Eat produce in the season when it naturally grows, when it is at its most nutritious; It's an aspect of nutrition that would be intuitive a few decades ago, but now with grocery stores on every block full of produce from every season available all the time, eating produce that flourishes in the current season takes forethought and strong will.
Eating seasonally always sounds like a great idea until you get to the grocery store. Suddenly the inexplicably ripe box of clementines that should only be available in the dead of winter seem irresistible at the end of August. In that moment seasonal eating feels so trivial in a world where any food is seemingly available no matter what time of the year it is but eating seasonally is not only best for the nutritional level of your diet, it tastes better, is better for the environment and even costs less.
As you wade past the displays of artificially ripened produce remember these fun benefits of choosing food based on the season, and prepare to elevate your grocery list.
1) Everything will taste better – There is no taste that is more satisfying than food fresh from the vine, but how many times during your busy week do you have time to go foraging for fruits and vegetables? Even if your local grocery store is the closest you can get to farm-to-table eating, the closer your produce is to the vine that bore it, the closer you can get to the flavor it was intended to have.
2) You can shrink your carbon footprint –Seasonal eating may seem like it is bound only by the constraints of time, but eating food when it is out of season is also a matter of distance. If you want cherries in November and there is already snow in the parking lot of your supermarket, this summer fruit could easily need to travel over 1000 miles just to make it to your local produce section. If it is winter in your home in the northern hemisphere, these summer berries may have to come from the other side of the equator. That means a lot of greenhouse gasses and a lot of fossil fuels just to make cherries jubilee in the winter.
3) Less chemicals in your food and in your body – Nobody wants to hear this but the tomato you are making spaghetti sauce with in January was mostly likely dyed red. To get food that is out of season to your kitchen, it is plucked prematurely, pumped full of preservatives and ripening agents before it is loaded onto the truck for interstate or international immigration; basically the vegetable version of human trafficking. Think about how sad you would be after an experience like that. Your winter tomato might be just as sad.
4) Budget – When the market is flooded, buy. When goods are scarce prices will rise. The stock market works in the same fashion as your supermarket. When the produce is in season it is cheaper because it can be grown locally and in abundance. Insider trading tip for the season: carrots and broccoli prices are about go down as summer bows out for fall. Just don’t tell anyone I told you.
5) Variety - We all have our favorite fruits and vegetables and whether or not they are in season they always seem to be able to make an appearance at dinner multiple times a week (yes I am talking to you asparagus addicts). Variety is not just a luxury; it is a necessity to get all the different vitamins and minerals you want. Challenge yourself by cooking seasonally. The smaller list of produce will definitely include some items that you wouldn’t normally include in your shopping list since the staple items maybe out of season.
6) Harmony and Nutrition - As the season's change, so do we. Some of us shed as the temperature fluctuates or experience the ebb and flow of season allergies, and as we change so do our nutritional needs. Eating seasonally is a great to way to get the most out of your food when you need it. In the fall when gords are at their most ripe “the beta carotene in the orange pigment of pumpkins and other squash will help bolster your immune system just in time to help ward off winter colds.” So many seasonal foods grow in the season you may need them most.
Seasonal eating takes research and a commitment and all regions are no created seasonally equal. Check out this link to find out what your local season is producing today.