Eating With the Seasons
March 22, 2012
Spring is finally here. Maybe you’re looking forward to warmer, longer days, or perhaps you can’t wait to chew on a juicy, sweet strawberry or cherry.
Why is it that berries and cherries taste better in the springtime? Certain lettuces, peas, and oranges are extra delicious during this time of year, too. It’s due to the same reason that apples and squash are so irresistible during the Fall months: Because they’re in season.
Produce can only grow and be harvested during certain months of the year in a specific location. Fresh fruits and veggies that are currently being harvested in your area are said to be “in season”. But that fresh produce that you have at your fingertips today is not currently growing or ready to eat in other parts of the world.
However, thanks to today’s large global marketplace, it is possible to eat virtually any fruit or vegetable at almost any time of the year. But buying foods when they’re out of season isn’t necessarily best for your taste buds, health, wallet, or local economy. Eating foods when they’re in season boasts several benefits. When foods are in season:
- They pack more of a nutritional punch. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is ideal for your health. If you crave a food when it’s out of season, you may need to buy it frozen or canned. But canned, frozen, or dried produce tends to contain added salt, sugar and/or preservatives.
- They taste best. Harvesting foods when they’re in season means flavors are at their peak. Anyone who’s eaten a sour tomato likely agrees that eating foods in season just tastes better!
- You support your local economy. Eating in season means you purchase foods when they’re available in your area. Your hard-earned dollar goes directly to the farmer and you support your local economy. When you buy produce at large chain stores, the money is divided up between the grocery chain, shipping company, and farmer.
- You help the environment. When you eat food when it’s not in season, know that it traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles to get to your kitchen. Shipping foods long distances causes carbon dioxide emissions that harm the environment.
- You save money. When foods are in season, they cost less. What’s more, you won’t pay the premium that’s added to food that’s scarce or shipped from far away. Shopping at local farmers’ markets may save you even more money.