Once upon a time, everyone ate seasonally. But as mass transportation and shipping made it possible to eat things like strawberries in winter, many of the benefits of eating food that is in season locally were lost and forgotten. However, a new generation of chefs and health-conscious diners are emphasizing the benefits of eating fresh and local produce.
Why Eat Seasonally?
- Taste: Fruits and vegetables that are in season taste better; therefore, using fresh, seasonal produce will make everything you prepare more flavorful. In fact, many top chefs claim that if you choose the right ingredients and let the season be your guide, then half the work of creating a great tasting meal is already done!
- Nutrition: Produce that is grown locally isn’t transported as far. Storing and transporting fruits and vegetables zaps much of their nutrients. In addition, fruits and vegetables that are out of season are also less nutritious. Therefore, by eating produce that’s in season in your area, you can enjoy its full nutritional value.
- Cost: When fruits and vegetables are in season in locally, they are plentiful and haven’t had to be shipped as far, meaning they will cost less. You will usually find seasonal produce on sale or at a lower price than out-of-season fruits and vegetables.
Visit the Farmers Market
The easiest way to eat with the seasons is to shop at your local farmers market. There, you will find area farmers selling high-quality fruits and vegetables that they have grown locally – meaning they will naturally be in season. Most cities have a farmers market weekly.
Use a Seasonal Food Chart
You can also take a look at many of the free seasonal food charts available online that list which fruits and vegetables are currently in season. Here are a few to get you started:
- Frugal for Life’s Seasonal Food Chart
- The Worlds Healthiest Foods Healthy Eating with the Seasons page
- Sustainable Table’s What’s Fresh Near You tool
Armed with the knowledge of what’s in season, let your senses guide you to the best fruits and vegetables. Look for bright colors, then pick up each item and touch and smell it. Fruit at its peak should have a nice aroma when you smell it, and it shouldn’t be too firm or too mushy. Leafy vegetables should be bright and crisp.
Rather than sticking with your favorite recipes year-round, choose recipes that utilize what’s in season now. Your health and your taste buds will be glad you did!