Strawberries and blackberries are available year-round because a large amount of energy is used to transport these Summer berries on refrigerated trucks to your local supermarket. If we were to go back to when refrigerated trucks did not exist, a typical diet consisted of foods that were available according to your local climate and time of year. Not only do refrigerated trucks use a vast amount of energy but by the time your strawberries are picked in South America, flown to the U.S., and trucked to your local grocery the spoilage leads to nutrient loss.
Eating local produce cuts down on energy use and has many positive effects on your overall health and well-being. Adapting to a diet that reflects your local seasons will help your body adapt to your environment better. Fresh seasonal organic produce tastes a whole lot better and contains higher nutritional value that supports your body’s needs.
There’s a reason that you crave watermelon in the Summer and pumpkin in the Fall. Summertime foods are light and refreshing. Watermelon contains electrolyte-rich juice that keeps you hydrated in the heat and protects your skin from damage. Fall foods are comforting and counter the falling leaves and frosty air. Picking and eating fresh apples in the Fall kick starts your immune system while heading into the cold season since they are packed with vitamin C.
Winter foods are warming and satisfying. Butternut squash and carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that enhances and strengthens the immune system. Many of us could probably use the extra immunity boost in the wintertime. Springtime foods are detoxifying. Cherries and asparagus are loaded with antioxidants, which aid digestion, reduce inflammation and help rid the body of free radicals.
Eating seasonally can also impact your wallet because most of the food is at the peak of its supply and costs less for farmers to harvest and get it to your grocery store. Most of the time, I find seasonal organic produce on sale or even cheaper at my local farmers market. If you’re buying local, non-GMO, organic produce then its more likely that your seasonal produce was grown without a lot of human assistance. Toxic compounds and pesticides can contaminate the water, soil and our health.
A few tips on how to eat seasonally:
1) Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box. Find a local farm and see if they offer a CSA program where you’ll get fresh weekly produce delivered to your door. If you’re an Austin local, check out JBG Organic
2) Start a garden. Having a garden is an easy way to get in touch with the seasons and growing produce that adapts to your climate.
3) Shop at your local farmers’ market or health food store. Get to know your local farmers and connect within your community to learn about where your food comes from.
To find out what’s in season in your area, visit Sustainable Table’s Seasonal Food Guide.