MAY—The Month of Fresh Eating Takes OFF

It's hard to pick up a magazine or listen to a news show without getting some commentary on the importance of eating in season. The idea behind the advice is that food in season comes with more live enzymes, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and phyto-chemicals.

Also, knowing which fruits and vegetables are in season gives you a clue as to what produce is likely to be on sale at given times in the year. At the very least, it can help you plan your shopping list - and skip the expensive, out-of-season-items. It can give you ideas for menu planning, as well; there's a reason that holiday favorites are popular at certain times of the year.

Bananas, potatoes, and celery seem to always be in season. For bananas, at least, I think it's because they have to be shipped into just about everywhere.

If you want to go all out on saving money on your food, having an idea of what's in season tells you when to buy produce. While you can buy out of season produce fresh, it may be worth your while to can or preserve some of your preferred fruits or vegetables during the months that they're cheap.

For anyone trying to buy locally, through farmer's markets or CSAs, having a good idea of seasonal produce is also important. You'll have a better idea of what to expect. And with certain 'farmers' looking to take advantage of the local trend, you'll be able to do a little due diligence on what you buy.

To follow this counsel, though, it's helpful to know exactly what foods are in season. There are lots of seasonal food lists to be found online. I can't recommend one over the other-they're all pretty much the same. Even down to containing a few holes. I didn't find a clear season for carrots, parsnips, and a few other vegetables and fruits. But overall, whatever list you use, it will be a good guide to fresher dining.

Now with spring fully here, what IS in season? You've likely noticed we're seeing more and more choices in the produce department. In talking to produce managers, they all say the same thing: "May is the month when fresh eating can really take off. The array of fresh fruits and vegetables really increases now."

April does have its fair share of fresh fruits and veggies-pineapples and mangoes; zucchini, rhubarb, artichoke, asparagus, spring peas, broccoli, and baby lettuces. But along comes May and the list continues to grow: Add cherries and apricots (with strawberries starting to show up) to the fruit list. And add okra to the veggie list.

Since "seasonal foods" can vary so much across the United States, you might want to go to, to use their interactive map to get more specific information regarding what's fresh in your area.

This feature also offers shopping guides, recipes, and other tips. It's organized according to month, so first click on the month you're in, then click on your state. When I clicked on May, and then Texas, for instance, a list of foods in season popped up (blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, cucumbers, honeydew melon, nectarines, peaches, pears, peppers, and summer squash). Then when I put my cursor on an item in the list, recipes and buying guide options showed up. This is a very cool resource that I use all the time.

So in a nutshell, eating seasonally is healthier and easier on the wallet. But I think another really important reason is taste. Seasonal food just tastes better. Sure, I can get strawberries shipped in from Ecuador in January, but they taste nothing like those that come from my area in May. So if at all possible, vow to eat more seasonal food this year, and start now. May, it's the month when fresh eating really takes off!


    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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