Due to the continuing advancement of modern agriculture and food preservation techniques, it is easy to forget that not all foods are naturally accessible to us at all times of the year. For example, just because we see tomatoes in grocery stores year round doesn’t mean we should be consuming them year round. There are many benefits to eating seasonally, which we explore further below!
What does it mean to eat seasonally?
Eating seasonally means purchasing and consuming produce during the time of year at which the produce is harvested. For example, consuming asparagus seasonally in Maryland would occur during the summertime, shortly after its harvest. If you would like to know what produce is available in your area based on the season, this website has mapped out when produce is in season for each region of the country.
Benefits to eating seasonally
- It’s healthier. According to various studies, it was found that nutrient content changes based on the season in which fruits and vegetables are harvested. Not to mention, due to environmental factors, many produce items simply cannot be grown year round in an area. Therefore, produce that is out of season in one area has to be shipped from far away, and has to be covered in waxes and/or preservatives to maintain a fresh appearance. The longer the produce sits in transportation and on a shelf in a store, the more nutrients and antioxidants it loses, resulting in less nutrient dense foods. By choosing locally grown and seasonal foods, you’ll know the produce is fresher and more nutrient dense, and that it has not undergone any unnatural preservative processes. Plus, fresher food means it will taste a lot better!
- You’ll save money. When you buy what’s in season, you buy food that’s at the peak of its supply, and costs less to farmers and distribution companies to harvest and ship them to your grocery store. This makes seasonal food much cheaper for you to buy.
- It’s better for the environment. Eating seasonally often goes hand-in-hand with eating locally. Purchasing locally grown food reduces demand for food to be transported large distances, which requires a lot of energy and contributes greatly to pollution. When your food travels fewer miles to get to your plate, this significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It also helps to maintain the amount of farmland within your community, and direct-to-consumer producers are less likely to use pesticides and herbicides that are harmful to the environment as compared to conventional producers.
- Supports local farmers and boosts the local economy. Money spent locally helps money stay within the community and allows reinvestment to other local businesses. Additionally, food grown, processed, and distributed locally generates jobs within the area.
- You’ll have a greater variety of food in your diet. Eating seasonally can help you enrich your diet and entertain your tastebuds with produce you wouldn’t usually reach for. It also gives you an opportunity to get more creative in the kitchen by experimenting with dishes containing only in-season fruits and veggies (and maybe you’ll even use Sasya dips to spice things up!).
Where to buy local, seasonal produce?
Find your local farmer’s market or consider joining a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, a food production and distribution system that directly connects farmers with consumers. Another option is to grow your own food, whether it be in your backyard, patio or community garden. Even growing a few herbs on your kitchen countertop will help you to reconnect with the earth, and might help you have a greater appreciation for farmers and the food they grow.
Shifting our collective mindset surrounding food is definitely a challenge, but requires participation by everyone in order to change the future of food and to create a more sustainable food system. It starts with each individual, so do your part and try to eat seasonally!