The Ripe Time
In our fast paced world of trade and transportation we are lucky to have all kind of produce available to us all year round, or close to.
For the vast majority of us the days of loading up on what you can and preserving it until the next harvest are long gone and we can stroll in to the supermarket on any given day and have a variety of produce options to choose from. While this is a great blessing there are certainly trade-offs that are made. Do you ever wonder how far that apple had to come to get to your grocery cart? Or how long it took it to get there? Does your produce have a more impressive passport than you do?
There are several benefits to buying fruit that is in season where you live (and not just in season in Panama). Here are just a few:
Money: Who doesn't love having more money in their pocket? I know I do and buying produce in season gives you lots of green for less green, if you know what I mean! When you buy what is in season in your area you produce doesn't have to make the long trek to your table which saves storage and transportation costs. Not to mention that local availability greatly affects supply and demand and you can just get more for your money!
Nutrition: Fresher food is more nutritious food. It's as easy as that. Shorter time from farm to your table means few lost nutrients. I would much rather think of my food coming straight from the farm than think of my apples, bananas, and lettuce sitting in a warehouse, airplane, or truck for days.
Taste: Fresher food is more delicious food too! It also usually looks nicer too.
Variation: Buying produce in season means that every couple of months there are different items at their peak and they bring new variety to your diet with each season.
Local Community: Buying in season generally means buying local (or at least much closer to home) and that has benefits to your community and local economy that are far reaching. You might not taste that benefit, but it is certainly worth mentioning.
Now that we have lots of reason WHY we want to buy more of our produce at its peak local season, it is time to cover the HOW. Most of us know guidelines. I know to look for deals on strawberries in the spring in order to get a deal and make my jam for the year and I know that in the fall my kids and I love going to the orchard down the street for the opportunity to pick our own apples.
I even know when to expect that my neighbor will offer me some of her wonderful garden zucchini (and I will regret not planting my own garden just like I do every year). What I didn't know is... well... how much I didn't know! So, I have done my homework, compared lots of lists, and come up with a nice list of what is "in season" each month.
Obviously, it isn't completely comprehensive and there will be variations depending on where you live, but for those in the U.S. this list should be close. If you aren't sure about your spot on the globe I recommend doing a google search with your specific country or region in the terms.
Watch for these crops and plan your meals around what is in season that month. You will find that you are eating fresher, healthier, more delicious produce for less money and who can say no to that?