Why eat seasonal? Eating seasonal produce ensures that the food you consume has the most flavor and nutrients. By eating locally you are naturally eating seasonally.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are picked at their prime rather than picked before ripeness and stored in temperature controlled factories and force ripened on their way to the store. Also, foods that are picked before ripe are often treated with chemicals and wax to make them look better in the store.
But, what is considered local? The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 defined local and regional food as food that is grown, transported, and marketed less than 400 miles from the origin of the product or “the State in which the product is produced.” (H.R. 2419).
Supporting local farmers helps the local community and helps to maintain farmland and green spaces in your community. Purchasing produce from a local farmer ensures that you are getting seasonal food that has most likely been picked within 24 hours of landing in your kitchen. Speak to the farmer to see how the food is grown. Do they use chemicals? Is it an organic farm? Maybe they use chemicals but it’s a very low amount. Maybe they don't use any chemicals and are not certified organic because the process is too costly.
It is important to be aware of what produce is in season and what is not. When our food system transitioned to a global food system, we found that we could eat some of our favorite foods year round. However, much of the produce in stores that are grown out of season have traveled thousands of miles or do not have the same flavor as those grown in season.
If you really want strawberries in December, consider choosing frozen strawberries. Produce is frozen when it is ripe so you will get more nutrients from the frozen strawberry than from the produce that has traveled thousands of miles. And let’s not forget how much fuel and pollution transporting produce around the globe creates.
Eating seasonal can diversify our diets. Many of us have gotten used to eating the same foods over and over whenever we want. What foods grow in your region? MyPlate has launched seasonal resources https://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplate-mystate . Take a look at what produce is grown in your state and do your best to purchase from a local farmer.
Corey Flynn NDTR, CDM, CFPP
Here is what they mean: Nutrition and Dietetics Technician, Registered; Certified Dietary Manager; and Certified Food Protection Professional. She is also an ACE certified personal trainer.
Corey has degrees in nutrition, photography, and journalism. She enjoys adventure triathlons and hiking. She is currently working on a master’s degree in public policy and management with a concentration in environment and sustainability at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs while working full time and caring for her husband, three children, three cats, a beagle, two geckos, and one goldfish