Eating seasonally is healthy! It has been practiced in many countries for centuries. We’re used to eating any produce we want since food arrives from around the world year around, but you actually find more nutritious foods and receive a wider variety of fresh foods when you eat local and seasonal. Where to start?
Find out what’s available!
Sustainable Table created an interactive chart that tells you what produce is available in your area throughout the year. Agri-Business Council of Oregon also has a quick list of seasonal veggies and fruits.
The best part about early fall is that you can:
Still find summer tastes: With favorable weather, it’s amazing what fruits and vegetable continue to grow into fall, like cucumbers, cantaloupe, melons, peppers, and grapes. When October brings the wet weather, we might not think of summer produce, but if you’re longing for cantaloupe, you can probably find it fresh and fairly local.
Start in on fall flavors: If you’re ready for new flavors, you’ll find lots of fresh options, like broccoli, cauliflower, squash, and even lettuce. Farmers are bringing in the traditional fall favorites, too, like pumpkins, carrots, and cabbage.
Try Smart Tips for Seasonal Shopping
If you’re racing through the store and you don’t have time to review the lists above, remember two simple questions: What does it look like? What does it smell like?
• Seasonal produce should look fresh and vibrant. And if it’s a fruit or veggie with a detectable scent, it should smell fresh and/or earthy.
• Seasonal produce should not be old, dull, bruised, dented, moldy, or wilted. It should not smell rotten or spoiled.
Check Out Benefits for Seasonal Shopping!
1. Stretch your budget: You like to save money, right? Well, seasonal fruits and veggies are abundant, and local stores and farmer’s markets are often able to provide them for a better price than out-of-season items that have to travel far. This abundance also means you can catch produce on sale, like broccoli around a $1. It happens! To take advantage of these unexpected sales, maintain flexibility in your meal plan. For example, you might list and purchase main course items, but you can purchase whatever fresh seasonal item is on sale for a side.
2. Enjoy nutrient-rich foods: Local in-season produce doesn’t need to travel far. Farmers can wait for the best time to harvest, which will help increase the likelihood that the food is matured and fresh, packed with nutrients.
3. Create variety: We’ve all heard some version of the saying, “Eat all colors.” When you keep seasonal options in mind, you’ll inevitably eat more variety, and your body will benefit from the healthy cornucopia of vitamins and minerals.
Before we all sign off, I’ll leave you with this classic article from Cleveland Clinic that expands on the benefits of seasonal eating. It states, “Building your diet around foods as they become abundant locally can get you excited about good-for-you ingredients and nudge you — painlessly! — toward a healthier diet.”
Final helpful tip! I have signed up for a local CSA here in Washington County called Stoneboat Farm. I have also used Pumpkin Ridge CSA. Do some research in your area and look for a local organic CSA (or check out the ones I mentioned above). There is nothing better than getting fresh-from-the-farm food for your table!
And as always, if you still need help getting fresh nutritious foods on the table, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.