Image via @loganitafarm
“Know your food, know your farmers, and know your kitchen.” – Joel Salatin
Food not only feeds the body, but also the mind, heart and soul. There is something exquisitely special about sharing a beautifully prepared meal with people whose company you enjoy. To know the food in front of you is filled with love, time and nourishment brings the experience to a whole new level.
So many are disconnected from where food comes from, at which time of year produce grows, how to raise animals and harvest in accordance to the Earth’s rhythms. Stephanie Kent from Empowered Wellness shares where to find the best local ingredients and ways to eat more harmoniously with the PNW seasons!
CYCLE OF LIFE : FEEDING THE EARTH WHICH FEEDS YOU
“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” – Dalai Lama
Image via @deannacat3
Eating locally and seasonally is a beautiful way of living, similar to that of our ancestors. Feeding from the Earth’s abundance, eating produce at their peak of ripeness, and choosing gratitude-filled, sustainable, regenerative and conscious animal product consumption allows us, as humans, to honor ourselves, and all other forms of life on this planet.
The various living creatures in soil are nourished by microorganisms in compost. Fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and other plants use these and the soil’s mineral richness to grow strong. We then feed ourselves and our animals with these healthy plants and products, and are able to give back to the earth with our compost.
Nourish the Earth that nourishes you!
This is a very simplified version of the beauty of the cycle of life, which hopefully illustrates the importance of participating in as many parts of this cycle as we can, to feed our own inner microorganisms and Mother Earth’s.
Image via @local360_sea
EATING LOCALLY, SEASONALLY & ORGANICALLY
But, what does eating seasonally mean when living in the PNW where it’s not warmth and sunshine year-round?
To me, this means the warmer seasons are filled with sun-ripened, fresh, vibrant vegetables, local fruits, herbs, berries and sprouts. It also means adding bright yellow butter and local grass-fed animal products in your diet to enjoy the bounty of nutrients from the chlorophyll-rich grasses and wild herbs animals feed on during the sun-filled months. Warmer weather also means the body can tolerate a little more raw produce, as the outside air provides the body inner warm and keeps the digestive fires going strong. Go ahead and enjoy a few more salads, fresh berries and juicy tomatoes while they’re here!
“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.” – Julia Child
During the colder months, dishes will typically be higher in storable root vegetables like beets, carrots, potatoes, and celeriac, but also apples, onions, squash, and garlic. You may also want to add in traditionally preserved foods, such as ones that are fermented, dehydrated, pickled, canned or even frozen. Winter is also better for soups, warm porridges and stews. These can be made with local organic or wild, freshly soaked and sprouted grains and legumes. Did you know many WA farmers grow a pretty large variety of these staple ingredients? Make sure to also add in to your diet more warming spices, and densely nourishing, humanely-cared-for, local animal products, meats and wild fish. These will provide the body the grounding, resourcing and storing aspects the body needs during cold winter months.
THE FARMERS THAT FEED US
“My real emphasis is on the farmers who are taking care of the land, the farmers who are really thinking about our nourishment.” – Alice Waters
Image via @ospreyhillfarm
To live a life of cycles, in accordance to the seasons and phases of life is, human nature.
Eating foods that are grown close to home (if not in your own garden!), using organic practices, and according to the seasons’ rhythms is the absolute best! I want to emphasize that “organically grown” does not mean “certified organic”. After speaking with multiple small local farmers, I soon realized that obtaining an organic certification requires an enormous amount of time and money, and that many are not willing to go down that route. I have been told more than once that they would rather keep investing their time and money in their work to feed us better foods than to worry about written laws.
We are very fortunate to have incredible small farms that use organic practices, sometimes beyond organic, or even biodynamic in the PNW. Many also participate in regenerative agriculture, contributing to a healthier planet.
Meet and talk to your farmer. It matters!
Get to know more about the practices farmers use on their land, ask if they use insecticides, herbicides or artificial soil fertilizers. Ask them about compost. Ask what they grow, and why they choose to do what they do. You would be surprised how many incredible and soul-nourishing conversations I’ve had with local farmers! They are incredibly passionate people who are generally very happy to share more about what they pour their hearts, time and sweat into.
Image via @ospreyhillfarm
On a side note, I think all of this also goes for eating out. Speak with restaurant managers or chefs directly if you can. Find out where they source their animal products, which practices they support and farms they choose. We are fortunate to have many chefs around Seattle that source local ingredients for their seasonally changing menus. I highly recommend going the extra way to find out who goes the extra way for your health!
SEATTLE AREA FARMERS MARKETS
I put together a comprehensive list of major farmers markets in the Seattle area and surrounding cities below. I suggest picking a few close to where you live and to go check them out. Every one of them is very unique, featuring different farms and local businesses that may or may not be what you are looking for at this moment. You might find one that offers produce from farms you love, others where it’s their meats and fish, while another may be more for bread and prepared foods. Give a few a try and build a list of your favorite ones!
Simply click on the city name in the list below to get more details on locations, vendors, missions and specific market dates.
Image via @local360_sea
Seattle Year-Round Farmers Markets:
- Ballard: Sundays 10am-3pm
- U-District: Saturdays 9am-2pm
- Capitol Hill: Sundays 11am-3pm
- West Seattle: Sundays 10am-2pm
- Fremont: Sundays 10am-4pm (mostly street and prepared foods)
Seattle Seasonal Farmers Markets:
- Wallingford: Wednesdays 3-7pm (Mid-May to late September)
- Queen Anne: Thursdays 3-7:30pm (End May to mid-October)
- Columbia City: Wednesdays 3-7pm (May to October)
- Lake City: Thursdays 3-7pm (June to October)
- Phinney: Fridays 3:30pm-7:30pm (June to September)
- Magnolia: Saturdays 10am-2pm (June to October)
- Madrona: Fridays 3-7pm (Mid-May to mid-October)
Eastside Seasonal Farmers Markets:
- Bellevue: Thursdays 3-7pm (May to October)
- Kirkland: Wednesdays 2-7pm (June to September)
- Redmond: Saturdays 9am-3pm (May to end October)
- Sammamish: Wednesdays 4-8pm (May to mid-September)
- Issaquah: Saturdays 9am-2pm (May to end September)
- Woodinville: Saturdays 9am-3pm (May to end September)
North Seattle Seasonal Farmers Markets:
- Shoreline: Saturdays 10am-3pm (June to October)
- Lake Forest Park: Sundays 10am-3pm (Mid-May to mid-October)
South Seattle Seasonal Farmers Markets:
- Des Moines: Saturdays 10am-2pm (June to September)
- Burien: Thursdays 11am-6pm (May to end October)
- Renton: Tuesdays 3-7pm (June to September)
- Kent: Saturdays 9am-2pm (June to end September)
Image via @oneleaffarm
WHERE ELSE TO BUY SEASONAL?
“Food brings people together on many different levels. It’s nourishment of the soul and body; it’s truly love.” – Giada De Laurentiis
You may also decide you would rather making a trip to the store, but still want to eat locally. Good news! We are fortunate enough to have beautiful local co-ops like PCC Community Markets, Central Coop, and the Sno-Isle Food Co-op to go the extra mile to source local ingredients and products. You can also go to my favorite place outside of the city, the Farm Market at 21 Acres, or even stop by farm stands to pick up produce from the farm directly.
Many farms will also sell produce, meat or dairy directly to you if you contact them. I personally get my pastured butter and cheeses from the beautiful Cherry Valley Dairy farm, and will make a point to stop at a few farm stands on the way to Duvall about once a month. It’s such a beautiful drive, and I always feel more connected to nature and the food I am purchasing for my family and I after.
There are also a few farms where you can pick your own vegetables, fruits and berries at the peak of ripeness. This is typically the most affordable option as the farmers save on labor costs. I find it also provides a great learning opportunity for those who want to feel more connected to their food and understand the process of produce picking.
COMPOSTING, GROWING & CONTRIBUTING
Taking care of a garden to grow your own food can also be a beautiful process. It allows you to connect with the earth and soil your food grows in, all the while getting the benefits of grounding and fresh air.
You can also start with composting even if you don’t want your own garden. Get yourself a small kitchen composting basket, register for your neighborhood’s Waste Management composting bin, get a tumbler or build a simple wood pallet bin in your yard. Throw in your leftovers, weeds, plant trims, fallen leaves, egg cartons, cardboard boxes and even animal excrement to participate directly in the living cycle of giving back to the earth what she gave you. And if you have your own garden, using your own compost allows you to know exactly what you put into your soil, so your food will be filled with nourishment!
Image via @haytonfarms
To plant and care for your own garden is pretty time consuming (size-depending of course) and typically requires your daily attention. You will need to water, weed, trim, pick, and sometime hand-pollinate or have to take pest control in your own hands naturally. If you also want to care for chickens or larger animals, it can be even more demanding! Just keep all this in mind before starting. You may want to consider taking classes on organic gardening or permaculture from the Seattle Tiltth Alliance to help you get started. It surely requires time and commitment, but the rewards are oh-so-great!
Image via @deannacat3
I absolutely love gardening, but it has been a learning process. I highly recommend starting with sprouting seeds in your kitchen to see if you have the patience and time a small garden requires. If it is right up your alley, then start with a few balcony pots, and slowly upgrade to beds and eventually a garden. Taking small steps in the right direction is encouraging and rewarding!
If this just sounds like way too much for where you’re at right now, but you still want to contribute to our community, you could consider volunteering at farms like 21 Acres in Woodinville, or maybe sticking with shopping at the farmers market and small local co-ops is your community contribution!
Whichever way you choose, you are supporting local farmers and businesses, doing good for the health of our planet, and serving your greater purpose by nourishing yourself!