"how do you know what is truly 'in-season’?"
This is a great question because it can be a little tricky. For example, shopping for Memorial weekend, you might go to your store and find a display of watermelons. However, if you buy one, you are likely to be disappointed (trust us on this one...we have learned our lesson). Why? Because watermelons have not had time to grow and fully ripen…they will not reach their peak of flavor and nutrients until later in the summer.
So, how do you know what foods are truly in-season? One of the best ways to know is to visit your local farmers' market!
First, why eat in-season?
Not only does this allow you to enjoy the best freshness and flavor, but eating with the seasons also provides huge benefits for your health and your bank account, plus so much more!
- REAL flavor -- the difference in the quality of flavor is amazing! That watermelon at the store this week will taste nothing like the melons at the farmers’ market in a couple months!
- Nutritional powerhouse! Fruits and vegetables, when allowed to ripen to their full potential and consumed shortly after harvesting, are loaded with nutrients.
- Supports our bodies seasonal needs -- spring greens help detox us from the heavier foods from winter. And summer foods, such as watermelon, peaches and berries help us cool down and stay hydrated.
- Save money! Generally, you can't go wrong with the cost and quality at farmers' markets. Plus, if you buy from your local store, in-season foods will typically be what's on sale. The asparagus in May is likely to cost less than 50% vs. the asparagus you buy in February. Take advantage of these nutritious foods and save some money in the process!
- Know your farmer, know your food! By visiting your local farmers' markets, you will get to know your local farmers, and also get to know where your food comes from and how it is grown.
- Inspiration! Getting in the habit of purchasing in-season produce will help you get out of the dinnertime rut and enjoy a variety of foods.
- Appreciation! Like anything, it's easier to appreciate and savor it when you know it's here for a limited time. Plus, there's always something to look forward to! See our coaching tip for even more on the benefits of enjoying eating with the seasons.
What foods are in season RIGHT NOW?
This will give you a general guide, but keep in mind, timing can vary depending on the climate in your area and, of course, Mother Nature!
Spring (now through the end of May):
- Greens (such as kale, spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, collards, other leafy greens)
- Bok choy
- Green onions
- Green Garlic/Garlic Scapes
- Sweet Potatoes
- Other varieties of potatoes
- Tomatoes (in many parts of the country, if you see local tomatoes in the Spring, they are typically grown in greenhouses)
NOTE: certain greens can “bolt” (or “flower”) and can turn bitter when they get too hot. Another reason to enjoy these greens abundantly during the cooler weather!
Coming Soon! Early Summer (late May through end of June)
- Sugar snap peas
- Green onions
- Summer squash
- Greens (kale, leafy greens, Swiss chard - many will be grown in greenhouses to better manage hot summer temperatures)
- Fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, plus others)
To find out if a food is in season in your area, check out this Seasonal Food Guide where you can search by state. Then, be sure to review our coaching tips before hitting the market for some helpful farmers' market tips and how to select the best produce!
As we head into mid-summer, we will do another coaching tip to let you know when you will find the highly anticipated summer goodies like okra, watermelon and juicy tomatoes!
Now, the fun part!
There are unlimited ways you can prepare and enjoy all of these amazing quality in-season ingredients! Here are just a few absolutely delicious ideas:
If you don’t already eat with the seasons, we strongly encourage you to give it a try! Your taste buds, body and bank account will thank you!