After spending this beautiful September day apple picking with my kids, it reminded me of how delicious, juicy, and sweet a freshly picked apple is. There is nothing better than eating a still warm from the sun piece of fruit or vegetable. Eating seasonally is the concept of eating foods that are ‘in season’ or are being grown, harvested, and eaten at the same time of year. For example, asparagus in the Spring, strawberries in the Summer, and apples in the Fall.
Seasonal eating can be beneficial for many reasons. First, when a fruit or veggie is picked when it’s ripe and consumed immediately or within days, it is more fresh, tastier, and actually more nutritious than produce that is eaten weeks, if not months after it is harvested. Studies have shown that fruits and veggies that have been allowed to ripen when still attached to their parent plant have more nutrients than when they are picked early. Unfortunately, many times produce is picked before it is ripe because it needs time to be shipped across the country or across the ocean before it spoils. For example, when you purchase blueberries in the winter from the grocery store, they have most likely traveled a long distance and not as fresh as you may think. Another example are apples, which can be stored for several months (up to a year) before they actually hit the grocery store shelves!
Another reason eating seasonal produce can be beneficial is because it is cost effective. When you take the hidden costs out of the equation such as time, transportation, and people involved in the process to get the produce to your grocery store, the fruit or vegetable out of season is going to be expensive! However, if you buy produce that is in season, the money supports your local economy and as the local farmers. You cut most of the middle men out, and are left with inexpensive, delicious produce. A good example of this that I noticed recently is a local organic pick your own blueberry patch that my kids and I go to every summer. You can pick these organic blueberries in July and August for an inexpensive $3.00 a pound! The other day, I was in the supermarket and saw organic blueberries for $5.99 and this was only for a small 6oz. container!
By no means should you not eat certain produce when it is not season! If you are an apple lover and want to eat them year round, eat them up! All fruits and vegetables are healthy and important to have in your diet, everyday. Eating seasonally is just a way to be mindful about the produce that you do buy and if you are able to choose seasonal produce sometimes when shopping or are able to visit a farmers market, that’s great! Here is a small list of some general foods for each season, and keep in mind that where you live is a factor: