I’ve just started reading Jamie Korngold’s “God in the Wilderness,” which had sat on my desk, unopened, for far too long. In the first few pages, Rabbi Korngold — also known as the Adventure Rabbi — offers the reminder to
[heed] the ancient Jewish instruction to eat one of every type of each seasonal vegetable, in order to reconnect with the awe of Creation.
I’d not heard of this before, but I have to say I like it. A lot.
One of the hallmarks of modern living in the West — and something we absolutely take for granted — is immediate access to food. A quick trip to the grocery store now replaces weeks, months and even years of working the land to produce enough food to support ourselves and our community.
With freezing, canning, jarring and importing from all over the globe, we don’t even have to wait for vegetables and other ingredients to come into their harvest seasons. You can find strawberries and tomatoes in January, squash in April, and beets and cabbage in July. Pretty much anything we want, we can get year-round.
Is it any wonder we’re so out of touch with our natural environment?
Our bodies evolved and our communities developed around the regular cycles of growing seasons. We were naturally tied to and dependent upon the rhythms of the Earth.
So what better way than seasonal eating to get back in touch — and develop a real, lasting relationship — with the natural world?
I particularly like this bit of wisdom from Rabbi Korngold this morning, because it’s a perfect lead into local farmers markets — many of which have their opening days across the U.S. this weekend.
Want to know what’s seasonal in your neck of the woods? Go to you local farmers market — or go directly to growers and farms in your area — to find out. Not only will you be bringing your eating habits back into synch with the seasons, you’ll be eating healthier (by buying from growers using sustainable and organic cultivation) and helping to keep the planet green, too — buying locally means you’re food isn’t being trucked cross-country or shipped from overseas. In other words, your homemade guacamole will no longer carry the same carbon footprint as a 747.
(Yeah, okay, that may have been an exaggeration, but you get the idea.)
To find out which farmers markets and growers are local to you, visit Local Harvest and plug in your zip code for resources in your area.
And then, get out there! There is nothing like spending an hour or two at the farmers market, picking out herb starts, perusing seasonal produce and meeting and chatting with neighbors and growers — building a sustainable community.
My current favorite is the Beaverton Farmers Market, open Saturdays and some Wednesdays for about six months of the year and featuring live music from local artists. Though it’s only May, their vendors already have seasonal produce from apples and artichokes to wax beans and zucchini — with much more (including flowers, bread and seafood) in between. They even host a Society for Creative Anachronism event in the fall. You can’t beat it.
There are some fruits and vegetables — regardless of the season — that I simply don’t care for. Still, I might just take Rabbi Korngold up on her advice to eat one of each type of produce to help me reconnect with this amazing planet that I’m living on. If it’s in-season at my local farmers market, I just might give it a try.