How to Incorporate Seasonal Foods Into Your Diet
Did you know that eating with the seasons can help keep your energy levels high, contribute to your overall well-being, and benefit your local economy?
Seasonal eating was traditionally the standard, but became less common due to innovations in refrigeration and transportation. And as much as we may want to eat seasonally, these days, it doesn't always seem like the easiest option. To help, we've compiled a few tips for makingpositive adjustments to your diet with the changing seasons!
Find Inspiration Locally
The average distance that produce travels from farm to shelf is roughly 1,500 miles. This prompts the question: Why are most of our vegetables grown in the Imperial Valley of California when there are farms throughout the country? You can be proactive about eating seasonally by visiting local farmer's markets, farm stands, and seafood markets to find inspiration. The farmers and shop keepers may even have great recipe ideas they'd love to share!
by Cheryl S. Grant
If you buy produce items out of season, they've likely been shipped from overseas and picked when they're less mature to ensure that they won't spoil en route. In this case, you lose flavor and nutritional benefits. By shopping locally, you can select foods that are grown closer to you, picked later in their growth cycles, and sold sooner. Check out this list from the USDA to learn more about what fruits and vegetables are available during each season.
So, instead of adding imported cucumbers to your fall and winter salads, try green apples, pears, or beets. Best of all, having more fruits and veggies in your diet can help you boost your immune system and navigate flu season without a sniffle!
Buy Extra and Freeze
One of the most appreciated values of eating with the seasons is that it can save you money. It's less expensive for growers to distribute and deliver foods locally, and those savings get passed on to you! Consider buying extra when products are at their peak to take advantage of the low seasonal prices.
You can dice and freeze fruits like peaches, plums, and raspberries, thaw them in later months, and throw them into a tasty smoothie or bake them into pies. This strategy works well with just about every summer fruit!
Love fresh, homemade tomato sauce? Make a large batch in August during the tomato's seasonal peak and freeze it. Do the same with sweet peppers and toss them into your favorite stew or chili during the winter.
Keep It Simple!
Since many seasonal, local foods are both nutrient-rich and flavorful, you don't have to do much to make them delicious! Spring greens that are fresh from the farm can easily be tossed with some vinaigrette, tomatoes, olive oil, and basil to make a flavorful salad. Fresh squash (or brussels sprouts) can be roasted with herbs and added to any dinner. Fall apples paired with a slice of your favorite cheese can make for an excellent snack, and oranges are at their seasonal peak in the middle of winter — all you have to do is peel them.
As you can see, eating with the seasons isn't as hard as it may seem. It just takes some thought and planning. With these tips in mind, check out the delicious, healthful, and farm-fresh options you may have previously overlooked at your local grocery store, farm stand, or community-supported agricultural market — and try out some great seasonal food!