The High Value of In-Season Produce

Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables is a healthier choice. You can eat in-season by selecting food that is growing and being harvested locally at the same time you’re shopping.

Eating in-season foods is a wise decision that helps you strengthen your health and save money.

Consider these facts about seasonal produce:

  1. Eating in season adds variety to your diet. If you are open to trying new tastes, eating fresh, in-season foods exposes you to new fruits and vegetables. This can expand your repertoire of nutrients and flavors in your meals. Variety is crucial to a well-rounded diet. Experts agree that variety is important for health because your body needs many different nutrients.
  2. Local, seasonal food has more nutrients. Food starts losing nutrients the minute it’s picked. With in-season produce, the reduction in time from farm to table keeps the nutrient levels high. Additionally, foods that have to travel long distances are usually unripe when picked and may be covered in chemicals to help preserve them.
  3. In-season foods are less expensive. You can save money on your grocery bill every week by taking advantage of seasonal foods.
  4. Seasonal food tastes better. Experts can’t agree on a single answer for why food tastes better in-season. A couple of factors, though, are thought to contribute to the good taste:
    • Allowing the fruits and vegetables to ripen in the field provides maximum exposure to sun, soil and rain. That means when it is harvested, it naturally tastes better.
    • Not having to travel a long distance cuts down on the time between when it’s harvested to the moment you eat it. So fewer chemicals are needed to preserve it.

These tips will help you discover a variety of foods that are healthy, budget-friendly, and in season:

  1. Talk to your grocery store manager. Shopping blindly isn’t the answer. You’ll benefit from asking questions and figuring out exactly which items are in season. Grocery store managers can provide helpful information on eating in season. They can help you pick out the freshest items and even offer insight about eating healthier.
  2. Visit local farmers’ markets and talk to the farmers. Your local farmers’ markets are valuable sources of both food and information.  Take a stroll through your local farmers’ market and you’ll see fresh produce at every turn. This is a good way to learn more about what is being grown in season in your area and to stock up on fresh food.
  3. Consider these seasonal foods:
    • Spring. During spring, you can find a variety of greens. Spring is the perfect time to find fresh greens such as spinach, lettuce, dandelion, chard and others. Raw or cooked, leafy green vegetables are a healthy addition to your diet and are ultra-low in calories!
    • Summer. During summer, look for berries and other fruits. Foods like strawberries, raspberries, cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, and nectarines are a healthy addition to your diet during the summer. Also look for zucchini, summer squash and tomatoes!
    • Fall. During fall, focus on vegetables and favorites like cranberries and pomegranates. The fall brings out beets, carrots, corn, eggplant, potatoes, and garlic. Apples and pears are also at peak for harvesting.
    • Winter. During winter, you can still find many vegetables, so your diet can stay healthy. Consider shopping for kale, broccoli, squash, turnips, and potatoes.

This list is by no means complete! Check out the University of Wisconsin site for more great information.

Eat healthier by adjusting your shopping habits to include seasonal foods. You’ll like the way you feel, and you’ll help support your local farmers at the same time.

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