Spring fever has hit the farmers’ market. If you haven’t lived in Tucson, yes, February is the beginning of spring around these parts. The glorious eighty-degree days and beautiful crisp nights lure us from our caverns to the fresh, springtime air. This is a time of change—recycling the old, and making room for the new. We usually associate these changes with household cleaning projects, but the work is taking place out in the yard as well. This is the time for harvesting winter’s crops and for readying our gardens for the next season of produce. The farmers’ market is emblematic of this shift—lined up next to winter’s greens and root vegetables are herb starts, tomato starts, and all of the supplies you need for summer planting.
Now is a great time to stock up on the best of cold-weather produce: kale, chard, spinach, collards, mesculin mix, heads of lettuce, cilantro, parsley, and cauliflower, carrots, beets and broccoli. You may even find Romanesco Broccoli, known for its unique fractal-shaped spears. It is so beautiful you almost don’t want to eat it, just place it on the counter and gaze at it for a while. Be sure to take advantage of these great vegetables now, while they are still in season. Those tomato starts may look small now, but it won’t be long before they flourish and the market is overflowing with fruits of the like.
Along with spring comes allergies. The winds that signal the change of seasons also blow around all that pollen and dust outside, and many of us are left sneezing and coughing in the aftermath. A box of Kleenex sits next to me as I write, but there is a better, proactive way to survive the spring allergy season. Local honey. All those critters we call bees have been busy hovering and collecting from all of the wildflowers, cacti, weeds and grasses that are blooming this time of year, exactly that is causing our noses to twitch. In honey, these allergens are delivered in small, manageable doses and the effect over time is very much like that of undergoing allergy immunology injections. The major difference though is that honey is a lot easier to take, and is certainly a lot less expensive. Just make sure that the honey you are ingesting is as local as you can find it, as honey from another city or state may have allergens that are not native to this area. Ingesting orange blossom honey from Florida may not have the same effects as, say, cactus or mesquite honey from Tucson.
So if spring fever has you outdoors, come and take a stroll at the farmers’ market. Take advantage of the surplus of winter produce, and get a head start on your summer garden. And don’t fear those little yellow blossoms of the mesquite trees overhead—just visit the local beekeeper at the market and stock up on his seasonal honey. You may just find out what the local buzz is all about!