a dinner dish. Beans are a less expensive protein source – less costly in the store and less costly to the environment. They also are a well-balanced food providing soluble fiber, plant protein, and complex carbohydrates (meaning digested slowly so they can help us feel full longer than a simple carbohydrate.)
Broccoli - through December; how to incorporate: roast with salt, pepper, lemon and have as a side or add to a lunch salad.
Eggplant - through October; how to incorporate: roast with garlic, salt, pepper and add to marinara sauce with any other vegetables such as pepper, onions, mushrooms and add to a pasta such as brown rice pasta or freshly made pasta.
Pecans – through December; toast in the oven for 4-5 minutes at 350F to bring out the flavors and save for a topping to salads, oatmeal, or to have for a snack.
Sweet Potatoes - through February; so many things to do with sweet potatoes! But to name one, wash and roast a whole sweet potato and then stuff it with chickpeas and a dollop of hummus or guacamole for an easy lunch.