The changing of the seasons is a great reminder to change our menus.Here are four of the amazing benefits of eating healthy by purchasing local foods in season and organic:
1. It’s Cheaper
It’s simple, really. Food is easier to grow in season, making it more abundant, less time-intensive, and more affordable for consumers. Look for specials on seasonal produce, and plan your meals around that.
2. It’s More Delicious
Seasonal food tastes better than food grown out of season. Foods that have had the chance to ripen naturally before they’ve been picked will taste how they’re supposed to—delicious! Think about strawberries in August compared to the ones you get in January.
3. It’s Healthier
Produce grown in season has more nutrients. Studies have shown that some crops can have up to three times more nutrients when grown in season. Seasonal fruits and vegetables don’t have to travel as far either, so they don’t lose those vital nutrients.
4. It’s Better for the Environment
Seasonal and local foods have to travel much shorter distances than non-local fruits and vegetables, which sometimes travel thousands of miles to get to our local supermarkets. Plus, seasonal foods typically have fewer chemicals. Foods that have been picked too early and travel long distances won’t look as pretty as the seasonal ones that grew to their peak. To make them look more appealing, they’re often given chemical ripening agents, wax coatings, and other preservatives. Seasonal eating greatly reduces the need for these practices, while reducing your carbon footprint.
How To Do It
In the spring, focus on leafy vegetables that represent the fresh new growth of this season. The greening that occurs in springtime should be represented by greens on your plate, including Swiss chard, spinach, romaine lettuce, fresh parsley and basil.
In the summer, stick with light, cooling foods. These foods include fruits like strawberries, apples, pears and plums and vegetables like summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower and corn (non-GMO of course!).
In the fall, turn toward the more warming autumn harvest foods, including carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, and garlic. Emphasize the more warming spices including ginger, peppercorns, and mustard seeds.
In the winter, turn even more towards warming foods. Remember the principle that foods taking longer to grow are generally more warming than foods that grow quickly. All of the animal foods fall into the warming category including fish, chicken, beef and lamb. So do most of the root vegetables, including carrots, potatoes, squash, onions and garlic.