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5 Benefits of Purchasing Produce In-Season

Krysta Shannon
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Fruits and vegetables are a wonderful and healthy addition to your diet. Whether you are walking around your supermarket in June or January, you are more than likely to see fresh, vibrant tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, apples and a plethora of other fruits and veggies. But, did you know that there is an actual growing season for all fruits and vegetables?
 
Modern farm practices have practically eliminated the natural growing season of your favorite produce, but with a little research and care, you can find local produce sources that are better for you and the environment. Just think about all of the resources, fuel and associated pollution that single strawberry used to travel 2,000 miles or more by plane, train or truck to get from the field to your supermarket. Food transport accounts for about 10% of the total carbon emissions, and more than 80% of those emissions occur before your food leaves the farm! Imagine if everyone in the United States purchased locally? That 10% impact multiplied by millions of people would make a monumental shift on our collectively negative impact on the environment.
 
By shopping at your local farmer’s market or produce stand, you can reduce the distance traveled from farm to table from thousands of miles to just a handful of miles, significantly decreasing your personal impact on the carbon footprint and the environment.
 

Here are 5 reasons why you should purchase your produce in-season:

 

More Nutritious and Delicious

Fruits and vegetables have a typical growing season, and when you eat those foods in that season, they are typically grown in their ideal location, which makes them more flavorful and packed with the greatest quality of nutrients. Produce that is harvested in its true growing season will be packed with more potent vitamins and nutrients than if it was grown in unnatural conditions, such as a greenhouse. No frozen, canned or spring cob will compare in taste or nutritional value to that sweet ear of corn at a summer barbecue.
 
Seasonal produce is full of vitamins and minerals that assist your body in its natural processes, from increased energy levels to the improved health and complexion of your skin. Here are few key vitamins and minerals found in your favorite produce:
 

  • Vitamin A is packed with good-for-you antioxidants that are essential to your eye health. You can find Vitamin A in: Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Tomatoes, Yellow/Red Bell Peppers, Leafy Greens and Mangoes.
  • Vitamin B (1, 5, 9) keeps our bodies fueled and focused, giving us energy to power through our day. Eat your Vitamin B in: Avocado, Beans, Bananas, Oranges, Leafy Greens and Mushrooms.
  • Vitamin C is great for overall good health and improved immunity. Find high levels of Vitamin C in: Potatoes, Kiwi Fruit, Broccoli, Oranges, Leafy Greens and Mangoes.
  • Vitamin E is an all-around beneficial vitamin that aids in healing and the prevention of disease. Get your fill of Vitamin E from: Avocados, Carrots, Tomatoes, Apples and Whole Grains.
  • Vitamin K gives you a correct response to injuries and aids in your blood properly clotting. Find Vitamin K in: Lentils, Leafy Greens, Broccoli and Peas.
  • Calcium is essential for strong teeth and bones. Load up on Calcium with: Almonds, Leafy Greens, Broccoli and Watercress.
  • Iron is key to providing energy and reducing fatigue. Feeling sluggish? Get your fill of: Beans/Lentils, Figs, Dates, Cabbage, Leafy Greens and Pumpkin Seeds.
  • Magnesium is essential to allow your cells to perform their intended functions optimally. Find magnesium in: Almonds/Cashews, Avocados, Bananas, Apples, Leafy Greens, Apricots and Whole Grains.
  • Zinc plays an important role in your body’s immune function. You can find Zinc in: Almonds, Lentils, Pumpkin Seeds, Leafy Greens and Sesame Seeds.

 

Easier on Your Wallet

In addition to a healthier diet, you can stretch your weekly food budget by incorporating produce during its natural growing season into your meals. When produce is purchased within its natural season, it is typically found in abundance, and by the rules of supply and demand, it is typically less expensive than other times of the year. So, look for those seasonal fruits and veggies that are typically on sale at your local farmer’s markets and supermarkets.
 
A great tip is to shop later in the week, as many produce stands will offer discounts as the produce ripens and loses its shelf live. Even if you buy bananas that are ripe and ready to be eaten, you don’t need to eat a whole bunch at once. Save one or two and then toss the rest in a freezable container and pop it in the freezer, so you can have it available when you need it to make a smoothie or bread down the road. You can also buy in bulk and use a dehydrator to make healthy on-the-go fruit and veggie bites. Or, make your own jams and sauces and then can them and save them in your pantry for future meals. Get a little creative with your preservation methods, or just eat what is naturally available, so each season will have a fresh new plethora of flavors and meal options to keep your palate satisfied.
 

Better On the Environment

The travel distance between where your produce was grown and your local supermarket makes a huge impact on the environment. By choosing products grown in their natural growing season, you can significantly reduce the energy and resources required to transport your products from the farm to your kitchen table.
 
For instance, apples are a fall harvest, so if you see an apple in the middle of winter, it was probably grown either far away in a distant country or in a greenhouse, either of which will deplete nutrients and taste. The same goes for juicy, plump tomatoes. The tomatoes that are sun ripened in June will taste better and likely travel a much shorter distance than one you purchase in November, which was likely grown in a greenhouse and refrigerated early to prevent spoiling during transport.
 
The best way to ensure that your produce has minimal travel is to shop locally. Not only does your purchase support local small business, but you know that your impact on the environment is minimized. The quality of your produce will also likely be much better, without dents, dings or soft spots. Shopping locally is better on your wallet and the environment, and your taste buds will thank you too.
 

 

Diversify Your Culinary Skills

If you only purchase produce in season, you can experiment with new fruits and veggies that you may have never tried before. This experimentation can do wonders for the diversity of your cuisines. For instance in the fall, squashes are in season. Squash offers a great deal of versatility to your dishes – you can mash it, bake it, fry it, grill it, roast it, saute it or blend it in with your next soup, stew or sauce.
 
Don’t let your seasonal meals become boring! Look up new recipes online, or use websites that help you find a recipe that centers around a specific ingredient. Don’t know where to start? Go to your local market, see what is fresh or catches your eye, and explore new flavor profiles. Employees of local food stores are full of useful information and are always happy to answer any questions you may have.
 

Shop Smartly

Become educated in what is local to your region and to the current shopping season. Depending on where you live, there could be a variety of produce options that aren’t available elsewhere.
 
Here is a quick reference guide for you to take with you on your next shopping trip:
 
shopping-in-season
 
It is best to eat produce in season whenever possible. No matter if you live in the country or a large city, there are local farms and farmer’s markets where you can find fresh produce that is grown locally and tastes better than anything that traveled 2,000 miles to your supermarket shelf. Explore your local region and try out new fruits and vegetables. Who knows, you might discover your next favorite addition to your dinner or dessert tonight!
 

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Krysta Shannon

Krysta is a staff writer and product review guru at YogiApproved. She believes in the powers of healing crystals and essential oils, and never leaves home without them. Krysta is a true Jersey girl (in the best sort of way) who embraces a non-toxic and all-natural lifestyle.

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