When you learn how good cooking and eating seasonally can be for everyone, you’ll find it hard to resist the fun and pleasure you’ll experience with this dietary choice.
What’s in season in your local town will depend on where you live to a large extent since the growing seasons and varieties cultivated in Miami will be different from those in Kansas. The Natural Resources Defense Council has an Eat Local Guide which gives you a tool to search by state and season for what’s freshest right now. Eat Well Guide has a similar system for finding seasonal produce.
But, in short, these are the main benefits of seasonal eating:
Fruits and veggies eaten shortly after they’re picked during their peak growing season will taste fresher, be more flavorful, and have more nutrients inside. Seasonal eating is, therefore, like inviting a party to your mouth. You’ll never want to eat an out-of-season tomato ever again after you’ve had some of the good stuff.
Better for the environment
When grown in their ideal season, plants are naturally stronger and more resistant to pests and disease so that they require fewer pesticides and fertilizers (soil amendments and pest management for organic farmers, of course). Plus, if you buy local produce that is in season, you’re helping reduce the number of food miles your fruits and veggies have to travel to get to your plate.
Higher nutritional value
Some fruits and vegetables can only be grown in certain seasons. When buying them off-season, you’re likely purchasing items that were picked weeks, if not months, earlier. Since produce starts to lose nutrients shortly after being picked, out-of-season options will have lower nutritional values.
Supports local farmers
When you purchase fresh, seasonal food, naturally it will have to come from local farmers. This helps to keep wealth within your community and supports family farms. This closely aligns with the more general benefits of eating a diet mainly consisting of local food.
While local fruits and vegetables are in season, they are often available in abundance and, therefore, cheaper to purchase. Check your local farmers’ market and see what in-season produce is available.