We live in a time when fresh produce is transported across the world, allowing us to enjoy a beautiful variety of fruits and vegetables all-year long. This convenience is so widely available that we often lose touch with eating seasonally and miss out on many of the benefits. Many of us forget what fruits and vegetables are in season in the places we live!
Why should we try to consume more seasonal produce?
- Better tasting
When you eat seasonal produce, it is grown locally or relatively close to your home, meaning it has been harvested more recently and has traveled shorter distances.This produce is picked at peak-ripeness, so it will be tastier than something harvested too early. Have you noticed how a tomato from a garden is better than any tomato you could find at a grocery store?
- More nutrient-dense
Food that is not in season will typically travel long distances.The longer fruit and vegetables spend traveling to the store, the greater the loss of vitamins and other nutrients. When produce is harvested, the nutrients begin to degrade – the longer it takes for the food to get to your home, the more degradation may occur. Seasonal produce is healthier!
- Supports local farmers
The wholesale prices that farmers get for their products in grocery stores are low. If local farmers can sell directly to consumers, they cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food! Consider purchasing seasonal produce at farmers’ markets (if they are open in the winter), food markets or at locally-owned grocery stores. Grocery stores sometimes have labels for the produce that is grown locally, meaning it is in season in your area. Supporting local farmers helps farm families stay on the land, plus you are supporting your local economy!
- Environmentally conscious
Seasonal produce that is typically grown in your region will require shorter transportation distances, which greatly reduces environmental impacts. When produce is grown during its natural season, it requires less additional agricultural inputs, such as heating, water, or artificial light. An aspect to consider is supporting the produce that is seasonal in another growing region that may not grow near your home. E.g., citrus does not grow in northern Europe or northern US, but it is seasonal in Southern Europe and Florida/California in the winter months.
- More affordable
Seasonal foods are typically cheaper to produce, thus cheaper to buy when they are in season. Think about how expensive berries or peaches can be in the winter!
What produce is in season during the winter months?
If you live in an area further away from the equator, finding fresh produce during the winter months can be a challenge. This is a time to focus on nourishing, filling and long-lasting root vegetables, hearty fruits and fresh citrus, e.g. apples, beets, citrus (lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges), carrots, pears, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash and more.
The goal does not have to be eating a 100% seasonal diet – even a few minor changes will have an impact! Our modern agricultural practices, transportation systems and refrigeration capabilities have allowed us to have access to fresh produce all-year round and we are lucky to enjoy all this colorful and nutritious food. Getting in touch with the seasons and the natural cycles allows an opportunity to show your appreciation for the food that nourishes and keeps us healthy!