Eating “in season” means eating seasonal food, or food that is produced, purchased, and consumed around the time that it’s harvested. The produce available will vary vastly from season to season, from state to state, and from country to country, so it’s important to stay informed about what’s available in your area for the time of year. Eating in-season produce is a sustainable, healthy way to get nutritious fruit and vegetables into your diet, and it should keep you from getting bored with the same old snacks and meals week after week.
Why Is It Important to Eat in Season?
Many people around the world can find almost any ingredient they want in their local grocery store, no matter what season it is. Innovations in growing technology as well as the ability to transport goods all over the world makes this possible ‒ for example, you can find fresh blueberries and tropical fruit in the middle of a New York winter.
While this isn’t inherently a bad thing, the energy and resources that go into supplying the world with produce that isn’t in season are costly. Furthermore, the quality of those items may not be as good as it could be if you’d purchased them locally during the proper season.
Let’s explore the importance of eating seasonally, with the below factors in mind.
The cost of getting those blueberries to your grocery store all the way from where they’re grown is factored into their cost. Buying seasonal, local food supports your local economy. The money you spend on products from local farmers supports their mission and, in turn, allows them to support other local businesses. Seasonal, local food can also be less expensive, since you’re not paying for the convenience of flown-in produce.
The time that it takes for produce to be shipped contributes to its freshness. Most imported produce is picked before it reaches peak ripeness, allowing it to ripen on the trip, in the store, and in your home. Picking produce early is convenient for businesses but doesn’t mean the best flavor or nutritional value for you, the consumer.
Embracing sustainable practices – especially when it comes to what we eat – is top of mind right now. Locally grown, in-season produce is nearly always more sustainably grown and harvested than imported varieties. Imported produce comes on planes and on cargo ships, gets transported on tractor trailers to distribution centers, and then delivered to your grocery store. Local, seasonal produce is transported only when in season, and since it’s local, it travels a shorter distance in a shorter period of time.
Because they’re picked at peak ripeness, foods that are in season contain more vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients than out-of-season foods. Have you noticed that foods that are in season just taste better? Or the reverse ‒ try eating those beloved blueberries in the middle of winter. They are definitely not as plump and juicy as they are in the summer (or if they look plump, they certainly don’t taste it).
The rhythm of nature
Have you ever felt the urge for warmer weather in winter? By eating the foods that are in season in wintertime, it will help your body sync to the season, leading to better nutrition (getting the nutrients your body needs when nature intended for you to stock up on them), increased energy, and an overall stronger sense of satisfaction.
What Is in Season in the Winter?
So now that you have reasons to eat seasonally, what is in season in the winter? That’s going to depend largely on where you live. Seasonal Food Guide is a wonderful resource, allowing you to select your state, the month, and the food you’re interested in. It couldn’t be easier!
Winter produce typically includes:
- Brussels sprouts
- Winter squash
There are also resources in our eating seasonally for winter guide.
Eating Seasonally This Winter
Eating seasonally is always a good idea, but it’s especially important in the winter, when you want to support your immune system to fight stress and sickness like colds and the flu, which can be more difficult during the colder months.
Some people also enjoy giving their digestive system a break by cooking foods and eating them warm—think stews, soups, or simply sautéed or steamed dishes ‒ instead of eating raw foods that are typically consumed during the warmer months (such as salads, fresh fruit, cooling smoothies).
Not only will eating in-season benefit your physical health, it can also provide a sense of connection with nature and your spirituality. Give eating in season a try, and see how you feel! It’s all about finding what foods work for you, which can certainly change from season to season.