How to Eat Seasonally This Summer
Ahh, summer is in full swing, and with it, summer produce! Seasonal fruits and vegetables are typically grown closer to home and naturally ripened on the vine, bush, or tree. This means that fruits and vegetables are more flavorful: think sweeter peaches and cherries, and crunchier corn and grapes! Seasonal produce is often easier on the wallet, as foods require less transportation. In addition, buying produce seasonally has benefits for the environment, too. Local produce reduces transportation distances, thus carbon emissions. Plus, buying seasonal produce from local farms puts money back into the local economy, so it’s a win-win.
Need more reasons to eat seasonally? Seasonal fruits and vegetables not only provide essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium, they are also packed with antioxidant compounds Research suggests that antioxidant compounds found in fruits and vegetables may help heal and protect our cells from oxidative stress and support immune health. Certain antioxidants can also help protect against free radical damage and UV exposure to our DNA. Plants develop these antioxidants to protect themselves against damaging sun exposure. By eating these plants, antioxidants can protect our cells, too. These compounds give plants their colors, so reach for dark purple eggplant, bright green cucumbers, and rich red strawberries when you shop.
3 Ways to Eat More Seasonal Produce
1. Shop Smart. Check grocery store ads and displays for sales on seasonal produce. The grocery store is full of a variety of fruits and vegetables year round, so look up what is in season here.
2. Visit a local Farmer’s Market or Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Program. This will ensure you are getting locally grown, in-season produce. Farmer’s markets often allow you to taste test produce, so ask for samples and cooking tips for new-to-you fruits and vegetables. CSA programs similarly offer a wide variety of seasonal produce that can be boxed for pick-up or delivered to your door.
3. Start a Garden. Want to know exactly how your produce is grown? Do it yourself. Herbs, leafy greens, and tomatoes are summer favorites that can grow in even the most limited spaces. Cucumbers, squash, peppers, and melons can thrive in garden boxes, while passion fruit vines, bean stalks, and stone fruit trees are great choices for open spaces. Assess your space and get growing!
For more summer eating advice, check out:
Written by Meghan La Rose, Dietetic Intern with Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN
Image: Ratatouille with White Beans, Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN