Eating with the Seasons: Why it’s Beneficial
By Heidi Baldwin, MS, Holistic Health Coach
If you’ve ever tried buying summer fruits in the middle of winter, then you know how expensive and tasteless they can be. Eating produce in season is so much better for your health, wallet, and the planet. It can be confusing when you first start, so I would like to share some tips on eating with the seasons and why it is so beneficial.
An easy way to know what’s in season is to buy your groceries at a local farmer’s market. Not only are you supporting your local farmers this way, but you are also getting the freshest produce possible. Your fruits and veggies aren’t going through days of transportation and sitting in storage like they would at the big grocery stores. Buying local is also beneficial for the environment. Your produce doesn’t need to be transported, so you are reducing your carbon footprint. If you have a yard, you can even plant a few of your own fruits and veggies. Container gardening is super easy and does not require a lot of space. If you need some guidance in this area, I am happy to help you!
The fruits and veggies in season will depend on where you live. Typically apples, root vegetables, starchy vegetables such as butternut squash, potatoes, and pumpkin are all in season in the fall and winter. In the summer, you have many more options for fresh produce. Berries, cucumbers, peaches, watermelon, eggplant, and tomatoes all grow in the summer months. A quick search on the internet will tell you what specific foods are in season where you live. Write down a list, and take it with you when you are food shopping.
Find new recipes and plan ahead. Eating with the seasons can feel overwhelming when you first start, and you might feel limited with your food options. Research some new recipes that you can try out with your seasonal produce. Soon you’ll find that you’re actually getting more creative with your meals and trying produce that you may have never tried before. Eating seasonally during the winter months can be more difficult, but remember that not all your food has to be consumed fresh. Most summer fruits, such as berries and peaches, freeze very well. You can also pickle many vegetables.
Eating with the seasons is economical, better for the environment, and supports local farmers, but it’s also better for you and your health. It is the easiest way to save money on your grocery bill because produce that’s in season is always more inexpensive. Also, fruits and veggies that are in season don’t need to be sprayed with preservatives or waxed to keep fresh. If you’ve ever tried produce that’s not in season, you know that it usually lacks flavor. It is likely that it also lacks nutrients because it is grown in artificial conditions, and forced to ripen after it’s been picked and shipped to be ready for the store shelves at just the right time.
Transporting produce across the country is complicated, and suppliers need to prioritize a long shelf life. That usually means involving genetic modification, hormones, and preservatives. Unfortunately, this modification affects the flavor as well as the nutritional value of your food as I mentioned above.
Eating with the seasons can make you more conscious of your food choices, which can help with eating more mindfully. Eating varieties of food is recommended because it’s the easiest and healthiest way to get all of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs. So, the next time you go on a grocery run, pick up some in season items and enjoy the bursts of flavor. Make a point of learning where your local farmer’s markets are located, and visit once or twice a month. You may even wish to consider signing up for a local CSA veggie box that is delivered to your neighborhood, or in many cases right to your doorstep! However you choose to eat the fruits and veggies of the season, enjoy all the bounty that this time of year brings to us!