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Eating by the Season
By Kali Aloia

The seasons are changing, which means so might the availability of fresh produce at your local grocery store. There are a lot of reasons why eating for the seasons can be beneficial, both for your wellness and wallet. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are very flavorful, so you are inclined to want to consume more, increasing your daily vitamin and mineral consumption. When produce is picked at the peak of ripeness and sold sooner, there is less time that it takes to travel to the stores to sell. Due to the shorter travel time of the produce from being picked to being eaten, more nutrients will be preserved. Fruits and vegetables start to lose nutrient content as soon as they are picked. Store-bought produce is often picked, shipped, stored in distribution centers, taken to the retail stores, and then finally purchased by you. (One exception to this is frozen produce, because these are flash-frozen at the time of picking, which locks in nutrients.)

Seasonal produce is also cheaper. When you purchase produce at the peak of its supply, it’s cheaper for farmers and for distribution, making it cost less for you! Also, money spent on local produce goes to local farmers and growers. This helps invest more into the local community and promotes a safer food supply. Purchasing locally-grown food means there are fewer steps between the food’s original source and your plate, which decreases the chances of contamination. When foods are grown in distant locations, many more steps are involved where contamination could occur, including during harvesting, shipping, and distribution.

Eating seasonally can also promote variety. If you purchase locally-grown foods from a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmers market, local co-op, etc., you may notice foods that you hadn’t seen before or end up with a new type of produce in your CSA. You are able to try more of a variety of foods than if you were solely purchasing from the grocery store. In this process of being conscious of what’s available at different times of the year, you may learn more about fruits and vegetables that you hadn’t necessary thought about before while being able to get a wider variety of nutrients. By eating with the seasons and fluctuating with what’s available, you may be pleasantly surprised by the variety and a new world of produce to explore!

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Kali Aloia is a Registered Dietitian, CLT, MPH, RD, LDN, at Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center. For more information, schedule a consultation with our dieticians at (724) 250-5207.

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