4 Reasons to Eat In-Season This Summer
Summer may have you thinking about longer days, warm beaches, outdoor dining and fresh fruits and vegetables. With endless options in the grocery store, what helps you decide which produce to purchase? Here is something to think about the next time your are planning meals – eating in season.
What does “eating in season” mean? Seasonal produce is food that is purchased and consumed shortly after the time it has been harvested. This differs from out-of-season produce, which is made available in grocery stores by refrigeration of fruits and vegetables that were harvested early. There are a number of reasons why it is beneficial to opt for in-season fruits and vegetables.
Seasonal Produce Tastes Better
Have you ever noticed berries and cantaloupe taste sweeter and juicer in the summer? Because seasonal fruits and vegetables are harvested at prime ripeness, they not only taste fresher but are more flavorful than produce that is harvested early. Early harvested fruits and vegetables don’t have that extra time for the flavors to get richer, plus the refrigeration that keeps them fresh during transport reduces flavor as well.
Seasonal Produce Is More Nutrient Dense
Similarly, seasonal produce is richer in nutrients when compared to produce picked out of season. This is in part a result of being picked at peak ripeness versus early harvesting. Additionally, produce that is harvested out of season needs to be stored for a longer period of time due to transportation or because it is being sold at a later date. This leaves time for nutrients to break down. Nutrient content of antioxidants such as antioxidants vitamin C, carotene and folate can decline quickly in storage. So not only will seasonal fruit taste fresher and more flavorful, it will be packed with more nutrients too.
Seasonal Produce Can Help Support Local Farmers
Seasonal fruits and vegetables purchased from local farmers are typically even fresher due to lack of transport time. By supporting local farmers, you can help support your local economy by spending money that will be reinvested in other local businesses and will help generate jobs to further support the local growing and distribution of produce.
Seasonal Produce Is Better for the Environment
Purchasing seasonal produce can help conserve energy. Typically, produce that is sold out of season requires more energy for production, preservation and transportation. For instance, refrigeration, hot houses, irradiation and transportation can all be part of the process to make out-of-season produce available. Reducing this use of energy and transportation time can also help reduce gas emissions and promote cleaner airways and waterways. Supporting local farms can also help keep farmland and open space in the community, which helps reduce the amount of resources used in developed land as well.
So, what produce is in season?
Seasonal summer fruits include:
Lemons & Limes
Seasonal summer vegetables include:
Need some ideas to incorporate these foods? Try an easy cucumber and tomato salad, or a radish and mango salsa as a side at a barbecue. Carrots, peppers and corn are great for roasting on the grill, and fresh berries and sliced nectarines make for a sweet addition to any salad.
Adding seasonal fruits and vegetables to your diet will not only make for a more visually appealing plate, but provide a fresh, nutrient-dense meal that helps promote environmental sustainability.
Learn more about healthy eating and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.