Wondering why and how to eat seasonally? Seasonal eating can be healthier and more budget and eco-friendly too. Here’s how to start!
How to Eat Seasonally to Improve Your Health, Save Money, and Benefit Planet Earth
- How to Eat Seasonally to Improve Your Health, Save Money, and Benefit Planet Earth
- 5 Reasons to Consider Eating Seasonally and Locally
- Seasonal Food Guide – What's in Season When
- How to Get Started with Seasonal Eating
It turns out that this simple concept is not only a healthier way to eat though; eating in season can also save you money and benefit our Planet Earth too. Here’s a seasonal eating guide – why you might consider adopting this practice and how to get started.
A long time ago, eating seasonally would have simply been eating fruits and veggies as they grow and are harvested. But thanks to modern day transportation and agriculture, food can travel thousands of miles to get to us. That means we can eat almost anything we want, whenever we want.
Consider fresh produce like strawberries. We know that strawberries have a specific growing season (late spring to summer) and they taste better when they are harvested and eaten in that growing season. Thanks to modern day transportation though, we can now eat fresh strawberries even in the winter.
Do those strawberries taste good? Not necessarily. But they are available and many people now eat strawberries all year long instead of only during the spring and summer months.
5 Reasons to Consider Eating Seasonally and Locally
Despite the availability of all types of fresh food all throughout the year, a lot of people are returning to the concept of seasonal eating. This type of eating has numerous benefits, both for your health and for the environment:
- More nutrient rich food
- Better taste
- Fewer fossil fuels required for transportation
- Less packaging material wasted
- Budget friendly
For example, seasonal fruits and vegetables are typically more nutrient-rich than those that have been shipped long distances and stored for long periods. Instead of being picked at peak ripeness, many fruit and vegetables are now picked prior to ripening to lengthen shelf life.
Food lasts longer now, but it sure doesn’t taste any better. And it’s also not as nutritious when it’s been picked prior to ripening.
The benefits of seasonal eating are not limited to the taste and quality of food, either; seasonal eating is also more sustainable. We don’t have to waste nearly as many fossil fuels to transport food when we eat what’s currently in season in our local area.
Another great benefit of seasonal eating is that you can save a lot of money on food.
In this post, we’ll explore the many benefits of seasonal eating and share some ideas for you to start incorporating more seasonal foods into your diet.
Seasonal Eating for Fresher, More Nutritious Food
One of the main benefits of seasonal eating is that it allows you to eat fresher, more nutrient-dense foods. Foods are most nutritious right when they are harvested, so seasonal eating ensures that you’re getting the most vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants possible from your diet.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and are typically shipped shorter distances than non-seasonal produce, meaning they lose fewer nutrients in transit.
In addition to being more nutritious, fresh, seasonal foods also tend to taste better than their out-of-season counterparts. If you’ve ever eaten fresh fruit or vegetables right after picking them from your garden, you already know how much better they can taste than the grocery store versions.
This also means that frozen fruits and vegetables are often one of the best alternatives to fresh, in-season, local produce. Since they’re picked at just the right moment and frozen almost immediately, frozen produce retains more of the nutrients than it would with other preservation methods.
Eat Local Grown for A Smaller Eco-Footprint
Eating local, in-season food is far more sustainable than consuming foods that have been shipped long distances. The food miles associated with seasonal produce are much lower than those of non-seasonal foods, which reduces your carbon footprint.
If you shop at farmer’s markets or grow your own food, you can also avoid the excess packaging that often comes with store-bought produce. That’s another very effective way to reduce your impact on the environment.
The more you can eat seasonally, the more environmentally friendly your diet can be.
In Season Food is Better for Your Budget
Seasonal eating can also help you spend less on groceries. In-season produce is typically less expensive than out-of-season options since it is more readily available.
If you want to maximize your savings, consider stocking up on certain items when they’re in season and preserving them for other times. This is a way to eat seasonally while also reducing food waste.
For example, each summer you could make a large batch of spaghetti sauce with an abundance of fresh tomatoes. You’ll use some, then you can freeze or can some of it to use throughout the year.
Seasonal Food Guide – What’s in Season When
So how do you get started eating seasonally? First of all, you need to know what foods are in season. Here are some examples of seasonal produce for each season:
- Spring Seasonal Eating: asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, greens
- Summer Seasonal Eating: tomatoes, corn, watermelon, zucchini, watermelon, peaches
- Autumn Seasonal Eating : pumpkins, squash, apples, pears, sweet potatoes, brussels sprout
- Winter Seasonal Eating: root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, onions; citrus fruits; cabbage
As you can see, many traditional holiday dishes tend to incorporate seasonal food. There’s a reason why pumpkin and apple pie are so common at the Thanksgiving table – they’re very abundant during the fall!
How to Get Started with Seasonal Eating
Now that you know some of the benefits of seasonal eating and what foods are in season during each season, you may be wondering how to incorporate more seasonal foods into your diet.
Start eating a seasonal diet:
Grow a garden
If you have the space, consider growing your own fruits and vegetables. You’ll be able to enjoy fresh, seasonal produce right from your backyard!
Even if you don’t have your own yard to plant a garden, you can try growing food in containers inside near a window or on a balcony. Tomatoes and peppers do well in containers, as do many herbs.
Visit local farmer’s markets
Farmers’ markets are great places to find seasonal produce. Not only will you be able to find a wide variety of in-season fruits and vegetables, but you’ll also likely be able to purchase them at a lower cost than you would at the grocery store.
Shopping for groceries at the farmer’s market is also just an excellent way to support your local economy. You can probably find other great handmade items there, too.
Incorporate seasonal produce into your meals
You don’t have to learn to cook all over again to eat seasonally! You can easily use seasonal fruits and vegetables in a variety of recipes. Try making omelets or a salad with in-season vegetables.
Replace store-bought sauces with your homemade versions using seasonal produce. Get creative and experiment with different ways to incorporate them into your diet.
Eat wildcrafted and foraged foods
In addition to seasonal fruits and vegetables, there are also many wildcrafted and foraged foods that are available during certain times of the year. Spring and summer are particularly great times to find wild food like asparagus, plums, apples, and berries.
Preserve seasonal foods for later
If you find yourself with a surplus of seasonal produce, consider preserving it for later. You can do this by pickling, freezing, or canning. You might make soups or sauces to preserve or simply chop up vegetables and fruit to use in recipes later.
A simple way to preserve most fruits, berries, and veggies is to cut them to your desired size, spread them on a cookie sheet, and freeze them. Once they’re frozen you can put them in a freezer bag and store them that way for several months. Frozen cut produce is great for adding directly to soups, sauces, baked goods, and other recipes.
Eating seasonal foods is a great way to improve your health and support sustainable agriculture. So next time you’re at the grocery store or farmers market, make an effort to purchase some seasonal produce. Your taste buds and your wallet will thank you!