When you think of summer and your favorite things to eat during those months, you’re likely thinking of big slices of ripe, juicy watermelon. Or maybe grilled corn on the cob dripping with butter. How about a crunchy, fresh-from-the-garden cucumber? If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you’re already taking advantage of seasonal eating benefits.
What is seasonal eating?
Seasonal eating means eating food that is bought and eaten very closely to when it was actually harvested. There are so many reasons eating seasonal is essential to a healthy lifestyle. We’ll break down a few of the seasonal eating benefits below.
- Buying what’s in season is cheaper.
- You’re supporting your local economy.
- Seasonal eating is healthier.
- Eating what’s in season tastes better.
Seasonal eating costs less.
When you buy food that’s in season you’ll likely buy it way cheaper than it costs out-of-season.
For instance, let’s look at strawberries. Starting about May through later summer, we typically find a pint of organic strawberries in the $2-3 range. However, in the middle of winter, that same pint is closer to $5-6. One of our favorite spring veggies is asparagus. You can find it hovering around $1-1.50/pound in the spring months. (P.S. We love asparagus so much, we have 23 ways to make it in this post here.)
You’ll likely save even more money if you stick to recommendations for the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen. (You can grab a free printable reminder list for that here.)
You’re supporting your local economy when you shop what’s in season.
When you support local growers and producers, you’re supporting your local economy. That money could be reinvested in other community businesses.
You can ask your local growers exactly how your food is grown, and what, if any, pesticides or chemicals they use. If you’re buying meat or eggs, you can find out what types of practices they use with animals.
If you’re in the Huntington, WV tri-state area, our personal favorite local producer hub to shop is The Wild Ramp in Central City. It’s been around for 8 years, and in that time they’ve returned $1.8 million dollars back to producers.
Side Note: What is a ramp?
These are ramps. They are a flavor mashup of a leek, shallot, and maybe even a little garlic. They are super pungent and only sprout up for a few weeks in early spring. It’s an Appalachian delicacy! If you manage to get your hands on some, just know a little goes a long way in terms of flavor! Try a ramp pesto, fried or mashed potatoes with ramps, or in a seasonal pasta dish.
Seasonal eating is healthier and tastes better.
Eating in season can also mean eating more locally than you could by just picking up random fruits and veggies at the grocery store. That means food is fresher, (probably) tastes better, and keeps more of the nutrients since it won’t have to travel long distance to reach your kitchen.
Crops are likely picked at the peak of ripeness instead of having to be artificially ripened.
How Do I Know What’s in Season?
Obviously, what’s in season varies from region to region. You can find out more about what’s in season in your neck of the woods in this Seasonal Food Guide. Just input your location and the time of year and it will give you a good indication of what’s available in season to you.
If you want a printable seasonal eating guide to keep handy, you can find each season here.
Seasonal eating for spring
- Spring Produce Guide (SNAP-Ed)
- Collard Greens
- Garlic Scapes
- Swiss Chard
Seasonal Produce for Summer
- Bell Peppers
- Green Beans
- Honeydew Melon
- Lima Beans
- Summer Squash
How Can I Shop Locally for Produce?
We mentioned The Wild Ramp in Huntington. They also have a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and a mobile Farmer’s Market that moves around in the summer months.
Besides the indoor market, Cabell County also has a Farmer’s Market behind the Wild Ramp on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from late June through late October. Starting in June in West Virginia, the Village of Barboursville also has a Farmer’s Market (Farmdale Road) each Wednesday and Saturday.
Another option throughout the southern part of West Virginia is the Turnrow Appalachian Collective Market. They have 10 distribution sites you can choose from through their online farmer’s market. You can get fresh produce, meat, dairy, eggs, and value-added goods like rolls, soaps, broths, etc. It’s a VERY cool program. Just look at this head of lettuce from one of their local growers!
Ask for local recommendations. Use your favorite social media to ask your friends where they buy local.
How to Use Seasonal Produce in Meal Planning
At Fourganic Sisters, we’re all about the seasonal meal plans. You likely won’t see soups on our summer meal plans or grilled steak in the winter. We use healthy, whole-food, seasonal ingredients that make the most of your grocery budget.
Summary of Seasonal Eating Benefits
Hopefully by now you have an appreciation of seasonal eating benefits. We’ve shown you how seasonal eating saves money and keeps your healthy eating habits on track.
We’d love for you to share these benefits with your friends! Pin the image below or share to your favorite social media channel.
You can check out our seasonal meal boards on Pinterest for inspiration on how to use seasonal ingredients. We also have a Fall/Winter seasonal guide in this post.