No matter the time of year, you can walk into a supermarket and see a broad variety of produce at your fingertips. Today it’s so easy to transport food long distances that we take it for granted that we can eat fresh berries in January or have avocado on our toast every day. Yet many of us have no idea when fruits and vegetables are in season in the regions where we live.
One hundred years ago, most people knew the best time to pick berries or which vegetables would grow best in their climate and when. Now our lifestyle of convenience has caused many people to lose touch with these basis ideas of what foods are in season.
Even if you are not growing your own garden, knowing what is in season and eating foods to match that is so important. Here are some of the best reasons to eat by the seasons and some pretty sweet benefits that naturally come along with it.
Foods that are grown and consumed during their appropriate seasons are more nutritionally dense. Studies have shown that eating broccoli during its normal season (fall) had a higher vitamin C content than broccoli grown during the spring. With optimal growing conditions and more sun exposure come higher levels of additional antioxidants like folate and beta-carotene.
When foods are grown out of season, they aren’t able to follow their natural growing and ripening rhythms. Therefore, in order for these fruits and vegetables to be available year-round, post- ripening agents that contain chemicals, waxes, and gasses are used. While this process allows farmers to produce year-round, researchers have found that artificially ripened produce is often not as nutritious or as tasty as naturally ripened produce. I'm sure you have bit in to a tough waxy apple that maybe was too sour or not very sweet? What about a bunch of apples that accidentally froze during shipping, they are mealey! YUCK!
Our primal ancestors could only eat what fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens were flourishing in that season and climate. The natural cycle of crops and produce is meant to support our health and nutritional needs for the season of life at hand. Leafy greens in the spring help us alkalize our bodies and facilitate detoxification. Hydrating foods such as watermelon, berries, and cucumbers keep us hydrated in the summertime heat. Winter squashes and root veggies are great ingredients for hearty stews and soups that offer comfort during the long, cold winter months.
When you purchase foods in season particular to your region, it is less likely that the produce will be subject to heavy doses of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Not to mention, those same toxic compounds deplete the soil, contaminate our water, and ultimately cause major problems with our health. Additionally, buying seasonal enables you to support your local farmers. Local produce= less transportation, less forced ripening, less refrigeration, and fewer chemicals. This also means less pollution and cleaner air to breathe.
We have all had the unsavory experience of biting into and unripened fruit, right? There’s nothing like biting into that crunchy, juicy apple in the midst of the fall or a gorgeous, plump strawberry in the dog days of summer. When produce is picked from the tree or vine at the perfect time, not only is nutrition at its peak, but the flavor is as well. Fresher, sweeter, better-tasting, more flavorful and vibrant fruits and vegetables are what you have to look forward to when you choose to eat with the seasons. Don't you just love when you cut open a perfectly ripe avocado? Yummy!
Alright, let’s take it back to Macroeconomics 101 for just a brief minute. This is simply supply and demand. When there is an abundance of a certain crop, the cost will be much lower. Also, when produce is in season, local farmers won’t have extensive travel or storage costs. All of these factors drive down the prices we ultimately see in the stores.
So, there you have it! There’s a reason why you crave juicy strawberries in the summer and pumpkin everything in the fall. Curious as to what foods are in season near you?
Yours in Health,