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Rain, Snow or Shine – Spring Foods Are Here!

Posted by Craig Morris, Deputy Administrator of the AMS Livestock, Poultry and Seed Program in Food and Nutrition
Mar 29, 2013
Spring foods infographic (click for larger version) with more facts, figures and food safety tips.
Spring foods infographic (click for larger version) with more facts, figures and food safety tips.

Although in some parts of the country record snow fall and colder temperatures have masked it—spring is officially here.  With the change of seasons come traditions and observances that date back to ancient times, many focused on growth, new life and change.  Among these traditions are some holiday and seasonal mainstays that evolved because of more practical reasons, like the process involved in making them or their chemical properties.

For instance, before refrigeration, food animals were slaughtered primarily in the fall, and any pork that wasn’t consumed during the winter was cured for later consumption.  This meant that the first hams weren’t ready until after winter, and that cycle made them perfect for spring celebrations.  According to USDA’s Market News, a part of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the sale price for bone-in and boneless hams around Easter were $0.14 less per pound than the average for the rest of 2012.

With asparagus—often considered the unofficial vegetable of Easter—it has more to do with the growing season.  Asparagus typically reaches its peak flavor by April, just in time for those same post-winter feasts and gatherings.  For the modern consumer, buying is best right around Easter too, with average supermarket prices at 25% less than the rest of the year in 2012.

Pineapple’s popularity with spring holidays has more to do with its chemical properties.  Not only does it add a tangy sweetness to cooked holiday dishes—its enzymes are also a natural meat tenderizer.  You can typically expect to pay less for those pineapple enzymes in the spring, with seasonal average prices nearly 13% less than the rest of the year.

For more pricing information, visit the USDA Market News portal.   We have been providing market information on cotton, dairy, livestock and grains, poultry and eggs, and fruits and vegetables for over 90 years. By visiting USDA Market News online you can view hundreds of pre-made commodity reports or create a custom report to see only the information you need.


Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition