I think we’re all quite happy to be Eating Seasonally welcoming warmer months and along with it comes a beautiful bounty of products vying for our attention! Vine-ripened tomatoes, juicy peaches, beautiful strawberries, and dark leafy greens have finally arrived!
With each changing season comes new produce and cravings. Years ago I tended to stick to the same ole’ fruits and veggies on repeat. While the scene outside my kitchen window changed, my plate essentially remained the same.
Sure, I’d get excited over springtime strawberries, but failed to see and embrace the beauty of all the earth produces. Not only was it rather boring but I was missing out on the nutrition and beauty of eating seasonally.
I live in North Carolina, which means we are fortunate to have four absolutely lovely seasons (though as a former Midwesterner I still often wonder if I’ll survive August 😉 ). It’s warm enough through the winter that I am able to seed and sprout my spring produce in a hotbox and harvest rich root vegetables at the same time!
Let’s briefly explore three great reasons to eat seasonally.
Nutritional value –
If you harvest produce early in order for it to be able to endure long-distance shipping, it’s not going to have the full amount of nutrients if it were allowed to fully ripen on the vine. The longer produce ripens on the vine the more nutrients it develops.
Additionally, transporting produce sometimes requires irradiation (zapping the produce with a burst of radiation to kill germs) and preservatives (such as wax) to protect the produce, which is subsequently refrigerated during the trip.
It’s hard to be enthusiastic about eating 7-10 servings a day of flavorless fruits and vegetables, don’t you think? Compare a ripe summer tomato, hot off the vine to a pinkish hothouse tomato in January. That’s a no brainer, right there! 😉
It’s most cost effective to purchase in season, local foods. This is based on supply and demand. Think about buying a ½ ounce of fresh herbs in the winter when supply is low (costing approximately $3-4) versus a bundle of fresh basil in the summer, when supply is high ($1-2 for the entire bundle).
Additionally, you are supporting your local economy by purchasing from area farmers.
Check out these great resources to know what’s in your neck of the woods:
Know what’s in season in your region – Local Harvest makes it easy for you to search based on your zip code to find what’s in season, where your nearest farmers market is, and local CSA boxes (which I’ll get to in a moment).
Farmers Markets – Google search for your area’s Farmer’s Markets and be on the lookout for roadside stands during typical routes you frequent each week. This will make it easy to pick up the freshest, most delicious produce without it being a major hassle.
CSA box – CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a way for consumers to buy local, seasonal produce directly from a farmer in their community. Typically, you are able to place your order online and receive it on your doorstep weekly.
Go in with a friend! – If you’re not certain you can consume an entire bundle of greens in a week (though you should!) consider going in with a friend. Often a friend of mine and I will make runs to the Farmer’s Market for one another. We split the goods and are able to share recipes and friendship through our weekly encounters together.
Now that you’re busy scribbling down your grocery list, check out McKel Hill of Nutrition Stripped’s excellent guides to what’s waiting to be eaten with each new season and begin to experience the benefits of eating a plant-centric diet!