Did you know that buying seasonal produce not only saves you money, but also allows you to prepare the best and freshest meals? Even if you do not have access to a local farmer’s market, you can still get a more nutritious bang for your buck when purchasing fruits and vegetables that are in season.
4 Smart Reasons to Purchase Seasonal Produce
- Lower Cost: Fruits and vegetables that are in season can be mass harvested, thus lowering the cost of the overall crop. In addition, locally sourced produce involves very little transportation and storage expenses. This means a high price does not get passed down to you, the consumer.
- Fresher and Better Taste: It’s best to eat fruits and vegetables that have ripened naturally on their own, as opposed to being forced by artificial means. This ensures that you are eating the produce at its optimal point of freshness, the exact point it was meant to be eaten! If fruit is not in season, it has likely been frozen for transport and then warmed up to cause ripening. Which would you rather have?
- Higher Nutritive Value: When produce is purchased in season it’s eaten closer to when it’s harvested, as opposed to being stored for a long period of time. This causes very little decline in nutritive value, compared with stored fruits and vegetables that have a reduction in their phytonutrient levels.
- Better for the Environment: Buying in season is not only good for your wallet and your health, but for the environment as well! By eating what’s in season, there’s a higher demand for locally grown produce, which decreases the need for out of season products. This means less storage and irradiation of fruits and vegetables, which is a much more environmentally friendly option.
My favorite summer fruits and vegetables:
- Plums – This high fiber snack is delicious by itself, but to make it even better, try pitting and freezing for smoothies or homemade ice pops! For an even bigger flavor, add mixed berries before blending. The high fiber content will keep you fuller longer, making this a great alternative to that summertime sundae.
- Cherries – The next time you want to make that fruit salad stand out at the family barbeque, try adding some fresh cherries! These small but mighty treats contain potassium and anthocyanins, all of which have been shown to improve heart health and overall cognitive function.
- Blackberries – This fruit is the perfect topper for your yogurt or morning oatmeal. It offers a vitamin C and fiber boost, and combines deliciously with walnuts or almonds! It’s also high in magnesium, which is vital for regulating energy levels.
- Nectarines – Heading outside to grill? Try halving nectarines and tossing them on the barbeque, finishing off with a sprinkle of cinnamon and drizzle of honey. This is a great dessert alternative that’s high in fiber and heart healthy potassium!
- Cucumber – A good trick to staying hydrated in the heat is drinking something cold and refreshing that tastes great. Adding cucumber slices to your water not only enhances the flavor, but packs a nutritional punch as well. Cucumbers contain vitamin C and manganese, as well as the antioxidants helpful for overall health and well-being. Bottoms up!
- Beets – This colorful vegetable is great to brighten up any salad. Try pairing it with fresh spinach, quinoa, and goat cheese. It’s high in iron, magnesium, fiber, and potassium, which are crucial for protecting against cardiovascular disease and providing energy.
- Zucchini – Try this summer squash next time instead of your usual pasta. Zucchini noodles are a fun and easy alternative, and can be made simply using a hand spiralizer. Top your “zoodles” with anything you typically would in a pasta dish, and voila! A fiber and protein boost, complete with vitamins C and B6 for immunity and energy.
- Corn – No summer barbeque is complete without delicious and juicy grilled corn on the cob. This side dish contains zeaxanthin and lutein, two very important antioxidants for eye health.
Your turn to take action: What fun recipe can you create with any of the produce listed above. Let me know in the comments below so I can try it out!