About the wheel
What is the Local Foods Wheel?
The Local Foods Wheels for the San Francisco Bay Area, New York Metro Area, and Upper Midwest are designed to help you identify what foods are grown in those regions, and what is in season at various times of the year. The wheels are 12 inches in diameter printed on card stock in bright, full color.
How does it work?
The top wheel shows the foods that are available year-round, and the bottom shows foods that are available only seasonally. The top wheel turns to expose one season of the bottom wheel at a time, so that you can see what foods are available during that season. On the back of the wheel is a seasonality reference.
What do I do with it?
You can stick it on your fridge to remind you of the incredible bounty that comes from local fields. If you open your fridge and it is empty, maybe you’ll be inspired to check out what’s fresh at your local farmers market instead of dragging yourself to your usual chain supermarket.
Do I have to put it on my fridge?
Don’t be silly. Put it wherever you like.
Why are many foods seasonal?
Seasons are created by the tilt of the Earth and its motion around the sun. They result in variations in temperature, day length, and precipitation that affect the growth of all living things. Seasons are experienced differently depending on where on planet Earth you are.
Isn’t every year different?
Yes. Weather variations from year to year can have dramatic effects on food crops, and so produce in a particular year may be very different from the information on the wheel. We’ve done the best we could, but if you go to the market planning on picking up apricots based on the wheel, and you can’t find any, we can only apologize. That’s life.
Why do the months read counterclockwise?
Well, it’s a long story… The idea for the wheel was born from the way that Jessica experiences the seasons. Since childhood, she has had a strong mental picture of the year and where she was in it on any given day. Each major holiday or transition had its spot on the wheel. Guess what? The wheel went counterclockwise.
Looking at science, it is interesting to note that if you think of the North Pole as the top and the South Pole as the bottom, the Earth spins counterclockwise—once every 24 hours. It also revolves around the sun counterclockwise. One counterclockwise revolution creates one year.
Looking at history and calendars from other parts of the world, you will find many examples of wheels used to represent the year, and they often read counterclockwise. Take a look at the 16th Century Astronomicum Caesareum; then at the Egyptian Zodiac (where the figures appear to be walking through the year counterclockwise) or at Johannes Mueller’s 15th Century Calendarium.
Another interesting fact: the line of dance for most ballroom dances is counterclockwise.
And besides all that, Americans are infamous for spending too much time on the clock. Local food (like ballroom dance) is about slowing down and appreciating life, not about speed or convenience or getting ahead. So let’s get off the clock!!
Why don’t I see an ear of corn in the month of August? There is always corn in August!
We didn’t have the space to repeat the icon in every month when it can be found. There is a corn icon at the beginning of the season (between June and July) and another as the corn season begins to decline (September). You have to fill in the blanks yourself. If you are one of those people whose mind works literally, you can look on the back of the wheel, where more detail is given.
What’s with the moon names?
The Old Farmer’s Almanac had a name for each moon as the seasons moved through the year. The names on our wheel are drawn largely from the almanac names. To learn more about the meaning and history of the moons, check out Jessica’s book, Full Moon Feast.
Your wheel says that the equinox is when the day and night are of equal length—but that’s not true!
Okay, you got us. But really, it’s close enough for our purposes. People who want to know the nitpicky details can click here.
Why are there are some things missing from your wheel?
We decided to leave off some things that weren’t commercially available, or that seemed too obscure. The list on the back of the wheel includes some of those things, and a bit more detail. We apologize if your favorite thing got left off. You can petition us to add it to the next printing by emailing us.