Food Agriculture & Nutrition Network of Solano County
Written By: Napa State Hospital Dietetic Intern, Marina Kalenyuk
Eating “seasonal” may seem like a recent trend, but it has been around for many generations. Affordable produce is easy to find, whether its winter or summer, especially in the sunny state of California. You just need to know where to look! The key to healthy eating throughout the year is to buy seasonal produce. We will be focusing on seasonal vegetables because let’s face it, sometimes we need a little more convincing when it comes to enjoying our vegetables compared with fruit. Let’s get started with our story of seasonal vegetables by discussing the benefits of eating in season!
Nutrition: How do I know I’m getting the best nutrition from my vegetables?
Vegetables are best picked when they are fully ripe and have developed all their nutrients. Produce needs the right environmental conditions to thrive like sun, humidity, air quality, and the right temperature to grow and develop its nutrients. You’ve probably noticed that most vegetables are available year round at your local grocery store. Have you ever wondered how or why that is? Many vegetables that are available outside of their normal growing season are usually picked before they are ripe and are then transported from different states around the U.S or even out of the county, imported vegetables coming into the US go through the same process. When they travel far, vegetables get picked early and finish their ripening process inside a cardboard box. In some cases, vegetables are genetically modified to grow in all seasons in greenhouses. However, buying vegetables that are in season and ripened naturally by the environment gives you the richest flavor and taste amazing!
Cost: Ever notice how vegetables change in price during different seasons of the year?
How much you pay for your vegetables all comes down to “supply”, the amount grown, and “demand” the amount purchased. Veggies in season are more abundant, so they cost less per pound. In other words, there is a higher supply for the demand of the veggies. If you are buying veggies that are out of season, you are most likely paying for travel time it took the vegetables to get to your store and additional expenses it took to grow the veggies in a greenhouse. This means there is a lower supply of veggies for the demand of shoppers so prices tend to be higher on these vegetables.
Community and environment benefits: Have you heard that buying produce at a farmer’s market is more expensive?
This is a common myth! On average, supermarket and farmer’s market produce is priced alike. As for organic produce? It turns out farmer’s markets offer cheaper prices on organic vegetables compared to supermarkets. The key of course, is to purchase produce that in in season. If the prices are the same or even cheaper, you may want to consider buying your veggies from a farmer’s market to support local farms. Not only will you be getting veggies that are from your neighboring area which allows you to feel more connected to where your food is coming from, but you will also be building relationships within the community and investing into its economy. The best part is that local veggies taste great! They are full of nutrients and rich in flavor because they did not spend long periods of time in transportation, and they were most likely picked when ripe. Buying local farmer’s markets veggies is also good for the environment. Vegetables trucked in from other areas need larger amounts of gas which can have a negative impact on our environment.
Now that you know about the benefits of eating seasonal vegetables and how to score the best deals on vegetables, I’ve listed some examples of vegetables to keep on the lookout for during each of the different seasons.
Winter: Cabbage, carrots, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and winter squash. Here is a roasted winter squash recipe to try that is full of nutrients and flavor. https://leitesculinaria.com/82728/recipes-brown-butter-winter-squash.html
Spring: Asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, artichokes, and turnips.
Summer: Avocados, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini.
Fall: Collard greens, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, and spinach.
To sum things up, making vegetables a part of your everyday diet can be made easier by choosing seasonal options that are available year round at your local grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Buying seasonal vegetables allows you to get the best nutrition to nourish your body while giving you the most bang for your buck. Lastly, you are connecting with your community and helping to save the environment!
For more information about seasonal vegetables visit: