eat seasonally farm fresh eggs available in spring summer & fall

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It’s one thing to know that it’s healthier to eat seasonally however for those of you who can’t grow your own food the premise can seem daunting. Breaking up with the grocery store doesn’t happen overnight, & it’s ok to try a number of different sources before finding what works best for you in your context. It also depends on how far you want to take the whole ‘seasonal eating’ idea. Authors Alisa Smith & her husband JB McKinnon took the challenge as far as they could; taking a vow to eat exclusively from within a 100 mile limit and in doing so locked themselves into a commitment to eat seasonally by extension! If you haven’t read it, “100 Mile Diet” is in the top ten foodie book recommendations I make!

As commendable as such an extreme take on seasonal eating is, there are somethings that I think are still worth the food miles:

  • Coffee & tea
  • Olive Oil
  • Citrus
  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla & other spices

These are ingredients that have been at the centre of the global trade for centuries & with good reason! For almost anything else we consume a local, seasonal option is the superior choice. Here are seven strategies for eating seasonally without owning your own homestead:

eat seasonally farm fresh eggs in season spring summer & fall

Farmer’s Markets

Local markets can be a great way to dip your toes into eating seasonally. The majority of vendors are restricted from selling imported produce! Check with the market manager if you’re unsure about their policies towards this, but it’s generally a safe bet that the produce is from a local source. Many farmers now hire out the staffing of their booths during busy periods. Don’t be too surprised if the person at the market isn’t the farmer herself, but whoever they hire should still be able to answer any questions you have about the farm & their practices.

Markets have some limitations, mainly accessibility and variety. Not every town has a market – let alone multiple markets to chose from on different days of the week to attend. Many smaller markets have a limited number of vendors. You may not find a vendor who aligns with your preferences or values.

Community Gardens

A great way to get hands on about eating seasonally is through community gardens. These spaces offer city folk a way to garden even without the yard space to do it privately. During the growing season community members rent space from designated gardens situated in municipal parks, on church property or school grounds. Municipal governments occasionally oversee management or administration & funding is available depending on your community size. It’s a fantastic way to socialize, learn new skills & experiment in a relatively low risk way.

The downsides I’ve experienced with community gardens is the ever present wait list for spaces. They are so popular, once someone has a plot they are often reluctant to pass it up. Time commitment and physical ability are also obstacles that not everyone can overcome. Many gardens I have come across are working to expand the accessibility for anyone with physical limitations. At the end of the day, however a garden plot may just not be a practical option for everyone.

You-Pick Farms

Most people are familiar with you-pick farms. These are a great way to spend a day alone or with friends picking berries, apples, finding the perfect pumpkin or hunting down the family Christmas tree. Recently more farms are opening their fields for vegetable picking as well. Often these farms also have pre-harvested quantities ready at the farmgate. This is ideal for anyone who wants the freshness of seasonal ingredients but doesn’t have the time to devote to picking them.

These farms usually have value added preserves or frozen options to make the most of their limited season. Supporting these farms during their off season is crucial to their longterm sustainability. We are so accustomed to buying fresh blueberries & strawberries from South America. It takes some adjusting to make the switch to buying frozen berries in winter but it is the superior seasonal eating option. Berries are harvested & frozen at the peak of the flavour and nutritional value.

Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture or CSA for short is a program that has gained popularity around the world. The premise behind it relies of shareholders investing in a farm at the beginning of the season for a set value. They then reap the rewards (or share the risks) throughout the season. Initially promoted for vegetable farmers, the model has taken off for flower farms, fibre producers, meat producers & everyone in between.

The model is so successful because it provides a farmer with the much needed capital at the beginning of the season. She also knows exactly how much she needs to produce to meet the demands of her membership. This is the opposite to the traditional model of produce & then sell whatever makes it to harvest, which can be stressful & challenging at the hight of the growing season.

CSA models allow producers to focus on marketing during the slower winter months. It also allows for consumers to build a relationship directly with their farmer. Many farms boast an above average retention rate and relationships between clients & farmers only gets stronger year over year. As CSA’s are always oriented locally, they are a naturally popular choice for anyone looking to eat a more seasonally appropriate diet.

Farmgate Shops

A precursor to farmer’s markets or CSAs is a farmgate stand. Staffed or not, a stand is stocked by a farmer for drive up sales. Many still operate on an honour system; utilizing an unsupervised cash box & trusting customers to pay fully for their produce.

There are limits to a system like this; mainly in its limited reach. Unless a farm is located close enough to a population centre like a city, the drive out to a farm stand could be hard for some to make on a regular basis.

Most farm gate sales are a small portion of a farmer’s overall revenue stream & aren’t likely to be their only income source. Call ahead & make sure there is inventory available, make sure the stand is open & if you are hoping to speak to the farmer directly, arrange time to do so ahead of time. Having a farmgate option is a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon out for a drive but it likely won’t be the backbone of your seasonal eating strategy.

Social Media

It goes without saying that any farm looking to sell directly to consumers is going to have a presence on social media. Love it or hate it, social media sites like Facebook have facilitated matching clients with farms through farm pages, social groups and advertising. Buy and sell groups specific to local food are in almost every city – if there isn’t one in yours, consider starting one! I guarantee you aren’t the only one looking for local food. From a consumers perspective, its expected now that any farm worth considering has a website or at least a social media account so that prospective clients can learn about you. Doing a bit of research ahead of time saves in the long run to find a farmer aligned with your priorities and values.


Hunting & gathering predates agriculture and truly is the ultimate “how to eat seasonally’ solution. There is something to be harvested year round when you know where to look & have the ability. Even in the ‘dead of winter’ intrepid anglers can make an afternoon past time of ice fishing. In the spring the Ross Goose migrates from their southern territories back to their breeding territory in the north. In our house, we call this ‘ribeye from the sky’ & if we kept a strict seasonal eating law, then it would be the only fresh red meat available.

A little later in the year & you have fiddleheads, wild leeks, stinging nettle & dandelion – all packed in vitamins and minerals when they are needed most in our diets. Summer offers wild raspberries & blueberries and the early autumn holds the promise of mushrooms for anyone knowledgeable & discerning enough to harvest safely. Late autumn is the quintessential hunting season.

Hunting lawfully, with proper permits & tags is a sustainable and conscientious way to participate in wildlife conservation. Likewise, foraging for wild plants requires a devoted individual willing to put the time in learning how to do so responsibly, but fortunately plenty of groups exist & are open to newcomers looking to learn the ropes.

Easier than Ever Before!

Eating seasonally have never been easier or more rewarding than it is today. With a bit of trial and error some combination of all of the above options make it easy for anyone to make the switch. Using directories like Local Harvest mean an end to hunting down potential suppliers and more time enjoying the produce itself!

I hope this helps dispel any reservations holding you back from investing in local food or eating seasonally. Following a seasonal diet is good for your health, your community & good for the overall welfare of the planet. If you need help finding recipes for seasonal eating, check out our spring issue of “what to eat in…” coming out April 1st, July 1st, October 1st & January 1st every year. In the meantime you can also browse our available offerings in our homestead store & find something seasonal to enjoy!

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