A How-To Guide For Seasonal Food

Welcome to Advice for Impatient Foodies, R29's new cooking column. Each week, our executive food editor and Impatient Foodie founder, Elettra Wiedemann, will tackle any and all questions you might have about food. Seriously, no query is too big or too small. Don't be embarrassed! We've all had moments in the kitchen when we had no idea WTF was going on and wished we could ask someone other than Google for some pointers. So, whether you need help frying an egg, knowing when your chicken is done, or deciding what to make for dinner, we've got your back.
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I am guilty of buying the wrong foods in the wrong seasons (Who knew tomatoes in winter were a no-no?) — is there an easy guide for what foods to purchase in certain seasons?

Convenience culture in our country has completely divorced most of us from the seasonality of food. Feeling upside-down about what to buy and when is not your fault — almost everyone is totally confused. Shopping at your local farmers' market is the easiest way to understand what's in season. However, I have recently noticed that some of my local farm stands are carrying foods that are not local and not seasonal. For example, avocados definitely do not grow in New York! I have voiced my displeasure when I see purveyors selling products that are not local and seasonal — that's the whole point of going to a farmers' market! Okay, I am going to take a breath and stop myself from ranting further on that.
Back to the matter at hand: When you can't get to a farmers' market, there are many websites that offer advice on what to buy and when. I like that Sustainability Table's Seasonal Food Guide can be filtered by state and month. Many supermarkets now have the fruit or vegetable's place of origin on the label — be sure you're getting tomatoes from your region, and not from across the world. And did you know that the process doesn't end at produce? For example, fish also has seasons!
Here is an easy-to-use online guide on seafood seasonality. I also highly recommend Monterey Bay Aquarium's seafood guides: These are great because they are made to fold up and fit in your wallet, ready to pull out and refer to whenever you're at the grocery store's fish counter. I sincerely applaud your desire to buy seasonal and local produce. It's a huge step toward being a more conscious consumer — and that's something that deserves a pat on the back.

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