You Can Find What’s In Season Now
Eat Local Spring
Have you noticed I’ve been a bit testy this week. See, nothing gets my ire more than seeing “seasonal menus” around town this time of year with asparagus, peas, and the like for dinner. It’s done because chefs are “bored with root vegetables” or because “it’s the time of year.” No it’s not. Asparagus and peas are in season when they are in season, as in when they pop up out of the ground for asparagus or ripen on the vine for peas. Worse, are you seeing fava beans and artichokes in your Instagram feed? Even less in season, if ever in season around here. This flash-forward irks me for several reasons, especially because it hides what is in season now.
Is anything in season now? How far removed are we from snow? Three nights ago, I put the comforter away to the attic. Two nights ago, the Condiment Queen dragged it back. Does it feel like Spring? I will say this. First, do not judge your Spring harvest by the nip in the air. Second, the contents of Spring are not all climate bound. Third, there’s always thoughtful farmers that “overwintered” crops like parsnips for this time of year. Nature sends her plants forward with little regard to wind chill. Don’t believe me. Look outside. My block already contains blooming daffodils. And in the comfort of hoop-houses, snug in their polyvinyl covers, greens, roots, and other things prosper. Those parsnips left in the ground during the cold, are bigger and sweeter than ever. Yes, no one is making dinner out of daffodils (don’t!). We believe there is more than enough to meet your menu needs. The biggest problem has not been Spring foods, but getting to Spring foods.
The lack of markets in Spring has been a big source of ire for this Local Family in years past. In some years, we’ve gone north to Wisconsin to get local food in April. We can stick closer to home now. For instance, Green City Market will meet on April 18 at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Center. The Evanston Winter Farmer’s Market runs weekly until April 25. The Hyde Park Artisan Bazaar and Farmer’s Market on April 19, will have plenty from Growing Power. Of course as we mentioned the other day, you can always go to Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks for local produce, this time of year or any time of year. There will be local food at these stores. There are CSAs, like Local Beet sponsor Tomato Mountain, with boxes in the Spring.
We have outlets. Do we have all we can outlet? We admit what we can get in Spring and what we want to get in Spring are not the same. So much of the fun stuff to eat now is not easily obtainable for consumers. We have limited access to wild crops. Not the least, our farmer’s markets make it hard for foragers to appear. You cannot sign up to do ONE Green City Market. We are reliant on what area farmers can find, i.e., the level of their foraging skills, and what there is to find, i.e., not every farm has fields of ramps for the picking. It does not mean with a little luck, a little being in the right place at the right time, you can find nettles, edible ferns, watercress and such to give you that secret Spring flavor. There’s always Madison, where the outdoor market in April will get you morels and more.
You may be tired of roots and wanting asparagus, fine. You cannot, however, justify your pangs with the excuse that there’s no way of finding Spring produce. We have markets, CSA’s, delivery services and road trips to meet your seasonal needs.
What’s in Season Now brought to you by our friends at Vera Chicago.