Cooking Matters! Buying Produce in Season
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 local stores, it’s easy to forget that different foods grow in different seasons.
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.
Try these tips for buying produce in season:
- Know what’s in season. This chart shows the typical growing season for Colorado produce. Use this resource 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 tastes 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 signs at the 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.
- Store fruits and veggies purchased at their peak (and at their cheapest!) and use them during the 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.
The Cooking Matters campaign knows that kids need good food to grow up healthy. That’s why we’re here to help you learn to shop for and cook healthy, affordable meals for your entire family. For more information, including additional tips and recipes, visit cookingmatters.org. If you are interested in more Cooking Matters resources, including FREE online lessons, head here: https://adobe.ly/3wXChVf.
Recipes: Mango Salsa (pro tip: sub in fresh local peaches for mangoes when in season!); Ratatouille ; Sautéed Greens ; Vegetable Lasagna ; Frittata