For low-cost fresh food, ask a local farmer what he or she routinely has in excess.
There’s a simple way to synchronize your eating with the seasons and availability. Make a list of products available in your region and note the normal harvest months for each. It’s a wonderfully simple way to express the ebb and flow of the seasons. Then, preserve abundant food for when it’s in short supply. Here are a few more tips for getting started with local and seasonal eating:
• Visit the local farmer’s market, and while you’re shopping, ask about hard-to-find items. They may know producers who sell things you can’t get at the market.
• Search for the food you want on the Internet. A few good resources to find food producers in your area are Local Harvest, Sustainable Table and Eatwild.
• If you don’t already have a chest freezer, get one. You’ll be able to store much more food.
• Find books about food preservation and learn more about dehydrating, canning, pickling and smoking. Play with different techniques—it can be a lot of fun. (For more ideas see "Enjoy Fresh, Local Food All Year.")
• Get product-specific recipe books to see how many different ways you can fix the same thing. Entire cookbooks concentrate on tomatoes, squash, eggs, beef or buffalo. Explore!
• If you’re a reluctant cook, try sitting down on a Sunday afternoon and making a menu for each day of the week. Planning ahead takes the fear out of the process. It also reduces the temptation to panic and buy frozen pizza.
• Ask a local farmer what he or she routinely has in excess, and then buy and use it. He or she will love you for it, and if you buy in bulk you can get wonderful fresh food at a lower cost.
For more on seasonal eating, read the original article, “Eating with the Seasons.”