Jun 27, 2010

Eating and Preserving Seasonal Foods in Arkansas

I am very excited about a new page I've added called "Seasonal Foods." Produce is at it's height nutritionally at the time that it is harvested. It goes downhill from there, so the further it is shipped and the longer it has been in storage the fewer nutrients it will contain compared to when it was fresh. The most nutrient-dense produce is fresh-picked local produce that has been raised by organic methods. Organic methods create nutrient-dense soil through the use of compost rather than chemical fertilizers.

When I was first given this information, I was completely ignorant as to when different types of fruits and vegetables were in season in Arkansas. It seemed like most everything was always "in season" at the grocery store. Having local harvest information is essential for making seasonal meal plans and for planning ahead for preservation of seasonal foods through methods like lacto-fermentation, canning, and freezing.

Thanks to Beth Phelps, Staff Chair at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, we now hold the key to this puzzle. When you click on "Seasonal Foods" in the top menu, you will find Arkansas seasonal charts for both fruits and vegetables.

In the future I plan to add information to the "Seasonal Foods" page about the best times to purchase various types of meat, but I need to do more research. I do know that pastured chickens are only raised in the warmer months, so make sure and place an order with your farmer early in the fall so you will have enough chickens for your freezer to carry you through until the first spring chicken processing.

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