One of the habits I’ve had over the years is to grow lots of different vegetables with many varieties of each type, and I am often asked “What’s your favorite crop to grow, or what is your favorite crop to eat?” Certainly good questions, but somewhat challenging to answer.
Farming is completely related to the seasons and our daily routines. The crops we grow and the amount of sunlight we have change with the four seasons. It is pretty awesome to think about how our family’s diet changes with them! Emily and I were weighing out microgreens recently and trying to figure out just how many ounces to put into the clamshell, both for pricing and to make sure we put enough in that you could really have a meal with it.
During the discussion I mentioned that the amount in the clamshell would be enough for me at lunch! We both laughed and Emily said what we have mentioned to each other before. It’s so much easier for us because we don’t have to “buy” it. We have an enormous local food grocery less than 100 yards from our kitchen that at any time we can just go pick, gather or pull out of a cooler or freezer and not make a cash transaction. So when you live in that situation – plus you are 30 minutes or so from the nearest grocery – you eat a lot of what you have on hand, which also means what is in season. The challenge is that it detaches us from the norm of what and how people eat.
It’s interesting that we see huge drops in our weekly order numbers during this time of year. We are under 50% of members ordering at this point and less than half of the total summer membership going into the winter. It makes sense given this is certainly a challenging season of roots and greens with no hope of fresh fruit until strawberries 6 months from now. But somehow we find ourselves devouring the greens and loving the soups and taters! It is probably the toughest switch in seasons because this is the only time when the bounty decreases, but don’t despair the food of the seasons will never let you down!
A different favorite every season
So I will cheat in answering the question about my favorite food and instead give you four, because I truly have a favorite through each season.
There is no comparison to winter spinach. The size is much larger than baby spring spinach, thick crunch leaves and sweet mild flavor. And this time of year as frost set in and the landscape becomes brown and dreary to walk into a full greenhouse of beautiful dark green leaves just feels good!
By spring I have had my fill of spinach, and start watching every single day from the time I first see a bloom on our strawberry plants until we are eating the first red candy of the season. Also has to be the one of the greatest times of the year to take the kids out to the field on scavenger hunts for the red ones.
Should be no surprise that when those first tomatoes hit, my diet completely changes and revolves completely around the tomato. I wasn’t really exposed to tomatoes until I began this farming journey 12 years ago. Now I just can’t have enough tomato, onion, arugula and cheese sandwiches for lunch.
Fall carrots round out the top four for me. They are a great morale boost to have in storage at the end of a long season, and one of the more difficult crops to grow for us. But the flavor of these fall carrots compared to any store bought excuse for a carrot is incredible. You can taste the same kind of difference in our carrots that you’ll find when you compare a farm-raised egg to a store bought confinement house version. One of Jensen’s favorite foods as well, he always knows where the carrots are planted and can be seen pulling his own snack out of the ground after school!