Produce displayed in wooden buckets.

Eating in Season — What are the Benefits?

Modern life has given us the luxury of eating whatever foods we’d like, year-round, as food is now shipped thousands of miles from vastly different climates before ending up on our dinner plate. Our early ancestors would be astounded by the selection of produce available to us in today’s supermarkets!

If you happen to love cake topped with mounds of fresh berries, but your birthday is in January, then this marvel of modern food production is something to celebrate. That said, it’s important to consider – are there advantages to letting nature take the lead when it comes to our eating? Absolutely! Eating in season has so many benefits.

Here are some of the great reasons to stick to in-season produce as much as possible:

  1. Taste Advantages: When produce isn’t in season locally, it’s often shipped long distances, which means it’s harvested well before it’s fully ripened. This results in a loss of flavor and moisture. When it comes to produce, a long shelf life usually has a negative impact when it comes to taste.
  2. Environmental Advantages:
    Transporting food long distances takes its toll on our environment, contributing significantly to greenhouse gas production, particularly carbon dioxide. Switching over to eating in-season, local produce is a simple, impactful way to reduce our personal carbon footprint.
  3. Health Advantages:
    Produce loses nutrients quickly after harvesting, so reducing the time between when fruits and vegetable are picked and when they are consumed is important for our health. Eating in-season is a great way to reduce this gap as much as possible.
  4. Cost Advantages:
    When produce is in season locally, it’s going to cost less for the simple fact that there is so much of it available. So eating in season is a great way to stretch your food budget as far as it can go, while still eating healthfully.

What are some strategies for eating in season? Well, for one, notice which items at your supermarket are labeled local, and challenge yourself to buy as much local, in-season produce as you can. If you’re faced with ingredients you don’t know how to cook, don’t despair! Scour recipe books and websites to find ways to expand your culinary comfort zone.

Another great place to find fantastic, in-season produce is by checking out your local farms. Many sell produce at local farmers markets, and may even offer CSA programs, allowing you to purchase in-season produce directly. Finally, consider growing your own. Eating food that you’ve grown yourself is so satisfying!

At Honest to Goodness, we think there’s something a little fun about getting excited for blackberry season, pumpkin season, or kale season. It gives us a chance to miss cooking with (and eating) certain foods, and then rediscovering them all over again next year! Eating in-season can lead us all to try a wider variety of foods. This is good for our health, so eating in season can be a really easy form of self-care. And there’s nothing more important than our health, especially right now!

For more reading, This great infographic from The American Heart Association outlines what foods are in season when.