'Tis the Seasonal Eating: Why Eating with the Seasons is Your Best Resolution for 2019

The long, off-season hiatus of summertime peaches and autumn pumpkins is well worth the wait. While it clearly makes for better flavor, it's also better for your health, your wallet and the planet.

hungry heart tomato

It's not just in your head that fresh strawberries taste weird in the middle of December. Or that raw cucumber has an off-flavor in the fall. And don't even think about enjoying fresh tomatoes outside of soup or sauce once summer's over. Fruits and vegetables cycle through their own unique growing seasons every year, thriving in the climate and environment that suits them best. Speaking for our home in the South, strawberries arrive between April and June. It's May through July for cucumbers, and May through October for tomatoes. Of course, the growing seasons vary depending on your particular region, so the first step is to do a little research on what to look for in your local markets. Eating produce that's naturally at its best is not only the most delicious way to enjoy food, but also the most cost-effective, nutritious and sustainable way to eat.

Good for Your Wallet

The right temperature, soil and weather conditions results in happy plants. Happy plants see lot of growth... and a lot of harvest! Produce at its peak of season is also at its peak of supply, and since fruits and vegetable are much better sold than spoiled, the price tag for you is significantly lower. Because they're grown in the very environment you live in, less time, travel and people are involved with it, and that translates to a cost-savings for you. You may also save yourself from a few doctor's bills down the line, as eating seasonally is...

Good for Your Health

The variety of foods available to you in one season is vast, but imagine how many different (and perhaps new!) foods you'll experience when you eat through all four seasons! In terms of health, it's critical not only make veggies and fruits the basis of your diet, but to be sure that there's variety; different foods provide different nutrients, and new foods are an exciting way to shake up your routine. Because produce is at its most flavorful when ripe, you may be surprised to enjoy something you haven't before, whether you've tried it or not. Many plants evolved to produce the sweetest, most colorful and most nutritious fruits when they're ripe for the picking; this attracts the palate of animals, who inadvertently spread their seeds... or in the case of humans, purposefully plant and propagate their favorite varieties. You get the most nutritious bang for your buck when you consume produce within a few days of harvest, too. Once a fruit or vegetable is separated from its plant, it loses its gateway to nutrients and water, and will deteriorate as it essentially breaks itself down for energy. The out-of-season fruits and veggies in your grocery store were transported from another region - perhaps another country - and that takes quite a bit of time. Even in-season produce at that same store might not be as fresh as advertised; chances are, they're not as local as you think, and have traveled or been stored longer than the ads lead on. For this reason, it's best to take a more direct form of shopping: through your locally-run market, a co-op or the farmers themselves.

Good for Your Local Economy

When your money goes into the hands of small-scale, local farmers in your area rather than massive distributors, not only do you support your community and local economy, but also transparency and sustainability. The produce grown in your area bears less mileage, and the farmers who grow it are more likely to have organic and sustainably-grown options for you and your family. Meeting your farmer face-to-face offers transparency and traceability: two important values that are often missing in our modern food industry. Community shares, neighborhood co-ops and farmers markets are a great way to shop for and learn about seasonal foods, and to meet those dedicated to growing them.

Good for the Planet

"Food Miles" is the term used to describe the distance a food travels from producer to consumer, and when it comes to out-of-season foods, that number can be shockingly high. Traveling across the country burns a lot more fuel and sends a lot more pollutants into the atmosphere than traveling across town. It also takes a lot of time; some resort to chemical ripening, wax coatings and preservative agents to keep produce looking pristine through the long haul. When grown in-season in the right environment, plants don't need nearly as much assistance - energy, water and fertilizers - to thrive and produce. Your local farmers play a major role; they have a deep respect for the natural world, and are committed to conserving resources, encouraging biodiversity and supporting soil health, and your support helps them immensely.


Eating seasonally benefits you, your community and the planet, but it's important to recognize that some have more obstacles in achieving this goal than others. Today, nearly 23.5 million people live in Food Deserts, and 2.3 million people in low-income areas more than 10 miles from the nearest grocery store. It's important to do what's best for you, and for many that means buying and eating seasonally only once a week or once a month. Every effort goes toward a happier, healthier world!