Thanks to suppliers around the world and refrigerated trucks, we live in a nation where nearly every type of fruit and vegetable is sold at the supermarket year-round. But just because you can buy any kind of produce on any given day of the year, doesn’t mean you should. Not only does eating seasonally have a positive impact on the planet (less transportation pollution = cleaner air), it also provides more flavor, variety and even a cost savings to your meal plan.
Flavor: Have you ever noticed the difference in flavor between a fresh tomato in the summertime (sweet and juicy) and one purchased in the dead winter (bland and mealy)? In order for your supermarket to sell summer produce when the local weather forecast shows winter snow, they likely source it from a supplier in a more favorable climate – one located far far away from your winter wonderland – and ship it many miles to your grocery store shelves. Fruits and veggies that are able to ripen before they’re picked tend to be juicier and more flavorful. But when out-of-season produce is picked prematurely to ensure it survives the journey to your hometown, flavor takes a hit.
Cost: The journey from farm to supermarket requires money and fuel. So whether the produce arrived by truck from a farm down the road or was shipped several days overseas, the price of any fruit or vegetable will reflect what it cost the store to get it there. Fruits and veggies that are in season where you live can be grown locally. And if it can be grown nearby, less transportation is required to get it into your hands. And if that’s the case, it’s likely that it will be less expensive than other produce that traveled cross country.
Variety: It’s boring to eat the same fruits and veggies all day every day. Changing up your heart-healthy eating pattern to align with the seasons can inspire variety in your menu. Summer will feel like summer when you bite into your first juicy strawberry of the season and you’ll grow to appreciate the flavors of fall apples and pumpkin when it’s been a year since you last enjoyed them.
So how can you eat seasonally? The following guide highlights the fruits and vegetables that are in season across most areas of the United States during winter, spring, summer and fall.
December | January | February
During the chilly winter months, many at-home cooks become uninspired by winter fruits and vegetables. But there are far more seasonal produce options during these months than just potatoes and onions. Think outside the box for winter soups, stews and roasted veggie platters with some of these picks!
March | April | May
The cool sunny spring months are the perfect time to embrace delicate spring greens and refreshing fruits. Listen to the rain, plant seeds in the garden, and enjoy the first days of your local farmer’s market!
June | July | August
The warm and humid summer months are the perfect time to embrace sweet and juicy summer tomatoes and berries. Grill with friends, catch some sun by the pool, and picnic your way through the season!
September | October | November
The crisp and colorful months of fall are the perfect time to embrace dark leafy greens and sweet starchy fruits. Go apple picking, savor the last days of the farmer’s markets, and cook up a seasonal menu for your next football party!