Updated: Jan 1, 2021
All produce has a natural harvest period. While we are accustomed to getting whatever food we’re craving at any time during the year- this wasn’t always possible.
Take, for example, watermelon. When we think of watermelon, we think summer. Because watermelon take over 70 days from sprout to harvest and need consistent sunny 70-90° temperatures to thrive, summer is when the fruit is most abundant. Not so coincidentally, we tend to sweat more in the summer; and watermelon is mostly water. It’s pretty cool how nature naturally produces what our bodies need throughout the seasons.
Seasonal eating is defined as food that is purchased and consumed around the time that it is harvested. So, why is eating seasonally important?
Seasonal food is fresher, tastier, and more nutritious than food consumed out of season. This is mostly because seasonal produce comes from local farms. Depending on where you live “local” can mean a from farm down the street or across the country—which is still better than from a farm across an ocean and/or in a different hemisphere. Either way, the shorter the distance your produce travels after it is harvested, the fresher the food will be.
When consuming locally grown foods, produce ripens naturally. Out-of-season produce is harvested early and ripens as it is shipped and distributed to your local retail store. Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients when allowed to ripen naturally, so it’s a win for your body and the environment!
Try researching CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs and farmers markets in your area to get a taste of what they have to offer. Here’s a link where you can search for your local CSA by zip code: https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/csas
The definition of a CSA has become synonymous with a once-a-week or biweekly box full of local fruits and veggies that are in season, but every CSA operation looks different. Some deliver to your door, and others have specified pick-up locations. Some pick all the fruits and veggies for you, while others allow you to pick and choose options.
The benefits of joining a CSA include:
supporting your local community
eating more produce
experimenting with new foods
I'll continue talking about seasonal eating in the coming weeks with an emphasis on fall (of course)!