As you may already know, I consider myself a local, seasonal, and healthy foodie! Today, I am so excited to share with you an introduction to local and seasonal eating- the why's, the where's, and the how's!
Additionally, I've included for you all downloadable summer produce wallpaper at the bottom of this page (hand-painted by moi). Don't forget to subscribe to my monthly newsletter down below to receive a free summer produce reference sheet!
why eat locally & seasonally?
There are so many reasons! I'll give you my top 4 reasons of why I try to eat as locally and seasonally as possible.
fresh & nutritious
Eating locally and seasonally means that the time from when your fruits and veggies are harvested to the time it reaches your table is significantly shorter than the generic produce that is found in most supermarkets. Less time between picking and eating means that not only will your food be fresher, it will be tastier and packed with more nutrition! Produce that can be found in the grocery store year-round often is harvested before it is completely ripe. It will ripen in storage but will have less flavor, vitamins, and minerals than if it had ripened on the branch/vine or in the ground.
If you take the time to look at where food comes from in your nearby grocery store, you will see that most items come from thousands of miles away (California, Mexico, etc.). Think of how much energy and fuel it takes to transport that food all the way to your local grocery store. Also think about the energy it takes to store produce that's not in season year round. Eating locally and seasonally significantly reduces energy and fuel output, thus lowering your carbon footprint!
supporting the local community
By eating local and seasonal foods you are supporting small business owners, farmers, and other community members. It's a great way to give back and invest in the area you live.
a great way to travel
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to hit up the local farmers' markets, restaurants, and shops. It's an awesome and authentic way to experience the local flavor (pun intended).
where can you find local & seasonal foods?
Farmers' markets are the best and easiest way to find all the local and seasonal produce available to you. A lot of farmers' markets are on Saturday mornings, check with your local area to find out when markets are happening near you.
local food co-op
If you live in a more urban area, you may have a local food co-op available to you! While not everything in these small cooperatively owned grocery stores will be local, it's the next best place to look for local and seasonal produce if you can't make it to the farmers' market. Co-ops also tend to have a great bulk foods section, which makes it easier to reduce your waste from food packaging and plastic.
local grocery stores and markets
Sometimes grocery stores will feature certain produce items that are local to your area or region. Look for signs that say grown in _______ (for example Michigan, or even a more specific location than that). Super markets like Whole Foods and Trader Joes make an effort to provide at least some local and seasonal options for their customers.
community supported agriculture (CSA)
A CSA is a group of farmers that pool their harvest together to distribute to their "subscribers". As a subscriber/customer you pay a fee to be a part of a CSA to receive fresh produce from farmers in your near by area. Join a CSA and have a box of locally grown fruits and veggies delivered directly to you or in a convenient location on a regular basis. What you get each time depends solely on what the farmers have available so you have to be ready to get creative!
locally owned restaurants
Not cooking at home? Choose to frequent local restaurants that specifically claim to source their foods sustainably and locally when you go out to eat.
This is obviously not an option for everyone, but growing your own food is about as local, seasonal, and sustainable as you can get! If you can't have a full garden, try growing herbs or something of that nature. Work with the space and resources that you have!
what's in season?
The best way to figure out what is in season in your area is to head to your local farmers' market. Another great resource is Sustainable Table's seasonal food guide. All you have to do is to enter in your location and choose the time of year and they'll give you a general list of what is in season in your region. Want something a little more specific? Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and I will deliver a summer produce reference sheet directly to your inbox!
Overall, the point is not that you should be eating 100% local and seasonal 100% of the time. Unfortunately, with our food system that is extremely difficult to do. The message here is to raise awareness about the importance of local and seasonal foods and to encourage you to play the role you can in supporting a more sustainable food system!
If you're interested in learning more about local and seasonal foods, or just the food system in general, check out these additional resources below.
Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver