Seasonal eating means buying and consuming recently harvested local produce. For example, buy strawberries in California in late spring and summer from a local farm instead of from a grocery store in December. Not only does seasonal produce taste better, but studies show vitamins and minerals are higher too.
If seasonal eating sounds a little “green and earthy” for ya, check out all of the research and supportive sites below. Then, decide for yourself if you’ll get on the seasonal train.
Why Eating Seasonally Matters
Selfishly, if you only made the switch for yourself, your body comes out the winner. That’s because locally grown produce is more nutritionally dense. Meaning, they contain more antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. All of which keep you healthy, fight disease and have you looking and feeling freaking amazing. One study focused on vitamin C levels in broccoli grown in season (in the fall) versus out of season (spring). The fall values tested twice as high as the broccoli grown in spring (1). Mass producing produce means that grocery stores and growers favor uniformity over flavor.
In addition to fewer nutrients in produce, consider the nutrients in soil and grass that livestock eat. Some studies suggest that nutrients in milk are affected as well. By analyzing the content of key vitamins such as selenium and iodine in milk, researchers found that milk produced in the spring, versus fall, had higher iodine levels (2).
Natural Cycle=Naturally Grown
By following a seasonal cycle, or natural growing rhythm, produce doesn’t need ripening agents like gases, chemicals and edible film to mass produce and expedite the process. Most Americans don’t know what a real tomato tastes like, or at least, not the way they do in Europe. Overseas travelers eating locally grown produce often eat fruits and vegetables as though they’re tasting them for the first time. That’s because other countries embrace the concept of seasonal eating, or simply don’t mass produce and import the way we do. Their laws about GMOs are also much stricter than in the United States.
So, from a palate perspective, when these foods taste better, people want to eat more of them. Score one for Italy! Consumption of fresh produce tends to be higher abroad than in the U.S., where we tend to load up on French fries, and buy half green strawberries in winter and butternut squash in the summer.
Long distance travel is expensive! How far did your artichokes and zucchini travel to get to your house? One-third to one-half of fruits and vegetables in the United States are imported. Think about the fossil fuel emissions it takes to fly and truck those beets to your market.
While it’s not always feasible to buy everything locally, explore your local farmer’s markets to see what you can round up a couple times a week. You’ll cut down on transit, and help local growers at the same time. And chances are, the food will taste exponentially better!
In addition to produce, local farmers often bring things like eggs, local seafood and grass-finished meat too. This helps boost the local economy.
When something is in season, there’s more of it. That drives prices down. Tomatoes and berries are pretty cheap in the summer months, because they’re abundant. Conversely, you’ll pay more for squash in the spring because squash is a winter crop.
So, What’s in Season?
This depends on where you live, of course. But this site provides an exhaustive list for you. Here are some basics of common foods to get you started:
- Brussels sprouts
- Sweet Potatoes
- Winter squash
- Leafy Greens
- Bell Peppers
- Bell peppers
Some Seasonal Recipes for You
We have hundreds of additional recipes inside the 131 Method, a program that helps you lose weight through something called “diet phasing.”
Comment below on if you shop seasonally!