Eat With The Seasons: Get Creative In The Kitchen

by Crystal Stevens

Eating locally is a vitally important way each of us can contribute to a more sustainable community and foodshed. Based on the Permaculture Zone Principles, charted in a bull’s eye pattern, each circle represents sustainable ways to access food in our own communities. According to these principles, it is best to grow our own food in our own backyard first. What we can’t grow ourselves, we can acquire at local community gardens and small farms or by supporting local farmers markets. We can then support area business which are purveyors of local foods. Finally, only when we simply have utilized all of our local resources, then we visit the chain supermarket to complete our food needs. This mindset offers a creative insight into how our thoughts about food need to shift a little in order to truly be invested in the local foods movement. With the beautiful oasis of backyard gardens, urban farms, community gardens, and CSA Farms in our area, there are plenty of avenues to meet the needs of all aspiring and seasoned Locavores .

Additionally, we can get a little more creative in our own kitchens. Most of the meals I make for my family are prepared with 90% of the vegetables we grow ourselves, minus the occasional gourmet ingredients such as various cheeses and cooking staples such as oils and vinegars. I used to carry around a mile long grocery list with me. After living and working on a vegetable farm for so long, I have done without most of the things I thought I needed on that list. As it turns out, we are perfectly content with a primarily vegetarian diet prepared with farm fresh seasonal veggies.

I have enjoyed challenging myself to create beautiful gourmet meals without feeling the dire urge to go to the grocery store, but instead to just take a few minutes to open the pantry and the refrigerator to see what I can make with the ingredients I already have on hand. This not only saves money, but it also saves time, freeing me up to spend more time with my family.

For example; the family is craving pasta. I open the pantry and there is no pasta. I could spend the gas money and the time to go to muster up the motivation to go to the grocery store and face the inevitable, “went in for one thing, came out with a cart full” that we all have most likely experienced. The advantageous alternative is that I could figure out a creative way to use what I have on hand.

My favorite example of this shift in thinking is making zucchini noodles. When zucchini is in season, I don’t even keep pasta stocked in the pantry because zucchini noodles are delicious, healthy and my entire family loves them and asks for seconds. Getting kids to eat healthy can be a challenge, but it is always a little easier when they can be involved in the process. I love preparing raw food meals using farm fresh produce during the summer to be sure we get the maximum nutrients and flavor.

Eating with the seasons requires dedication to sustainable agriculture, commitment to your health, and a newfound creativity in the kitchen. Trying new recipes is a classic way to conquer picky eating habits. A sure fire way to get on board with the local foods movement is to broaden your horizons by changing the way you see your food. The seasonal produce that grows in this region at specific seasons throughout the year should be revered as food shed miracles. We have a plethora of opportunities in and around St. Louis to eat locally and responsibly. Local Harvest Grocer is a great place to find local products. Some of our favorite restaurants that use local produce are Local Harvest Café, Sweet Art, Dressel’s Public House, Chipoltle, and Schlafly Bottleworks.

It’s not too late to join La Vista CSA Farm, just in time for zucchini season! Prorated shares are available. Visit www.lavistacsa.org for more details.