We cherish our Sunday outings to the local farmers market, but living in L.A. – where seasons are subtle at best – can make it difficult to decipher what’s actually in season and what’s simply available.
Seasons happen for a reason; a locavore knows our bodies do best with certain foods at different times of the year, and fruits and veggies that are locally “in season” are pre-programed to give us exactly what we need. They’re naturally available in abundance, require less manipulation to cultivate, and eating regionally and seasonally benefits your body, your budget and the planet!
What to eat in spring
Something Farmed | Fuerte Avocados
Dark, bumpy Hass avocados seem to get all of the play (indeed, they account for 95% of California’s avocado crop!), but some less popular varieties have a lot to offer. The more slender, smooth, green-skinned Fuerte peels easily and has a nuttier flavor than other varieties. Since they don’t travel well, you’re more likely to find Fuerte avocados near to where they are grown — Southern Californians can rejoice that their subtropical climate supports this and other lesser-known avocado cultivars.
Something Foraged | Miner’s Lettuce
This verdant, native, wild treat can be found lining the damper, shadier stretches of hiking trails throughout the region. The plant’s crunchy succulent leaves taste as fresh as spring itself and make a refreshing trail treat or a lovely addition to any salad.
San Francisco Bay Area
Something Farmed | Cardoons
These spiny, obscure artichoke relatives require some taming, but their trimmed stalks yield a subtly bitter, inimitable flavor that can be addictive. Braise them, fry them, or incorporate them into a brothy spring soup.
Something Foraged | Nettles
All it takes to remove the stinging chemicals from this wild spring treat is a quick dunk in boiling water. Once they have been mellowed, the nutrient-rich greens make fantastic additions to soups, sauces, pasta and polenta.
Something Farmed | Young Alliums
From tender young leeks and green garlic to the most delicate scallions and chives, spring bursts with pungent flavors of plants within the genus Allium. At farmers’ markets this season, keep your eyes peeled for some more unusual finds like garlic scapes (the snaking stems of young garlic) and chive blossoms.
Something Foraged | Morel Mushrooms
Morel mushrooms begin to rustle their intricate, pitted caps above moist soils in many areas of the US during the spring. The conditions in which they emerge are specific but elusive, so they are rarely cultivated. Get them while you can, enjoy their nutty, meaty goodness, and don’t be shy with the butter.
Something Farmed | Rhubarb
Midwesterners seem to have a special affinity for the stalks of this perennial plant, a famous companion to another of spring’s specialties, the strawberry. It’s one of the only vegetables we tend to treat more like a fruit, stewing it with sweet things and adding it to pies, scones, compotes and cobblers.
Something Foraged | Fiddlehead Ferns
At a glance, fiddleheads look a lot more like mollusks than the lush leafy fronds they unfurl to become. Use the tight green coils in the same dishes you might use asparagus, and savor each bite because their season is brief!