Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Locally-grown Foods: What's in Season

There are many reasons to eat locally-grown foods, whether they’re grown by you or a by local farmer.

1. They’re fresher than foods shipped from thousands of miles away. 

Not only do they taste better, but they last longer too.

2. You avoid becoming bored with your eating routine.

Eating seasonal foods means that we rotate the foods that we eat, so everything is “new” again when the seasons change.

3. You support Western New York.

By purchasing foods that are produced locally, you help to support Western New York’s famers and green land. You also support our economy, because the money you spend stays close to home.

4. You get to know the people around you.
You develop connections with farmers, vendors, gardeners, and more, giving you a sense of community that's missing at a grocery store chain.

Growing Vegetables and Produce

So how you get started in growing a tomato or getting locally-grown produce?

Registered Dietitian Deborah Richter recommends starting simple. "Try a patio tomato or pots with spring greens like spinach or Swiss chard. If there is room, green beans are an easy vegetable to grow. They can even grow on bean poles if space is limited."

For information about starting a garden, contact the Erie County Cooperative Extension at (716) 652-5400 or click here to visit their website.

Local Farmer’s Markets

Local farmers markets will be opening over the next few weeks. Look for one in your community:
  • The Downtown Country Market on Buffalo’s Main Street is held on Tuesday and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., starting May 17, 2012 through October 25, 2012.
  • The Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market is a producer-only market (all vendors grow or produce what they sell) that starts mid-May on Saturdays 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • The Broadway Market (999 Broadway ) is an indoor market that operates year-round from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday – Saturdays.
  • The Clinton-Bailey Farmer’s Market on Clinton Street is open year-round. In April, the market is open on Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Summer hours begin on May 1st and are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday through Friday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.
Most communities have farmers markets, most of them starting in the beginning of May and going through the local growing season of October or November.These include:
  • Alden
  • Clarence
  • East Aurora
  • Kenmore
  • Lancaster 
  • Springville
  • University of Buffalo, South Campus
  • Williamsville

"If you live in an area with a farmers market, plan to walk or bike ride to the market and get even a greater health benefit," Deborah says.

Seasonal Produce

Produce is of better quality and taste when purchased in season. Produce grown in Western New York this season are included in the image below.

Although the following items aren't produced in Western New York in spring, they're currently in season and you'll find them at your local grocery store.

  • Apricots
  • Artichokes
  • Belgian Endive
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Chayote Squash
  • Cherimoya
  • Chives
  • Collard Greens
  • English Peas
  • Fava Beans
  • Fennel
  • Green Beans
  • Honeydew

  • Limes
  • Lychee
  • Mango
  • Mushrooms
  • Mustard Greens
  • Oranges
  • Pea Pods
  • Pineapple
  • Snow Peas
  • Spring Baby Lettuce
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Vidalia Onions
  • Watercress

Some of these names might be new to you, and as you explore them, you might find a new favorite food. "Enjoy some new produce and be pleasantly surprised at the variety of tastes and flavors," Deborah recommends.

Deborah Richter is a registered dietitian at Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga and is a certified diabetes educator. She teaches diabetes education classes and provides outpatient nutrition counseling. She has helped her clients to lose weight, reduce their blood pressure and feel better about themselves through healthy eating choices.

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