Eating Well In Season

You may have heard it is beneficial to buy produce in season and thought hmm maybe I should try that! But then when it’s time to grocery shop again, you’re in a rush and forgot to plan ahead to see what’s in season. You end up leaving the store with the same five fruits and vegetables you get every week. Well, this week I challenge you to look into what produce is in season and try a few!

Why should you?

COST EFFECTIVE (my biggest reason!)

  • Seasonal foods are produced in abundance causing prices to go down. Typically, there will be a special on seasonal fruits/vegetables because farmers are looking to get rid of the excess items. Farmers would rather sell their products at a lower price than not at all! In addition, when the produmoney-savingce is locally sourced, production/transportations costs are less and therefore cheaper for consumers to buy.

MORE NUTRITIOUS

  • Seasonally fresh produce is picked at peak ripeness and development. Produce that is from other locations around the world are picked early to avoid over ripening in transit/storage and never reach maximum nutrient potential. In addition, transported fruits/vegetables are often times zapped with irradiation and preservatives to preserve ripeness, killing off some of the nutrients. Plus all that time in storage can cause nutrients and antioxidants to rapidly decline.
  • Because seasonal foods are usually cheaper, you may be encouraged to try new items you wouldn’t normally pick out. Try new recipes or cooking techniques to see which way you prefer to eat this item! In addition, cooking at home can result in healthier eating since you are in charge of the ingredients and how much to put on your plate.

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FLAVOR

  • Seasonal produce is fresher, crisper and perfectly ripe. Crops that need to be transported hundreds of miles really never develop their natural, full flavor. Plus the fruit needs to be cooled for storage and then artificially heated for ripening before going on shelves, reducing the flavor. Tomatoes are a great example of this. When purchased in the winter here in Michigan, they are a pale red with minimal flavor compared to the juicy and colorful tomato you can get in the summer. The texture can even change too and be overly fibrous, not very appetizing!

ENVIRONMENT

  • BuyLocal.inddBuying in season not only supports local farmers, but it also reduces your carbon footprint. Cost of transportation lessens as well as the impact traveling thousands of miles has on the environment. In addition, locally produced foods doesn’t take as many pesticides or genetic modification to grow and stay fresh, and less refrigeration and hot-house are needed.

Here is a chart from MSU Center for Regional Food Systems (go green!) to outlining when fruits/vegetables are in season here in Michigan. Print it off and hang it on your fridge!


IN SUMMARY…

  • Spring is full of leafy, green vegetables. The greening you see in the spring should represent your plate. Fill up on things like asparagus, arugula, romaine lettuce, turnip, parsley, basil, Swiss chard, etc.
  • Summer brings crisp, juicy produce to keep us cool. Stock your fridge with cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, cherries, strawberries, etc. to keep you and your family hydrated on those hot days.
  • Fall produces warming foods such as carrots, garlic, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, peaches and cranberries. Perfect for those healthy stews, soups and casseroles as the weather cools down.
  • Winter doesn’t bring as many fresh produce items as the other seasons but does offer the comfort foods such as onions and other root vegetables. Plan ahead by storing fresh produce from summer/fall so you can have nutrient packed foods year round!

 

Happy cooking!

– Hilarie ❤

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