Asparagus, radishes, and spinach are trending this week in my neck of the woods. These foods are in season and likely, at their tastiest and most nutritional. I often discuss the benefits of a locavore lifestyle, but keeping up with what’s “hot” and what’s rot can be hard work. Luckily, there’s an app for that.
The NRDC Eat Local app is ripe with the produce answers I need, when and wherever I need them. It even tells me where to go to find the freshest foods around.
The free iPhone app (sorry, Android) provides info on more than 60 food items, from avocados to zucchinis. You’ll also find nutritional details, tips on storage, prep, and cooking, and of course, fun facts. For instance, did you know eastern oysters are America’s most popular oysters? Well, they are … and they’re ready to be shucked right now in the Northeast.
Springtime in New York (my location) may not provide the bounty one finds at farmers' markets later in the year, but a seasonal meal is still worth the long winter’s wait. "Studies have shown that produce loses nutrients each day after it has been harvested,” says Mark Izeman, director of NRDC's NY Urban Program. “After three days, it has lost 40 percent of its nutritional value."
Shopping at farmer's markets also benefits your local economy by supporting your region’s small farmers. This, in turn, is a boon for the environment, since small and mid-sized farms often strive to preserve biodiversity, retain topsoil, and limit agricultural runoff. Supermarket produce, on the other hand, usually hails from large industrial operations that apply more pesticides and fertilizers to crops, and consequently, the surrounding lands and waterways.
And let’s not forget taste. It's been my experience that freshly picked local foods pack better flavors and textures all around. To help you unlock a crop’s culinary potential, Eat Local links to more than 100 delicious recipes. The one -- found on the asparagus page -- calling for chopped asparagus, mango, and shitake mushrooms wrapped in a rice paper roll has my mouth watering.
I use this app all the time. (I’ll admit I’m biased. I helped create Eat Local with Paul McRandle and an app developer Scott Santulli for NRDC.) But honestly, I’ve been a locavore for decades and finding where to buy regionally harvested goodies has never been so simple. While planning dinner earlier today, I plugged my work zip code into the app and (ta-da!) local markets popped up, making my lunchtime grocery run quick and easy.
As of now, Eat Local lists more than 5,200 farmers' markets and users can add their favorite purveyors of produce with a just few clicks. So download away and don’t forget to share your comments and vendors with us. We’re off to a scrumptious start, but there is always room to grow.
Image: Susy Morris