Eat With the Seasons
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It’s winter. You’ve just purchased some strawberries at your local grocery. You get home, wash them, and settle in for a snack. You bite down and … “crunch” … a crispy, dry, flavorless experience. Where is the juicy burst of sweetness you were looking forward to? It’s coming, but not in this season.
Enjoying produce at the height of its flavor is just one benefit of eating seasonally; it’s also a way to keep your plate colorful year-round. Eating your colors can ensure that you and your family are getting all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients your bodies need. The image below shows just how much variety we have to choose from when it comes to fruits and vegetables.
You may be thinking, “That’s great, but it’s difficult to eat produce because _______________________.” You’re not alone. Only 1 out of 10 adults in the United States eats enough produce, and there are many reasons for this.
It doesn’t taste good, and it takes too much time to make it taste good.
For some, the flavor of produce isn’t satisfying, and making it taste good takes time – which can also be in short supply. Understandable. Spending your day chomping down on raw produce doesn’t sound like much fun, nor does spending hours in the kitchen; hours you may not have.
Eating seasonally can help combat these barriers. By selecting produce that’s in season, you will already be choosing more flavor, and by cooking it, even in the simplest of ways, you will be unlocking more! For example, this easy Roasted Root Vegetable recipe helps you enjoy the warm comforts of winter’s vegetables. You’ll also reap the benefits of eating your nutrient-dense colors of red, orange, purple, and more. You can take the flavor even further by putting these veggies in a wrap or on a sandwich. Add some shredded chicken or hummus for protein. Choose your favorite store-bought hummus or try making your own. Throw in some leafy greens and you have yourself a colorful, nutritious meal.
It’s expensive, and prices keep climbing.
This is also true. More cost effective and equally nutritious options for fruits and vegetables can be found in frozen and canned sections, and this is perfectly okay! However, eating seasonally provides a cost advantage, too. Selecting in-season produce means less travel time between harvest and grocery store arrival; this produce typically costs less to get from farm, to store, to you! This generally results in savings on those items. For this reason, local farmers markets, winter markets, and food hubs are worth exploring. Some participate in EBT, WIC and other food assistance programs. One resource for finding markets and food hubs near you is the free Visit NC Farms app.
“How do I know what’s in season?”
Glad you asked! ASAP has a seasonal produce guide for the mountain region of North Carolina. NC.gov provides this more extensive list of in-season produce throughout the state.
Next time you visit the grocery store, don’t settle for flavorless; eat seasonal! Start exploring to find the flavors that suit you in winter, spring, summer, and fall. (There’s something delicious to eat during all).