The Power of Eating Seasonally

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Knowing what’s in season is key to support local food economies.

For thousands of generations, each passing season brought with it a new harvest of different fruit and vegetables. Our palates would change with each harvest calendar, and the variety of foods tended to complement the seasons; lighter foods in the spring and summer, heartier, comfort food in cooler months.

That is no longer the case—consumers expect to be able to purchase all types of produce at their local grocery stores regardless of seasonality. This is a marker of the success of global perishable supply chains, which allow the shipping of food across the world to meet growing consumer demand. However, convenience comes at a cost—we are increasingly disconnected from our food, how it’s made, or when it’s harvested. For example, a recent survey conducted by the BBC Good Food indicated that only 5% out of 2,000 people knew when blueberries are at their peak for the season.

Just because we are able to enjoy blueberries in December doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing for our health or the planet’s. The following is a list of tips and benefits of making the switch over to eating food that is in-season and local—let’s dive in!

Knowing what is in season will help your wallet.

Eating seasonally ensures the food you’re eating is more fresh since it has traveled fewer miles, but did you know it can also help you save money? When you buy food at the peak of its supply, there’s more to pick from, which means prices are usually at their lowest.

Eating seasonal food helps the planet.

Buying seasonal food has a positive correlation with eating locally, because seasonal and local produce go hand-in-hand. This has several net-positive effects on the environment, including significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions since your food travels fewer miles to get to your plate.

Seasonal food is less reliant on chemicals and pesticides.

When food has to grow outside its natural season, farmers need to grow a greater supply so there’s more produce to pick from to meet the cosmetic standards set by traditional grocery stores. Using harmful chemicals to secure out-of-season harvests is often standard procedure. Buying produce that’s suitable for the season will likely be the more earth-friendly choice.

Get creative with your recipes and try new dishes.

Eating seasonal can actually enrich your palate rather than restrict it! There are several resources for seasonal recipes. Get creative in the kitchen and make a new dish using fruits and vegetables that are in-season. This allows you to experiment with different flavor profiles while also benefiting from the taste of fresh foods, which can’t be beat!

Pay attention to prices in the supermarket.

Pricing in the supermarket can tell you a lot about seasonality. For example, if you’re accustomed to paying $2 per pound for stone fruit and the prices increase the next month to $3 per pound, that’s an indication that the fruit had to travel a greater distance to get to your store. A simple eyeball check is also in order—if the produce doesn’t look as fresh as it did a few weeks ago, it might have been on the road for a while.

Support your local farmers’ market.

One of the best ways to connect to your food is by meeting the farmers who grow it, and you can do that by going to your local farmers’ market. Being Michiganders this isn't always easy in the winter and fall - so do your best to eat seasonally during this time of year.

Empower yourself and grow your own.

You’ll always have the freshest, in-season food, if you grow it in your backyard, patio, or community garden. Reconnecting with the earth in this way is incredibly rewarding and will give you a greater appreciation for food and the farmers that grow it.

Shifting our current food system is no easy task, and requires all of our participation. Making it a point to eat seasonal food is a step in the right direction that can help us reshape what the future of food will look like. Let’s support local farmers and local food economies—it starts with each and every one of us!

Here are a few examples of different seasonal foods depending on the season:

January: Beets, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Grapefruit, Kale, Navel Oranges, Spinach, Winter Squash

February: Cabbage, Grapefruit, Kale, Navel Oranges, Winter Squash, Parsnips, Collard Greens

March: Grapefruit, Valencia Oranges, Navel Oranges, Beets, Radishes, Artichoke, Pineapple, Sweet Potatoes

April: Asparagus, Grapefruit, Navel Oranges, Rhubarb, Apples, Avocados, Beets, Blueberries, Artichokes, Carrots

May: Asparagus, Grapefruit, Kale, Lettuce, Broccoli, Celery, Oranges, Rhubarb, Spinach, Cherries, Strawberries, Apples, Avocado

June: Apricots, Asparagus, Avocados, Beets, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cherries, Lettuce, Melons, Nectarines, Peas, Plums, Oranges, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Spinach, Strawberries, Summer Squash, Tomatoes

July: Avocados, Beets, Blackberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chilies, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Grapes, Green Beans, Kale, Lettuce, Melons, Nectarines, Oranges, Peaches, Pears, Raspberries, Spinach, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Watermelon

August: Apples, Avocados, Beets, Bell Peppers, Blackberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chilies, Corn, Eggplant, Grapes, Green Beans, Kale, Kiwi, Lettuce, Melons, Nectarines, Oranges, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Raspberries, Spinach, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Watermelon

September: Apples, Beets, Bell Peppers, Blackberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Brussels, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chilies, Corn, Eggplant, Grapes, Green beans, Kale, Kiwi, Lettuce,  Melons, Pears, Plums, Spinach, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Winter Squash

October: Apples, Beets, Bell Peppers, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Chilies, Corn, Eggplant, Grapes, Kale, Kiwi, Lettuce, Melon, Pears, Pumpkin, Spinach, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Winter Squash

November: Apples, Beets, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Eggplant, Kale, Kiwi, Lettuce, Pears, Pumpkin, Spinach, Winter Squash

December: Beets, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Grapefruit, Kale, Oranges, Spinach, Winter Squash

Eat your seasonal produce friends!