We’ve all heard certain fruits or vegetables be referred to as “in season.” We know that means something good, but what exactly does it mean? I, for one, did not know exactly until I did some research for this blog! Eating in season simply means eating produce that is the freshest and highest quality it can be, based on the time of year it grows best in your area. A great way to know what is in season in your area is by using an online seasonal food guide.
Why Eating in Season is Important
Eating seasonally has a lot of important benefits. First and foremost, fruits and vegetables that are in season taste better. They’ve been naturally brought to ripeness. Produce that isn’t in season usually gets to the grocery stores longer after harvest than in-season produce, so it’s been refrigerated longer, which reduces flavor. Take the time to make juice from fresh berries and you won’t buy from the grocery again!
Eating in season also saves money on produce. Farmers have a larger supply of the in-season produce, and so are able to offer lower prices. Eating seasonally and shopping locally go hand-in-hand. More produce is locally-sourced when it is in season in the area. Out-of-season fruits and vegetables tend to be sourced from farther away, which adds transportation and packaging costs to the price. Eating more locally-sourced food also lessens the negative environmental impact on the planet, because there’s less disposable products and fuel for transportation used.
Choosing fresh produce that is in season can even increase the food’s nutritional value. The longer produce sits in semi-truck trailers and shipping boxes when it’s sourced from far away, the less nutrition it has. Of course, it is still nutritious, but vitamins and antioxidants decline over time. Eating fruits and veggies as close to the time of their harvest as possible is how to get the most health benefits in your produce. You can also have more confidence in your local, in season produce to be free of chemicals than produce grown and harvested overseas.
Preserving food, whether you are canning, pickling, freezing or drying, is always better when you start with the freshest, in-season foods. And when you do it yourself, you know there are no artificial ingredients.
I live in Northeast Ohio, and July is a great month to eat what’s in season. The fruits I will be looking for in my coming grocery trips will be blueberries, cherries, melons, nectarines, peaches, raspberries, and tomatoes.
As for vegetables, I’ll keep my eye out for broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, chives, cilantro, cucumbers, green beans, kale, mint, onions, radishes, peas, rhubarb, and zucchini. There are so many options this time of year! You can even try some new in-season recipes after you hit the farmer’s market.
Find a seasonal food guide that works best for you, and have a great summer! (Enjoy this refreshing recipe below.)Print
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 pint raspberries
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
- ? cup fresh lemon juice (from about 4 lemons) plus slices for garnish
- Combine sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, just until the sugar melts, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Place raspberries and mint leaves in a pitcher. Using the end of a spoon or a muddler, crush until pulpy and smashed.
- Add lemon juice, simple syrup, and 3 cups water, and stir to combine. Add enough ice to fill the pitcher. Serve over ice garnished with mint sprigs and lemon slices.