Buying Produce in Season
What does it mean to eat in Season?
Eating in season means eating fresh foods being harvested right now – not half-way around the world, but closer to home. With food now shipped from all over the world to our local stores, it’s easy to forget that different foods grow in different seasons. Our friends at Cooking Matters have come up with a guide to understand how you can enjoy the benefits of eating season.
Why is it good to eat in season? Eating in season has many benefits, such as:
- You may save money – It costs more to transport produce from overseas to your local store than it does from somewhere closer by. When you eat fresh foods in season, you don’t pay as much for transportation costs.
- Your food may taste better – Foods grown and picked at their peak typically taste better. Compare the taste of a strawberry in May to a strawberry in – January – you may never go back!
- You may get more nutrients from your food – Produce starts to lose nutrients after being picked. The longer the travel time to your store, the more nutrients are lost.
How can you heat more seasonal foods? Try these tips for buying produce in season:
- Know what’s in season – This chart shows the typical growing season for the entire United States. A Colorado-specific version can be found here. Use these resources to find which fruits and vegetables are available at the best price and freshness at different times of year.
- Visit your local farmers market – This is where you will find foods grown closest to home! Farmers markets are also a fun outing for kids and many offer tasts of fruits and vegetables that can help kids – and you! – try something new. To find markets that accept Double Up Food Bucks, visit the DUFB Colorado website.
- Check the signs at your store – Look at the sticker on your fruits and vegetables – it must state what country the food was grown in. Also keep an eye out for the Colorado Proud logo at the market and at grocery stores. Ask the produce manager if any fruits and vegetables were grown at nearby farms.
How can you still eat a variety of fruits and vegetables when seasonal produce is limited?
- Eat fruits and veggies in all their forms – Buying canned or frozen produce is a great way to get plenty of fruits and veggies year-round at a good price.
- Use recipe substitutions – [can refer back to Sub It In / Adjusting Recipes if appropriate for campaign]
- Store fruits and veggies purchased at their peak (and at their cheapest!) for the less plentiful winter months.
Many farmers markets accept SNAP or WIC benefits. Find a local market by searching this site: www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets. On the “payment accepted” tab, check to see which markets accept the form of payment you want to use.
Check out the Colorado Produce Calendar below to learn when your favorite fruits and vegetables grown locally are in season!
Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables (with seasonality chart); Summer Vegetable Inspiration
Try using seasonal produce in some of these delicious recipes!:
- Mango Salsa (pro tip: sub in fresh local peaches for mangoes when in season!)
- Sautéed Greens
- Vegetable Lasagna
The new Cooking Matters app for Android makes it simple to feed your family healthy foods, on any budget! Visit CookingMatters.org/app to plan meals with the touch of a button.
Exploring Food Together is a Cooking Matters toolkit of simple activities that adults can use to help kids learn about new foods and start building the skills to make healthy food choices.