Food, glorious food! It’s that time of year again—with holidays comes lots of yummy treats and seasonal goodies. Pumpkin pie (pumpkin everything), yummy greens, and all my favorite types of apple, are in the stores and farmer’s markets. Plus, the recreational fishing season for Dungeness crab (a local favorite in the Bay Area), has just opened on November 1.
We are so lucky to live in California, where there is so much delicious food being produced. Each bite of food represents the efforts of many people: farmers, harvesters, inspectors, truck drivers, grocers, and many more. Each bite also represents many resources and energy—not only energy from the sun but also things such as: water, fuel, electricity, packaging materials, and so on. We can make choices as stewards with every meal we make—and cook up a world of difference.
When shopping, you can consider some important factors, such as:
1. How far did this food travel?
2. How is it packaged?
3. How efficient is it? (Does it take a lot of water to produce?)
4. How is it processed? (Did it require machines to process?)
5. Is it in season?
Many of these questions come down to one simple question: how much energy did it take to get here? Especially in a drought year, considerations about energy and water use can make an important difference. Buying food from far away or out of season usually means that the food required more resources to be produced.
Just as crops on land have seasons, so does a lot of sea food. Dungeness crab, for example, is available starting in November. The season for seafood is often determined based upon each species life history. Most regulations are created to allow the population to breed before being fished to ensure that the next year’s generation is secured. The populations of certain fisheries must be closely watched to make sure they stay at a healthy size—sometimes the season must be cut short or cancelled if there aren’t enough animals in the population to ensure a healthy stock.
Here are some yummy recipes for food that’s in season: http://www.cuesa.org/eat-seasonally/recipes
Share your favorite seasonal recipes in the comment section!