Seasonal foods often have higher nutritional value and taste better than out-of-season foods. Seasonal eating can also help your local economy. Continue reading to find out more about eating seasonal fruits and vegetables.
What Is Seasonal Eating?
Seasonal eating entails eating produce at its peak of ripeness. Temperature, light, and moisture requirements vary by crop. Farmers grew plants according to seasonal rhythms for the majority of agricultural history.
Most fruits and vegetables can now be eaten all year by growing them in greenhouses or harvesting them before they ripen, storing them for long periods of time, and then artificially ripening produce at any time of year. This convenience, however, has a cost. Out-of-season produce is often less nutritious and flavorful.
Health Benefits of Seasonal Eating
The longer produce is stored, the lower its nutritional value. Nutrient loss is caused by chemical changes that occur after harvest. According to one study, leafy greens can lose more than half of their vitamin C content after transportation and three days on the grocery store shelf. Eating locally grown foods in season ensures that you are getting the healthiest food possible.
Environmental Benefits of Seasonal Eating
Consuming foods that are in season can help you reduce your carbon footprint. Out-of-season produce, in general, travels long distances before arriving at its final destination, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Seasonal foods, on the other hand, are typically grown within local communities and thus have a lower environmental impact.
How to Eat Seasonally
Here are some seasonal eating suggestions:
1. Get a seasonal food guide. Seasonal food guides are available online, and they detail when foods are in season in your area. Such guides can assist you in planning your vegetable garden or determining the best time to visit your farmers' market for fresh produce.
2. Shop mindfully. Mindfulness is the key to enjoying seasonal foods. "Choice must be informed by knowledge in order to have any meaning," author Michael Pollan says. "That's why I believe your only obligation is to understand the system that feeds you, and then you make your choices." Ripeness and freshness are indicated by color, healthy skins, aroma, and the leaves and stems. If you're unsure, consult your farmer or grocer.
3. Taste food before you buy it. Before purchasing food, request a taste test. This method is recommended by Alice Waters for selecting the best in-season fruits. "I always cut and taste them," Alice explains. "You're tasting, tasting, tasting, and tasting."
4. Enroll in a CSA program. For a small monthly membership fee, community-supported agriculture connects local growers with consumers to provide fresh, seasonal produce. Joining a CSA program is an excellent way to obtain local produce and become involved in local food systems.
5. Shop at your local farmers’ market. Although seasonal produce is likely to be available at conventional grocery stores, your local farmers' market is more likely to stock fresh, in-season produce. Shopping at a farmers' market is an excellent way to support local farms while also ensuring that your diet contains plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
6. Properly store seasonal produce. Root vegetables, such as parsnips, beets, and sweet potatoes, can be stored in a root cellar for several months if covered with peat moss, sand, or sawdust. Food can also be pickled or canned for long-term storage. Make pickled green beans using this recipe.
Foods Categorized by Season
Here are some of the most popular produce items in North America, as well as the best time of year to enjoy them:
1. Summer: Tomatoes and corn are the summer produce standouts. Avocado, blueberries, basil, cucumber, green beans, eggplant, mangoes, shell beans, zucchini, bell peppers, and garlic are other summer vegetable market staples.
2. Fall: The crisp fall weather brings a bounty of roasted vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, broccoli, turnips, beets, and sweet potatoes. Fall fruits, such as apples, pears, grapes, persimmons, and pomegranates, provide a refreshing change from the abundance of summer melons and berries.
3. Winter: Look for root vegetables in a variety of colors, such as carrots, beets, and radishes. Leafy greens such as chicory, Swiss chard, kale, and collard greens, as well as cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, beets, and winter squashes, are ready by this time of year.
4. Spring: Green garlic, nettles, young leeks and green onions, small turnips, baby artichokes, asparagus, fava beans, fiddleheads, spinach, bok choy, new potatoes, shelling and snow peas, and morel mushrooms are all to be found. Spring lamb and wild salmon become available, as do tender herbs such as tarragon, chervil, mint, parsley, and chives.