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Spring pickings: What's in season now

Lettuce and leafy greens There?s no shortage of

Lettuce and leafy greens

There’s no shortage of leafy greens this time of year and continuing through the summer, said Sandra Menasha, vegetable and potato specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension — Suffolk County. Just take your pick: kale, Swiss chard, escarole, endive, frisee, collard, spinach and other lettuces. (Credit: Nancy Borowick)

We’re constantly being pounded with the mantra that local is better. Shop local. Drink local. Eat local.

Luckily for Long Islanders, fresh produce is all around us. You can buy directly from the farm, join a CSA or find a farmers market close to your neighborhood year-round.

But even in a supermarket or grocery store, you can look for produce that's in season locally, which will make it more likely the goods are coming from nearby.

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Sandra Menasha, vegetable and potato specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension — Suffolk County, said shopping with that mindset has multiple benefits.

The first is reducing your carbon footprint.

“It’s getting there much quicker from farm to retail operation,” Menasha said of locally sourced items. “You're minimizing the carbon footprint, saving a lot of fossil fuel; that’s a benefit for the consumer looking at the big picture.”

Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht, owner of Garden of Eve Organic Farm and Market in Riverhead, emphasizes the more obvious benefit of supporting a local business.

“It’s really important,” she said specifically of buying straight from a farm. “If people even spent $10 a week buying direct from a farmer, it would add millions overall to the local business economy.”

And overall, buying in season and local ensures the consumer is getting the freshest produce, Menasha added.

Most grocery stores will label produce “local” if it is harvested within a 275- to 350-mile radius, but the benefits still apply more than they do to off-season produce flown in from California, Mexico and Florida, she said.

So what’s being harvested locally right now? Click here for a guide to in-season produce.

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