Seasonal Food

The Coppell Farmers Market is a seasonal, local market. This means a product found in June may not be available in November. While a three year old little boy looking for “boo berries” last March didn’t understand why blueberries wouldn’t be available for a little while, most customers now realize this although they may be disappointed the blueberries are gone until next May.

What some don’t understand is that cooler weather doesn’t mean all cool weather produce is suddenly available. First the weather must cool down for the seeds to germinate; then those plants must have time to grow. Farmers can usually tell you approximately when to expect that first crop of spinach or sweet potatoes.

Eggs present a different situation. While hens lay eggs year round, they lay significantly fewer eggs in seasons other than spring. Summer heat slows them. As cooler temperatures send animals’ metabolism into a slower mode, egg production slows.

Pastured animals take longer to grow to their mature size for processing. The meat at the Coppell market is pasture finished. The animals are not given hormones to speed up their growth nor rounded up into feed lots to fatten up. All of this takes extra time and therefore costs a bit more to produce, but the meat is leaner and has more of the healthy fats. Lambs are born in the spring so their meat availability is spring until all cuts are sold out.

Even seafood is a seasonal item. Wild caught Alaskan salmon can only be harvested during the summer with a special permit for a limited number of fish. This number is monitored and adjusted by the wildlife department during the summer when the salmon are “running,” moving upstream to spawn, lay their eggs. The salmon filets are shipped frozen at the end of the fishing season, this year in October.

Texas Gulf seafood is also seasonal. Spring through early fall are the prime fishing time. Fall is when the fishing slows down and the boats are pulled out of the water for cleaning, maintenance, and repair. So while salmon has recently arrived, Gulf seafood is gone until spring.

It may take some time to learn to shop and cook with the rhythm of the seasons, but after the first year the pattern becomes familiar and workable. For a chart of produce that is in season now, click here.

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