Living sustainably has become an increasingly important (and, given the current state of the climate, urgent) tenet of our lives.
The most common recommendations we see for living in harmony with our environments are: limiting or eliminating animal products, cutting down on international travel, and opting for ground shipping. But one of the easiest ways to not only support the environment, but also your local economy, often goes undiscussed: shop locally.
Many people get intimidated by the idea of shopping locally, shrugging it off as the reserve of the ultra-wealthy, or assuming it’s impossible to do all of your shopping at the farmer’s market. Luckily, none of this is true — anyone can shop at the farmer’s market, and when you know what’s in season, it will make your life infinitely easier and your plate far more appealing.
Myth #1: The only way to shop local is to go to a Farmer’s Market
Many people are instantly deterred by the idea of “having” to visit a Farmer’s Market in order to figure out what’s in season and purchase local produce. And while it is the easiest way to shop with the seasons (and not nearly as intimidating as many make it out to be—more on that below), it is far from the only way. Many grocery stores, from Hannaford’s to Whole Foods, offer specific sections for local and seasonal fare, and we always base our recipes around the produce that’s thriving at that time of year. For those who count out the Farmer’s Market because they’re too busy to wait in line or are resistant to the large crowds, there’s a growing market for farm boxes, with Dig Acres and chef and celeb favorite Natoora offering those on the East Coast (and, in Natoora’s case, London) curated produce deliveries. For those further afield, Imperfect Foods is a slightly less seasonal but equally admirable way to shop sustainably. Those without access to these delivery services can always opt for CSA, a community-based collective that often involves investing shares in a farm in exchange for regular deliveries of their produce. In other cases, instead of paying for shares, CSA-members will rotate free shifts in a store that sells the farm’s wares. It’s an amazing way to support farmers (a community that was rocked more than many by the pandemic due to the closure of farmer’s markets and prevalence of shelf-stable food), who often have to front shipping and transport expenses for everything they produce before making any income. Net net: no matter where you are, there’s likely an easy way to make local work for you.
Myth #2: Farmer’s Markets are overpriced
Time for us to bust the biggest myth of all: that shopping at Farmers Markets is inaccessible. My favorite ‘accidental farmer’ to follow on Instagram, Dana, hosted a mini-series for her podcast, Talk Farm To Me, which featured a few farmers who sell their weekly bounties at New York’s Union Square Greenmarket, and they touched on this misconception right at the start. All greenmarkets accept SNAP, so no matter your financial situation, you’re guaranteed to walk away with some things that work for your home. Additionally, because farmer’s don’t have to ship their products via air (or even ground), they don’t need to factor in transportation costs; and, beyond that, their produce is fresher, meaning it’ll last longer—and you won’t have to shop as often. Wins all around!
Now that we’ve shattered any misconceptions we may have previously held about the seasonal shop, it’s time for the fun part. It’s March and we need to create a shopping list.
Below are a few of our favorite recipes based on regions and seasonally available produce. Bon appetit.
Canada (Ontario): Rhubarb
Those located in Ontario can rest assured that any rhubarb they pick up in the month of March is going to be top-notch. Many are turned off by rhubarb’s tart taste profile, but those who have been deterred may not be consuming it during the right time of year—or with the right preparation. One of our favorite ways to sweeten it up is by making it into jam (complete with the warm, complementary flavor of vanilla bean), and we love the spring-appropriate floral dimension that the added rose flavoring provides.
Canada (British Columbia): Carrots
British Columbians may not have rhubarb to work with—but there are very few vegetables more versatile than the carrot. Luckily, crunchy carrots have their moment in March over here, and while we may have roasted our fair share throughout the winter, we love heralding the warmer months by treating ourselves to these muffins—the perfect treat for your first picnic of the year.
United States (East Coast): Chives
Those on the East Coast of the US looking to indulge in a leisurely Easter or Passover lunch would be remiss to exclude chives or thyme, two hugely underrated seasonal herbs that can elevate even the simplest of dishes. Those looking for a traditional Easter lunch will fall hard for this spring lamb, while anyone celebrating Passover – or simply looking for a delicious and decadent dinner – should add the ingredients for this brisket to their (farmer’s market!) cart immediately.
United States (South & West): Citrus & Grapefruit
Last but not least, those in the South & Southwestern regions of the US are in luck. Citrus fruits are in season across the board. And we can’t personally think of a better way to celebrate a new season than with this refreshing but complex warm-weather cocktail made of locally sourced ingredients. We’ll drink to that.
If you enjoy any of these seasonal tips (or treats!) feel free to tag us on social media using #casadesuna