Seasonal Cooking

Posted on Monday, May 9, 2011 in
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Benefits of Seasonal Cooking

When I started writing this article a few weeks ago, I had intended to talk about seasonal cooking. Imagine my surprise to find out that the growing season in Colorado is dormant from December through April.

What does that mean? It means that to cook in season, I would have had to create my meals around the staples of winter like potatoes and squashes. Or that I would have to rely on produce I canned or froze for just this time of year. Since I didn’t do either, I am grateful that my local grocer has plenty of produce to choose from, but I can no longer blindly shop there.

My desire to talk about seasonal cooking comes from the idea that eating within season creates a more varied diet. If you are like me, I’ve been cooking for more than 20 years and I have exhausted my culinary repertoire. I tend to cook the same things over and over which has gotten boring.

Eating in Season Creates Seasonal Favorites

Like holiday favorites, ordinary dishes can become special when we only eat them during a certain time of the year. Also, when we eat in season, we get produce at its’ prime; when it has the most nutritional value and the best flavor.

Produce in season is less expensive than out-of-season produce. I noticed this recently with peppers. I love red and yellow bell peppers. In the summer, they are three for a dollar, but right now, a red pepper is $1.99. For one pepper!

Eating locally grown produce

I must confess that until this year, I never paid attention to seasonal produce. It just didn’t enter my mind. If something was in the store, I’d buy it. Economically, this was not always a smart move. I am finding out that healthfully, this was not a smart move either.

In addition to seasonal produce, buying local produce is important. When we eat local produce, it requires no chemicals or preservatives because it doesn’t have far to travel to market. If I eat asparagus now when it is in season, it is grown here in Colorado. However, if I eat it in the fall, it is likely grown in Mexico and has to be shipped here.

Did you know the average produce item in the grocery store travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from the farm to the grocery shelf?

Transporting produce requires refrigeration, preservation and fuel. Refrigeration means electricity, preservation means chemicals to keep the produce from getting too ripe before it arrives or maybe even pesticides to keep the insects off it and finally the fuel cost of gasoline to get it from farm to market.

This all seems very costly to me and frankly not that healthy from a produce stand point. How is it then that some produce items can be inexpensive out of season, when it is shipped half way around the globe?

I'll Be Shopping at My Local Farmer’s Markets this Summer

I’ve gone before, but this time, I feel as if I am on a mission to learn as much as I can about the agricultural cycles of my area. In researching for this article, I found out that Colorado’s growing season is from May to November.

I never knew any of this. Maya Angelo has a quote; “when you know better, you do better.” I found somethings I didn’t know that have nudged me more solidly into a vegetarian world.

Did You Know?

  • Each dairy cow creates 120 pounds of waste & drinks 50 gallons of water per day. Given today’s concern for water shortage, this is ridiculous? What about the waste, how is that disposed of? More importantly, is it disposed of or do the animals live in it, as we sometimes hear about?
  • Eighty percent of agricultural land either grows grain to feed animals or houses animals to feed humans. Are you kidding me? Can you imagine how much food could be grown on this land? We could end hunger in the US or at least put a huge dent in the problem.
  • It takes 16 pounds of grain and 2,500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef. Again think of the land used for the animal to graze or live on and the land used to grow the grain.
  • Clear cutting land for grazing has claimed hundreds of millions of forest acres in the US alone.
  • The UN estimates that 20% of all greenhouse gases come from the food animal industry
  • Medical studies implicate the hormone rBGH (fed to cows to increase milk production) in connection with breast, prostate, and testicular cancers.
  • The number of children afflicted with one or more food sensitivities has inexplicably grown in recent years, some theorize this may be related to the increasing number of unnatural hormones and additives in commonly consumed foods.
  • Just one individual switching from a meat-based to a plant-based diet reduces carbon emissions by about one and a half tons a year.


Laura Aychman
Guest Contributor

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