The fall season is officially upon us, and with it comes an abundance of flavor, beauty and delicious harvest. There is an array of beautiful winter squash from butternut, acorn to pumpkin; as well as vibrant green leafy vegetables such as arugula and chard. The season also offers some amazing fruit such as apples, pears, pomegranate and persimmons.
To stay on track with seasonal eating, I purchased a produce calendar that shows what is in season every month; it shows all the different fruits and vegetables based on the time of the year and location, so my personal calendar is specifically designed for Boston, which is where I live. The calendar provides colorful images and names of each food, so you know what to look for at the store! This is a great addition to my kitchen and helps with my planning, because it keeps my whole family aware of what’s in season. My son also loves to use the pictures to tell me what I should buy on our grocery trip, so even he is involved in choosing healthy, seasonal foods, and he is excited to try them once we get home. Find your very own produce calendar here.
The benefits of eating seasonal and more locally grown foods are many— it’s better for farmers, more economical, and a great way to keep in check with Mother Nature. Perhaps the most compelling reason for eating seasonal foods, is that it is an especially excellent way to boost nutrition.
These days most produce is available year round, although it might seem like a luxury to have whatever foods we want no matter when, eating foods in season offers many benefits. Seasonal foods are picked at the peak of freshness and offer higher nutritional content than out of season produce. When we eat with the seasons we can enjoy a rainbow of colorful and diverse foods in our diet, as well as provide our body with a wide variety of important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that are needed to maintain our health for that season. For example, fall is the season for broccoli, apples, garlic and onion; all rich in quercetin, an antioxidant that may reduce susceptibility to the flu virus. (1)(2)
Eating seasonally doesn’t mean that we should not purchase or consume ANY produce that is out of season, but we should try and focus more attention to what nature offers at this moment in time. Start building your meals around today’s fruits and vegetables, and you will find richer flavors and greater nutritional and health benefits by choosing foods that are actually in season. Great ways to accomplish this is by shopping locally at a farmers market, signing up for a community supported agriculture (CSA) that delivers produce to your home, or better yet take your family fruit/veggie picking, this is so helpful to get kids interested in produce and seeing where it comes from.
Next week I’ll be sharing some ideas and recipes to help you expand your healthy-eating repertoire this fall. Stay tuned!