Spring Eats: 7 Ways to Kickstart your Seasonal Eating habit

Spring is springing and there’s no better time to embrace food as medicine. Get in the seasonal eating groove now, and you can follow it naturally through the growing season.
Very few clients make it in and out of an herbal consultation without being advised to eat more vegetables. Sure there are nuances and individualized recommendations but the truth is that eating more plants is simply an easy, delicious and healthful goal for almost anyone.
Here’s how to kickstart a delicious and nutritious habit this spring:
1. Treat yourself to a farmer’s market trip, THIS WEEK.
At last count, there were 8,720 farmer’s markets in the U.S. Find one near you, with this practical National Farmer’s Market Directory from the USDA, where you can search by zipcode. You can also see there which markets accept SNAP, WIC and Senior benefits — in some states, like Kansas, Missouri,Louisiana,Washington,Maine, and others, you can
double your dollars
when buying fresh produce at the market.
2. Hunt for a new-to-you produce item, THIS WEEK.
Wandering a market, have you ever wondered what people actually do with radishes, fava beans, ramps or asparagus? Curious, but intimidated by morel mushrooms? Don’t overthink it! It might be new to you, and feel strange or intimidating, but if it’s beautiful and fresh, BUY IT and figure out how to make it into something yummy later. Worst case scenario… you don’t love it, but more likely, it will expand your palate and add a little delight to your day.
3. Ramps and rhubarb in hand…now what?
You’ve come home with some unusual items and need to figure out the next step to YUM. Time to prep, cook and create. I love this beautiful and inspiring seasonal veggie guide from Saveur. You can also keep it really simple. Many veggies are truly amazing with just a quick saute and salt and pepper, to taste. And some require no cooking at all, like colorful radishes and microgreens. Have you tried microgreens? Even my veggie-suspicious kids can’t resist the color, interesting flavors and just the enticing mini-ness of them.
4. Up your seasonal IQ with this cool Local Foods Wheel
These interactive, Local Foods Wheels are super fun, little gizmos to have in your kitchen and can really inspire a little experimentation or extra effort in determining what is in season each month. Thanks to the folks at locavores.com who put these adorable and helpful guides together for so many regions of the U.S.: Northeast, Upper Midwest, Northwest, Southern California and San Francisco Bay Area.
5. Ready to commit to more seasonal eating? Join a CSA!
When you are part of a CSA —Community Supported Agriculture— program, each week you’ll get a box of exactly what is in season. You may not know what to do with baby turnips or dandelion greens but often growers will make it really easy on you by providing recipes and tips. Our family gets food weekly from a nearby farm and they even have recipes on their website, with a brilliant dropdown menu to search by veggie. So easy. To learn more about CSA’s and to find one near you, props to Local Harvest, who has put together this CSA guide, searchable by zip code!
6. Repeat 1-3 every week! And, since by now, you are probably having fun with it, and maybe even feeling the benefits…
7. Share the love – post your market pictures, host a meal, preach about your new favorite recipe. Seasonal, market fresh food is beautiful and you might just inspire someone else to embrace more local veggies and all of the healthful, as well as community and environment supporting impacts that come with it. Plus sharing meals is important to your and your loved ones’ well being, no matter the season!
Tara Thomas, MS Botanical Medicine, Clinical Herbalist and Certified Nutrition Specialist. She practices in Seattle, WA and is a regular contributor at Ask The Herbalists.

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