Developing my knowledge of local food in Atlanta

On my way home from Chicago on Monday, I had the good fortune of a canceled flight followed by a seriously delayed one which allowed me to finish about half of the book I’ve been itching to start for the past few months. As I get further into Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (with her husband Steven and daughter Camille), I get more excited about buying local food in Atlanta. I’m more aware of what’s in season here in the south after subscribing to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), but I wanted see what to expect from the farm now and in the coming weeks.

Vegetannual from Barbara Kimngsolver's book Animal Vegetable Miracle

Vegetannual from Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal Vegetable Miracle

Kingsolver gives an easy-to-remember metaphor of a harvest plant called a “vegetannual” to track what’s in season when. In an excerpt from the book, she writes:

To recover an intuitive sense of what will be in season throughout the year, picture a season of foods unfolding as if from a single plant. Take a minute to study this creation – an imaginary plant that bears over the course of one growing season all of the different vegetable products we can harvest. We’ll call it a vegetannual. Picture its life passing before your eyes like a time-lapse film: first, in the cool early spring, shoots poke up out of the ground. Small leaves appear, then bigger leaves. As the plant grown up into the sunshine and the days grow longer, flower buds will appear, followed by small green fruits. Under midsummer’s warm sun, the fruits grow larger, riper, and more colorful. As days shorten into the autumn, these mature into hard-shelled fruits with appreciable seeds inside. Finally, as the days grow cool, the vegetannual may hoard the sugars its leaves have made, pulling them down into a storage unit of some kind: a tuber, bulb, or root.

Applying this idea, the general rules are:

  • April & May: the leaves start to appear and bring spinach, kale, lettuce, and chard
  • May & June: the more mature heads of leaves & flowers, such as cabbage, romaine, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • June: the tender new fruits, like snow peas, baby squash, and cucumbers
  • July: more fruits such as green beans, green peppers, and small tomatoes
  • Late July to August: the more mature and colorful fruits such as beefsteak tomatoes, eggplants, red & yellow peppers
  • September: larger, hard-shelled fruits and vegetables with developed seeds inside, like cantaloupes, honeydews, watermelons, pumpkins, and winter squash
  • Lastly, the root vegetables ripen in the late fall

So what’s in season in the South in particular this time of year?
According to the harvest chart published by Georgia Organics, the following local foods in Atlanta are in peak season in March: bok choy, cabbage, carrots, collards, garlic (green), kale & other greens, lettuce, mushrooms, English peas, radish, seedlings, spinach, and turnips.

Stay tuned in the next few days as I let everyone know when the local outdoor farmers’ markets bring local food in Atlanta back to the table! In the meantime, you can check out my food page with local listings by clicking here!

2 Responses to “Developing my knowledge of local food in Atlanta”
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  1. […] outdoor farmers’ markets and Georgia farms back to the table! « Our Green Atlanta on Developing my knowledge of local food in AtlantaSpring welcomes our Atlanta outdoor farmers’ markets and Georgia farms back to the table! […]

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