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Eating seasonally is the act of consuming fruits and vegetables that are harvested during the same time of year as consumption. For example, eating citrus during the winter and asparagus during the spring. Experts are notorious for recommending a diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season because of the many benefits associated with it.
Since the start of mass agriculture, buying produce year-round is easy and convenient. Unfortunately, this disrupts the quality of the produce, the environment, and the local economy. This is why eating seasonally is important and should be practiced as much as possible. Your body will thank you, too.
Here are a few reasons why eating seasonally year-round is important:
- Higher nutrients and better flavor– Produce that is consumed in season are higher in nutritional value because they were harvested closer to the time of consumption. Foods that are out of season typically need to be transported from long distances. Which affects the nutrient value and flavor of the food because the time between it being harvested and getting to the plate is a lot longer.
- Fewer pesticides – Seasonal fruits and vegetables are typically organic meaning they are sprayed with fewer pesticides; if any at all.
- Environmental friendly – When eating seasonally, it’s best to buy produce from your local farmers market. As more produce is consumed seasonally, the demand for out of season produce This is more environmentally friendly because of less travel time between you and the store. Less shipping time also mean betters flavor and higher nutrient content.
- Reconnect with nature – Our bodies were meant to eat different foods as the season changes. During the fall and winter, we crave comfort food to gain more weight and to keep us warm. While in spring, we crave greens that are low in calories, to help us detox and lose the weight gained during winter. Finally, in summer we eat cool and refreshing produce to keep us cool and hydrated.
- Build a sense of community with the farmers you buy from– I have found that over time I get to know the folks I purchase produce from and they become friends. I have a local farmer I have gone to for over 10 years now and he is a real friend to my family. When he has an abundance of something, he will often call me to see if I can use extra kale or pears or spinach or whatever the produce is. I enjoy
Eating seasonally also provides variety and excitement to your diet. It even supports your local economy because it is best to buy in-season produce from your local farmers market. As you continue to eat foods that are in season you will notice plenty of health benefits as well. Such as clearer skin, a healthier weight, and more energy. That is because fruits and vegetables offer lots of nutrition and are typically lower in calories.
So it is spring. And many of us, me included are ready to go back to eating seasonally. It is pretty tough over the winter in Pennsylvania where I live.
Farmers’ markets provide seasonal and freshly grown produce typically between spring and fall. Some areas are luckily enough to have them year-round but if not, they start to open around May and have some fantastic options.
Here are a few spring favorites to grab at your local farmer’s market:
Don’t let the appearance of artichokes scare you. This vegetable is easy to cook, delicious and full of nutrients. Adding artichokes to your diet helps lower cholesterol and aids in digestion. Simply, snip off the tips of the leaves and place into a pot with water and lemon juice, about halfway. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the artichoke is tender.
Asparagus is a superfood that is packed full of nutrients and is at its peak in April. This vegetable can be prepared raw, blanched, grilled, oven-roasted, boiled and fried. Making it an extremely versatile vegetable to add to a meal. Asparagus is high in Vitamin K which is important for blood clotting. For another post with wonderful recipes for ways to use your spring asparagus, you can check out this round-up recipe post.
Mid to late spring is when cherries start to arrive at farmers markets. Cherries contain high amounts of antioxidants and help reduce inflammation and aids in digestion. They are popularly made into pies and jams.
Spring greens are probably the most prominent foods to buy at the farmers’ market. Most farmers markets are filled with arugula, kale, bok choy, collard greens, dandelion greens, parsley, spinach, spring baby lettuce, Swiss chard and pea shoots this time of year. They are also one of things I get most excited about.
Strawberries – The best time to buy strawberries is during the months of May and June in my area. These sweet berries are the most popular item to buy at farmers markets and typically run out fast. They are full of antioxidants that help regulate inflammation and protects the skin. Make sure you get to your farmer’s markets as early as possible before they run out. Plus you don’t want the heavily sprayed berries that come from across the country. Local organic berries are the best choice especially when you consider that strawberries are one of the dirty dozen (produce most heavily sprayed).
As you can see, the farmers’ markets in spring are abundant with great fruits and vegetables. They also make shopping fun and more enjoyable. You get to meet the people who grow your foods and even try something you’ve never heard of before. All while supporting your local economy, environment and giving your body the best nutrients possible.
So enjoy the spring and summer and fall and frequent your local farmers and farmer’s markets and eat seasonally. Your body will thank you. And share with us in the comments below what some of your seasonal favorites are.