by Kaitlyn Goalen
photographs by Jillian Clark
In recent years, the concept of eating seasonally has morphed from a lofty goal to expected practice among food lovers. This is largely a good thing for all of the reasons that you’ve probably already heard: a tomato simply tastes better in July than in February, the carbon footprint is lower when food isn’t flown in from Mexico, and so on and so forth.
As with any prescription, though, eating seasonally can be inconvenient. It certainly was for me. I grew up in Los Angeles, land of sunshine and year-round produce. Moving to the East Coast, with its defined (and much shorter) growing seasons, altered what it meant for me to eat produce in its prime. And to be honest, I had to make the change gradually, one beloved crop at a time. (To be even more honest, there are still ingredients that I eat out of season; nobody’s perfect.)
But I know no better argument for eating locally and seasonally than a ripe blueberry. Plucked fresh from the bush at peak maturity, these indigo orbs are the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Raw, they satisfy snack cravings by the handful, and cooked, they release their juices generously, staining anything they touch with inky purple flavor. Their season is short, but, in my house, celebratory – for two to three months each summer, blueberries make their way into salads (they taste amazing when lightly pickled), breakfast pancakes, and plenty of desserts, not to mention jams and syrups for cocktails.
Here in Raleigh, we’re lucky to have an abundance of blueberry farmers within close proximity. From June to August, you can drive in pretty much any direction to a u-pick blueberry farm. It’s an excursion I highly recommend; blueberry season is short and sweet, so load up while you can.