It’s a pretty simple idea, really. And sometimes it is the simple things that make sense. Feeding in season gives you more nutrition and more value with each dollar you spend, (or don’t spend) by sourcing the freshest ingredients you can find that is available in abundance.
Produce in abundance has to sell fairly quickly or the producers lose their inventory through spoilage. “Sell it now, sell it fast and see it cheap” seems to be the way seasonal foods work. So you can take advantage of this by keeping your eye out for those items that come into season at different times of the year. They are wonderful for your birds and even more so if they are locally grown. They haven’t been in storage for eons and the nutrition they contain hasn’t had a chance to degrade or weaken. They are still a robustly loaded nutritional package for your flock.
And to put it simply, fresh food just tastes better. I have noticed that when there are foods in season that are organic, my African greys absolutely swoon. They love when mangos come into season in Florida. They will eat that mango until there is nothing left but that big pit inside the mango. Mangos are incredibly plentiful for about two weeks in the first part of the summer in South Florida and backyard trees are just bursting with them. These locally grown mangos are Parker, Pepper and Nyla’s favorite as they seem to know the difference between a backyard mango and one that was produced commercially. The verdict? Backyard mangos win hands down.
There was a study that was done in Japan that found that the nutritional content of spinach in the summer was three times that of the spinach harvest later on in the year.
However, with the abundance of food now being shipped from all over the world, it’s sometimes difficult to know just what is in season and what’s not. There are plenty of sources and seasonal lists you can find online that will tell you what is in season and where in the country it is plentiful. There are some basic rules of thumb that you can follow to ensure you get the best the market has to offer at the most reasonable price.
Springtime is perfect for most of the more delicate greens. They are young and the first to spring up and be harvested. These include parsley, basil, Swiss chard, many of the lettuces, Broccoli. carrots, celery, radishes, turnips and carrots should all be looking beautiful during that time and you should be able to find some decent sales for them.
The summer is when you can really find some wonderful seasonal items both for your bird and for your family. Mangos, green beans, fresh peas, collard greens, summer squash, zucchini and melons of all kinds become available. And if you live in the Midwest, you will find your local farmer’s market knee-deep in fresh corn from the fields as well as apples, cherries, bell peppers and the berry family begin to appear all looking their best.
Take advantage of these items and serve them while they are available because some of them don’t stick around for too long. Make room for adding some cilantro to your Chop batches and be sure to add some ginger. Both add a wonderful flavor to Chop that seems to entice parrots.
Summer is also the time for tree fruits such as peaches and nectarines which many birds seem to really enjoy during that time of year.
Fall is the time to look for those root vegetables that have been sprouting up all summer. Beets, rutabagas, parsnips, turnips and sweet potatoes are all available fresh and in abundance, in the fall so including these in your Chop, Grain Bake or just lightly steamed will provide your birds with an excellent meal and a terrific source of nutrition. Pumpkins, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and colorful cabbages are also great choices in the fall.
Providing foods in season as nature intended is a great way to provide the most nutrition for your flock. By thinking this way about what you shop for, you can provide a bowl of food that is less expensive and has more nutrition in every bite your flock takes.