Now that spring is here, seasonal eating has become easier with more and more items coming into season each week. Seasonal eating is based on purchasing foods during their natural (or seasonal) growing times. This means you are eating them when they are at their freshest. Not only are they fresher, but they are tastier too.
Seasonal foods also pack the biggest nutritional punch. That’s because they don’t lose nutrients like fruits and vegetables that are stored or have to travel a long-distance to get to market.
But, did you ever realize that eating fresh, in-season foods actually saves you money?
If you buy items that aren’t in season, you pay a premium for them. How so? That basket of peaches you buy during winter can cost twice as much as it would if you buy it when peaches are in season locally. Having those South American peaches transported halfway around the world shows up in your food bill, not to mention it is very environmentally unfriendly.
And, if you take a look around your local supermarket, you will see that in season, fresh fruits and vegetables are the most inexpensive things there. In fact, just a quick glance at a store’s sale ad usually lists “fresh produce” on sale each week. Those sale items are usually prominently located right at the front of the store’s produce aisle.
While the supermarket is a great place to get a few of the most popular seasonal produce items on sale, the best place to buy what’s in season is at your local farmers’ market.
Not only is shopping at a farmers’ market one of the easiest ways to find in-season, locally grown fruits and vegetables, it can also save you money. Unlike the supermarket, at a farmers’ market you have the option of walking around first and checking out all of the stands to compare quality, selection and price before you buy.
One way to get the best deals at the farmers’ market is to shop the market right before they are getting ready to close. If it’s their last market of the day, most farmers don’t want to have to take produce back to the farm and are more than happy to let you have it for a bargain price. Many farmers will negotiate on price at any time the market is open.
A great resource for finding local farmers’ markets is Local Harvest. Before heading off to the farmers’ market check out Sustainable Table to find out what’s in season in your area. The Natural Resources Defense Council lists food miles and local food availability for every state and every season.