What is seasonal eating? It's simple actually, it's eating produce when it's at its peak. Since the advent of the grocery store and the move from farms to cities, people have eaten seasonally less and less due to the fact that produce can be either grown year round in hot houses or shipped in from faraway lands. Unfortunately, this can mean eating fruits and vegetables that were picked before being ripe and then transported long miles to get to your plate.
So why should you eat seasonally if your favorite fruits and vegetables are available year round? Here's a few reasons why:
1. Saves money. Yes, eating in season saves you money. Who doesn't love that? But how does it save me money, you ask? It's simple economics. Because there will be more fruit or vegetables available during its peak season, the prices will go down and you can get more for your money. Take apples for example. This summer, my favorite apple variety, Honey crisps, were up to nearly $5 a pound! And that wasn't even organic. But as soon as September rolled around, the prices kept dropping, and are continuing to drop even more since it's now apple season. I've seen apples as low as $1 a pound. That's $4 in savings right there! Why are they so expensive in summer, even though I live in the state that is the number 1 state for apples? Because the apples in summer have been stored since being picked last fall and they definitely don't taste as good as one that was just picked from the tree.
2. Saves time. By buying produce in season, you can save yourself time by cooking recipes that require little to no cooking because the flavor is already awesome. See point #3 for more on awesome flavor!
3. Flavor is better. I'm sure you have heard of the bland tomato in winter (or maybe even tasted one!) They are not delicious and most of the time they need to be cooked or be from a can to get any flavor from them. The same goes for any fruit or vegetable. The flavor is going to be better when the produce is at its peak simply because the fruit will be picked closer to optimum ripeness and will give you that amazing flavor you long for.
4. Support local farmers. If you buy in season, you can buy from local farmers at farmers markets because they are only going to be able to have things that grow in season and they won't have them shipped in from across the globe. Plus, farmers markets will save you money too by buying directly from the farmers and cutting out the middlemen. Bonus!
5. Variety. Instead of eating the same oranges, bananas and apples day in a day out all year long, you can try many other fruits and vegetables. In spring and summer, you can enjoy lots of berries, then transition to stone fruits in later summer before finally chowing down on juicy apples and pears in the fall and winter. Variety is definitely the spice of life!
6. More in tune with the seasons. Our bodies are naturally regulated by the seasons. Ever notice how in winter you seem to need more sleep because it's darker out more? Enjoy the different seasons of the year by eating different fruits and vegetables throughout the year and feel yourself being more in tune with nature. Ahhhhh feel more relaxed now?
7. Better nutrients. By buying produce when it's at its peak, you are getting more nutrients for your buck. As soon as its picked, the produce begins to lose its nutritional value and those vitamins and minerals degrade over time. Why not get the ear of corn that was picked early that morning rather than earlier in the week?
8. Better for the environment. Have you ever thought about how much pollution is caused by transporting food halfway across the country? I understand that some places simply do not have the bounty that say, California, has, and some places, like Washington, simply don't have the climate for certain fruits and vegetables, like oranges and lemons. But why not enjoy what your area has to offer? If your state grows amazing cherries, enjoy those amazing cherries. I'm not saying to not ever enjoy an orange, but rather to focus on locally grown produce over stuff grown a long ways away.
Now that's I've convinced you to eat more seasonally, where to start? Here are some great resources to find out what is available at certain times of the year for where you live:
Eat the Seasons
Seasonal Food Guide
State by State Guide
Start by going to farmers markets to see whats available. You can also invest in a CSA box that will do the work for you and provide you with locally grown, farm fresh produce. My favorite is Full Circle Farms.
But what about recipes? That's what Google is for! Here are some search suggestions. Just fill in the blank with either a season, fruit or vegetable. Plenty of deliciousness will appear!
Want some seasonal cookbooks? Here I have made an Amazon list of my favorites. Click here to read more.
If you have any other questions about seasonal eating, please don't hesitate to contact me via my contact page. I'd love to answer them!
Pacific Northwest Seasonality Guide
4 Great Benefits of Seasonal Eating
Benefits of Eating What's in Season