Fresh Tools for Eating Seasonally
The merits of eating with the seasons are many -- increased freshness, nutrition, and sustainability are just a few. As seasonal diets gain momentum from bestselling books like Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Michael Pollan's The Omnivore’s Dilemma, tools are (forgive the pun) cropping up to help consumers avoid globe-trotting, energy-intensive produce and find the freshest, earth-friendliest options.
Seasons is a new app for the iPhone and iPod touch that lets users quickly gain information about what's local and in season. The database contains information for 170 fruits, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, and nuts, including their seasonal availability, a picture, and some helpful background. Users can search by month or by category; a weekly overview explains what's currently in season.
The creators of Seasons designed it with farmers' markets in mind, but it can also help shoppers sort through the produce aisles of their local grocery stores. It can be downloaded for $1.99 at the iTunes App Store.
The Natural Resource Defense Council offers a similar online guide for those of us a step down the technology ladder. This handy resource breaks search criteria down to regions within states and times within months to allow shoppers to figure out exactly what is in season in their area.
The site also provides a recipe of the month for each region. The “frequent fliers” feature highlights produce, like asparagus and tomatoes, notorious for traveling long distances.