This was a question I had been mulling over. Instinctively it seemed like there would be benefits to eating according to the season but I wanted to know exactly what those benefits
were, so I did a little research and here's what I found.
Years ago it was more common to eat locally when there wasn’t as much importing and exporting of produce but now, due to the advances in technology, we have much more sophisticated food processing systems and distribution methods that we can have food delivered year round from all over the world. Most ecologists believe the change of seasons helps to keep the earths resources well balanced — a form of natural diversity.(1)
Produce that is harvested and eaten during its prime season tend to be more fresh and flavorful, as well as being more nutrient dense. A study in Japan found that spinach contained 3 times more vitamin C when it was harvested in the summer versus the winter months.(2) When we eat fruits and vegetables according to the season we reconnect with nature’s cycles, we end up supporting the local economy, and we lighten our carbon footprint by reducing the energy needed to grow, transport, and distribute produce far and wide. We also reduce the amount of money spent on purchasing unseasonal produce that has been imported from another part of the world or transported from a long distance.(3)
As a guide, I have put together a list of the best fruits and vegetables to eat according to season. Although not a complete list, it gives you an idea of seasonal eating. You will find some overlap in the guide when it comes to prime harvest time for certain fruits and vegetables. I would suggest checking out your local farmers markets first. It's a great place to get started, get to know your local community, and the farmers will be selling their fresh seasonal harvests.(4)
Spring: Artichokes, asparagus, apricots, broccoli, butter lettuce chives, collard greens, corn, fave beans, fennel, honeydew, jackfruit, limes, lychee, mango, mustard greens, oranges, pineapple, radicchio, red leaf lettuce, rhubarb, snow peas, spinach, spring lettuce, swiss chard, watercress, white asparagus
Summer: Apricots, cucumbers, pears, cherries, beets, bell peppers, berries, cantaloupe, melon, durian, eggplant, endive, french beans, figs, tomatoes, grapes, limes, lychee, nectarines, okra, spinach, peaches, peas, plums, radishes, shallots, watermelon, tomatoes Yukon potatoes, zucchini
Winter: Endive, Brussel sprouts, squash, clementines, collard greens, dates, grapefruit, kale, kiwi, leeks, oranges, pear, sweet potatoes, turnips
Fall: Acorn squash, asian pear, Barbados cherries, endive, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, butter lettuce, cauliflower, green beans, cranberries, daikon, garlic, ginger, grapes, guava, Jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms
So there ya go - some fun facts, things to ponder, and a list of the best fruits and vegetables to consume according to season. I hope you found this post helpful and you are able to find the most flavorful and nutrient packed produce in your area, and I hope you are able to save a bit in your pocket book as well!;-)
What are your favorite vegetables to eat during this time of year? Let me know in the comments below, and if you know someone who might find this article helpful, please share! Until next time. xx
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