Seasonal Cornucopia is run by Cook Local , a Seattle based web site focused on local and seasonal cooking. Patricia and John stumbled into the locavore lifestyle by shopping the Seattle farmer's markets on the weekends, simply as a relaxing exercise and a way to get some fresh fruits and meat. It was the conversations with the farmers and ranchers that led them to where they are today, utilizing the farmers markets and their own back yard for over 90% of the foods they eat year round.
When the opportunity came to take over Seasonal Cornucopia, they jumped at the chance. Their goal is to develop Seasonal Cornucopia into a one stop resource for not only seasonal information, but sourcing and recipe information as well.
This project was started by Becky Selengut , chef and instructor at Seattle-based Cornucopia . What began as a tool to better help her in her own work, turned into a year-long project to help educate other people about the wonderful ingredients we have in the Puget Sound region and specifically, when they come in and out of season. This project and the resulting website and database could not have materialized without a few things. First, the inspiration; this came in the form of farm table discussions on sustainability at a week-long professional retreat at the Quillisascut farm school in Rice, WA. Second, like-minded colleagues equally committed to supporting local farmers, foragers, and sustainable fisheries who echoed the need for such a tool. And finally, the generous assistance of the many partners in this project, who have donated their time and expertise to make this all-volunteer, not-for-profit endeavor happen.
This website was developed so that chefs, restaurateurs, home cooks and gardeners can:
- incorporate local, seasonal, organic and sustainable foods into our cooking
- plan ahead for menus months in advance
- be inspired to grow and harvest many of these foods ourselves
Ingredients were selected for inclusion in the database based on the following criteria: Can the food item be grown here in the greater Puget Sound? Is it grown in such a way that the average home gardener could also grow it? (i.e. not using hydroponic or greenhouse techniques. This is an aspect of agriculture that Seasonal Cornucopia may provide information on in the future.) Many of the same ingredients we grow here are brought in from farmers from eastern Washington. While not technically local, these foods are readily and easily available here at a minimum of resource expenditure and help extend the growing seasons, in many cases, for the same foods. Seafood selections were made based on a gathering together of sustainable seafood recommendations from organizations such as: Seafood Choices Alliance and Monterey Bay Aquarium . The "locale" was extended to the Pacific Northwest region (which for these purposes covered California to Alaska) for two important reasons: 1. The Puget Sound is not, at this time and generally speaking, a viable source of sustainable seafood with several notable exceptions (farmed shellfish, certain wild salmon fisheries, Dungeness crab, to name several). 2. Eating locally has many benefits, but nothing is purely black or white and chefs are very aware that variety is the spice of life and until our fisheries are better managed, we need to look slightly farther afield (or a'sea as the case may be).
everybody jump in!
Seasonal cornucopia’s database and sourcing information are dynamic tools that can only become better and more accurate with the input of those using it. Users of this site can help make certain that the information is as accurate and up-to-date as possible. There are currently over 250 local ingredients featured here. That number will likely go up as more and more users suggest local ingredients that they want included. If you can suggest an ingredient and even better, its season in this region, please send an email! If you know of a special source for a local ingredient that is difficult to find, please let us know.
Seasons are a fickle thing. Possibly this is why it was nearly impossible to get two farmers to completely agree on the season for anything. Alas, there is nary an ingredient's season that will make all happy. This database has consolidated the opinions of many experts and tried to walk that middle ground that hopefully rings true for most cases. But then weather happens, and season's shift again. Use these month-to-month seasons as guidelines for when you might expect to find these things available. Keep in mind, however, that just because something is in season doesn't mean it is always available. Encourage your grocer, vendor, or farmer to supply the ingredients that you now know are in season at a particular time. When considering seafood, know that management concerns can change a season mid-stream, pun intended.
many words of thanks:
To Cornucopia’s database designer and website developer extraordinaire Penny Davis, of Davis Internet Consulting, for envisioning the information as a database and then executing it perfectly; Ellen Klein for the beautiful logo; Jesse Selengut for the gorgeous web design; Lora Lea and Rick Misterly for the unparalleled chef education program they have based on their farm that was the inspiration for this project; Amy Grondin for her dedication and hard work to promote sustainable seafood and connect chefs with fishermen; EagleSong, formerly at the Herbfarm, for her excellent editorial help and encouragement; Danielle Custer and Kären Jurgensen for the discussions about building a comprehensive “calendar” of local foods that got this ball rolling; Jeremy Faber who spent hours editing the foraged edibles and wild mushroom information; Susan Prichard, friend and forest ecologist, who shared her knowledge of all things edible in the woods as well as computer advice when needed; Jeanette Smith, Joe Ritchie, and Jerry Traunfeld from the Herbfarm who provided new ingredients and seasonal edits; Wade Bennett - for several hours of fascinating conversations about unusual ingredients; Diane Dempster for her expertise in all things produce; Kristin Hyde for spreading the good word about local and sustainable food; Teresa Turk and Harry Yoshimuro for their expert seafood insights; Tim Giraudier for the generous discount on his professional fish photos; Mark Malamud, Susan Hautala and especially Dana Henry for supporting the late nights and their inevitable consequences.