When you buy seasonal produce and meats, you’re not only doing yourself a favor, but are contributing to a better food system. When food is not in season, it’s grown in a greenhouse or shipped from half way across the world, factors that affect both the taste and nutritional content of the food, as well as the environment.
Even more relevant to college students is cost. When food is purchased in season, its abundance tends to make it less expensive (think supply and demand). Here’s what should you be eating right now, and well into the fall season.
Despite what many people think, tomatoes hit their peak right before the winter frost. That means they’re in abundance through October and into mid-November. Pick them up soon though, since this is probably the last week you’ll see them.
The start of fall means many things, most importantly, however, is apple pie season. Apples are in abundance well into late December. Stop by the Tuesday Emory Farmer’s Market to sample different varieties from Mercier Orchards. Also sample some of their pear varieties, which won’t last quite as long as apple season. You’re also sure to find local grapes, as well as a uniquely southern variety, the muscadine, which is often used in jams or spreads.
Both snap peas and field peas will be in abundance well throughout the fall. As will cabbage, zucchini, squash, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Root vegetables also come into season, most prominent of which is the sweet potato. Others are harder to find in the Atlanta area, but be on the look out for celeriac, kohlrabi and parsnips.
Meats and more
You may not know this, but meat and seafood are highly seasonal as well. Beef and game, like venison, is best eaten in the fall, when the animals are most comfortable. Chicken and eggs are more suited for warmer months. Oysters are also cold weather filter-feeders. Check out an abundance of local varieties from places like The Optimist or Kimball House, where they’ll be at their sweetest and most abundant (and probably cheapest).
Stop by a local farmer’s market to find what is sure to be the freshest produce and meat. Or, just leave it to the pros. Some of Atlanta’s best chefs are also known for crafting highly seasonal menus that take advantage of what’s prolific. Hugh Acheson’s Empire State South, Kevin Gillespie’s Gunshow and Billy Allen’s Cakes and Ale are just three that come to mind.
Start cooking and eating seasonably here: