Nutrition Articles

Seasonal Foods

Exceptional Flavor & Nutrition that Fits in Your Budget

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You ate them in February, from half a continent away, and they were flat and bland—passable, but nothing to write home about. Now, you take a bite from one grown half a mile away, and it’s spectacular—sweet, juicy, and flavorful.

We’re talking in this particular instance about tomatoes, but we could say the same thing about any of a dozen produce items you’ll find at your local farmer’s market now. 'Tis the season to eat fresh, as the tender new growth of spring ripens into the rich abundance of summer. So why settle for "so-so" when you can savor the sensational? Consider the benefits of eating foods at the peak of their season. Seasonal foods…
  • serve up the most flavor.
  • pack the biggest nutritional punch.
  • boost your budget.
  • are  tied to the special days and seasons of our lives: sweet, luscious watermelon paired with the memory of fireflies and fireworks; fragrant hearty soups that temper winter’s chill; sweet young vegetables that accompany spring’s first warm day.
As consumers today, we’re very lucky in some respects. The crisscross networks of our global village provide things our ancestors could only dream about, such as oranges in December. On the other hand, as we shed our rural roots, we tend to lose sight of the seasonal rhythm of life, relying heavily on processed foods and a worldwide distribution system that makes our grocery shelves look pretty much the same year-round. The out-of-season produce we buy has often traversed 1,000 miles or more by the time it reaches our kitchens—with a corresponding loss of flavor and nutrition and an increase in wax coatings, chemical ripening agents, and other preservatives.

But locally-grown seasonal foods often harmonize with our nutritional needs. For example, the beta carotene in the orange pigment of pumpkins and other squash will help bolster your immune system just in time to help ward off winter colds. And the oils of nuts—fats in their purest form—will provide nutrient-rich calories that help keep you warm as the temperature drops.

In fact, recent research shows that eating seasonally may have major health implications. A British study in 1997 found significant differences in the nutritional contents of pasteurized milk in summer as opposed to winter: iodine was higher in the winter, while beta-carotene (an antioxidant and immune system booster that helps the body create vitamin A) was higher in the summer. Similarly, a Japanese study found a three-fold difference in the vitamin C content of spinach harvested in summer versus that harvested in winter.

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About The Author

Rebecca Pratt Rebecca Pratt
A freelance writer who contributes to various newspapers and magazines, Becky loves covering ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Member Comments

  • This is a really great article and people who believe they can't afford to eat healthy seasonal produce is the ticket. - 8/29/2015 12:27:51 PM
  • This is a nice article but the "Farmer's Markets" in our area are all commercialized. The venders there go to the warehouses that all the grocery stores use and then sell the stuff as home grown. There is a huge difference is vegetables commercially grown and those home grown. We do have some roadside stands that I do buy from.

    The thing to do is to make sure you are getting actual home grown foods and not those from a warehouse or green house. - 8/29/2015 9:49:02 AM
  • This is my ninth year planting my garden and I enjoy everyday of getting out there taking care of my garden. I love when it come to canning them. I enjoy looking at them in the jar. They look so pretty and I stack them in order so when I go to get something to cook I know where everything is. In order. - 5/20/2013 9:49:52 AM
  • Just this morning my chiropractor talked about his favorite place to pick blueberries-- the only organic blueberry farm in the area. They are a small farm and don't spend the money to get certified, but they assure people they don't use pest sprays or manufactured fertilizers. And my C. swears they are bigger and tastier than anything he has ever tasted. A great testimony for all things good, local, with your own hand involved in someway, even if it's picking 15 pounds on a spring morning. - 4/29/2013 5:25:42 PM
  • While the article was good, it lacked some detail.

    I found a great article that lists in-seson produce, month-by-month.
    -vegetables-by-the-month - 1/9/2013 12:57:28 PM
  • I love the writer's style and concur perfectly with her thinking. Totally inspiring,
    informative and easy to read. - 12/17/2011 4:47:40 PM
    This is a great article for people like me that have never been fruit and vegetable eaters because it tells you what is in season when. My husband and I were just discussing this morning that we had no clue what is in season when as we both fit in this category. However, my Publix pharmacist is working with me and wants me on an all natural or organic diet. Therefore, I needed to learn these things. Thank you for this article. - 6/15/2011 12:14:25 PM
  • What a great article. I have a couple of suggestions. Buy tangerines. In most stores you can find them in bags. They are a great portable snack, easy to peel and taste great. Also, find a vegetable on sale that you've never had before and try it in a recipe. You may find a hidden winner for you. - 6/12/2011 1:08:14 AM
  • Enjoyed completely, with fruits and vegetables coming in season, this article helps a lot. I have already started looking for recipes and where farmers' markets are in my area. Thanks for the good word.... Michele142 - 5/9/2011 11:13:59 PM
  • I think this is overall a great article and will help me as I am learning how to cook for the first time. One thing I wish it had mentioned, however, is to utilize your local farmer's markets, not just the grocery store. They definitely have fresh produce that is in season, plus it puts money back into your own community. Just a thought. - 4/20/2011 12:46:40 AM
  • I'm getting ready to start my 2011 garden! Fresh peppers and tomatoes! And I don't even have a backyard. Container gardens work great. - 3/29/2011 12:11:05 PM
  • I think it's funny that this article both tells us to by in season and then also says to try tropical mangoes, which aren't really in season anywhere in the states. I'm pretty sure the mangoes in our grocery stores come from Mexico or somewhere else out of country. (Tho, I don't have anything against fact, I love them!) - 3/28/2011 11:47:13 PM
  • I buy fresh fruits and veggies during season, when they are much cheaper, in bulk and freeze them to use during the cool months. You may have to parboil some, but not all. You won't have raw veggies, but they cook up quite well. I put about 1 c. of a veggie/fruit in one of the cheap, fold-over plastic bags and then put all little bags of the veggie/fruit in a large freezer bag which I label. That way, I only need to take out however much I need on any particular day. Of course, fresh, raw veggies and fruits are the best, but such things, with lots of flavor, aren't always available or are very expensive. - 3/28/2011 5:45:58 PM
  • Start a garden! My mom has gotten me addicted to fresh fruits and veggies that she grows organically in her garden. She's got all the grandkids in the dirt and even started little gardens for my kids... She's going to help me start my own this year. Yum! - 3/28/2011 12:41:31 PM
  • Nothing better than fresh summer fruit! Excellent article. - 8/10/2010 11:29:23 AM

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