Nutrition Articles

Seasonal Foods

Exceptional Flavor & Nutrition that Fits in Your Budget

516SHARES
In practical terms, this means that you’ll get the most nutrition—not to mention the most affordable enjoyment—by eating seasonally. Although the exact season for specific items varies from region to region (you’ll almost certainly get that big beefsteak tomato much earlier in Georgia than in Ohio), follow these basic guidelines for optimal nutrition and taste:
  • In spring, pick the new growth of the season: tender leafy vegetables such as spinach, Romaine or leaf lettuces, Swiss chard, and early peas, as well as fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, and dill.
  • For summer, try lighter produce, with fruits such as strawberries, pears, apples, and plums, and vegetables such as summer squash, broccoli, corn, and cauliflower. You can also incorporate other summer-type herbs, such as mint or cilantro.
  • During fall, choose hearty harvest foods, including sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic. When cooking, emphasize “warmer” spices and seasonings such as peppercorns, ginger, and mustard seeds.
  • In winter, also pick hearty foods. Keep in mind the principle that foods which take longer to grow are generally more sustaining than foods that grow quickly. In this category are most root vegetables, including carrots, potatoes, onions and garlic, as well as eggs, corn, and nuts.
As you choose the best foods of the season, remember that the healthiest and most enjoyable diet involves diversity. Although you may have to compromise sometimes due to convenience and time constraints, try as much as possible to make food shopping and cooking an adventure, something you can enjoy or share with family members. Try these tips to enhance the journey:
  • Focus on the fresh, minimizing the use of prepared foods as much as possible. When you must use prepared foods, make an effort to embellish them with one or more fresh ingredients.
  • Pick a new produce item to try every week, whether the neglected rutabaga or the tropical mango.
  • Cook at least one new dish each week, and look for recipes that will help you get acquainted with new ingredients. You can subscribe to a food magazine, plug in keywords on the Internet, or even swap new recipes with friends. Since food writers generally base their topics and menus on the foods of the season, take advantage of their offerings to reward yourself with wholesome, tasty meals.
  • Experiment with regional or ethnic dishes. Most regional cuisines, developed in horse-and-buggy times, used local ingredients close by. Exploring new foods will keep mealtime both interesting and healthy.
  • Don’t forget to take advantage of the useful food information your grocer provides. Whether you consult those little description cards that hang above specific fruits and veggies, or hold a friendly discussion with the produce manager on how to peel the leaves of an artichoke, you’ll find a wealth of ideas about preparing food.
Let the backdrop of the seasons be your guide to happy and healthy eating—you’ll find that Mother Nature does indeed know best!
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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 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.
    http://www.wise
    bread.com/fre
    sh-fruits-and
    -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
  • TRACYPROSE
    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 mangoes...in 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
  • JOURNEYSLC
    I wanted to state that the article mentions Apples for Summer foods. And in reality Apples are a Fall to Winter fruit, as they are harvested at peak in October. So Summer Apples will be water cored and mealy. But a Ocober Apple will is just delicious! I know this because my family has a 500 acre apple orchard in Washington State. Thanks ;o) - 6/4/2010 11:29:29 AM
  • I subscribe to a newsletter called Eat the Seasons (there are US and UK/Europe versions) and they tell you what's in season and give recipe suggestions. I use this as a guide.

    I buy a lot of my produce from the market, my fish from a fish monger, and my meat from the butcher. So I tend to know what's seasonal because that's usually reflected in the price. Things in season tend to be abundant and cheaper. - 4/19/2010 1:01:36 PM

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