With March upon us and spring a little over a week away, New Yorker's navigating the produce aisles for local and seasonal produce might find it a little unmanageable. My food coop, for instance, has a huge variety of local food stuffs, but not necessarily seasonal. Little signs in the store tell me that the cameo and candycrisp apples I reach for are from a nearby farm in upstate New York—but I'm given no clues as to whether apples are even still in season here in my 'hood. And that's generally the problem.
While my food coop rocks for indicating what's local and what's not—it doesn't specify seasonal goods. I'm usually taking a stab in the dark, trying to remember the rules of thumb that I've learned here on Planet Green and in books; have heartier veggies like carrots, beets and leeks in the winter and stock up on lighter leafy greens, tomatoes and corn in the summer. Anything beyond this and I'm easily lost.
But now, buying local and seasonal goods got a whole lot simpler thanks to the New York Metro Area Local Foods Wheel put out by the eco-publisher Chelsea Green. The wheel is exactly that; a circular pictionary, paper calendar that at a quick scan of an eye reveals which foods are being harvested, produced or caught within a 150-mile radius of New York City.
Unlike a book, the lightweight wheel can be conveniently hung on a pantry or fridge for easy reference. You simply turn the dial to your current month to see what green goodies are in store. Turn it to March and you'll find maple syrup, Brussels sprouts and rutabegas, to just name a few. Unique is the inclusion of non-produce and a separate dial that shows you what items are local and seasonal year-round like milk, eggs, clams, turkey, arugula, mushrooms and yes to my surprise—apples. Flip the wheel over, and you'll find a "Seasonality Reference" that goes into greater depth about when each featured food item is harvested and available.
Though the food wheel is too large for me to tote to my food coop, glancing at it on my fridge has done wonders when creating my shopping lists—and it's easy to reference pictures makes memorization a snap. Ask me what's local and seasonal to New York City come April, and I'll be be quick to rattle rations off.