By Margo Peill
It’s finally happening. These long, bright summer days, that seemed like nothing more than a far-off dream from the depths of a dark January, are finally here. The warmth of the full July sun invites the berries, cherries and mid-summer produce to ripen and burst with such sweetness and flavour, it can hardly be contained on a plate. It’s this time of year when we get to fully experience and enjoy seasonal eating. Eating seasonally is more then just a food trend here in the northwest. It is a deeply rooted tradition and way of life. There are so many reasons that eating seasonally is so enjoyable here in the Skeena Valley.
Because of our unique location, we have access to such wonderful produce, fruit trees, wild berries, mushrooms, fresh eggs, game and farmed livestock (just to scratch the surface). However it also means that any food not grown or produced here has to travel that long stretch of highway to reach our beautiful corner of the province before we can enjoy it. This means it has to be picked sooner, often before peak ripeness in order to survive the journey and look fresh upon arrival. This often results in a compromise on flavour and sometimes even nutritional value.
Eating seasonally is an exceptional way to incorporate diversity and variety into your diet. By choosing seasonal produce, you will naturally have to vary what you are eating and subsequently diversify the nutrients and nutrient sources you feed your body. This is a sweet opportunity to try a new vegetable or green you’ve never had the chance to try before! This leads to the inevitable worry though: if I’m trying something for the first time, how am I supposed to know what to do with it? This is an excellent question, and certainly not a problem. It’s an opportunity to meet and chat to our local producers and ask them about their growing practices, how best to prepare their ingredients, any storage or cooking tips and maybe even their favourite recipe.
Seasonal eating is what we dream of on those long, harsh, dark winter days.
It’s berry juice dripping down your hands. It’s warm cherry pie made with just-picked fruit from the backyard. Its the crisp, sweet lettuce that was picked by a farmer on the same day you get to eat it. We are so fortunate here to have so many opportunities to eat seasonally, and there are many great ways to take advantage of it. Check out the ‘in season’ board at the farmers market on Saturdays. Chat to producers and ask them what they have ready for harvest. Use online resources and charts to see what’s in season in our region. Take advantage of social media and in-person interactions to share, connect and find out where to get seasonal food in our community. Most importantly, in any way you can, enjoy the bounty that seasonal eating has to offer this time of year!
Margaret Peill is the Skeena Valley Farmers Market Manager. With a B.Sc in Health Promotion she works to improve sustainable food systems in Northwest B.C.